On Intent and Isolation: A Conversation with Post Animal

Post Animal © Marie Renaud
Post Animal’s Matt Williams sat with Atwood Magazine to discuss the importance of intent, impulse, and isolation during the recording of ‘Forward Motion Godyssey’ and what this new record means for the rapidly rising star of Post Animal within the neo-psychedelic rock cosmos.

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Perhaps the first thought that comes to mind when listening to Forward Motion Godyssey is “what the hell does that title even mean?” But perhaps the right word to describe Post Animal’s sophomore record is majestic. Another is space. Combine the two and voila, the record can be described as a majestic space.

Forward Motion Godyssey – Post Animal

More so than When I Think of You in a Castle, this record (released February 14, 2020 via Polyvinyl Records) unfurls like the tapestry within the psychedelic rock band’s newly minted, cosmic chateau. Recorded in a cabin in Big Sky, Montana, Dalton Allison, Matt Williams, Javi Reyes, Jake Hirshland, Wesley Toledo, and collaborator Adam Thein found new creative life in inverting their traditional sound for new themes and threading more intricate synths to old-fashioned riff work. From the opening scrawl of “Your Life Away” to the last notes of “Sifting,” Post Animal has moved from the terrestrial party to the comet-bound caravanserai of the mind; an album made for transitions and finding oneself in the space of psychedelia rather than losing oneself.

Indeed the greatest joy of this record isn’t listening to the highs the five-piece reach, but traversing the plateaus of their musicality. Taken as a whole, the sophomore effort is a far more polished, consistent effort than their first. The ever Sabbath-tinged guitars imbued with intent on “Post Animal” and “Damaged Goods,” the synthesizers turning a card from Alan Parson’s Project hand on “Fitness” and “Safe or Not,” the Rupert Holmesian ache within Allison’s voice on “Schedule.” Hell, the nostalgia for arena rock records is as palpable on the first go-around as it is on the 100th. And all of it speaks to a band that has grown considerably from their heady psych-garage milieu.

Post Animal © Marie Renaud
Post Animal © Marie Renaud

Lined with intent and impulse in equal measure, the new record heralds new possibilities for Post Animal’s personal realm of rock and should delight fans with a surprising shift in sonic direction.

Listeners may have primed themselves with singles, “Schedule” and “Fitness” but it’s the undercard run that cements this record as worth money and time. Time to listen, and time to talk.

With that in mind, and one writer’s burning passion to listen to all things psychedelic from here to eternity, Atwood Magazine sat down with founding member Matt Williams to discuss the formulation, production, and release of Forward Motion Godyssey!

Listen: ‘Forward Motion Godyssey’ – Post Animal


Atwood Magazine: Thank you for sitting down with Atwood Magazine again! How has your year been?

Matt Williams: It is a very early start, but we’ve basically just been practicing all the new material that we’re about to put out in preparation for these upcoming tours that we’re doing in February through April, so it’s been pretty busy, we’ve been prepping a lot.

Indeed, are you guys looking forward to touring with Cage the Elephant?

Matt Williams: Oh yeah, that has us speechless. It’s pretty insane that we get the chance to play with them. We were very fortunate and very lucky, very nervous but very excited. All kinds of emotions coming about for that. That’s where the practice comes in. Hopefully, we’ll be just practiced enough [laughs].

How was 2019, was it just full of songwriting?

Matt Williams: I would say it was a little bit slower in terms of playing and being out and about. But that was when we recorded [Forward Motion Godyssey] in about February, March. So yeah, we were sitting on material and then demoing it out and then eventually we recorded it in March, then we went on a couple of tours, but nothing too big since early 2019. So I think we’re excited to go as full and hard as we can now that we got this new album.

I’m amazed that you guys have been sitting on this material for a year then, that’s incredible patience?

Matt Williams: It’s something that we learned with the first album. Sometimes you might have something recorded and ready to go but it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s comin’ out in a couple of months. Sometimes it takes a little longer in terms of scheduling with labels and adequate promotion and all that stuff. I think it makes us antsy and ready to go. The longer we wait, the more we just want to release it, play it, try it out in front of people.

