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  • Writer's pictureNailhead Magazine


Peter The Human Boy is probably Vienna's figurehead when it comes to dream pop/slow rock/indie rock. Peter Mathis, who was born in Vorarlberg, has been one of the best-known and most popular indie rockers on the local scene for some time, because with his dreamy sound he has not only gained notoriety in Austria, but also internationally. We were allowed to interview Peter The Human Boy exclusively for you and asked him some interesting questions.

Nailhead Magazine: Hey Peter, thanks for taking the time to answer a few questions for us! For those who don't know you yet, please introduce yourself. Who are you and what are you doing?

Peter: My name is Peter Mathis. I am a songwriter and producer from Vorarlberg, have lived in Vienna for 6 years and make music under the name Peter The Human Boy. I sing and play guitar in my live band. I'm also involved in other projects as a drummer and bass player.

Nailhead Magazine: Let's start at the beginning, how long have you been making music and how did you get into music?

Peter: It probably started the day my dad took me to the music band in my home village. I was 7 then. He was friends with the chairman and they both said I should just sit down where I like it best. That's how I ended up playing drums. That was a good move from my dad and I'm very grateful to him for that. He listened to a lot of Cat Stevens and Queen, which certainly influenced me. My mom almost exclusively Elvis. I started learning the guitar in high school and soon after had my first punk/garage band. This was followed by a wide variety of band projects, from stoner rock to blues to an experimental funk/jazz/dubstep quintet (LOL) and an indie pop band that made it onto the main stage of the Frequency Festival in a very short time, which the band ultimately didn't necessarily do did well. While that was dissolving, I moved to Vienna and there I really dealt with my own songs and my voice for the first time and finally started a solo project.

Nailhead Magazine: In some articles about your music you read the terms indie rock and slow rock again and again. How would you describe your music yourself?

Peter: Today, the word indie is already a worn-out shoe sole, but it doesn't bother me if I'm put into this category. I've often used the term Slow Rock myself. I guess I just have a penchant for slowness. That leaves more room for details. I believe that for me the word slow is more about a search for grounding and security than about a tempo. Otherwise, I find it difficult to put my music into a genre, which I think is normal, but I've definitely developed a sound that can be assigned to bedroom pop, slacker rock, indie tracks. A lot of that certainly comes from the instruments I use. I like playing old synths, super dry drums and I have a weakness for recording equipment with a lot of character and idiosyncrasy like my tape machine, which causes more problems than recording, haha.

Nailhead Magazine: Your songs seem well thought out and structured. How do you feel when you write a new song? Do you go according to plan or do you just let it happen?

Peter: I try to let things happen as much as possible. For me, songwriting is always a search for truth that no one can give you but yourself, a wonderful way to get to know and understand yourself better. I haven't developed a formula for this, but I've learned that it's important to listen without judging or trying to control the outcome in any way. I definitely believe in the "zone", the time frame in which your subconscious wants to process something and that's where the essence of a song is created at best. The rest is then a question of arrangement and production. But if I don't feel beforehand that a song does something to me, I don't finish it either.

Nailhead Magazine: So far you have released 2 albums, most recently "Stranger's Life" in 2022 and "Goodbye Summer" in 2019. What were the biggest differences in the process of making the two albums?

Peter: My first album was originally just a challenge to myself. I just wanted to see if I could make an album on my own and how it would sound like. I hadn't seriously thought of a name or a band yet. I still had to learn a lot about recording and mixing before I was able to get the songs in my shared room halfway the way I had in mind, but it was a lot of fun. Finally, Goodbye Summer has become a farewell to my carefree youth in Vorarlberg. With the second album I worked a lot with tape so that there was a challenge again, haha. Stranger's Life has become a very colorful album for me, on which I also dealt with heavier topics for the first time. Much of it was created over a period of two months in a renovated farm in Burgenland, because at the time in Vienna I had no opportunity to record in peace and I longed for a change of location. Most of the time I was alone in this 20-inhabitant village without cell phone reception and had to cycle 3/4 hours to the next market. That was an interesting experience and I can well imagine doing something like that again, maybe with not quite as much alone time, haha.

Nailhead Magazine: You have a feature with Joe Traxler on the single “Waiting for a Sign”, how did the collaboration with him come about? Do you intend to work with other musicians again in the future?

