in conversation // Palace

Interviews "It's hard but you learn to have a kind of tunnel vision. You just have to block out people's perceptions and thoughts' We speak with Palace ahead of their Cambridge gig

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Londoners Palace released new EP, ‘Chase The Light’ back in June, the record following on from last year’s debut. Palace have a string of UK headline tour dates this October, following various festival appearances, starting off here in Cambridge where they play the Corner House on Wednesday 7th (info and tickets here).

In the last twelve months, Palace have ridden a wave of overwhelming critical and fan support. Building on the acclaim garnered with their debut EP ‘Lost In The Night’ last October, their latest EP ‘Chase The Light’ was released on 8th June. The Radio 1 support continued with lead track ‘Kiloran’ having its world premiere on Annie Mac’s show and receiving subsequent daytime plays, while Huw Stephens premiered forthcoming single ‘Head Above The Water’, which is released on 7th September. Support has also come from 6Music’s Steve Lamacq and XFM’s Georgie Rogers, Maz Tappuni and John Kennedy, who premiered ‘Settle Down’ and with whom they did a session and interview, and also Jo Good, who made ‘Kiloran’ her Shock of the New. In anticipation of their Cambridge show, we caught up with Palace frontman Leo Wyndham…

So how has 2015 been treating you so far?
It’s been pretty excellent really. Lots of gigging and going to cool places that we’ve never been. It feels like the music’s come on leaps and bounds, and people seem to be responding really well which is awesome. We got signed to an amazing label too which felt pretty huge, they have a small roster but some of the bands we respect the most are on it.

Just so we know not to ask, what is the worse question to ask Palace? And what is the answer to that question?!
Ha! Probably “how would you describe your music?” That one we always struggle with. It’s nice to leave it for people to interpret what they hear from it.

You were all in bands before, how did you come to link up and form Palace?
We’ve been friends since school so there was always a connection. One day we just thought lets start a band together for fun. We booked out a tiny rehearsal studio in Camden in the middle of Summer and basically played our first sessions together in our boxers because it was so hot in there. That’s where it all started really, in our pants, in Camden.

What we love about your music is that is part woozy and part bluesy, how did your sound develop to how it is from the start? And how much experimentation is involved in your music?
I don’t think we’ve changed too much just yet. We’re definitely better musicians and song writers I think, so the songs feel more advanced. But we wouldn’t want to be changing the sound too early on. Eventually maybe we’ll be doing a Medieval Lute album like Sting…

I suppose to an extent we do experiment with pedals and stuff, but we don’t go too far. We’re keen not to have the sound too effectsy, I think bands end up relying on that kind of stuff and it masks the real music in some cases. It’s also a quick route to making things sound ‘cool’, and you have to be slightly careful I think not to take the easy route. We want to keep an element of traditional four piece guitar band vibes.

I mention blues, I’ve read that you don’t hear the blues sound, do people’s reception and responses to your music ever effect you when penning new material?
I think the blues thing is there a bit, but it’s not the foundation of our sound I don’t think. Again, if people hear the blues in it, then thats cool too! I just don’t think we feel like a straight up blues band at all, it feels more contemporary than that, but with a small sprinkle of the vintage.

It’s important to block out what people say and want from you in terms of writing and stuff, we try to be true to our style of writing and very much attempt to write songs that we would want to hear, rather than other people! That is key I think to the whole process.

At the time of writing, your new single ‘Head Above The Water’ is a couple of weeks away from release, what is this in-between time like for a band?
I suppose it doesn’t really feel like an in-between time really. We’re constantly just writing/rehearsing/performing so everything feels quite constant in a way. We don’t have much time to think about releases and that kind of thing as we’re so busy trying to find that epic new track.

How did your approach to the new EP vary from your debut? Was there anything you wanted to try differently when compared to your debut?
No I don’t think we went in with a different approach. I do think it feels like a bigger more epic EP though. The tracks seem stronger we think and better developed as songs. I reckon that’s down to us just being better as musicians and becoming more accomplished song writers. We love the first EP but when we hear it now we notice mistakes and errors. We hear ourselves as less developed musicians in a way.

What was the hardest track to finish on the record and why?
‘Kiloran’ was tough as hell as me and Rupert hadn’t had any sleep the night before as it was our manager’s birthday and we had an all nighter. So the two guitars on the track are recorded through unbelievably bleary eyes. We kept looking across at each other and just exhaling with pain. It was quite funny and eventually we got through it (after about 30 takes) and collapsed in a heap on the floor.

How much, if at all, do you find your sound/set up varies in a live setting?
It’s pretty much always the same really. I suppose the size of the room effects our reverb levels and we have had shows where the reverb has totally washed out, but we’ve learnt to deal with that now and are pretty on it when it comes to the live sound.

So you’ve supported both Jamie T and Ghostpoet on their tours, how was that? If you were to cover a track from one of them, which one would you choose and why?
Ah man, it was the best. Both tours were the dream, and it was a complete honour to hang with these guys who we completely looked up to. They couldn’t have been cooler and nicer. Must be two of the nicest most down to earth dudes in music.

We’d probably cover Jamie T ‘Back In The Game’, it’s just a beautiful classic tune. Gotta choose Ghostpoet too! It’d be ‘Survive It’ from him, on tour we were obsessed with it. It’s genius.

How does the dynamic of being a support band vary to your own headline shows?
In a way it feels quite relaxed being support because there’s no pressure as most people don’t know who you are and therefore expect nothing from you. Saying that, you can get bottled and stuff which would suck. Luckily we’ve never had that. Both tours the response was insanely positive, we made a lot more fans on both.

We read that you once worried you might be “the shittest band in the world” admittedly this was prior to your first show, how as musicians do you learn to deal with fear of people’s perceptions?
It’s hard but you learn to have a kind of tunnel vision. You just have to block out people’s perceptions and thoughts. Genuinally we’ve literally only had like 2 bad comments online on any of our songs ever which is incredible so we’ve been lucky. But you definitely have to be tough in this industry and shrug off any negative vibes.

What is a lyric that you can’t get enough of?
Big L – “Axe Beavis I get nothing Butthead.”

Finally, hypothetically you’re gonna DJ a disco for us, what is your go to dance floor filler track?
Marvin Gaye – ‘Got To Give It Up’. There’s no cooler song than this and it’s impossible not to dance when it comes on.

Palace play the Corner House on October 7th
Current EP ‘Chase The Light’ is out now

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