Bigger and Bolder; An Interview with Wes Toledo of Post Animal

The members of Post Animal have routinely been on the road since forming in 2015.  Since debut album When I Think of You in a Castle in released in 2018, the six-piece has also achieved a deep connection mostly in part due to being busy with working together on music and being on the road. You can imagine with the mid-March lockdown in Chicago, drummer Wes Toledo and company would be panicking and driving straight towards insanity.  “The first couple of days, we were like pretty bombed, and quickly we got over it just because we realized this is a lot bigger than us,” said Toledo.  “This is such a monumental moment for everyone and everyone is negatively affected by this. You switch up your priorities. If we have to sit around, stay put, and not do anything creative, I mean, we can still do stuff like on our creativity and keep it busy in some way or the other.  We just have to accept it.”

Throughout the past year, Post Animal has been laying low recording their sophomore full-length released in February via Polyvinyl, Forward Motion Godyssey.  Having locked in with alt-prog sounds, Godyssey showcases the band leaping forward artistically and sonically. Each track delivers elements of electronica, psych-rock, and R&B. 

Having dropped two albums in the matter of a short time and working on other stuff, does the band want to drop music at a quick pace consistently?

Yeah, definitely.  I think it’s important that especially artists in our field, rock, you have to go into the studio.  It’s not like hip hop or pop; they can just stuff out one song after the other, after the other, after the other.  We’re trying to adopt more of that mindset and approach-record as much as possible and put on music as much as possible just to keep on.  It helps when you go out and tour because you just want to bring in as many people as possible.

You do have a nice following these days.  Since your days in the DIY scene, have you noticed the increased support?

Yeah, it’s been a gradual increase.  We’re just climbing and climbing a little bit, you know; just adding more people to the fan base.  It helps when you play and tour a lot.  You’re constantly going through cities and some people that went to a show a couple of years ago come out again, but then some new people will come.  Then, you know, the idea is that you just like keep on adding on and adding on. The next time you come through, maybe the people who came like a couple of years ago come back out, plus the other people who just found out about you. So, you know, that’s how you keep on growing.

How much do you and the guys miss performing DIY shows?

Yeah, totally. I mean, the bigger shows definitely make you feel good to feel like a big band. It’s just different energy.  Like when you play in front of big crowds… it’s obviously very exhilarating, but it’s definitely more like a concert, you know.  It’s more like a performance than when you’re playing in a smaller venue to like a DIY space to a hundred people.  That’s like a party. That’s a whole different thing and they’re both great. I do miss playing like that kind of DIY atmosphere.  We did one in Europe this past time that we were there. That was really fun.  We haven’t done one in the States in a long time.  It’s harder to do them consistently, but we definitely plan to do more in the future.

You and the guys recorded Forward Motion Godyssey up in Big Sky.  What was the reasoning about going away from Chicago?

We wanted to be in a really like a prime setting. We found out about this Big Sky mansion from Javi (Reyes).  He had been there before and talked about it being amazing. It would be perfect and would be the ideal place to like camp out for a week plus.

It was so good. Beautiful. We were down with the long track…I think it was like an eighteen-hour trek out there. We kind of got held up in Fargo because of a blizzard.  But once that passed over, we kept on trucking. We got up there and just had a really, really intense, but really fun time.  It was intense because we had a lot of work to do and not a lot of time to, you know, get a whole album recorded.  Yeah, it was worth it.

How much of the album was influenced regarding recording up there?

Yeah, definitely. I mean, there was like a big window in like the main hall where we like to set up all the instruments, live tracking of the guitars, and everything. The window looked out over the mountain range as we could play these really big rifts and stuff.  Yeah, that was definitely an influence you get into.  Sort of like meditative headspace where you are just absorbing the landscape and trying to channel something, you know?  I think we did that.

I can hear the evolution you and the boys were going for than in the debut.  There’s more exploration, more massive guitar riffs, etc. 

I mean, the album is a culmination of just so many different genres of music that we love. It got all smashed into the Post Animal lens, I guess. We had that in mind when we were recording.  When we were writing we wanted it to be just explosive and all over the place—never staying put on one sound for too long, you know, onto the next thing. It’s like a house with many rooms, you go into one room and then that leads you to another room that’s completely different from the one you were just in.

Did you feel any kind of pressure recording this one to live up to the debut?

Yeah, I would say that there’s like a little bit of pressure. Not that we like felt that too much I mean with the writing for When I Think Of You In A Castle it was like the most like carefree recording process.  We obviously worked hard when we were recording it, but we were just like kind of partying that entire time that we were recording.  And it was like such a different setting.  We were in a lake house; it was the middle of summer; it was warm outside. We were just like drinking beer all the time. Just like whatever, it was a sunny, fun time…kind of carefree. With Godyssey, it was cold out, different environment, you know, it was album number two. We knew that the music was more intense than Castle. It was a different vibe; I guess that was like on our mind a little bit. We were like, huh, this is more intense.

That was what I was wondering.  Being away from Chicago and going as far as you did had to make things feel somewhat intense.

We were under the clock and also our life situation during Castle was a little bit less stressful just in our personal lives.  We channeled those feelings into the music, which I love. I’m very happy that we did that because the music is candid and representative of how we felt at that time in our lives.

The band worked with Adam Thein once again on the production side of Godyssey. How was working with him this time around?

Oh dude Adam is, well, first off, he’s an amazing person; very like calm and grounded. Very easy to work with. Very good at communicating. So like that’s just him as terms an engineer.  In terms of his skills as a producer and like a mixer, he’s like a wizard. He has his own like taste and is confident at the same time, which is very important, you know, to be confident in what you’re doing. We would send him so many notes and he would always take it in stride.  Adam’s an amazing guy; we want to continue working with him again, just because he just steers the ship in a very, very unique and calm way.

I have been seeing and hearing a lot of great musical acts coming out of Chicago recently.  Is it just timing, or is there something that we are all not seeing?

I think a lot of people from the Midwest gravitate here. It’s because it’s relatively cheap.  It’s not like living in LA or New York.  I’m from Nashville and rent in Chicago, for the most part, is more economical.  So we just get like a bunch of people from the Midwest coming down here.

Yeah, there’s just something about the city. It’s a little bit more open but has a big city vibe. You got different neighborhoods that put out a bunch of different bands are based out of and everyone’s pretty encouraging and supportive.  We have friends in bands that are in entirely different genres than we are, but we still love them and they love us.  They are down to support and play together.  I love being from here a lot of pride in and coming out of Chicago.

What got you to come to Chicago?

I went to college at DePaul.  After I graduated from college like right after, I met the guys in the band and started playing together and not very seriously.  Over the next two years, we started kind of like growing a little bit in popularity and decided to go for it.  I’m thankful that we did just because it’s shaped my entire life, at least the past four years.

What made you stop at DePaul?

I went to school for acting so that I would have been an actor.  I still plan on doing that one day, but it’s hard to do that while being in a band full time.  I’m very happy that I did.

Focusing on being an actor, what got you into wanting to be a musician?

I’ve played music my entire life.  My dad’s a musician, so I grew up playing drums. It’s like an equal passion of mine; I just didn’t go to school for it.

It was sort of like fate in my eyes. Like I met these guys and we started playing together and we have a bunch of fun playing music, you know.  Then we started recording, writing music and, playing shows.

And you’re like, ah, man, I just want to keep on doing this. Then people all over the country are down to come out and see you play as you get to tour around and travel.  It’s a great life experience, man.  I cherish all of the life moments that I get to experience from touring.

The two art forms are equal in my eyes. I’m just focusing on one more than the other right now.

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