post animal talks FORWARD MOTION GODYSSEY, recording in montana, and deep-dish pizza
Kiera O'Harrow talks with Post Animal's Wesley Toledo on the band's hypnotic new record.
HS: How’s your 2020 been so far?
Wes: It’s been good, pretty exciting, honestly— a lot of good stuff happening. The band put out this record [Forward Motion Godyssey], and so we came into the new year all looking forward to that. But, aside from that, it’s been good. I feel like there’s been some crazy shit happening in the world, which I think is making everyone kind of freak out a little bit, but in my own life, I feel like I'm doing pretty well right now.
HS: Are you guys excited about touring?
Wes: Oh, yeah definitely. We just did some shows in Europe/the UK, and we haven't toured in a little bit, so that was exciting— especially playing new music and playing some of the bigger headlining shows we've played in the states. All very, very exciting stuff.
HS: So, with your most recent album Forward Motion Godyssey— what was the creative process for that like?
Wes: Yeah so, we wrote Forward Motion Godyssey over a while; it’s been kind of a long time. We started playing with ideas right around the time our first record came out because we had sat on our debut record for a while due to label stuff and wanting to put it out through someone. We just started writing the new one demoing and coming up with ideas. We pretty much wrote it over the course of a year in a couple of different select writing sessions or retreats, and it was a very collaborative effort between everyone in the band. Even still, most of the song ideas originated from one member. One band member would come up with an idea like a riff or a shell of a song, and then we would all get together and flesh it out more and then someone would add another part— we did a lot of improv and stuff like that, in the practice environment. Over the course of a year, we put it all together, and then took it to this place in Montana and D.I.Y recorded it all over eight days.
HS: So recording in Montana is obviously a big shift from Chicago. How did that shift affect the writing and recording process? Do you think that the change of scenery or element of removal changed the way you wrote?
Wes: Well, it affected the recording process just because we were in such a beautiful environment. We were very fortunate to be able to use one of our friend’s houses in a ski resort in Big Sky, so obviously that’s super beautiful up there, and we would look out over a mountain range and get very inspired by the surroundings and nature and all that. It’s very gorgeous. But, also, we were very zoned in. There wasn’t a lot of free time to go skiing or stuff like that— we didn’t go skiing at all. We were pretty much hunkered down spending twelve hours each day really going at it. We had a lot to do in a short amount of time. It was very cool.
HS: So, there’s tons of great music coming out of Chicago right now; is there anyone we should be paying attention to or that you've collaborated with in the D.I.Y scene?
Wes: Oh yeah definitely, Nnamdi’s one. He’s putting out a record called Brat, coming out in April. He’s been really active for years now, but I think this new record is going to be big for him. He’s a really incredibly unique artist, a really well-rounded multi-instrumentalist, as well as a singer and rapper. Then there’s this band called Ohmme. They're putting out a new record later this year, and they're amazing. Probably two of the most talented musicians I’ve ever met. Incredible, also very unique. There are a lot of unique artists that don't necessarily fit into a specific mold coming out of Chicago, but those two artists that I’m fortunate enough to be friends with really stand out to me and the rest of the guys in the band, and we hope to continue to play with them in the future. I would say those two are the main ones right now.
HS: Oh yeah, Ohmme is great. You've also got some glittery synths here, like on "Safe or Not," which almost feel a little house-inspired or retro. For the most recent album, were there any influences you guys honed in on specifically?
Wes: Yeah, definitely. I think with our first record, When I Think of You in a Castle, it was very rock-and-roll inspired. We were all going through this phase of listening to a lot of older rock bands, a lot of psych bands, classic rock, that kind of shit. With this one there were more influences— not just rock, but also different genres: pop, hip-hop, R&B, stuff like that. Especially the synths, Jake is very influenced by house music artists like Justice, stuff like that. A lot of modern pop too. I personally think it comes through on the record and we were able to tap into that pretty well. Also a lot of ‘80s prog— but more like studio whiz bands like Toto. Just a lot of random artists from the ‘80s that have big progressive arrangements. We were very inspired by bands like that and wanted to make our version of that in modern times.
HS: That's awesome! Do you think that any music your parents listened to while you were growing up has affected your sound?
Wes: Ooh, that’s a good question! Yeah, I think so. My parents are the reason I know Toto, for instance. My dad showed me Toto when I was a kid and I really latched on to them. You know, Phil Collins, the Police— especially as a drummer. I can only really speak for myself with that, but for me, my dad’s a musician too, so I kind of have a unique perspective on it. My dad shaped a lot of my music taste early on, and then I branched out as I got older. I would definitely say that a lot of the bands that he showed me when I was young influenced me on this record.
HS: Very cool, very cool. So, a lot of bands find specific albums can sort of influence what they're working on. Was there a specific record or artist that you listened to on repeat while recording the most recent album or When I Think of You in a Castle?
