Charles Brownstein chatted with Will from Palma Violets right after the band’s soundcheck at the Fonda Theatre in Hollywood, CA. The Palma Violets are in the midst of huge North American Tour. Their debut album “180” is now available on Rough Trade Records.
CB: You guys have been pretty busy over the past year and a bit. You’ve gone from playing local gigs to signing with Rough Trade and, most recently, playing Coachella. How are you guys feeling?
WD: We just played Coachella and it was really amazing. Really hot actually. We’re finally getting ourselves acclimatized to this California heat. I was lucky to see some great bands as well: Blur and Nick Cave were brilliant, and I really enjoyed Io Echo.
The whole thing has been pretty incredible, we really haven’t stopped for a second. It really hasn’t had a chance to sink in yet. The whole thing has been pretty surreal. I’m looking at the Capital Records Building as we speak and I’m just amazed at how fast things have happened. It’s been quite fun as well. We love playing. If we’re off for a couple of days, we start to get really bored.
CB: Are you surprised at how well some of the media have responded to “180”?
WD: Well, some people really actually hate the album — we don’t dwell on it at all. We’re on a high profile label, so I guess it’s to be expected. We just keep going. I really enjoy reading the negative reviews. It actually kind of interests me what criticisms people have. Sometimes it’s really funny.
CB: What do you think about the UK media’s constant comparisons of Sam and Chilli to Carl Barat and Pete Doherty?
WD: That will probably go on until our second album. There are obviously a few similarities, like having two front men and playing Garage Punk and also being on Rough Trade. That’s probably enough for people to make the comparison. I truly think we’re more like Sam and Dave (lol).
CB: It’s kind of a funny story how the band came together. Didn’t Chilli initially have plans to start a business?
WD: Yes. I went to school with Pete and Sam. Chilli had heard Sam play and really liked his playing and he wanted to manage him. Sam and Pete wanted to get a band together and I joined with them. Chilli really wanted to start a company that managed bands. There were so many bands he thought it would be easy. The only problem was he couldn’t get his hands on a fax machine (lol). We eventually taught him to play bass and started playing together. We saw so many bands and kind of thought, hey we can do this as well.
CB: Palma Violets are one of a few bands that got signed based on a few gigs, how did that happen?
WD: We really had nothing in terms of a demo. We had a few rough recordings on a drive and that was it. I guess the whole thing was about timing. We had the idea of playing gigs and having a good time. We were playing a show outside of London and a couple of people from Rough Trade came to the gig and were into it. After the show, someone from the label gave Sam their contacts. He was so excited and nervous that he lost the info (lol). We had to wait a while to get back in touch with them (lol).
CB: You worked with Steve Mackey (Pulp) on ‘180”. How did he get involved in the project?
WD: Steve came to a show and really enjoyed it. We really had no idea he was there. We had no idea who we wanted or how to approach working with a producer. Steve really wanted to work with us. He had never really worked on an album like ours. He was really looking forward to the challenge, so we thought he would be a good guy to work with. We’re really happy with how things turned out.
CB: Which five albums should be in everyone’s collection?
Pond – Beard, Wives, Denim
Nick Cave – Push The Sky Away
The Clash – The Essential Clash
Kraftwerk – Autobahn
The Shangri Las – The Best Of