With two EPs released and their debut show a massive hit, Palace (Leo, Rupert, Will and Matt) are really picking up steam. Lead singer and guitarist, Leo, took some time out of song writing and practicing for their upcoming album to talk about how they all came together, their practice space, and how their work was deemed to be 'sex music' by fans.
How're you doing today?
Good, man - not too bad. All is pretty good. We're about to do some rehearsing stuff. At the moment I'm just doing some writing on my own - on my tod - but then we're all getting together later just to be prepared; we've got a couple of festivals this week, so we're just getting things together.
'Chase The Light', your second 2nd EP, is out next month - how long did you guys spend writing it?
Well, with that one it was a collection or a combination of some of our older songs, and a few of them are quite new, so it's kinda spanned out across six-or-seven months. But it's a bit of a combo between the new and the old stuff, but I think there's a through-line which connects it all, and I'm pretty proud of it. We're all really pleased with how it's turned out, so we just can't wait for it to drop. They're pretty much all from after the first EP, but the first EP consisted of the very first songs we ever put together, and we've continued to write and those new songs were born and it's been a good, healthy process.
So it's a little different to your first one, then?
I think so - I mean, I personally think there's a bit of an evolution in the sound. Nothing too drastic and crazy, but I think, personally, they're better songs. I think they're better crafted tunes, and I think as we have got better as musicians over the past year-and-a-bit, we've just improved and the chemistry within the band has gotten stronger. It's very much the Palace sound; I just think they're better songs. People might not agree, but I think we're pretty proud of where we've got to and the standard we're getting to.
Your debut headline shows last year sold out - that must have been quite encouraging for you.
It was! We were playing at St Pancras Church in London, which is an amazing beautiful venue, and we sold out one night so we put on a second and sold that out as well, which was crazy. And then recently, we did two Red Gallery shows twice the size of the St Pancras ones and again - we did two. So we're really seeing the momentum and the slow build and it's the most exciting thing. When we walked out onstage in Shoreditch at the Red Gallery, it's 350 people I think, and it's just amazing to have that many people singing the songs and getting so, so into it. It's pretty much he best feeling in the world - it doesn't get much better than that.
You mentioned performing in a church earlier - is that a good location to play in?
It's funny, because our sound is very reverby and big and epic, so we actually thought it would be the perfect place to do it, but we were slightly worried when we got there that it was all gonna get too washed out because obviously it's a big ol' church and it's got a lot of natural reverb, and it was a matter of harnessing the reverb so it wasn't just a wall of sound. But we had a brilliant sound guy and it ended up working really well, and the shows got a great response and it was a hell of a good feeling. I think churches are our future - cathedrals and churches.
You've played support for some substantial musicians recently like Ghostpoet and Jamie T - did you learn a lot from them?
I know it sounds really cheesy, but we really did. We learnt a tremendous amount. We went on tour with Jamie T first, and that was our first tour around Europe, and he was just such a nice guy and we're all really big fans, and he was just lovely. I actually remember him saying the first time I spoke to him, "never take yourselves too seriously, that's the key to everything", and I think I'll always remember that. It's such an important thing, not to take yourself too ridiculously seriously and not be too tw**ish. And his band were amazing people as well. Then Ghostpoet was just so nice, too, and his live show was just incredible. He just gave us lots of tips about what to do and how to be within the industry, and it was such a great learning experience and we got to hang out with both groups and their bands who're just awesome.
I take it you prefer playing live to being in the studio?
Yeah, I personally do; I think the rest of the guys would say that, as well. I think recording in the studio can be very satisfying, but it's an incredibly slow process and can be the most incredibly frustrating thing in the world and we've all pulled our hair out many times while trying to record tracks cos it's very easy to get it wrong while recording, and playing live is just what it's all about - that's what you live for as a musician - getting up in front of people and showing off. But you can get any reaction from the crowd and one person coming up to you afterwards and saying they really loved it kinda makes it all worthwhile.
Where do you usually practise?
We're part of this group of musicians up on Tottenham at this old converted squat. It's an old warehouse. It used to be an old ammo factory during the war, and some friends of ours who are musicians found it about three years ago, and they did it all up themselves and turned it into rehearsal spaces, and it's just an amazing space. Some people live in it and it's like a musical community of about fifteen people, and some of them are just incredible session musicians, and we practice up there and we're part of this very special scene, it's a really cool thing to be involved in. We hang out there a lot and put on nights there and we pay next to nothing to use this awesome space - I mean, all the equipment is slightly broken, but it does the job and that's where we recorded both our EPs on our own.
You've played Live at Leeds and you're playing Great Escape, have you got any other big festivals coming up?
