My best buddy Brad used the description “60’s punk” to describe an early White Fence concert and I’m repurposing it here to describe The Peacers. For the uninformed, as the Sic Alps quit booming Mike Donovan formed the band, a kind of rebirth but still within a shield pastiched from the fragmented eggshells of Mike Donovan’s psyche/song writing. Initially getting its sea legs with Fuckwolf’s Eric Park and Ty Segall’s Ty Segall it is now cemented with the ideal San Francisco gang of lifers: elemental drummer in the Thee Oh Sees rise to power Mike Shoun Fresh and Only’s bass wonder-mind Shayde Sartin and the George Harrison of the group, Bo Moore.

If you hate the Beatles eject your THC gummy and skip this part but I feel serious Abby Road parallels with Blexxed Rec: after exploring enough “psychedelia” the boys are here to work, be it with Devo-like ‘reductive synthesis’, stoic production, and pardon the phrase, ballsy panning. Oh, and they are here to SING. They are loose, practiced and charged. Mike D. may be in his “Blue Period” but he’s not sad, he’s thriving.

I asked Mike to highlight whatever he thought was interesting about each track on the new record:


MD: Late 1800’s Haight Ashbury fantasy of a high living socialite madam and her girls who live in a non-existent sex positive, female dominant society where the young Ms. Stanyon is free to decide all on a whim. In wild decadence / sex worker windfall she proceeds with the tireless business of breaking hearts.

MD: Bo wrote and sang this one. I helped out with the lyrics a very little bit. Motherfucker isn’t used as a pejorative here. It's about an aging music scene guy who is currently working as a doorman at a rocker bar, something like that. He was a motherfucker not long ago and now his star has faded- but if you look close you can still detect his recent rock-scene glory. I like to think that despite his aging out, he's remained dignified, not suffering fools easily.

MD: This one must be at least 20 years old. Kept trying to make this work since the earliest Sic Alps days but it would never actually lie down. Now it has, thanks to Mike's runaway train drumming and Shayde's Swell Maps-pop-song-bass line that's 100% up. Bo adds Mellotron freak speech.

MD: Bo on the mic here, he wrote this one too. I'm on the high vocal harmony. This must be a love song, set in a dystopian economy. “Ordinary cemetery, very sound investment”

MD: Not a Phillip K. Dick ref but something that I wrote up on Stinson Beach, CA just across the lagoon from Bolinas, in grey weather. The setting of this tune moves from Poland in the final days of WWII to present day Ohio where a famous duo of Rock Hall apologists slide out of the immaculately restored mid-century delivery truck and moonwalk into the auditorium.

MD: "Too stoned" is found to be "tombstoned' after consulting lyric sheet. Another old song, this one of a 2005 vintage, most likely. Finally got this one right after Mike Shoun got puddled on Market street by a stranger and a couple hours later knocked the recording and playing of the drum track out of the park- at one point he misses a beat and his recovery/pause is worth the price of admission.

MD: This tune has a Tommy/Talma riff as a starting point, another old song of mine finally reaching "definitive version" status here. I kept some of the Who Tommy type lyrics of early versions, adding in more mixed Who imagery to belabour the point.

MD: Bo singing and writing here. “Hair long dandelion….” I'm gonna go out on a limb here and say I think Bo is in love with his wife.

MD: Jesus girls walk up escalators, starring in a kind of misguided food court beauty pageant. Some popular apostles show up as well, at a bar somewhere in Gold Country, CA. This song is a lyrical sister/continuation of "Aboriginal Flow" from "Introducing The Crimsmen"

MD: Broken hearted sheik bides his time, waiting for the feeling to fade, knowing that no one likes a sore loser. Except people with exceptional empathy or big problems.

MD: Sounds like Big Star? Hopefully a little bit. This is in the well worn woman-as misunderstood-heroine-mold-of-songwriting I'm quite partial to: the protagonist / fantasist carelessly dreams her way out of daily boredoms. Bo has the last word in the slow fade.

MD: Shayde comes thru with the closer and puts all previous tracks to shame with this clear eyed song about drinking alcohol. Wymond of Fresh & Onlys is playing piano and more on this. An honest, knock out punch of self knowledge.


