After packing out The Fonda, and then The Echoplex, Palma Violets moved on to yet another iconic Los Angeles stage when the UK natives headlined El Rey Theatre on October 19th following in the wake of opening act, SKATERS. You could hardly tell the quartet was wrapping up a nonstop slew of US dates. The stage was dark, but the energy was high.
Having seen the band several times, purchasing their vinyl record, and coming to the conclusion that they will blow up sooner rather than later, I was more than excited to be able to interview Will Doyle from the band.
Where did the name Palma Violets come from and what made you change it from Thursday’s Children?
Well, the name just came to mind. They’re a candy over here [in the UK], and as kids, not many people liked them, but we had a common purpose in life at that age and that was at Halloween we’d take over all the sweets. Really, we just wanted to tell everyone our love for that candy.
We met him through Nardwuar when we went to Canada, and he interviewed us. Then he came and saw us in LA, and we told him “Now that you’re here, you do realize you have to play with us.” He didn’t have a choice; we just told him to shut up and do it.
That must have been a surreal experience, to have someone you looked up to and covered playing on stage with you.
Yeah, it was; you always dream about that as a kid. You hear a song that you think is so cool, and you can only imagine that one day you could play this, and then lo and behold, he was right there on stage with us at the Echoplex show. It was a lot of fun.
I saw you guys won “Best New Band” at the 2013 NME Awards. First of all, congratulations, but I had also heard that you had been told Peace was going to win. What was going through your mind when you were so sure another band was going to win, but you heard your name instead?
It was definitely one of the happiest moments of my life. NME means a lot to us. We were at the same table as Peace, and it was a genuine surprise, a genuine reaction. Loads of people had been told that Peace had been flown over because they’d won, but I think our reactions were a cut above the rest. It was the only one where we had been specifically told we hadn’t won, and it was just genuine happiness.
What does your songwriting process look like? Is it a collaborative effort, or does someone in particular take the lead?
Well, we all sit in a room, someone usually has an idea, and we just jam it out for ages, for hours at a time. We record it all, and it just comes together after a while. We jam out so much stuff, you’d be surprised to hear the tapes of what we do. It’s actually all quite psychedelic music as well. It helps with the whole process, and as we go into a session, it goes from maybe a half an hour jam to something that ends up being 2 minutes or 3 minutes. Eventually you go back and listen to yourself, and it works itself out. Some people can spend a month or so writing one song, but we try to get them worked out as quickly as possible and try not to faff. No one likes faffing.
You’ve pretty much spent the last year touring after releasing 180. What have been some highlights for you this year?
I think a favorite one was when we played Lollapalooza. To open the festival every morning — you must already know about this — every stage plays Star Wars at the exact same time, and it’s so loud. We’ve played a lot of festivals in America that can be quite square and corporate, but Lollapalooza…it was things like Star Wars and other little things that were great. I just had so much fun playing there. And again, playing with Warren Kinsella was a massive highlight.
Being from LA, I’m clearly biased, but do you have a preference between playing in the US or back in Europe? Do you notice a big difference?
America has a general love for guitar music, and they really do treasure good music. Especially being English, everyone seems to give you a chance. We’ve been a band for a year, and we’ve had loads of people turning up to our shows and loads of support bands who’ve been touring for years who are just so amazing. It’s fun to play in America because the standard of bands is so high, you know? You’ll go to Europe or somewhere in another country and you just get stuck.
We played a show in France where the promoter for the evening brought in his band and they were fucking shit. They went on for like an hour and ten minutes, and we had a 45-minute set. We had filled the place up, and instead of getting a good band in, he brought his own in with like 10 synths. He’s bleeping and blooping away, and five minutes in, no one really gives a shit.
You being the drummer, what’s your live experience like? Do you feel like you get to watch everything from above, or do you just get into your zone?
When I perform, I don’t even see the crowd. I just focus on the guys most of the time, and I don’t even see what’s going on. Most of the time, I have my eyes closed, so after we play, Chili will ask, “Oh, did you see the crowd tonight?!” and I’ll have had no idea what had gone on until the crowd gets on stage, which happens. When they join us on stage, that’s when I realize “Oh, you guys really are enjoying it.”
I suppose it’s a bit selfish to say that I just focus on myself, but I find it off-putting sometimes when you look up at the crowd. It affects you a lot. There are some places you play where you have a darkened stage and you can see the crowd quite clearly, and whenever we’re playing new territory, a lot of them don’t move. That can be really off-putting, so I just kind of watch Sam and I watch Chili; he’s always dancing around and very entertaining if I get bored.
I heard a rumor that you guys might want to create a horror movie. Was that a joke or was there some truth to that?
Yeah, when we were at Studio 180, there were loads of different people coming through there. There was a filmmaker and we’re talking one day and told him we’d love to do a horror film as we’re all big fans of horror. It’s been put on hold for the time being, but we have some time after the tour, so we might actually give it a go. Everyone expects us to bring a new album out after this, which is what most bands do, but I think it’d be kind of cool if a band brought out a horror film. I think that really shows a flavor for the band much more than an album.
Definitely. It’s a nice continuation of new creativity from Palma Violets, but it doesn’t fall into the norm of going right back into recording.
Exactly, yeah. It keeps things fresh as well. You don’t want to be tied down to one thing.
That’s awesome, something to look forward to.
It could be a travesty, but you know, we’re pretty scary sometimes. We know what scares people, and London can be a pretty scary place. The possibilities for this film are endless. We just need to start a storyboard or picture board to get it going.
Well, I’m sure you’ll get a lot of material that you could use for the film being on the road, too.
Yeah, it’s been really good! Pete never has a phone; he always loses it. Well, we all do. Usually when we’re on tour, we don’t have a mobile, but Pete had one at one time and it was a camera phone. At one point he wanted to make a documentary, and he was filming all the landscape in America, and it was so good until he lost it at the end of the tour. So now we’ve got to start again.
Moving forward, after you do a horror film, when you eventually go back into the studio for the next album, is there anything you feel you’ll do differently this time around?
We’re currently up in the mountains in Wales. There’s a barn up here and we’re just hanging out, writing stuff, seeing what comes of it. Next year’s going to be super busy. We’ve had a busy year so far, so we’re taking a nice break. We’re still finding out if we’ll do something differently. We tried it with Steve [Mackey] and there are loads of different producers you meet being in the music industry. Because we don’t have quite everything, we’ll find a producer, but that will come later on.
I’ve always wanted to put my drum kit in a swimming pool and see how that would turn out and record that, but we’ve just got to find an empty pool. You’ll find out soon enough, but we haven’t even started thinking about next week let alone a new album, to be honest.
To wrap up, you’ve spent a lot of time this past year playing with a lot of bands. Are there any in particular you’d like to recommend?
We’ve been plugging this band for a while now, but Childhood. Momentum is really starting to pick up on their side, and we’ve heard some of their new stuff and it’s so great. They’re always such a good live band.
Also, a band called the Amazing Snakeheads. They’re very, very angry Scottish people. I’ve seen them twice, and every time you go to their show, you come away from it with a completely different experience from any other band. You’re actually in fear for your life most of the time, and when you’re not, you’re just asking yourself, “Is this really happening?” It’s amazing. They’re so good.