Mike Donovan, formerly of psych rock/noise band Sic Alps, has spawned a more vintage throwback sound to the sixties with his new band Peacers, made alongside his San Francisco counterpart Ty Segall, who produced the album and performed on a number of the songs. Peacers is set to play on Easter night (Sunday 3/27) at The Rickshaw Stop.
After ten years, Sic Alps had called it quits and Mike Donovan moved from San Francisco to Germany, to clear his head. Donovan lived in the small town of Hanover, whose population stands at just around 500,000 people. After about ten months and one off solo record called, Wot, Donovan made his way back to San Francisco stopping through Los Angeles to link up with Ty Segall.
After a couple days in his basement studio, an album was born under the moniker, Peacers. Since then, Peacers grew legs and are now a fully functional rocking trio with additions Eric Park and Mike Shoun (Thee Oh Sees). We caught up with Donovan to talk about living in Germany, his new record and going back in time…
Did you grow up in San Francisco?
I grew up outside of Chicago but I’ve been in the city for twenty years. I was playing in a band in DC and they had come out to San Francisco before I joined the band and they said it was amazing. I had never been, and showed up on Halloween of 1996 and never left.
Was there any sort of culture shock moving to San Francisco?
The dot.com was really exploding at that time but it was still kind of ok. We had to line up to get into an apartment but we got a one bedroom for $875. A one bedroom in DC was like $600. It was cool. Things were weird but I was welcomed it – ravers, deadheads, yoga freaks. I like teaming with weirdo’s.
How did you eventually find music as an outlet? Who inspired you?
When I was like eighteen I had a friend who I met at community college and he worked at a record store and made me tapes of all this stuff, everything from the Fall to weird goth stuff, to the Butthole Surfers and Flaming Lips; weird bands and stuff I’d never heard of.
I miss tapes. There seemed to be so much more value and sentiment when someone made you a mix tape. There was a lot more effort involved.
You had to get your pacing right and everything. It’s one of those things where things get more convenient but they lose the essence because the function becomes so easy.
To piggyback on that, there’s a great quote on your website that says “abandon your role in the convenience movement.”
My new plan is I’m gonna Photoshop a collage of old political buttons. You know how there are those silly slogans that are provocative like ‘quit your corny tech job’ and ‘fight the fight.’
Totally. And Peacers has this sound influenced of the 60’s, also known for their revolutionary and political movements.
I blame everything on social media. I saw a guy get punched in the face at a Trump rally and I’m like ‘[I blame] Instagram, Facebook.’ I always blame social media. It’s garbage. It’s one of those things like ‘my power- my weakness.’ Things become too convenient and you end up just going for low hanging fruit.
You were previously in the band Sic Alps with Matt Hartman. Why did that come to an end?
We were around for like ten years. It just got to the point where it was like a good time to end it. It was a good dance.
And then you moved to Germany?
I moved to Germany for ten months. It was cool. I was in Hanover, not an exciting town culturally. People (who lived there) were like “why, Hanover?” I was sort of trying to get away from everything. When I came back I stopped in LA on the way home and recorded the Peacers record with Ty Segall over three days- three ten hours a day. He just metabolized my songs super effortlessly and fast. I wasn’t surprised because he knows how to make good songs and knows my music well.
The new album I’m doing at home. There’s lots of time to do it and there’s no deadline. It’s a completely different process. It’s much more comfortable now. I’m really enjoying have the freedom to do it at home, and this it the first album I’m producing.
Would you ever move to LA?
I would move to LA under one condition – if it was the 1930’s. We may have the technology to do that.
If you could go back in time would you attempt to save the world or just live?
Probably just to live in that period, and to just blow people’s minds with the Beatle’s songbook.