TB: What inspired your move from San Francisco to Upstate NY?
MD: Basically my wife Laurel and I found a great place up here, with room for her to have a painting studio and for me to have a little music studio. And it was really high time for us to leave SF. I was vaguely aware of the whole Upstate trip via my friend Luke Calzonetti who had spent a year in the Catskills, holed up painting. Then, I played a solo show at The Half Moon in Hudson after Meg from U.S. Girls told me Mike Fellows was doing sound there- I had met Mike in D.C. around '94. Anyways, Hudson was nice and we ended up finding our place, just outside of town. Now Mike and I are working together- was it maybe just a long con to make the collaboration finally happen, originating in the mid 90s?

TB: Can you talk about your experience as a cab driver and the rise of Uber/Lyft in SF?
MD: I was there for the takeover and like a whole lot of long time cab drivers I saw my income slashed by 50% or more. There's a lot to it really, but it felt like a betrayal. During that time I would ride my bike home scanning the ground for cash after yet another long, shitty night. But some guys had it worse, namely those who bought medallions from the corrupt city officials who knowingly orchestrated financially crippling loans as the industry was tanking.

TB: What are the pros and cons of home recording?
MD: At this point I've nearly scrubbed the cons. I can't imagine ever going into a studio again, at least with my own music. My talent is, lets say, precarious. So relying on it while the clock is ticking I've found is not a solid plan.

TB: Talk to me about working with Eric Bauer.
MD: He's great to work with. I'm about to head there this week to mix. I used to drive him crazy, I think, trying to push my luck with bro-deal economics and getting the most out of my dollar, but now, in my wise old age, I've learned to take it ez and have more fun.

TB: Tell me about living in Germany.
MD: The Germans would always say "Why Hannover?" Well, again my good friend Luke Calzonetti was living there at the time. I found it to be a chill place and it was a great relief to be away from SF for a while. I stayed for about a year. I ended up running the Hannover marathon, high-fiving hundreds of young kids along the way as is the custom there- that was a highlight. In the end I came home with the songs for the first Peacers record.

TB: What’s your take on marijuana?
MD: Everything in moderation, including moderation.

TB:What are you reading?
MD: I'm currently re-reading "American Magus Harry Smith: A Modern Alchemist" edited by Paola Igliori. It's a collection of interviews of people who knew Harry Smith personally. It's a great read about a mind-blowing character.

TB: Are you working now?
MD: Yea, I'm a substitute teacher at the public school here in Hudson- teaching mostly Jr High. It's a trip and I really enjoy it. Lots of good stories for my wife every day. I dig working with the behavioral special ed kids (trouble makers) since I was in those classes myself. The other day a kid wanted to play some music in class, off his phone- something mellow. He asked me if I knew the name of this keyboard player he was trying to remember- a famous guy who played relaxing music. I thought Phillip Glass? He said "He's really old". I was stumped but then he suddenly remembered- "Beethoven!" I was like "Oh yea, that keyboard player"

TB: What is your take on Spotify?
MD: I would just say that all the streaming services were inevitable. Of course they bring a lot of music to a lot of people and that's a good thing. But the fact that they pay out so poorly to artists is a complete disgrace. They should be giving back, filling the public schools with music programs, just overloading them with tubas and high paid music teachers. But of course they don't- because they love money! Fuck em!

TB: Do you picture a post Covid-19 world?
MD: Looks like it might be around the corner? But yea I'm ready to play some shows. Didn't mind the break though!

You can get the album HERE along with some fantastic Mike Donovan solo LP’s….




"Peacers" LP/CD/CASS (Drag City - 2015)
Peacers/Elisa Ambrogio split CASS (self-released - 2015)
"Introducing the Crimsmen" LP/CD/CASS (Drag City - 2017)
"Blexxed Rec" LP (Drag City - 2021)

Peacers on the web here or here.

Interview by Lars Finberg.

Pics provided by Peacers and the internet - if anyone would like a credit please contact the editor.

To read other interviews in the 'Lars vs...' series, go here.