Stepping outside Shea Stadium on our way to a pizza place none of us had ever been to, this was the first real interaction I heard between the members of Palmas. Although I had been introduced to each member individually inside the venue, the way a band interacts with each other is often much more telling than the way they act towards a stranger. Palmas, when together, acted more like brothers than they did bandmates–each either making fun of the other, or piling on to jokes that had already been made. There was never any real silence between the boys, and a sense of camaraderie hung through the air. It was on the walk to the pizza place that it became clear that the members of Palmas weren’t putting on airs because someone was around who would be writing about them. They were just genuine dudes.
Sitting down initially, the first order of business was to get their names and locations straight. Palmas, unlike most bands, are scattered around a bit; they have members in three different states, and on both coasts. Kurt, the vocalist, Eric, the bassist, and Pat, the drummer, live in their hometown of Philly, while Matt, the guitarist, is located up in New York. Not present was Adam, their other guitarist, who is located in Southern California. The answer that was volunteered as to why he wasn’t in attendance at this particular show was simple: “He’s on a spiritual journey.” I elected not to question it further.
Although you would think that the distance between members of Palmas would be an issue, the band isn’t bothered by it, and view it as an advantage. When asked if it affects their touring schedule at all, Kurt established that it helps rather than hurts it, as it creates not just one local audience but audiences in different cities, providing them with a fan base spread out widely enough that it prevents them from getting stuck playing the same venues in the same city for all eternity. There are no plans to change locations any time soon either; each band member is content where he is, and it has no affect on their ability to create music. “We’d rather be touring,” Kurt expressed, “so at the end of the day, it’s not going to matter where our mailing address is.”
But despite the band having been born on the East Coast, Palmas have a distinctly West Coast sound. They’re often compared to The Beach Boys (“We don’t sound at all like The Beach Boys,”) but their brand of surf rock can’t be confined to that category as they’re not a rip off in any sense. Their combination of beachy, eerie, and almost sultry tones makes it easy to see how other journalists have compared their music to something out of a David Lynch movie, and the comparison follows, as their live show begets a performance more suited for Mulholland Drive’s Silencio nightclub than Shea Stadium. Watching Palmas perform–Kurt dancing, drink in hand, in front of the mic, Eric’s hair bobbing in front of his face, the entire band seemingly in sync–you get the feeling of being somewhere other than where you are: both inside and outside of reality, larger and smaller than the space that confines you. When “Take My Hand” is played, you truly feel as though you’re being led into the bright and warm unknown. The band are so impassioned, and their music so genuine, that their performance forces you to pay attention, regardless of whether you knew what you were getting into coming through the door.
With their first EP, To The Valley, having come out in November, Palmas are still a relatively new band, and still defining their sound. For now, they’re doing a lot of writing, working out new material that is more technical and goal-oriented than what they’ve previously recorded. “I think we’ve broken it down further–how one part feeds into the next,” Matt chimed when I inquired about how their new material is different from the old. Kurt added on to this by saying “I think you listen to songs now front to back, and you think ‘I didn’t go anywhere.’ We want you to go somewhere.”
But the band is in no hurry to put out a new release, or at least don’t have plans for one in the upcoming future. They unanimously agreed that the goal for the music they’re currently working on is a full length album, but when that will come about or what it will consist of is ambiguous at best. Eric, who had since sitting down for the interview stayed the silent, long-haired bassist archetype we’ve all come to be familiar with, finally spoke up in order to explain why that is: “We really value quality over quantity...that’s our main goal.” In order to prove this further, the other members of the band cited the story of the first song they ever recorded, called Coldwater Bay, which, although they were very excited to record it initially, was so disappointing when they heard it played back that “it will never see the light of day.” Palmas don’t feel comfortable releasing anything they’re not completely content with, and so a release won’t happen until they’ve written enough music that they’re not just happy with, but proud of–and even they don’t know when that will be.
For a band that formed about a year ago, Palmas have gained traction incredibly fast. Not only did they have their song “I Want to Know (Your Love)” featured on Spotify’s New Music Friday playlist when it first premiered last November, but they’ve done sessions for Daytrotter and Sofar Sounds, even making it so far as to be ranked one of Daytrotter’s Best Sessions of 2015. Palmas are even getting attention from high-volume publications, with recent songs premiering on both Noisey and Paste Magazine. Although the band is incredibly new, they’re achieving things that bands who have been around much longer could only dream of–one can only imagine where they’ll go from here.