Interview: Palace: “We thought we might be the shittest band in the world”

This hyped-up London four-piece live, breathe and record in a musical squat, but their converted space might as well be keys to the kingdom.

Palace aren’t in any hurry, but the stars are aligning to suggest they should get a bloody move on. One gig to their name, they were being spoken about in whispered, excitable tones. A couple of songs online, everyone wanted a piece of them. One EP under their belts, and they’re asked to support Jamie T at his London comeback, one of the gigs of the year. But one listen to their part-bluesy, woozy embrace helps explain why they’re the types to take their time.

Straddling arena-ready indie with something more subdued and mellowed out, the songs on the four-piece’s ‘Lost in the Night’ EP inhabit their own space. They don’t burst into view. There’s no desire to get heard right here, right now. It’s a subtle kind of routine. Anthems by those who’ve stumbled upon them.

Relaxed to the bone, the four of them spend most of their spare hours hanging out in a North London rehearsal space. In this Tottenham studio of theirs, artists come and go. Instruments are scattered, taking up more sofa space than the inhabitants themselves. It’s a strange glimpse of bohemia in a ruthlessly expensive city. “This place has helped a lot,” admits bassist Will Dorey, who sometimes grabs a sleeping bag and spends the night in the studio, just so he’s up nice and early to practise the next day. “We’ve had the freedom to rehearse wherever we want. There’s nearly always a room free here. We can turn up last minute for the next day and it costs virtually nothing. And it’s so rare in this city.”

Given near-unlimited space for the first time (they cite hours and precious pounds spent on crummy Camden studios, back in the day), they’ve settled into their groove. “It’s a complete saving grace to have this place,” says frontman Leo Wyndham. “In the beginning, we hardly practised. We got picked up quite early and there was interest but we’d be doing one rehearsal every two weeks.”

“It was all pretty relaxed,” joins guitarist Rupert Turner. “Like our music.”

Starting out, they played their first show in a converted South London pub. “There was a fireplace there. It felt like we were just playing in someone’s living room,” remembers drummer Matt Hodges. Taking to Camberwell’s The Wreck, Leo describes the experience as a “sick in our mouths” encounter. But people turned up, and everyone’s attention was duly diverted towards Palace. “A part of us thought we might be the shittest band in the world,” jokes Leo. “And the moment we started playing, we could see it in people’s faces. They liked it.”

It’s been a strange sight, seeing a band this easy on the senses (“It’s not rocking out kind of music,” says Will) get so far, so quickly. Jamie T, champion of rowdy rock ‘n roll, saw something in their softly-softly side and asked them to join his comeback trail, which was the opposite of what they’d anticipated as a band. “These kids arrived in the queue, all topless, absolutely fucking hammered. I thought: ‘We are fucking dead,’” says Leo. Given closer inspection, Palace’s music might not assault the senses, but the way it latches to the conscience is frighteningly effective. On ‘Bitter’, their simmering away standout, they sound like Wu Lyf brought up by a planet-saving cult. ‘Lost in the Night’ doesn’t give a great deal away, in sum. Instead it points towards a group that are winning people over when they least expect it. “There’s lots of staring at our gigs. People are open-mouthed and gazing,” cites Matt. “Some bands get crowdsurfers and stage invasions, we just get open mouths!” If quiet conversion is their game, Palace are going about it the right way.

Taken from the October issue of DIY. Palace’s ‘Lost In the Night’ EP is out 20th October on Beatnik Creative. They play the DIY Presents Tour all-dayer in London, in association with PledgeMusic, on 1st November. Get tickets here.


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