Post Animal© 2018

How was recording in Montana? Did you seek isolation as a way to inspire new ideas or to incubate preconceived ones?

Matt Williams: I don’t know if we were so much seeking out isolation, I think it’s just something that we were kind of lucky enough to have happened to us, every time we do a writing process or a recording process, we just had a family friend of Javi’s [Reyes] in Big Sky, Montana…. and it just of worked out. We kinda inquired about recording there and they were super nice enough to allow us to do so. We really like getting out of a city environment for like a practice space, rather than a studio environment. We’ve only really ever [recorded] ourselves in houses. It’s pretty comfortable for us and Montana is absolutely beautiful. The scenery and the environment we were in definitely influenced us. It made [Forward Motion Godyssey] feel special.

What influences were you listening to before and during the craft of Forward Motion Godyssey? Any new wave?

Matt Williams: I don’t think any of us were taking specifically New Wave influence while writing. I think we were listening to a lot of stuff. I think there were a lot of emotional influences. Everyone was just feeling shifts in emotions and changes happening in there lives. So we were all in a pensive writing mode. We all just wanted to write more cinematic, dramatic—not all melancholy because there’s definitely some happy notes there—but overall more melancholic music and just wanted to make it as grand as possible to evoke the feeling of what we were feeling at the time. We just wanted to go a little bit darker, try and experiment as much as we could and also just capture the tone.

Did seem more in your head and pensive than with When I Think of You in a Castle?

Matt Williams: Yeah, one hundred percent. We also just had more of an idea that we were going to go in and try something out that we hadn’t before. Whereas When I Think of You in a Castle was maybe [made] a little bit less so with intention. More just a group of songs that we all put together a long time ago or fully fleshed out in our time recording When I Think of You in a Castle. But [Forward Motion Godyssey] was definitely more intention driven and more thought about, more created rather than thrown together.

The album features keyboards in more prominent sections on the record, particularly on “Safe or Not” and “Schedule.” Did you set out to write with the keyboards in mind or was that just an impulse?

Matt Williams: I think even since the Castle days, we’ve been implementing more and more keyboard parts and even now we’re trying to go with more sub-bass and sub synth parts. We just like when things are full and keyboards and synths and sub-bass are just kind of fun ways to experiment with making a song just have another layer of fullness… <laughs> We just wanted to try everything.

Listen: “Schedule” – Post Animal

You also explore some new territory lyrically with “Schedule,” more intimate lyrics, this is why I was wondering if, when you guys were in Montana, if this was a way to hone into your introverted mind. The lyrics sound like those of an introvert.

Matt Williams: That’s a good point. Going to such a point of isolation might’ve influenced the lyrics and we also went into writing this kind of content knowing that we wanted to… write lyrics that create feelings or emotions within someone who was listening to it and mean something to ourselves personally. But also if someone else hears [them] and interprets them in a way that helps them, we wanted that to happen. So the lyrics were a big, important thing, to improve on our lyricism and really mean what we say and know what we’re saying. If that makes sense?

I think when this album arrives people are going to be pretty impressed at how you guys can shift gears.

Matt Williams: I hope. That’s very flattering, thank you!

Do you think impulse and intent are separate or intrinsically tied? Or do you need a healthy bit of both?

Matt Williams: I think the answer is both. If we do something with an impulse I think a lot of the times… I might go back and change and it might not be the final idea if I just write impulsively, whereas if I write with a purpose in mind, you kind of know the path you’re headed towards, but of course impulsive ideas always come into play or almost always come into play and that’s kind of where the fun magic happens. Like “oh we just decided to throw this in here even though we kind of had an idea for this.” Javi [Reyes] just played this little part, outta nowhere, and wow that needs to sit in there, stay in there. They probably are always tied together.

Speaking of, why Forward Motion Godyssey? Where does that come from?

