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In Conversation with Palace: Longing for Live Performances

All image credit: Chuff Media

Lockdown didn’t stop restless London-based band Palace from releasing their new EP ‘Someday, Somewhere’ on 23rd October. Olivia Hall spoke to drummer Matt Hodges, who revelled in the challenge of a stripped-down home studio set-up – just a snare, a light cymbal and a piano – to produce a ‘liberating’ record, one which seeks to harness a sense of mental stability and calm amid all the noise of today. From feeling the loss of live music, to band members NOT being conceived in Buckingham Palace, this is what he had to say.

The single ‘I’ll be Fine’ was recorded in lockdown – the name fills us with a kind of hope, which I think will resonate especially with your fans this year. Was the significance of this on your mind whilst recording it?

Yeah totally, to be honest it was a song that we came up with together during lockdown, but it is not about lockdown or anything. There is definitely a sort of mental wellbeing aspect to it; the song is about finding a sense of consistency mentally, and trying to harness a bit of stability and calm, while wondering if that is even possible or exists at all. I guess it was quite fortunate that it was very relevant for the time and I hope that resonated with people too.

Did recording in lockdown bring any challenges? Are you guys all still friends? Or did it feel like business as usual for creating new content – was there a sense of relief in just being able to create and block the rest of the world out?

(Laughs) Yeah, the latter – it was really cool actually. Me being the drummer, there was only so much that I could do from home. Drums, you know, you need a decent set up and decent mics and enough room to get that sound. There were limits but I think that’s what made it really exciting; you’re limited with the equipment, you’re limited with the space and what you can do, so we kind of wrote the song around that. I was just playing the light cymbal and a snare drum and I played piano on that track too. There wasn’t really too much time to over-analyse or worry about it so we just recorded our parts and passed them onto the next person and so on – there’s only three of us but it was fun, the process was liberating, really fun to do.

Can you tell me about the band’s decision to use previously unreleased tracks on your latest EP? Have they taken on new meaning since you recorded them?

I’ll be Fine’ was a new one that was written for the EP – the others have been around for a while – ‘Someday, Somewhere’ has been around for a long time. We’ve always wanted to put that one out, but there was never really [time]. We played it live a couple of times and it just went down so well – we were getting a lot of comments from people asking when it was going to be released. It’s nice to get feedback from people about a song that doesn’t really exist in the world, so it seemed like the perfect opportunity to bring it to life and put that out there for people.

The other stuff like ‘The Fallen’ were simple love songs that we had knocking around on the previous record that just didn’t make the cut, so we just thought, ‘Why not?'

Compare this to a packed summer last year performing at Latitude and Glastonbury – which I think would be terrifying and amazing in equal measure. Is there anything you really miss about touring or live music? Any particular venue, and why?

Oh my god, is there anything I miss about touring? Everything... where to begin? We talk about it every single minute of every single day, just about how much we miss it. Touring is everything for us. Not just financially of course – there’s a lot of stuff in the press about musicians and everyone in the arts and the creative world who are struggling financially –but it’s not just about that for us. We miss that feeling of playing to people and that energy you get back from the crowd, it’s why we love being in a band and do what we do. [Missing] that live experience is a huge hole in our lives that we’re hoping we can fill sometime soon in some way – it’s pretty crazy.

Venues? I think it’s the small, sweaty, basements that all seem to be going under, which is so sad. Those are the ones that we miss – they’re the real ones where you cut your teeth when you start out and you can see the whites of people’s eyes when you’re playing in those close-knit environments and it’s just vibes.

Being a London-based band, are there any changes you’ve noticed in the local music scene and do you want to revive them with your new EP?

We all live and work in London now. Regardless of the current situation, more and more as we go on as a band – and this is just a personal opinion – it feels like we hear fewer bands and guitar music out there. It definitely feels like there’s a bit of a decline. Every now and then some amazing band pops up and you think, ‘Okay, here we go, it’s coming back!’ I think that’s something we’d love to see take a 360 and be revived – proper bands and guitar music, you know?

From forming the band in 2012 and your first EP ‘Lost in the Night’ in 2014 to this year’s ‘Someday, Somewhere’, there seems to be an evolution in your message, at least in the titles of your EPs. Obviously you guys have grown the more you have played together, but do you think your new music carries a different kind of voice now?

(Laughs) Jeez, I had to ask you to repeat the question because I couldn’t remember! Yeah it was 2012 or 2013.

It’s a weird thing to describe; [our sound] kind of evolved naturally. Obviously there’s a vibe and a theme to our stuff – previous albums were us dealing with loss. On the latest record that came out last summer, there was still some loss, but also a lot of positivity – moving forward, looking to the future, all that. So I think musically it’s a natural evolution and thematically, there’s a lot more positivity and less reflection on the past. You could say ‘I’ll be Fine’ is about the present. ‘Someday, Somewhere’ is more of a reflection. So there’s a bit of a shift there but it feels pretty natural.

Thinking about your new material – is there any particular track you’re most looking forward to performing live?

Oh wow, that’s a tough one because there’s bits across everything that mean a lot to us for different reasons, partly because of the reaction they get from the crowd, partly because they’re just songs that we really love to play. I think it’s just a real mix, you know? There’s some new stuff that me and Leo are working on right now that’s really exciting that we’d love to test out [live]. Just a bit of a mix of everything – that sounds like a real cop-out answer, but it’s true.

I have to ask, the name Palace, where did it come from? Are you guys all secretly royalty or something?

(Laughs) Yeah, we all live in fancy palaces – Leo has Blenheim, I’m more of a west-side guy. It’s always super disappointing having to tell people this but the name doesn’t actually mean anything, there’s no hidden meaning or something like Leo being conceived in Buckingham Palace (laughs).

Leo’s little brother used to be the bass player in the band when we first started. The day before our very first show, our agent said, ‘Guys, you really need to give me a name to put on the poster,’ and we were like, ‘Sh*t!’ Leo’s brother just said, ‘What about Palace?’ and we just agreed and thought we could always just change it later.

As cheesy as it sounds, I have to ask: If you had one wish for 2021 and the music industry, as well as the band, what would it be?

It’s going to be an obvious answer, but I would love to see the live music industry kickstart itself again and get back on track. It really is just everything to us and so personally I would put all my hopes into that.


Edited by Emma Short, Music Editor

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