Peach and the New Beats are a band. Its formation wasn’t exactly an accident as much as an organic evolution. The embryonic form began with Hayley Alker and Gary Shaw. I have spoken about Hayley a few times on these pages. She is a fantastic musician encompassing piano, composition and an outstanding vocal talent. Her father, Dave, is an accomplished jazz pianist and artist whose influence has flowed effortlessly into his daughter. Hayley’s scope and range is vast. Her styles are wide and always incomplete. That sounds strange but it is, in actuality, a gigantic compliment. It means she is always looking for something new. Always. For a musician, I think that is the ultimate goal.
Gary Shaw plays guitar. That four word sentence is probably the biggest understatement I have ever written. His knowledge is only matched by his enthusiasm. Gary has spent a good deal of his life touring with big bands. A guitar gun for hire, he has been there and done it many times over. His knowledge and command of chord voicings and scales along with the fine art of slotting them together is a mind boggling phenomenon. Like all great musicians, he makes it look so easy. Piss easy. To say he is a guitarist is wrong though. It is, in fact, incidental. A guitarist usually wants to be better and faster than other guitarists, they can be bitchy and annoying, loud and scratchy. Gary is none of these. He is a musician. Guitar just happens to be his vehicle.
Almost recreationally Gary and Hayley started to play together. Covers and jazz standards with their own swing. It was good, real good. Jon Callender, who is married to Hayley began to sit in with Hayley and Gary. Jons drumming resumé is pretty vast. He played on my record. He plays drums for Curl, The Shutka Champions, until very recently Carmen Rosa and I sorely, SORELY miss the days when we did Cranes shows together. Hayley and Jon have been my friends for a long time.
One day, after an evening of Gary, Hayley and Jon jamming I was at Hayley and Jons to record Hayleys vocals for the forth-coming Curl record. Hayley popped in a CD, casually and with no fuss, and invited me to listen whilst the coffee brewed. The night before they jammed out 3 songs. The first was outstanding and I asked, begged, threatened (and would have stolen) the Logic project. I took it home and mixed it adding a little piano and bass. My goal was to try not to fuck it up. It was an awesome capture of a moment and in a stressed week for Hayley, work-wise, I popped it round to her when I was finished. Luckily for me, all three of the cheeky sailors liked it. I would have been happy just not being punched, so I was extremely pleased.
This lead to me sitting in on bass. The first session, admittedly, I was nervous. There was so much talent in the room. This is the thing though, it just worked. It seemed so easy because it was so easy. Hayley was calling the parts. It was open and changeable. It was four musicians just playing music. That sounds strange doesn’t it? So often, too often, this is not the case. It is rarely this easy.
So we just carried on. We jam out songs, we record them as we go. They are never the same, it is how we feel at the time and it really is greater than the sum of its parts. On Saturday the 17th August, 2013, we did our first show. The day before we rehearsed and during rehearsal we came up with a new song. We played the song at the show. That, really is the best way to describe Peach and the New Beats. We are all playing other things, working on other things but our hearts and souls are certainly in this band despite what else we may be working on.
Come and see us and you’ll see for yourself.
Hayley, Gary, Jon and Paul. This is Peach and the New Beats and it is fucking awesome.