Track by Track is our recurring new music feature giving an artist the opportunity to dig into the details of every song on their latest offering.
There are plenty of scenes thriving in the streets of Chicago. Those looking for lyrical hip-hop or psychedelic indie rock alike can find gratification any night of the week in the city’s various venues. Anyone seeking out a sweaty, riff-heavy party vibe in the 773 has likely come across PEEL, the area’s latest rising punk act. The quartet first revealed themselves with 2016’s Marlboro Country, but really came into their own with last year’s Goes Bananas. Now, PEEL are back with a new EP that builds on their undeniably hooky blend of classic rock sounds and poppy punk thrills.
Entitled Never Not Dead, the five-track effort was recorded by Dave Vettraino at Chicago’s Jamdek Studios before heading to Brooklyn for mixing and mastering by Bobby Lord. Opener “Wet Work” is the perfect intro for fans new and old, its pounding drums and fiery guitar licks driving a heavy ’70s thrust underneath the gang screams of, “Fuck yeah!” Pete Mueller takes lead on the song, as he does on the punk-pop follow-up, “Give Up Your Ghost”, and the lamenting “Broken Down” . His fellow guitarist Kyle Hickey, meanwhile, delivers his crackling rock-a-billy vocals on tracks like the barn-burning “Teenage Rock & Roll Sinner” and the dark doo-wop of closer “High Til I Die”.
Never Not Dead will be self-released this Friday, April 27th. Ahead of the street date, you can stream the entire thing below.
For more insight into the EP, Mueller and Hickey have broken down the whole thing Track by Track.
Pete Mueller: This is like a Gun Club song that got put through the Peeler. It grew out of a random riff we were jamming at our space. Love songs that don’t suck are hard to write, and they’re boring, so I usually write the opposite — just to keep myself interested long enough to finish writing it. Hence, a song about a hitman going around blowing people away. It keeps with the tradition of horrifying PEEL lyrical content.
“Give Up Your Ghost”:
PM: This song is about the afterlife. Take from it what you will.
“Teenage Rock & Roll Sinner”:
Kyle Hickey: Around 1930 Robert Leroy Johnson went to a rural Mississippi country crossroads at midnight to make a pact with the devil. In exchange for his soul the devil tuned Johnson’s guitar played a little and handed it back. Johnson went on to father the blues. In 1951 Rock n roll was just a euphemism for the horizontal shuffle until Ohio Disc Jockey Moondog Alan Freed branded his eclectic gathering of rhythm and blues music featuring elements of sex, danger, deviance, quick kicks and cheap thrills exciting teenagers and outcasts everywhere. New York in 1974 bore the birth of what would become punk rock desperately reviving music from near paralysis. Last month I wrote this song on a napkin during lunch and we recorded it a week later.
PM: This might be the most honest song I’ve ever written. I have no idea what it’s about. Relationships? Did I write a song about relationships? Shit. Maybe I did. This is considered a “ballad” for us. So take out your hankies and throw up your lighters when we play it. There’s at least one minor chord in it.
“High Til I Die”:
KH: It’s a candy-coated doo-wop song about depression and addiction. We live in Chicago, it’s cold and grey. You go bowling or you stay in bed and get high. The end!