Interview: Palma Violets

Palma Violets! Interview by Tom Cox


The energy and electricity radiating from these young talented men contrasted the bitterly chilling back drop of the ever frigid Brighton seafront. I found myself cramped within a tiny dressing room in the depths of the Brighton Dome. Accompanying me were the fresh and highly tipped Lambeth four piece indie outfit, Palma Violets, who gave me a few minutes to chat about their involvement with the nationwide NME Awards Tour. Tested by Tom Cox.

Tom Cox: This is actually the second time I’ve interviewed you guys. We first did an interview outside the Green Door Store back in October. How are you guys?

Chilli Jesson (bass): Excellent mate.

Sam Fryer (vocals): Thanks for having us.

TC: We are in the Brighton Dome, where you will perform the penultimate show for the NME Awards Tour 2013. How has this experience been?

SF: Its been absolutely amazing. Mind-blowing. Couldn’t have expected more.

Will Doyle (drums): Amazing. I will mention though, a lot of good food.

TC: What was your reaction when NME asked you to be apart of the bill?

CJ: Got down to my knees. Haha no well we’ve always wanted to be apart of this tour. To headline it in the future would be cool.

SF: Well it was an absolute honour. We used to come to this very show as kids, even sometimes to the Brighton Dome for a couple of shows. We’d try and make a day of it. Packed lunches and all. Trying to meet the bands too.

TC: What has life been like on the road with Django Django, Miles Kane and Peace? (also on the line up for the NME Awards Tour 2013)

WD: Its been absolutely brilliant. Django Django have got this kind of space age tour bus that when you want to go through to the back, you have to press all these buttons and stuff. Its like something out of Star Trek. They’re all really great guys who all put on amazing shows and being able to see what they do and perform has been mind blowing. Its weird being apart of it all.

CJ: Your two comments have been about buses and food!

TC: The last time I spoke to you was in October last year and now 4 months later, you’ve released your debut album ‘180’ which is available on February 25th on Rough Trade Records. Are you excited about the release?

CJ: Very excited. Its been a long time coming.

WD: You say that as though we’ve been in the industry for years.

CJ: [Chilli cheerfully smirks] Ya know, its a huge relief off our shoulders that we can actually get it out there and people can respond to it even. People that come down to our shows will hopefully enjoy the record as well as what we’re like live. The studio may or may not be preferred by some listeners but at the end of the day, we’re proud of what we’ve created and are giving back to our fans.

TC: The album was produced by Steve Mackey from Pulp. What was it like working with him?

Pete Mayhew (keyboards): And Rory Attwell (guitarist from Test Icicles). They kinda shared the production on it. Like 60/40-ish.

WD: Working with Steve was fantastic. He completely got us when we started and he let us make a lot of mistakes.

SF: He liked us making mistakes [The group laugh]

CJ: So he could say ‘I told you so’.

SF: We would have got a 10 out of 10 for our album. But I think we left in too many mistakes.

TC: During this time, were there any other artists or experiences you drew inspiration from?

WD: Graham Parker and The Rumour!

PM: Big fans

[Will and Pete reveal that they are both wearing the same Graham Parker and The Rumour Three Chords Good T-shirt]

SF: Our last song that we wrote is pretty much trying to be a Graham Parker song. Johnny Bagga’ Donuts that is.

TC: 180 is being released through Rough Trade Records, do you ever get to hang out with any label mates? What are the relationships like there?

SF: Labelmates. Well. We try to hang around with Mica (Levi from Micachu and The Shapes) but she’s far too cool for us.

PM: And The Alabama Shakes

WD: Yeah The Shakes are cool but they’re busy trying to take over the world at the moment. We’ve seen them a couple of times.

CJ: Howler don’t really like us. I don’t think. We like what they’ve been producing though.

SF: We’re really big fans of Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros as well. We would love to meet them.

TC: Palma Violets have drawn comparisons to a number of bands such as The Libertines and The Strokes and have been hailed as ‘the saviours of Rock’. Do you feel a sort of pressure being labelled as this?

All: No!

CJ: The Libertines huh? That’s cool.

SF: Well, The Vaccines were the saviours of rock last year so we’re just the newer version I guess. Its more of a joint effort and we don’t feel as though our presence is single handedly saving a music genre. There are still hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of bands who play with passion, its just a case of taking your time to find them. Also, this type of music is not really promoted in the press.

WD: What was it we were called? A poor mans Vaccines. There you go.

TC: Recently you’ve toured across a number of cities in America. What were the audiences like out there. Was it different to the UK?

WD: Definitely. Their guitar music scene for new bands is huge. The level of like new bands is so much higher than it is in England. Like, you’ve got to be f***ing good to get a gig over in America. Also, their music scene for live stuff is a lot better than it is over here. It felt amazing performing out there and see how the audiences would respond to our stuff. We were worried that they would think we were shit and would get booed off.

SF: They actually care about the music. They actually want to have a good time when they go out. Thats why they put shows on at 11 o clock and not 7:30pm. Everyone just gets drunk and dances so its a good culture and we wanted to be apart of it too, well at least for a tour.

TC: As for the future, you’ve be announced for a number of festivals such as Field Day, Coachella and SummerSonic. Are you excited for these dates abroad?

WD: Yes! We get to go to Korea for SummerSonic.

SF: Korea?!

WD: South Korea. Seoul.

SF: Really?! I thought it was Japan.

WD: Japan do three days. Two in Tokyo and one in Osaka. And one in Korea. In Seoul yeah.

SF: Really?! Wicked! You’ve been doing your research mate.


TC: And after this is it back into the recording studio?

All: WHAT?!?! Pffffffft mate.

SF: Our first album isn’t technically out yet.

CJ: No actually we’re on the road straight away. Pretty much for the whole of next year. We’re doing our own tour.

SF: Maybe all the different fields will inspire us to write our new songs and then once we have those, we’ll jump back into the studio. Its all a matter of time.

TC: So what can we expect from your debut album?

CJ: Energy. A lot of life. A lot of feeling. A lot of love. A lot of hate.

PM: It’s also quite dark in some places as well

SF: But also quite light and uplifting

WD: Think of it as the soundtrack to the summer


CJ: It’s a bit like Joy Division

TC: Before I go, I have a question for Pete. The last time I interviewed you guys, you revealed that every time you travel down to Brighton, you buy a new pair of shoes. What kind of footwear are you going for this time?

PM: Thats the thing. I was going to but then I glued these ones together [raises his foot onto the table to reveal a pair of battered Chelsea boots) so I don’t actually know. The heel is starting flat a little bit.

SF: Get some Doc Martens!

PM: Yes!

WD: I’d like to see you in a pair of Doc Martens

PM: Well I kinda like the Chelsea boot kinda thing going on. I don’t know mate. But I will definitely tell you the next time I come down to Brighton.

Palma Violets upcoming debut album ‘180’ is released on Monday 25th February through Rough Trade Records.

By Tom Cox

The Verse Staff

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