Interview: The Palms


Interview by Carl Pietrusinski

Illustration by Peter Hopkins


The Palms, a self-proclaimed hip/pop duo, started out because of strife that both Ben Rothbard and Johnny Zambetti faced with their record label in regards to their other band Terraplane Sun.

Both Ben and Johnny assured that Terraplane Sun is simply “on hold for a second”. But until the time comes for the next Terraplane Sun project, they’ll be experimenting with a new sound in which they possess total control and the final say.

Back in the spring, The Palms released a five song, self-titled EP. While the EP is unfortunately less than 20 minutes, it is apparent that The Palms are making music of a different path than their former band.

Terraplane Sun was more of a customary alternative rock band, whereas The Palms lean more so in the direction of an experimental. A physical drummer was replaced with a drum machine, providing our ears with a slight hip hop element. The melodies have changed to a hazier feel than previous releases by their former band, making it ideal for a night on your porch/balcony/ rooftop. The lyrics are slightly less poppy and more thought provoking as well, delivering listeners with moments of introspection.

For instance, Rothbard belts out lines in the song “Push Off” like, “Don’t think you can play with my mind, cause that’s all mine” and “If it all came crashing down, just know that it won’t bring me down”.

Listen to the song and watch their video here:

With these minor changes and the lack of barriers the duo faced, The Palms put out a fantastic EP with a high replay value.

Since we last spoke in early August, the guys released an additional song entitled, “Breaking (In the Summer)". The track has a slightly different feel than those off of their EP. But they struck gold again. Breaking has been a quintessential end of summer song that is sure to make commutes to class or work slightly less of a drag.

Listen to their latest tunes over on Soundcloud while you check out my interview with the pair below: 

POND: How did you two link up to form The Palms?

JOHNNY: Well we were both in Terraplane Sun. So we’d known each other and been playing music together for like 6 years. But we got into a little cliché band record label melee and had to put things on hold for a second. So in attempts to make the best of the situation, Ben and I decided to keep creating music and the Palms were formed.

POND: How did you guys each get into music?

BEN: For both of us music was very present in our childhood and up brining. It was being played all the time, and I eventually became obsessed with it. Once you catch the bug that’s it. It’s all I wanted to do… I took piano lessons at a young age because my parents made me.

JOHNNY: Nerd… Well, I also played piano. My mom was a piano player and my dad was a guitar player. It was easy to learn to play because it’s just punching keys. So it was a great instrument to start out with. But, I ditched the piano pretty quick and started playing guitar at 5 and haven’t looked back.

POND: How have things changed with the recording and production process from Terraplane Sun to The Palms?

JOHNNY: It’s different because this project was just the 2 of us. Neither one of us are drummers, so everything was programmed. That was kind of weird at first. But once you start programming sounds, the doors get kicked wide open. So we were able to do whatever we want. I remember thinking before we started recording “anything goes”. Terraplan Sun was a 5-piece band.  So you had to kind of make sure that everybody was apart of each song. But with just the two of us, we put whatever we want into each song.

POND: The song “Push Off” seems to be full of some pretty insightful lyrics about being played with. What was the inspiration for this song?

BEN: The EP was pretty much written during a very interesting period for both of us. It was a transitional phase from a horrible label situation. It was our first taste of the dark side of the music world so to speak. We learned how disgusting and evil people could be. So it was our reaction to everything we had gone through. We’re always trying to dig deep and express ourselves with some anger or whatever emotion we’re feeling from those events. But it’s mostly about forging through the tough times. Everyone goes through his or her own difficult things. The core message is resilience and hope. We don’t wanna let people stop us from what we want to do. That’s our biggest pet peeve, people getting in our lives when they really don’t care much as to how it effects us.

POND: Who are your favorite bands to listen to at the moment?

JOHNNY: “We both just saw Tame Impala last week. Artic Monkeys last record had so much play in our tour van. So did War on Drugs. I love Kurt Vile at the moment as well

POND: What was your first cd?

JOHNNY: Green Day’s Dookie or Odelay by Beck.

BEN: Might have been Bob Marley’s Legend.

POND: What’s your favorite lyric you have written and what does it mean?

BEN: “All I really wanna be is part of the solution” is probably my favorite lyric so far. It’s from revolution. It’s pretty self-explanatory and positive.

POND: Do you guys have any plans for a full-length album?

JOHNNY: Well, we dropped the EP without an idea of how it would be received. It was a new style and direction for both of us. We crossed our fingers and closed our eyes hoping for the best. Thankfully, it’s been spreading and growing. We’ve been playing some West coast shows to just connect and spread the word. We’re not as concerned about release dates right now. We’re just going with the flow as we make music. We like surprises and want to surprise our fans.

POND: Dead or alive, who is your dream collaboration?

BEN: McCartney would be insane.

JOHNNY: Probably any of the Beatles for me.


Keep up with The Palms via their website.