It’s tough being a buzz band these days. The ‘buzz’ is less the excitement of a new band on the stratosphere and more the descent of angry mobs intent on blasting your every move to pieces.
"As long as they come down [to a show] and then slag me off I don’t care."
Tell it to Palma Violets, Rough Trade’s newest recruits. They’ve seldom been together a year but already they have a completed headline tour and an NME front cover under their belt. For Palma Violets the hype is a double-edged sword ‘You get these people that read the stuff and they don’t come down and see it, and they just judge it on 30 seconds of a YouTube clip that they’ve seen. That’s what pisses me off’ explains bassist Chilli. ‘As long as they come down and then
slag me off I don’t care. That’s why we didn’t record anything, because we wanted people to come down and listen to the music live because that’s where music is, music’s not really on records anymore, it’s all about the live show.’
Sitting on what can only be described as the lowest sofa I’ve ever sat on, in the upstairs room of a slightly grimy and well-abused venue there’s a sense that these are the circuits that Palma Violets regard most fondly. ‘The intimate shows are much better because you can do whatever you want there, you can kind of control the crowd to an extent. We try to get people on the stage whenever we can, people love it. It’s just the best feeling when you get on stage with a band you like.’ It’s this punk ideal that drives the band, and this tour in particular, ‘We wanted to do an old punk tour. No-one seems to do these places like…y’know Preston or Hull, we wanted to reach everyone. Especially because they don’t have much of a sense of a music scene and stuff.’
Being a band rooted in London the obvious tour highlight would surely be a hometown show, but Palma Violets insist their stand out gig was Middlesbrough; ‘We played in this social club but it looked like something out of the 1970s, like you know you see that early footage of the Sex Pistols? It was punk; you couldn’t get any more punk than that…everyone kind of knew each other in the crowd as well. The promoter was a head teacher at a primary school, which was amazing because for them it wasn’t really a business, he wasn’t doing it for money. It wasn’t just young kids it was like adults, old punks, skins, rockers, and it just went mental.’
"We played in this social club but it looked like something out of the 1970s. It was punk; you couldn’t get any more punk than that"
It would be easy to criticise Palma Violets as a contrived effort to shadow their musical predecessors, too easy in fact. You only have to look at the comments on their YouTube videos to see the tirade of comparisons ranging from The Libertines to Echo & the Bunnymen. Rather than recoil in defence of their own originality or embrace the similarities, the band shrug it off, ‘It’s f*cking great because that shows that they can’t put their finger on it. We grew up with The Libertines and stuff but I don’t think our music remotely sounds like them.’ Palma Violets have already come a long way in a short time. From practising in a grimy London studio owned by Rizzle Kicks’ dad, to being halfway through recording an album produced by Steve Mackey (bassist in Pulp). From a band name resembling a Christian rock band; ‘Thursday’s Children’ (because they were all paid on a Thursday, in case you were wondering) to Palma Violets, a band rinsing the live circuits for all its worth and hoping for the best: ‘Everybody’s blagging it in this industry, most people don’t have a clue. No one really knows. You just do what you know and hope it works out well.’