PS I Love You is an old-school kind of indie rock band, the kind from back when ‘indie rock’ meant something more specific than ‘music some nerdy young people listen to’ – back when it meant the Pixies and Sonic Youth.
PS I Love You brought their nostalgia-rock to a small but excited crowd at the Casbah on May 19, and before the show I spoke to singer and guitarist Paul Saulnier.
Though PS I Love You are loud, Saulnier is not. He has an unexpectedly soft voice and a dreamy, dethatched expression. I asked Saulnier about whether the band’s need for body-rumbling loudness is rock star confidence or a wall of sound to hide behind.
“Well, maybe it’s a bit of both, I don’t know,” he replied. “I let the volume speak for me, so maybe it’s shyness, but I’m confident in my playing. I feel like my guitar is more my voice than my voice.”
In the early days, PS I Love You was just Saulnier, and he would do everything himself when the band played live.
“I would have more gear than most bands. Only a couple shows ever went well,” Saulnier recalls. “Stuff always ended up being a disaster, like if the drum machine cut out then the organ loop wouldn’t be in sync anymore. I was not good at using looping pedals, so I got rid of them.”
Benjamin Nelson, the band’s drummer, replaced the temperamental looping pedals and drum machines. After Nelson joined, PS I Love You began to look more like a proper rock band, and they went on their first tour.
The band’s first show away from their hometown of Kingston was in Hamilton. Saulnier said the show “went well, and it kind of made us think, oh yeah, we could do this again.”
Encouraged by their first Hamilton show, PS I Love You continued to tour. Buzz began to build around the band, and in early 2010, their song “Facelove” was featured on Pitchfork.
“Recently, we kind of got a bad Pitchfork review, so we’re going to find out how that affects us, which is kind of scary,” said Saulnier. “When you’re touring in America, the word of God has been replaced with the word of Pitchfork.”
Almost every music blog that has written about PS I Love You recently, including Pitchfork, has mentioned how the song “Death Dreams” is a recording of a melody that Saulnier heard in a dream about his own death, like a musician’s version of a dream journal.
Keeping a dream journal is thought to help people have lucid dreams.
I asked Saulnier if he thought that by recording his dream melodies he might be able to someday lucidly write music while asleep.
“I don’t know, maybe. That’s interesting. I do fall asleep with my guitar quite often, so maybe I already do and I don’t even know about it.”