Post Animal Pairs a Stranger Things Star and a Haunted Album

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Post Animal
Kristina Pedersen Photography
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The guys in the band Post Animal aren't too keen about being labeled as psychedelic rock. On the phone with New Times, Javier Reyes, one of the group's many guitarists, came up with a more specific description of their live show:

"It's loud, distorted guitar with heavy bits of stoner; metal breakdowns; some quick, poppy, fast, punky energy stuff; and some slow burners and groovy numbers. You'll see some strange-looking faces, lots of hair, sweat, and screaming."

Despite all of those aforementioned influences, guitarist/keyboardist Jake Hirshland says the Chicago-based Post Animal began most inspired by country music. "Dalton Allison [the band's singer] was listening to the Byrds. Country became the original key to our heart. Our first EP, Like a Babe in the Woods, was a country EP, but then the last song was synthy psychedelic, and we started transitioning into intricate weird stuff," Hirshland says.

Though that EP has been taken offline, their two full-length records — Perform the Most Curious Water Activities and The Garden Series — show off their eclectic sound.

Hirshland and Allison founded the band in 2014 and then kept adding new influences — and new members, including drummer Wesley Toledo and guitarist Matt Williams. But the most famous Post Animal bandmate is guitarist Joe Keery, who played the part of Steve in the popular Netflix series Stranger Things.

"It's been cool. We're proud of him, and his success has brought a lot of eyes and ears to the band," Williams says of their bandmate's newfound fame as an actor.

Williams met Keery when they were waiting tables together. According to Williams, Keery owes some of his acting success to him.

"Joe had studied theater and gotten some smaller parts. I helped him film the audition tape for Stranger Things, and all he did was buy me an iced coffee for it. It's a bit of a bummer he can't tour with us since he's working, but it's nice to see a friend do well."

Though Keery isn't touring with the band this summer, including at this week's South Florida shows, he was able to contribute on their new album, which they hope to release later this year.

"It's completely finished, sound-wise," Hirshland says. "We still have some artwork to do. It was completely self-made with almost zero production dollars spent."

Their makeshift recording studio, a friend's Michigan lake house, was a setting straight out of Stranger Things. "It was a haunted house. The grandfather of the owner of the house had died there. One night in the middle of my sleep, I felt him grab my hand," Hirshland recalls. "In the recording, there were all kinds of crazy, unplanned sounds. There were sounds we can't guarantee were from a ghost, but there are reverse delay cymbals that we know Wes did not play." 

They handled that supernatural encounter with the same calmness they've employed on their current and lengthiest tour. Their laid-back demeanor, according to Hirshland, stems from their hometown of Chicago, specifically its nurturing music scene.

"It was hard to break into the scene a little bit, but once you show your face and play all the time, you have friends everywhere," Hirshland says. "It wasn't a quick process, but no one tries to keep you out. Friends will get you gigs, and people become eager to check you out. People let you onstage even if you suck, and no one heckles you unless you deserve it."

Post Animal
8 p.m. Wednesday, June 28, at Respectable Street, 518 Clematis St., West Palm Beach; sub-culture.org/respectable-street; 561-832-9999. Admission costs $8.

9 p.m. Thursday, June 29, at Churchill's Pub, 5501 NE Second Ave., Miami; churchillspub.com; 305-757-1807. Admission costs $8.

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