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Wednesday, February 28th, 2024  

Painted Palms

Mistaken Identity

Jan 10, 2014 Photography by Andy DeSantis Painted Palms
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Google the name Chris Prudhomme and you might be surprised by what you find. Prudhomme, one half of Painted Palms, the electro-pop duo he fronts with his cousin Reese Donohue, dubiously shares a name with another more sinister character. Seems that back in 1991, the other Prudhomme, affiliated with a cult of Satanic worshipers, pled guilty to a grisly double murder before committing suicide in jail.

“The Satanic murderer?” asks Prudhomme. “Yeah, I Googled myself a while ago and I was like, ‘That is not a good guy to have the same name as.’ I think he’s the first Prudhomme that comes up whenever you Google. And oddly enough, he’s from the same state as I am, about an hour from where I grew up. It’s fucked up. An unfortunate coincidence I guess.”

Painted Palms’ Chris Prudhomme, now 24 years old, grew up in Lafayette, Louisiana, just down the street from Donohue, two years his senior. Their families were close and the boys spent much time together growing up, sharing musical interests through adolescence. When Donohue went off to California to college, the pair casually exchanged various sound recordings via email, until a winter break in 2009 led to them starting Painted Palms.

“We had some time to kill before a family dinner, and I asked Reese if he wanted to make a song,” says Prudhomme, who now lives, along with Donohue, in San Francisco. “And he said ‘sure.’ So we recorded ‘Falling Asleep,’ which is on the Canopy EP, in a day. Then we realized that it was a fruitful relationship and we should pursue it. But it was really casual. We were just having fun before dinner.”

The Canopy EP, released in 2011, is a swirling psychedelic amalgam of electronic and melodic sounds. Currently, the band is preparing to release its debut full-length in early 2014 on Polyvinyl Records, a work that is decidedly more pop-wise in sound, owing to Prudhomme and Donohue’s delving into what Prudhomme calls “the big hitters of ‘60s pop music” while on tour. Compared with Canopy, the eponymous full-length combines beats and skittering electro-pop textures with big melodies and hummable tunes.

“There was definitely an intention to make the songs more structured like classic pop songs or traditional pop songs,” says Prudhomme. “I think that after the EP, we got more interested in classic pop structure and the history of pop music and rock music, so we turned to some of the inventors and innovators of classic pop structure for inspiration.”

Painted Palms spent its early touring days opening for kindred spirits (and now labelmates) of Montreal, after being contacted by that band’s frontman, Kevin Barnes, in 2011. And with the release of Painted Palms, it seems like just a matter of time before the first Google result for Chris Prudhomme will lead to Painted Palms, not the murderer with the same name.

“Just to clarify, that guy is not me,” says Prudhomme. “I have no affiliation with Satanism or any murderers. Let’s just go on the record with that.”


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