Hollywood Vs. P.S. I Love You
Published Sep 26, 2010"That movie really annoys me," contends Paul Saulnier. It's his initials, he swears, not the trite, Gerard Butler-starring romance, that provides the real reason behind naming his band P.S. I Love You. "I was like 'What?!' and I went through all this turmoil, going 'Should I change the band name?' But my friends said I should just keep the name. I was known for being a sappy guy, so P.S. I Love You was a funny thing to call me, I guess." Truth be told, though, it's a bit of a misnomer; Saulnier's a sweet guy, no doubt ― he pushes through our conversation despite an audible cold ― but his band hardly conveys the sappiness suggested by the moniker.
In actuality, there's a striking amount of chaos to P.S. I Love You's songs; between Saulnier's frantic caterwaul, his walls of virtuosic guitar, and drummer Benjamin Nelson's emphatic drum work, there's little to evoke sentimentality in the duo's music, but a lot to suggest that despite their youthfulness, the duo is hardly new to writing challenging, interesting music.
As a teenager growing up in Kingston, Ontario, Saulnier was in a number of bands, the most notably a four-piece called Magic Jordan, in which he and Nelson played bass and drums, respectively. "I thought we made a pretty good rhythm section," Saulnier explains. "We had a really good musical rapport." It was on the strength of that partnership that Saulnier asked Nelson to join his then-solo act P.S. I Love You in 2008, two years after he'd begun performing shambolic but beloved shows to his hometown.
"My solo shows," Saulnier explains laughing, "they never really went well. I'd have so much stuff going on ― loop pedals, drum machines, keyboards ― something would always go wrong. I'd be playing a song and the drum machine would cut out, so I'd have to start the song over again because I had all these other loops synced up to the drum machine. I thought I'd try jamming with Ben on drums, and it worked out really well. It's been really good ever since."
Saulnier is being modest. The band earned opening spots for nearly every indie band passing through Kingston; "ever since" refers to a period of time in which the band released a highly-acclaimed split seven-inch with glam-pop showman Diamond Rings, got signed to Toronto indie label Paper Bag, and most recently, released their debut LP, Meet Me At The Muster Station.
"They're mostly just love songs," Saulnier says of the album, but he's being modest again. Muster Station is complex, oscillating between chaotic guitar heroics and intelligent, turn-your-head chord changes, often within the same song. "2012," the album's divine centrepiece, is the song perhaps most indicative of what P.S. I Love You are capable of. After nearly drowning in a sea of crashing cymbals, guitar swells and reverb in the verses, Saulnier's yearning howl storms to the forefront aside his chiming guitar in the song's stirring, anthemic chorus to beg where we'll be in the titular year.
He's understandably miffed, then, that the song title ended up getting aped in the same way his band name did. "I record that song before the movie came out, too," he promises. "I feel like there are Hollywood agents following me around."