PALACE – Interview

Foto-© Jono White

Palace veröffentlichen diese Woche ihr zweites Album Life After. Wir trafen Leo, Matt und Rupert vor ihrem intimen Radiokonzert in Köln und plauderten über ihr neues Werk, wie sie vom Warenhaus zur Produzentin Catherine Marks kamen und was sie zu Vergleichen mit den Foals und The Maccabees sagen.

Your new album is about to come out, congratulations on that. What can we expect?
Matt: It is very exciting. The last song on the album was written in December 2017, so it took us a long time to get the album done.
Leo: There are slow moments, but also big epic things, for example strings on some bits. It feels like us, but maybe bigger and better. We are really proud of it and it’s a good representation how far we got. It’s just very honest.

What is Life After about?
Leo: The first album was about loss and saying goodbye to certain things. The second album felt much more hopeful and had more positivity. Seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, moving on, that’s the meaning of Life After.

So would you say the new record is kind of a contrast to your debut album?
Leo: The new album still has some emotional heaviness. But it has more positivity. So yeah, there is a difference.

Where did you seek inspiration from?
Matt: It was inspired by our own life, and experiences and reality. This sounds really cheesy, haha, but apart from that we did a lot of experimenting with different effects.

And musically?
Matt: Fleetwood Mac, Jeff Buckley, Neil Young, Nick Drake, it’s a range.
Leo: Lots of old stuff, Blues like Peter Green.
Matt: We listen to such a variety. It’s a big mix.
Leo: The only music I don’t like is House or Techno, can’t get my head around that.

Do you have a favourite track?
Matt: One of my favourite songs is one where I hardly do anything, haha. It’s called All In My Stride.
Rupert: The title track Life After.
Leo: Caught My Breath and Heaven Up There.

You have also a track called Berlin on the new album. What’s it about? It’s interesting that so many bands have tracks called Berlin.
Leo: As much as I love the city, it’s not about Berlin, haha. It’s actually about a bar in New York called Berlin where I met my girlfriend.

Haha, so not about Germany and its people then.
Leo: Unfortunately not, but we really do love Berlin.

Many bands feel pressure with the second record. Did you do as well?
Matt: We didn’t actually feel pressure, I expected it but no, the songs just came and then we had a great collection of songs that worked very well together for the new album. It happened very naturally and it wasn’t ever a big stress.

It’s been nearly three years since your last record came out: What took you so long?
Leo: We did the first album and toured for a long time. And besides, the recording process took very long. We just didn’t want to rush it. We wanted to make sure we had the right songs.
Matt: Yeah, it was quite interesting because we recorded some songs in 3 different studios. And the production was split up for Catherine Marks and Luke Smith.

Catherine Marks was producer of the year 2018. How did it come to that?
Matt: We did a test session with her for the first record but the sound style didn’t fit. When it came to the second one she smashed it. She’s great, she makes you feel very good.

But then other songs were recorded in a different studio?
Leo: It was a timing thing because both of them couldn’t do the whole thing. We decided to give certain songs to Luke and certain ones to Catherine.

Isn’t it difficult to maintain the same sound style?
Leo: We did think that before but it was very easy to replicate the sound.
Matt: In the end it was all mixed by the same person. So the songs were all tied back together.

Foto-© Thomas Jackson

You have recorded your first two EPs in the The Arch, a Tottenham warehouse in London’s north. How was it home to band and how did your sound evolve there?
Leo: The warehouse definitely formed our sound. Everything was a bit broken, dark and the rooms were cold. There was a kind of scrappiness and rawness. That’s the heart of our sound, not always perfect.
Matt: In the winter it was so cold, and in summer so hot
Rupert: We still used the pre-recorded sound of the songs and Catherine really loved that.

Your first EP has been published in 2014: How is the recording and writing process different now than back in those days? Especially, after you signed with Caroline Records.
Leo: Making music before and after you are signed to a label is different. You have an awareness that the label wants you to make money. There is no real pressure but you still have this in the back of your mind. Yet, we are always trying to remember what we are writing the songs for and writing it from an honest place.
Rupert: And feeling a bit pressure, the songs we tried to write didn’t really work.

Are there things now you would do differently because you are more experienced?
Leo: Interesting question. Maybe we wouldn’t have done some compromises with songs but it’s all part of the business. In the end, we wouldn’t have changed so many things. We really have a clear vison of how things have to be, like esthetics in music videos for example.

You’ve been compared to rock bands like Foals or The Maccabees. Are you annoyed by it?
Leo: No, we are not annoyed by that but we don’t think we sound similar. Somebody said we sounded like Foals, it’s just a massive compliment. Catherine Marks engineered a lot of stuff for them and Luke Smith produced Holy Fire.
Matt: I’m a massive fan of them, but it’s a bit weird, we are very different. And Maccabees were signed to the same label before they split up. That’s maybe a reason why we are compared to them.

How would you describe the journey from the debut album to now?
Leo: We were talking about that stuff last night in bar drinking beer. I think it’s so cool to be in different cities and playing your stuff. Sometimes we want to pinch ourselves to believe this is really our life and we get to do those things. We move people with our songs and it’s just an amazing thing. We don’t take it for granted because we started the band for fun, so everything is a bonus. It’s unexpected.

You have been friends for a long time. How do you manage to still be close?
Leo: We’ve never really had a fight.

Leo: We sometimes piss each other off on tour but it’s nothing really serious. We have a healthy relationship.