Watching indie-experimental rock band Palm reminds me of the time I was strung to the back of a horse-drawn carriage tumbling down the Sandia mesas at the break of sunrise.
That never happened, but I may as well have those experiences now. They wield rhythm like a halberd charging into battle and never lose the groove despite abusing it with manic changes and lush melodies. Initially, I wasn’t going to write about them, but their performance left a profound impression on me.
Headed by vocalist-guitarists Kasra Kurt and Eva Alpert, and strengthed by drummer Hugo Stanley and Gerasimos Livitanos on bass, the group is a force to be reckoned with. When they’re not occupied with feeling like they’re not.
Palm recently signed to Carpark Records, the indie giant known for publishing the works of Cloud Nothings and Toro Y Moi, among others. I snagged a few minutes out of them before they left to SXSW after the Meow Wolf show with LVL UP.
DL: How did the project get started? You all went to school together?
Kurt: Yeah but we’re all from different places. London, Los Angeles and New York. We started playing my first year and everyone else’s second year - did a few years of being at school, as well as different projects and what not, they finished a year before me. We didn’t a play a whole lot when everyone was doing their senior projects. After which we moved to Philadelphia and lived together in two different houses, two members each. It was then we played constantly.
DL: I’m curious about Palm's style. The changes - god damn, the changes. They’re out of control. Were you all disposed to this kind of stuff?
Stanley: We were lucky in that the school we went to had a really strong music scene, especially in the weird stuff. I didn’t grow up listening to music too strange. I always liked Slint and Tool, but this school had a lot of noise, electronic stuff, experimental jazz, performance art. There, we were definitely one of the more “straight” rock bands. It wasn’t a big school, but it was crazy how much a portion of the student body played music. We all met in the middle between what our "poppy" sensibilities were.
DL: Which is, I think, a respectable kind of music. Pop music that’s ever so slightly just… really messed up.
Stanley: We started as punk and noise. It was much less poppy, but also very straight forward. Honestly, we were a pretty bad band for a long time and didn’t have much of a direction. In terms of playing together. But the group is an amalgamation of all our different interests and styles of playing. I’m trying to think of a less pretentious way to say this, but we kind of figured out a common language, musically, to communicate with each other.
DL: Well everyone in the band understands the “strange” landscape per say. I'd imagine?
Kurt: Three of us play drums, and all four of us play guitar. We figured out how to talk about our instruments with each other, but we lack the actual understanding of music theory, much less the vocabulary. We found our own way of communicating in that sense.
Stanley: We don’t even know the time signatures most of the time. We practice a ton now. At least most days for a couple hours. We write that way as well. Independently of each other, we’re all obsessed with music as fans and listeners, and when one of us gets excited about an artist we try to communicate that with the rest of the group. What's a way we can incorporate their timbre or approach, in rhythm - because we’re all doing rhythmic performances, I’m not the only one playing percussively.
DL: How many albums do you guys have, and are there any upcoming releases?
Kurt: We have one November of 2015 though we wrote those songs a year before that. We only played one song from that record tonight. There’s an EP coming out in June or July, that we recorded like a year ago too. We’re recording our second full length after this tour, on Carpark.
Stanley: I’m kind of considering it to be the first one. It’s the first on a label that has distribution power, as in some stores and a built-in audience. The label that put out our record before, it was a split between Inflated Records and Exploding in Sound, and the latter has a solid following in the states. It’s a label that people would recognize, people who are like “I’ll see any 'Exploding in Sound' bands.” Carpark is much like that, more on an international scale.
DL: At the same time, it seems that they treat their artists well
Stanley: That’s definitely what it seems like. Everything I’ve heard about the label suggests they’re extremely artist friendly. They’ve been attentive to our needs and what we’re willing to do, not willing to do, etc. The record hasn’t come out yet, but everything has been going great so far.
Palm released their first album "Trading Basics" in 2015. You can listen and support the band directly here or, as of April 2017, check them out on all music streaming outlets.
Audrin Baghaie is the music editor at the Daily Lobo. He can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @DailyLoboMusic