FOLLOWING THE SUCCESS of his band's debut album, Peter Pisano is temporarily living in San Diego, writing new material for the duo, Peter Wolf Crier. "There's an organ in the basement, a guitar in my room," he says. "I wake up in the morning and I write. It's kind of a scary thing—on days when you have nothing to say, you have nothing to do. It's also one of the most exciting periods of my life." It's certainly a change from Pisano's home in Minneapolis, where he wrote the band's debut, Inter-Be. "It's kind of been a fucking weird transition, 'cause I went from minus 15 degrees and two feet of snow to sun and fun."
Peter Wolf Crier came about after the dissolution of Pisano's previous band, the Wars of 1812, which had moved out of Milwaukee to make a go of it in Minneapolis. "When I moved out to Minneapolis, my former bass player [Mei-Ling Anderson] asked me to stop and see her friend Justin play. And that was when Justin Vernon released the Bon Iver record. So I saw that moving out. Then two days later, our band played a show with her boyfriend's band, and Brian [Moen, drummer for Peter Wolf Crier] was the drummer of that band. So before I even made it to Minneapolis I saw the first Bon Iver concert and Brian play for the first time. It was very storybook in that way."
The Bon Iver connection gives a point of reference for Peter Wolf Crier's folk-based sound, which bears a similar Midwestern chilliness and a wind-blown fragility. But Peter Wolf Crier—whose sound is created entirely by the duo of Pisano and Moen—also have a quickly beating pulse, an undercurrent of sultriness that tempers the songs' potential melancholy with classic, timeless pop.
"When I saw Brian play, there was just an energy to that band," remembers Pisano of that first encounter. "We played second and it was so fucking daunting. Every time after that—I probably saw Brian play with that band about eight times after that—and every time I'd watch this fucking guy drum, and it would just rip me apart. When I wrote the songs for [Inter-Be], I knew that I was trying to drum like this guy I just had seen drum. It literally dawned on me one day that I could just fucking call the guy up and ask him to drum on this record. I could just actually have him on here—the thing I'm trying to recreate. And that is why he's on that record. And that much hasn't changed."
Peter Wolf Crier is currently performing the arrangements of Inter-Be live as a duo, bringing a clarity and vitality to the songs. At this point, there's no plan to add any more musicians. "Getting to see two people brings this immediate focus to the arrangements, because it's like you can't hide in any of the movements," says Pisano. "When there are six people on stage you don't know how the sounds are being created all the time. But when you see two people fucking sweating their ass off to get every bit of melody into an arrangement, I feel like you don't take that for granted. There's something there that I would never want to get lost."