Matt Williams: It’s kind of up to interpretation a little bit. But one of the themes of the record is dealing with new feelings and new emotions based on changes happening in your life. It’s kind of a reminder or a mantra to look forward to whatsoever is happening. To keep progressing. And “Godyssey” of course, I’ll leave that to an individual’s take on it.

Watch: “How Do You Feel” – Post Animal

The philosophers will be talking about it for decades, years, eons, centuries, in that order.

Matt Williams: The new Platos, the new Aristotles.

“The New Platos” sounds like a good rock band name.

Matt Williams: Yeah, it sounds very mid-2000’s indie rock. Which I’m down with. New York scene, y’know?

Indeed, very DIY.

Matt Williams: Yeah! Exactly.

Because the western music world has seen such an overall resurgence in popular neo-psychedelia, is it harder or easier to be noticed, to differentiate, even innovate, as a band?

Matt Williams: I do like that there is a resurgence. Because anything to create interest in anything but straight-up mainstream music—it’s just good to have differentiation across all forms of music. It’s never a bad thing if people start to get interested in a lesser-known style or ones that are dated. Just as long as more music is coming out, it’s generally a good thing. It’s probably harder to get a bigger attraction to your music if you go down one of those subcategories, like psychedelic or whatever. At the end of the day, people just make what they want to make and if it happens to be a little more spaced out and experimental and weird than as long as it makes you happy to make it then that’s a good thing.

Post Animal © Pooneh Ghana
Post Animal © Pooneh Ghana

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:: Stream Post Animal ::

:: Post Animal Tour Dates ::

% w/ Cage the Elephant, SWMRS | # w/ TWEN
02/16 – Leeds, UK @ O2 Academy Leeds %
02/17 – Glasgow, UK @ O2 Academy Glasgow %
02/18 – Newcastle, UK @ Cluny 2
02/19 – Manchester, UK @ O2 Victoria Warehouse %
02/20 – Birmingham, UK @ O2 Academy %
02/21 – London, UK @ The Shacklewell Arms
02/22 – London, UK @ Alexandra Palace %
02/24 – Antwerp, Belgium @ Trix Bar
02/25 – Paris, France @ Supersonic
02/26 – Amsterdam, Netherlands @ Paradiso
02/27 – Hamburg, Germany @ Molotow
02/28 – Berlin, Germany @ Maze
03/10 – Toronto, ON @ Velvet Underground #
03/11 – Montreal, QC @ Bar Le Ritz #
03/12 – Boston, MA @ Once Ballroom #
03/13 – Saratoga Springs, NY @ Putnam Place #
03/14 – New York, NY @ Music Hall of Williamsburg #
03/17 – Washington, DC @ DC9 #
03/18 – Durham, NC @ Motorco #
03/19 – Asheville, NC @ Grey Eagle #
03/20 – Atlanta, GA @ The Masquerade – Purgatory #
03/21 – Nashville, TN @ Exit/In #
03/24 – New Orleans, LA @ One Eyed Jacks #
03/25 – Houston, TX @ White Oak – Upstairs #
03/26 – Austin, TX @ Scoot Inn #
03/27 – Dallas, TX @ Club Dada #
03/28 – Guadalajara, Mexico @ Echoes Festival
04/01 – Phoenix, AZ @ Rebel Lounge #
04/03 – San Diego, CA @ Casbah #
04/04 – Los Angeles, CA @ The Roxy #
04/07 – San Francisco, CA @ The Chapel #
04/09 – Seattle, WA @ The Crocodile #
04/10 – Vancouver, BC @ Fox Cabaret #
04/11 – Portland, OR @ Mississippi Studios #
04/14 – Bozeman, MT @ The Rialto #
04/15 – Salt Lake City, UT @ Kilby Court #
04/16 – Denver, CO @ Bluebird Theater #
04/17 – Omaha, NE @ Slowdown #
04/18 – Minneapolis, MN @ 7th Street Entry #
04/23 – Chicago, IL @ Thalia Hall #
04/24 – Madison, WI @ High Noon Saloon #
tix & more info @ postanimal.us

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