Post Animal’s Javi Reyes is wearing a t-shirt emblazoned with the word “headbanger” and a skeleton bashing bones off of three skulls. It wouldn’t be noteworthy on anyone else, but the shirt is a gift the guitarist received after suffering a stroke onstage. The band were supporting White Reaper at New York’s Le Poisson Rouge last November when it happened, but, unsure of what was really going on, he carried on with the rest of the set. Later, he ended up in hospital for four days.
“I was just taking a page out of Twin Peaks‘ book and shaking my head really hard,” he says, hence the shirt. Trying to emulate one of their fellow Chicago rock’n’rollers’ trademark moves might look fun, but clearly Javi’s blood vessels had other ideas. “Who knew I had such small arteries!?” he says wryly. “One just ripped.”
Four months later, sat in a dusty, desolate patch of downtown Austin, he’s doing fine. Post Animal are midway through a packed SXSW where they’re previewing their debut album, ‘When I Think Of You In A Castle‘. It feels like it’s been a long time coming. They released the first track from it – the strutting, Tame Impala-recalling psych-pop of ‘Special Moment’ – a year ago and have been talking about the record for longer. On April 20, it will finally arrive, and it’s more than worth the wait.
New single ‘Gelatin Mode’ is an intricate beast, running from bright, interweaving guitars to a colossal slab of doomy sludge that has guitarist Joe Keery creepily chanting “Your mind, gelatin mode, about to explode.” ‘One Thing’ slows down the helter-skelter pace with languid drones and lullaby-soft falsetto. ‘Heart Made Of Metal’, meanwhile, perhaps best sums up the band’s sound – a spot where pop hooks morph into something weirder, darker, and experimental. Led by guitarist Matt Williams (they split vocal duties across the album), it also features a special cameo from the supernatural world.
In the summer of 2016, Post Animal decamped to a lake house in Watervliet, Michigan to record, but soon found they weren’t the only ones inhabiting the property. “There was some freaky shit going on,” says Matt, listing off antics like hands being touched, doors opened, and nightstands upended in the middle of the night – as well as a strange noise appearing on ‘Heart Made Of Metal’. “Wes [Toledo, drummer] hit his ride cymbal and it sounds like a reverse tch-tch-tch-tch. That was not affected by Dalton [Allison, guitarist] or by Wes.”
“Could have been a computer glitch,” offers Javi, who slept on the porch so as to avoid any spooky encounters. Matt shrugs. “More than likely but it could have been Grandpa O’Hare. Or maybe Dalton’s lying to us – he pranked us and waited almost two years to tell us.”
It might be one of the most thrilling debuts to arrive in the first third of 2018, but ‘When I Think Of You In The Castle’ could have been the only animal Post Animal made. Before going into record it, guitarist and Jake Hirshland says they weren’t “necessarily going to commit to being in the band.” “No one was against the idea,” he explains, “we just had other things we were interested in. Both Wes and Javi were considering relocating from Chicago, while Joe was about to be thrust into the spotlight by the imminent release of Stranger Things.
The Netflix hit has changed things for the band a little. Joe no longer plays live with them because of his acting commitments, but his part in the group has brought more attention to their door. “You’ll never catch us trying to promote our band based on that, but we’re thankful that people care about us for whatever reason,” Jake says. And you really should care about Post Animal for whatever reason you like, but also because they’re the next great band to come out of Chicago – wild, electrifying and, seemingly, indestructible.