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Getting To Know: Palms

Palms

Keen to more about your favourite up-and-coming bands? Sick of the same ol’ studio questions? From the albums they crank before they head out on stage to their must-have items when the tour van pulls into the service station, we quiz musicians about life on the road and how they came to love what they do. Up next: indie rockers Palms. Forget the Opera House, Sydney’s selling point should be the sheer number of quality garage/surf/indie rock bands currently doing the rounds. Palms specialise in a sound akin to good times and warm summer vibes, and they deliver both in spades on their fuzzy second full-length, Crazy Rack. Get to know more about frontman Al Grigg below.


I first discovered music when…
I have no idea exactly when, but I don’t ever remember a time where I wasn’t obsessed with music. As a young kid I loved Top 40 pop music and would wake up super early to watch Video Hits and the Top 40 countdown on Rage. To this day I still surprise myself at karaoke with how many words I know to the cheesiest ‘90s hits. I can barely remember what I did this morning, but all the words to Destiny’s Child’s “Say My Name”? I got this. I guess the turning point was in my teens when my older sisters and cousins introduced me to bands like The Jesus And Mary Chain, My Bloody Valentine, The Cure, Ride, You Am I, Tumbleweed and The Smashing Pumpkins. That really blew my little pop mind wide open. From then on, rather than getting up early to watch Rage, it was staying up late to watch it.

I realised being in a band was the best way to waste time when…
It doesn’t take a genius to realise that hanging out with some of your best friends, touring around the country, meeting interesting people and all the while playing music is the best way to kill time.

My first band was…
After The Fall. Not the After The Fall. It was me and a couple of high school friends and we had no idea they existed at the time. Although when we entered the Macquarie Uni band comp (we didn’t win) we did get a letter from their manager asking us to change our name. It was a really overcomplicated weird sort of jazz/indie rock mash-up. I was really into The Strokes and my friend was into like weird inverted 9th chords and stuff. Smart guy shit. It was a classic first band, where you totally overplay and overcomplicate everything to make up for the fact that you actually know nothing.

The first show I ever played was…
At friend’s 21st at a community hall in Epping or something. Needless to say, it wasn’t very memorable. Actually, I did sing a Kylie Minogue song over the loudspeaker during assembly when I was in like year 2. Does that count?

The worst job I’ve ever had is…
Maybe not the worst, but the hardest was being a removalist. Everyone hates moving, so you’re always meeting people on one of the worst days of their life and then lugging their over-packed boxes up a million stairs. But the guy I worked for was a legend and had all these hilarious drug stories, so all the stuff between the heavy lifting was pretty rad.

My favourite band is…
Too hard. C’mon. Who the hell can actually say who their favourite band is? If you can, then you haven’t heard enough music I reckon. I guess for me Neil Young is like God. And then The Replacements are Jesus and Pavement are The Holy Spirit. They’re my Holy Trinity. Neil ‘cos there’s such a scope to his music; it can be delicate but it can be brutal. It can be abrasive, but it’s always melodic. I love his high pitched little voice and his crappy one-string solos. The Replacements are brilliant. They’re the slacker-rock archetype. They just toss out these brilliant songs without even trying, but that’s why they’re amazing. If they tried, it’d probably suck. And Pavement are the perfect mix of esoteric weirdo outsider rock and catchy-as-hell hooks. Stephen Malkmus is way too smart for his own good. And all three are flawed. The best bands are never perfect.

A band that should never have broken up are…
Raw Prawn, this Sydney band from a couple of years back. They were so good. Like Royal Headache good, almost. And they only ever put out this one 7”. Their song “None Left” is a Sydney DIY classic. It really bums me out they never put any more music out.

One album I play before I hit the stage is…
Nothing, really. I’m not really a “psyching myself up for the” kind of guy. I usually just drink a couple beers and chat with the others and try to pretend I’m not nervous.

I love being on stage because…
It’s just this incredible release. There’s something really special about expressing yourself at supremely loud volumes. Amplifying your emotions. The way the sound envelopes you and sort of transports you out of yourself. I feel like a different person when I’m onstage; it’s a kind of catharsis. It’s also really hard to talk about without falling into clichés.

My favourite tour memory is…
The tour we did last year with DZ Deathrays – that whole thing was just magic. Us and DZ were already really good friends and the opening band Foam were legends too, so it was like a four-week holiday around Oz with your best buds. I don’t have many specific memories of that one, but I guess that means we had a good time, right? 

My favourite servo/gas stop purchase is…
Anything from Ulmurra on the way to Brisbane. They have the best homemade sausage rolls there. Seriously. This wasn’t at a servo, but Charles (our friend who filled in on guitar on our last tour) found a really rad The Matrix cap at a Vinnies in Adelaide. I was pretty jealous of that to be honest.

The worst thing about touring is…
The waiting around. At airports, in cars, at soundcheck, at the hotel for your bandmates to hurry up and get ready… I have a really short attention span, so I get bored really easily.

On the road I can’t live without…
Clean undies. It doesn’t matter if I haven’t showered, or I haven’t slept, or I’m in no fit state to be in public – if I have a clean pair of tighty whities, then everything’s gonna be okay.

My favourite place in the world is…
Tokyo. It’s just such a crazy place. I mea, you go to a lot of metropolises like New York or London and it’s just a super cool, super-sized version of something you’re familiar with, but Tokyo is a total culture shock. Plus, I’m a big fan of everything vintage, and they totally know their stuff there. From clothes, to cameras, to gear, they’ve got the best shit!

If I could, I would trade lives with…
Naomi Klein. I’m reading her book at the moment called This Changes Everything and it’s about climate change and how we need to re-arrange our society if we’re gonna make serious positive changes to our world. I would really like to be as smart and inspirational as her.

Crazy Rack is out now through Ivy League.

Crazy Rack, palms Crazy Rack

 

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