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Interview: Al Grigg From Palms

We got to have a quick chat to Al Grigg, lead singer of the Sydney four-piece Palms, ahead of their first support show with Violent Soho on their ‘Like Soda’ tour in Brisbane last night. Palms are also just days away from releasing their second album ‘Crazy Rack’, the thrashing, infectious, and eclectic follow-up to their 2013 banger ‘Step Brothers’.  

Hey Al! How did the band get together?

Originally me and the drummer Tom were in a band called Red Riders probably 10 years ago. When the band broke up me and Tom weren’t really ready to stop making music, so we started this new project. As we started making music we found two other dudes that we really liked and we didn’t want to keep chopping and changing bass players and guitarists so they stuck around.

You released your debut ‘Step Brothers’ in 2013, how do you feel your sound has changed since then?

It’s probably more refined. We have a little more confidence in ourselves and our abilities. Musically it’s not a huge departure. ‘Crazy Rack’ is maybe a bit more diverse, it’s not just straight-up garage rock, it’s showing another side to the band. Some more gentle moments, thoughtful moments, less straight-up punky vibes.  

 ‘Crazy Rack’ is out next week (Oct. 30), how did you approach recording the second album?

We took two shots at it. We did some stuff in the middle of last year and I was hell bent on getting it done, I wanted the second album to come out really quickly. But we started doing it too early. The ideas weren’t there yet. We mixed a few songs and it just sounded bad, sorta lifeless. We decided to scrap everything and do it all over again in January this year. We spent a few days at a professional studio and a few days at our friend’s studio in Kings Cross. We did 90% of it in a week.

You wear your heart on your sleeve in a lot of the tracks, do you find it easy talking about yourself?

I find it easy to write the songs when I’m at home. I don’t find it hard at that point. It’s just something going on in my life or my head and in a weird way it’s cathartic to sort through it. But it is hard to share it, to put it out there. You don’t want to make an album so emotionally intense that it turns people away. The upbeat nature takes away from it, the intensity is there if you want it, but if you want to have a good time, jump around in your room, you can do that as well. It can work on both levels. But I feel like I’m wasting peoples time and I’m wasting my time if I don’t give something of myself.

Do you have a favourite track on the album?

I don’t listen to it that often. I’ve listened back to check the mix and check the masters for vinyl. It goes between No More which is the acoustic song and In My Mind which is a bit of a heavier song, it’s got a bit of a Weezer vibe. I like that there’s a variety of songs. I think it makes the album more enduring.

You’re genre on Facebook is “shredding”, what artists or bands do you take shredding inspiration from?

Dion our lead guitarist is a big fan of KISS and Iron Maiden, lots of heavy metal. The “shredding” reference is a little bit tongue in cheek. Me and Dion do a bit of DJing for some extra money and we end playing a lot of 70s and 80s classic rock. It’s an homage to that I guess.

The album title is taken from a photo taken by Tom Wallace (Palms drummer), what drew you to the picture?

There was this little second hand shop with this rack of clothes out the front with this really lame but endearing sign that said “crazy rack!” and it just clicked in my head because I work in a second hand shop in Sydney and that’s what I do to make a living. I just think it’s funny because when you hear the title ‘Crazy Rack’ for a bands album, you think of the sex, drugs and rock ’n’ roll mythology of being in a band. But the reality is that you spend 5 days a week standing in a second hand shop selling people old t-shirts to pay your rent.

You’ve recently toured with some cool bands, like Last Dinosaurs and The Jensens, and you’re currently supporting Violent Soho on their ‘Like Soda’ tour, are you excited?

Yeah, it’s awesome. I’ve met the guys from Violent Soho a handful of times. They’re the sweetest guys. I can’t wait to play with them. People go mental at their shows. As much as I love watching Violent Soho, I love watching the crowd almost of much. From the second they start till the end, people are in the air. It’s sick.

Do you have any tour rituals?

Not really. We like to do things, see a sight or something, not just hang at the hotel or the pub. We have our favourite Lebanese pizza place in Melbourne we always go to and we go to our friends fried chicken shop in Brisbane called Lucky Egg outside The Brightside. Pre-show, we have 2 and ½ drinks, the perfect amount between charming and obnoxious. I try to pretend I’m not nervous.

What would be your dream support slot?

I guess my favourite bands at the moment are Kurt Vile or Deerhunter. I’d love to play with those guys, mainly just to watch them. But when you support bands that you love, you feel a lot more pressure. I really like Cloud Nothings and we played with them last year and I was actually really nervous. Playing with someone like Neil Young would be pretty sick. I would probably just be a bundle of nerves and wouldn’t enjoy it though. Better to play with bands you hate. Haha.

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