Yeah, we've got a few. So we're playing Wychwood Festival, and we're playing Deer Shed, Liverpool Sound City, we're playing Bestival, so quite a few just along the way; probably eight or nine festivals, but to be honest they're just the most fun things to do, because with a lot of them you arrive and your mates are there, and it's a generally good vibe. The more festivals we can play, the better. We love doing it, although we haven't played a huge amount of festivals yet, but I think its picking up now.
What's the strangest thing that's happened to you guys while performing?
We played a gig when we were supporting Jamie T in Hamburg, and we were live on stage playing for a big crowd before Jamie T went on. It was all going well, and I turned around during our song 'Veins' where Rupert has a solo - it's his big moment of the set, where he rips this killer solo - and he was just being attacked by a fly. There was a fly that was just dive-bombing him while he was playing, and it was basically trying to get into his mouth. It was one of the funniest and most surreal things I've ever seen, because he had a spotlight on him, and he was trying to shake this thing off him. He basically couldn't do it because he was being harassed by a fly and that made me laugh a lot. There's also stuff like getting my tuning so messed up - we had to end sets because I would play different tunings, and I couldn't remember what tunings they were in. We were playing in Holland one time, and I forgot what tuning our last song was in and I just couldn't work it out so we just had to walk off about ten minutes early which was really depressing. But generally the shows go pretty smoothly; nothing too weird happens. Not yet, anyway.
The four of you are going to be spending a bit of time together over the next few months for your summer tour - do you plan on spending your time off-stage with each other or doing things separately?
We're all such good friends, to be honest; we all grew up together and we're all pals really, so we do lots together outside of music. We go to gigs together and go for drinks together and we do spend a lot of time together. If you ask me the same question in five years, I may have a very different answer. But at the moment, we're in a really good place and we're all pals and the more time together, the better, really. We went to school together, back in the day, so we've all known each other since we were about thirteen. There was a good connection, there, and it makes things a bit easier.
You said you're writing at the moment - do you usually write or does everyone bring their own piece to the practices?
In the past, I've brought the basic melody of a song and the lyrics. Rupert also brings lots of ideas, and me and Ru often write together and bring it, but when we get in the studio with all of us, it very much changes and evolves and it is very much a collaborative process. No one will bring a finished song to the table for us to learn; you'll bring a basic idea and then we'll work on it together, and everyone's ideas are integral to making songs work.
Do you usually agree on most decisions?
Not always. We don't have massive fights or anything like that, but there are definitely disagreements. But we always get through it and we work through songs pretty quickly, and eventually we work it out, but everyone brings their own ideas and something different to the table which is a great thing. Genuinely, the formula and line up of the band - I could only see it with this line up, because everyone is essential to the sound.
Are you planning to work on an album next?
Yeah, we are. So we're in talks with a few producers at the moment, and we're planning to start recording our album around September or October, and we'll hopefully have it out by the beginning of next year. Maybe around March? I mean, that's the most exciting thing in the world and we've always dreamt of doing. Having our own album out? Box ticked.
Any clues as to who might produce it?
I can't really say who we're talking to at the moment - I'll probably get in trouble if I do - but we've got a few options and they're very, very talented people, and they all bring something slightly different in terms of their angle as a producer and what they want to do with the sound. It's very lucky that we've got a few options.
Who or what is your biggest influence at the moment?
Directly in terms of music, I would say Jeff Buckley, WU LYF and John Fahey are massive influences for us. People you can use for guitar tunings and that, because that's something we explore. Not sticking to standard tunings too much is good because it opens up a lot of doors. But more contemporary, I would say Mac DeMarco and Pond - people like that, really. I mean, there's a big range of stuff we're influenced by, but the early and consistent influences are those first ones.
Your music has been described as 'sex music' - is that something you guys decided on, or was it pointed out to you by a fan?
No, someone wrote it on our SoundCloud - someone commented on one of our songs that it was 'sex music', and we've always liked that and thought it was quite funny. If people see it as 'sex music' or 'music to make babies to' then that's a pretty great thing and we'll take that. But it's funny what people see or hear in your music and their different comparisons and it's cool. That's one of the things that really stuck out to us as being interesting and a funny thing - long may it continue! We're gonna keep on gunning for that sexy sound.
What's next for you guys?
I think a lot of touring. We're gonna be trying to spread the Palace word and just get our music out there. We've already had a little taste of going to different countries and cities to play gigs, but we just want it to continue; continue being able to play music in front of people and do it for a living. I think that's the ultimate aim, and then getting an album out there, but we would love longevity and would love to be around in years to come. We feel pretty confident that we can do that, but we'll have to see.
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