It's not surprising that the eerie, instrumental title track kicking off PS I Love You's Death Dreams comes from a real dream, dreamt by Paul Saulnier last year while on tour with Diamond Rings. A night off in New Orleans during Mardi Gras set the stage for a spooky slumber.
"In my dream, there was this person following me, but I couldn't see them," Saulnier says. "We figured out that it was Death, and that I couldn't be left alone or else Death could get me. At one point we were sitting on a curb and a marching band was playing this song and I was really into it, there were these trumpets and horns playing this melody and everyone else [on the tour] was trying to get their homework done. They went into this alley to finish their homework, and the old Death guy sat beside me, then I got a text from Diamond Rings that said 'omg we forgot we shouldn't leave you alone lol'. Then Death got me, and then I woke up. So the song was inspired by that marching band." Saulnier pauses. "Sorry. I guess other people's dreams are kind of boring."
Not so when they're the stuff that make up the haunting rockers on Death Dreams, the second album on Paper Bag Records from Kingston, Ontario duo Saulnier and drummer Benjamin Nelson. This album was more collaboratively written than their first, Meet Me At the Muster Station, with Nelson also contributing some vocals this time. Saulnier describes their process as "a lot of jams whittled down into songs." He comes up with many of his own riffs and melodies while watching Star Trek: TNG, The X-Files and Ancient Aliens. "Maybe from so many years of line cooking, I'm good at multi-tasking," Saulnier says. "I've had dreams where I'm writing a song and it's like making a recipe."
The duo is actually a trio on this tour, with Tim Bruton (The D'Urbervilles) taking on some bass and keyboard duties. "He's got really red hair," Saulnier says, adding that having Bruton along allows for "more switcheroos of instruments."
Watch for solos on a monster of a double neck guitar by Saulnier---who was, by the way, recently named number 99 on SPIN's "100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time."
PS I Love You's debut, named after the emergency gathering point on Kingston's Wolfe Island Ferry, received a flurry of attention and glowing critical reviews, and led to tours across the US and Europe. Still, Saulnier and Nelson continue to maintain a solid home base in Kingston. Death Dreams was recorded in their rehearsal space on a portable studio by Matt Rogalsky, sound artist and Queen's University professor.
Saulnier plays bass in local act Try Harder and works shifts at The Sleepless Goat Cafe. Nelson is a screenprinter and graphic designer---any Limestone City resident would recognize his striking posters from telephone poles all around town. The thing about living in Kingston, Saulnier says, is that "it's equally as good as it is shitty. There are people doing amazing things, but if you're new to town that can be hard to find. The university is this big oppressive force...but then a handful of cool students meets a handful of cool townies." The social rhythms sound pretty similar, actually, to those of Halifax: "Once you find a community of people you like, you don't even have to make plans. You just go outside and walk around."
PS I Love You w/Army Girls, Thursday, May 31 at Michael’s Bar and Grill 9:30pm, $13/$16.99