By the time Brits Palma Violets are on stage at the Tractor in Seattle, I don’t think the venue will know what hit it. The Tractor puts on a few rock shows, but mostly it’s an alt-country venue. I’m not saying alt-country fans are incapable of freaking out, but after seeing Palma Violets’ previous Seattle shows at Barboza, I’m convinced there is a real sense of danger in this band. It’s so appropriate they named a song “Danger in the Club.” And named their second album the same thing. So take heed: Palma Violets and their fans know to go wild, and get absolutely into a berserk state. Just be prepared for that, and you’ll be good. Plus Palma Violets’ drummer Will Doyle told me Seattle is one of his favorite places to play in America. I believe him.
Take that Palma Violets came into being only in 2011. They then released an exquisite album, 180. They toured relentlessly until hunkering down to create album two. Against the weird odds affecting so many bands, that syndrome of becoming awful after a debut, Palma Violets popped up again with Danger in the Club, which turned out to be wickedly wonderful also. This band and their craft are no flukes.
There was basically no decompression time after touring before recording Danger in the Club. Doyle explained, “We just went straight back into writing again” and that “You always forget how to write songs, coming off the tour for two years, when all you want to do is be alone. Give each other some space. It was a process.” Making that shift was also seen in the album. After scrapping nearly an entire album (“We had a handful of songs, and they were too fast. We took a step too far and thought we were rushing. Apart from that, they didn’t sound so good”). And, while 180 was recorded with the aim of making it feel and play as a live show, Danger in the Club was a bit different. “We took our time. We realized there were parts in songs that needed the space and room to breathe. We wanted a record that packed a punch, as it did in the live show.” How did the band do that? Doyle answered, “. . . by slowing it down, so people can hear the songs.” That worked. Also, there’s a different producer (John Leckie), who was put forward by Geoff Travis (label Rough Trade’s founder). He worked with XTC and Stone Roses.” Doyle said this decision was a no-brainer. They also enlisted the harmonica skills of manager Milo Ross, whom Doyle called “a mean harp player.” Indeed.
One thing that didn’t change (and why should it?) that, as with 180, Danger in the Club features a band photo on the front. I wondered if an album cover was something difficult to decide on? “We put a lot of thought into that photo, and eventually we decided on the first one, from Jeannette Lee of Rough Trade. She took it on her iPad. She just said, whotcha and took it. Exactly the same thing happened on the first album, so we should have just had her as our photographer.” Speaking of appearance and the like, what were Doyle’s first impressions of his bandmates? “First time I saw Chilli (singer/bassist), I saw the back of his head. And then I started seeing him (around) for months and months afterwards. Sam (Fryer – singer/guitarist) and Pete (Mayhew – keyboard) I was at school with, but I wasn’t friends with them until the last year. Now we’re best friends. The world works in mysterious ways in that way. I always knew they were cool. I was like, I want to be a part of that cool gang.” As far as selecting drums as his instrument, Doyle told me, “I started because I saw a cool kid in the last year play the drums. I decided that’s what I wanted to do.”
And put to bed the rumors that Palma Violets got pulled off stage at SXSW. Doyle said, “He (the guard) was a knobhead. He pulled Chili offstage. He wasn’t paying attention – he wasn’t doing his job. If he’d spent time looking at the stage and realizing he was onstage and not stopping people from standing in the fire escape. . .” I don’t like the sound of that guard’s actions, but Doyle was philosophical, “It was funny. He (the guard) embarrassed himself. I thought it was funny people were saying we were thrown offstage.”
As far as Doyle’s other interests go, he’s liked seeing a band also on Rough Trade called Girl Band. “You’re uncomfortable the whole time. They’re really quite something.” He also revealed, “Pete is writing a kids book at the moment. He’s got some drawings and he’s going to do a soundtrack to it as well. I’m chipping in on that, but it’s his brainchild.” I can’t wait to see and hear that.
The band’s most recent video, “English Tongue,” features Paul Kaye, Thoros Myr from Game of Thrones. When I asked Doyle how they got Kaye in the video, Doyle said, “He is actually a massive fan, which was cool. We’re fans of Game of Thrones. He’s not in it anymore (but) he still knows what’s going on.” The video looked very fun to make, placed in a church that Doyle said is “right around the corner from my house.” Turns out the band “brought all these fans along, because we wanted them to be in the video. We brought in a couple crates of beer, and afterwards there was beer flying around, and there was an AA meeting going on in the back.” Doyle admitted, “I don’t think anyone went into that meeting. They saw the beer cans and they had to run away. Or they were licking at the beer cans on the floor. We’re so bad.”