Wes: With FMG— this is kind of funny, and obviously it’s a completely different world— but we were really into Astroworld around that time. That record is so just over the top, and I think that’s something we loved about it and [we] were probably subconsciously influenced by it in making FMG. We were just like, “Oh my god, this is insane, look at all these crazy, over-the-top choices— we should do that, but in our own avenue.” So that's definitely something that was in heavy rotation for sure when we were recording.
HS: So lyrically, on this record, it feels a lot more intimate than your previous efforts, it's a little mysterious, arcane. Where does Forward Motion Godyssey come from?
Wes: The name itself comes from a line in “Fitness” that goes “Forward Motion God is the words of this song” and the image of Forward Motion God is how, since the start of modern times, we have been very focused on progress and moving forward in life. You're always taught to move forward— it's not a bad thing, it's an interesting thing. You're always going. You're going through this bad time that's rough, or a moment in time that's hard, but as long as you keep on moving forward and progressing, you will continue to grow and will be better for it. I think that Forward Motion God is our name for that conflicting feeling of when people say “Always keep moving forward” and “Look to the future” and “You’ve always got to keep getting better and better.” It can be something that inhibits you from living in the present and living a really present life- we’re contemplating that whole idea, and that's where the name is from.
Also, the name is partly heartfelt and serious— and then also it’s a funny name to us. It's pretty hilarious. We thought the name Forward Motion Godyssey was funny and pretty ridiculous. It’s over-the-top, and we wanted to tow that line of us being like we're really serious about this and this is important stuff to think about, but also don't take it too seriously because we don’t, collectively.
HS: Yeah, I saw the video on the Instagram about Godyssey backwards being “yessssdog.”
Wes: Yeah, dude, that was completely a joke, but yes, exactly [laughs]. We want everyone to take something really important from the record but also have fun with it. Don't take it too seriously— but we’re also trying to say something serious with it, if that makes sense.
HS: That’s really interesting. I was curious, with the sort of resurgence psych-rock is making, what does Post Animal's future, in terms of sound, look like as more neo-psychedelic bands are coming out of the DIY scene? What do you guys see in your future?
Wes: I mean. we're definitely not trying to just adhere to the genre of psychedelic rock. I think we're always probably going to be a psychedelic band and very influenced by that sound, but we're not going to just stay in that one lane. We really want to explore a bunch of different genres. I think that from our early EPs, they sound a certain way, and then we did our first record and that was still psych-rock, but more rock-and roll-based, and then this one to me is more of a prog record. It’s still obviously psychedelic, but it’s a little more intense, a little heavier— it grooves harder, I think.
For the next one, I don't really know exactly what's up. We just put this one out, so we're still in the early stages of writing new music. We're going to keep on exploring. It’s like exploring what organically comes out of you. It’s easy to want to stay in one lane and feel like you need to be in one genre as a band or an artist— but, really, it’s 2020, and music, especially rock music, needs to be refreshing. So, why not just put no barriers on yourself, and just go everywhere with it? Go into a bunch of different directions, see what works, see what doesn’t work. Inevitably, some things will stick with people and listeners, and other things may not. It’s just about not inhibiting yourself, and letting it all flow out of you super-organically and without any barriers.
HS: So, with touring, how do you think it affects your creative process? Especially with being on the road and everything?
Wes: It affects us because when you're not touring, you want to take a break, and that can lead to periods of time where you’re not touring, where you're stagnant. I think we're figuring that out now. When we're on tour, we're not really focusing on creating new material— it's just too much, we can’t possibly do that. Touring is demanding enough as it is. The great thing about touring is that it's a time to really talk about ideas and not plan, but get things going internally and talk about what we want to do. We’ll be like “I have this idea, or blah blah blah,” and then when you’re not touring, those things get fleshed out. Right now, the plan is to tour, though. We've got this headlining tour we're going to do, and then we want to get moving pretty quickly again [with] writing. We don't want to waste any time, and [want to] continue to put music out. The more you put music out, the more you can tour. That's really the only way to financially survive being a musician. Just gotta keep on playing. That’s what's in the cards for us.
HS: Are there any collaborations you're looking forward to?
Wes: As of right now, no, but we’re always down to do that, and would love to do that with artists in the future. I'd love to collaborate with other artists.
HS: If you could collaborate with any artist dead or alive, who would you pick?
Wes: Oh, damn, I would love to collaborate with Nnamdi— he would be sick. But I’m biased because I know him. That's a hard question— I'm so bad at answering questions like that. I haven't really thought much about this. It would be funny to collaborate with Seal. Someone super random like that would be the move for us.
HS: Yeah, Lalalala just did that great collaboration with Grapetooth.
Wes: Yeah, that was sick.
HS: Last question, since you guys are from Chicago: do you like deep-dish or thin crust pizza?
Wes: Oh, dude, I don't even have a problem throwing deep-dish under the bus. I like thin crust. Thin crust for me. Who gives a fuck but deep dish? Deep-dish for me is great but no— thin crust for me, sorry. Thin crust all the way. ✰
Kiera O'Harrow is a young artist and D.C. native. She spends most of her free time at basement shows and small off-beat venues, following current music trends and integrating what she likes into her personal playlists or setlists for her band.