Palma Violets: Putting in Overtime | Under the Radar - Music Magazine

Palma Violets

Putting in Overtime

Jul 19, 2013 Photography by Tom Beard Web Exclusive
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When Palma Violets go on tour they make a point to engage in as many extracurricular gigs as they can, arranging regular house party performances with their burgeoning collection of fans in whatever city they find themselves. "We do bar mitzvahs and weddings too," says the U.K. band's bassist and co-frontman Chilli Jesson with a laugh. "It's great. For us it's the best way to experience a city, to go to someone's house. Everything's low-key, a few drinks, you play a show and hang out a bit and make a whole new crew of friends. [Performing,] you're on the same level. There was this one we did where everyone was just surrounding us. I like that non-barrier thing. There's a serious connection with the audience."

All this exhaustive double-duty is for the sake of supporting the group's standout debut album 180, an unpolished mix of pub rock that wears its influences heavily on its collective sleeve. Drawing from the likes of The Clash, The Doors, and even The Libertines, Jesson, with fellow vocalist and guitarist Samuel Fryer, drummer William Doyle, and keyboardist Peter Mayhew, developed the band in response to their own disappointed concert-going experiences. "It grew out of just going out to shows that were shit," says Doyle. "You'd go see this band and you just couldn't believe they were playing these songs. It was rubbish; just 'I'm in a band, check me out, check out the clothes I'm wearing.' They had everything sorted."     

Setting up shop at Studio 180, a repurposed house located in Lambeth, London that catered to all kinds of hard-up creative types, the band began formalizing their ramshackle sound, developing a rabid following the old-fashioned way with sweat-drenched live performances. "It's very on the edge," says Jesson. "Like at any moment it could go wrong. Something could go terribly wrong."

Eventually signing to Rough Trade, the quartet got to work on 180 last year, recording at London's RAK Studio. With Pulp's Steve Mackey sitting in to produce, the band easily translated their clamorous racket by recording live and limiting themselves to just a handful of takes. "It's the only way we could do it," says Jesson. "We're not good enough to do it any other way."  

Standing out amidst the 11-song effort is the album's opening track "Best of Friends." Receiving extensive praise in the U.K., the track was initially referred to as "The Shit Song" by the band. "All our other songs we've done don't really have a structure and are bit chaotic, but this one when we first played it, it was a pop song and we just felt embarrassed," adds Jesson. "We didn't like it at first. It took a while. And now we love it."

Spending the rest of the year touring across Europe, Australia, Japan, and the U.S.with their standard house party addendums thrown inthe band's opportunities to take a proper breather are few and far between. When such reprieves are granted, however, Palma Violets say Studio 180 is still the best homebase they could hope for, even if its structural integrity is pretty questionable. "We used to live there then we moved out because it got really cold," says Doyle. "I mean cold. The house is falling apart. There are holes in the ceiling and stuff like that. Recently we got news that there's this massive ordinance to redo the house."



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