Peter: I only knew Joe briefly before he messaged me, but I've been a fan of his music for a long time. I was a bit surprised when he asked me if we wanted to do a song together. I just thought, Joe is a ten times better musician than me, how is that supposed to work, haha, but at some point I also understood that it doesn't matter. We jammed a bit and finally picked up an old song idea of ​​mine and finished writing it together. We tracked drums and bass together, me on drums, Joe on bass and then we took turns recording the other stuff. It was very exciting for me to see how we were both perfectionists at different stages of production and then pushed each other to let it go. I definitely feel like collaborating with other artists again. I think it just needs the right timing and the right song and not much can go wrong.

Nailhead Magazine: You mostly write and produce your own songs, is this DIY attitude just part of you or do you not want to give away your songs and ideas?

Peter: That depends on the project. Peter The Human Boy is my musical retreat, a kind of personal diary where I deal with myself as honestly as I can. I don't want to be dependent on anyone. I've seen too many band projects fall apart for that. Besides, I have too much fun turning the knobs myself, trying out new things and getting better at producing. Basically, I love making music with other people and also playing in other bands. But I appreciate having a project that bears my signature and where I don't have to rely on anyone for the essentials.

Nailhead Magazine: Do you have a favorite song from your releases?

Peter: I don't have any absolute favorites, but I like certain things about some songs more than others. For example, I love how Don’t Cry or Strange Times sounds on record. But I think the arrangement of Maybe Baby and This Kind Of Love is very successful. Getting Along Too Well is one of my favorite songs at concerts, but I hate the recording. Basically, all my songs annoy me a lot, but I think that's pretty normal when you've heard and played them a lot.

Nailhead Magazine: How do you think your bandmates would describe you?

Peter: Phew, that's a tough question. I guess you would say that I like to delve into unnecessary details. They certainly wouldn't be wrong about that, but I think things will get better. Our keyboardist Erika is the quickest to notice when I'm hangry, because unfortunately hunger triggers a really blatant personality change in me. I swear, actually I'm quite nice, haha.

Nailhead Magazine: Is there one or more musicians in the genre you're in that you admire or are an inspiration to you?

Peter: Unkown Mortal Orchestra, Mac Demarco, Weyes Blood, Tame Impala, Mild High Club, King Gizzard, Courtney Barnett, Michael Rault and Vulfpeck are all current artists that I definitely admire and have learned a lot from. But there are also enough local acts like Bilderbuch, Good Wilson and Leyya to inspire me. Apart from that, I prefer listening to music from the 60s and 70s. I don't know why the sound of modern productions rarely grabs me like 50-year-old Motown records. I probably just like it when I feel like I can hear the musicians recording, the space, the tape hiss and everything that goes with it.

Nailhead Magazine: I first heard your music in 2019 when your first album "Goodbye Summer" was suddenly suggested to me on YouTube. I really liked your music and I was convinced that you must be from the United States. Your sound is so international, have you ever thought about a USA or England tour? You would certainly have been very popular there for your music.

Peter: There are actually some listeners from the USA. I guess that comes from the playlists and uploads from small international blogs and labels. For a long time I didn't know about this one upload from the album on YouTube and I was wondering why people from Thailand and the USA suddenly ordered my record. That definitely helped me to find new audiences, but I don't think I'm capable of a tour in England or America, haha.

Nailhead Magazine: Finally, one of my favorite questions again. What are your musical plans for the future? Are you already writing some new songs?

Peter: I definitely write new songs. 2022 was one of the most emotionally turbulent and trying years of my life and I learned a lot about different types of love and relationships. Therefore, the next album will revolve around this theme a lot. I'm currently working on the demos. I'm going to play a two and a half week tour with the band in Austria and Germany in the spring. We're really looking forward to that.

Nailhead Magazine: Thank you for your time and the interview!


Peter The Human Boy Tourdates:

APR 28 - KLAGENFURT, Hafenstadt

APR 29 - WIEN, B72

MAY 03 - KÖLN, Yard Club

MAY 04 - HAMBURG, Mikropol

MAY 05 - CHEMNITZ, Weltecho

MAY 06 - LEIPZIG, Noch Besser Leben

MAY 07 - OFFENBACH, Hafen 2

MAY 08 - AACHEN, Franz

MAY 11 - ESSLINGEN, Dieselstrasse

MAY 12 - DORTMUND, Etepetete Festival


MAY 20 - WIEN, Nailhead Fest #2




Interviewer: Constantin Jacobs

Photos: Graphic by Constantin Jacobs -> Original by Luca Celine / Rest of the photos also by Luca Celine


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