Made up of members from across international borders—guitarists Alex Whitcher from New Zealand and Pete Harrington from the UK, lead vocalist Ditte Kuijpers from the Netherlands, drummer Ian Kelley from California and bassist Chris Boitz, the one true Portland local—Driving for Peaches exemplifies the fact that the Portland spirit of community knows no boundaries, especially in such a unique time as this.
The band had mostly formed last year in Portland, prior to any Covid-19 restrictions. But when the pandemic hit in March, the group had to hatch a plan that could help them succeed while introducing themselves during one of the most trying times for the music industry.
“It was pretty brutal,” Whitcher says. “It really took the wind out of our sails initially. But eventually we reacted and surmised that if we couldn’t play shows, we should just record music.”
By the time Covid-19 hit, the band hadn’t yet locked down a drummer or bassist. But the then-trio didn’t want to waste any time. Working out of a makeshift studio in Harrington’s basement, the band recorded three singles: “Salt,” released in September, “Head Straight,” and a third single, “Blisters,” to be released in November.
“It was a different process than normal when you rehearse the shit out of something with the band and refine it. Instead we were developing the songs through the recording process,” Whitcher says. “I would love to see how many versions we actually had in the process of getting the one we ended up with!”
Though Covid-19 posed a lot of restrictions for the band, the push to use the internet to form their music community reaped its reward when they were able to rope in Chris Brown, former senior engineer at the legendary Abbey Road Studios, for the mixing and mastering.
“It was kind of surreal but also just amazing that we could do what we did with so little,” Whitcher says.
Just as the band themselves, the three singles were too born out of the Covid-19 lockdown era and the mindset it has put us all in: a longing for escape.
“We channeled the sense of adventure and escape that we were so craving being locked down,” Whitcher says. “‘Head Straight’ in particular is written to feel like you are in the driver’s seat heading out on a road trip.”
While the band has one more single ready to release, they don’t have any shortage of material, and after “Blisters” drops in November, Driving for Peaches are heading back into the studio.
“This time we are going to work with a local studio to record, mix and master,” Whitcher says. “It’s just right to try to give back into the local scene as much as we can at this time.”
Driving for Peaches are also hopefully looking forward to a future of live shows. But in the meantime, they’ll be taking some live streaming opportunities for a safe, socially distanced introduction to the world.