The force of Palace’s sound is what catches you first; sliding out from underneath a delicate guitar riff comes an unexpected energy, swelling with the intricate rhythms and sweeping vocals. When asked to explain the London four-piece’s sound, frontman Leo Wyndham said (after noting “we do always come back to a comment someone left on our sound cloud page once… I think they just said “sex-music”) “big and ethereal and epic; it sounds quite arrogant saying that but that’s what we aim for”. Bassist Will Dorey describes it as “reverb-y, melodious, with a sprinkle of blues”. This “epic” quality becomes clear once you realise just how versatile Palace’s sound are; the kind of music that could explode onto a much larger stage without losing much of the intimate, personable atmosphere.
When asked about their extensive touring, they noted that they were cautious about “not overdoing it on the first night”, recalling how they “got really over-excited and ended up in a bad way for the rest of the tour”. But, it is hard to imagine this London four-piece having anything more to give as they charge relentlessly through their set. Relentless might be the word of choice to describe Palace’s gathering momentum throughout the past couple of years touring, both in supporting and headline roles.
“There’s less pressure if you’re supporting someone else” says frontman Leo, “because no one knows who you are; it’s win-win, you’re going to hopefully leave with a few more fans, but if you’re headlining I suppose you really have to deliver the goods.” This seems to come naturally to Palace, who within moments have a dedicated crowd enthralled. This is a room filled with people who know what to expect, and are delighted with what they receive – chanting quietly through crowd favourites ‘Bitter’ and ‘Head Above the Water’.
Their cover of Mac Demarco’s ‘Ode to Viceroy’ is a pleasant reminder of Palace’s relaxed, charismatic personality as a group, though the cover is more intense than DeMarco’s slacker original, in keeping with the technicality of their performance and their aspirations for an “epic” sound. Like Demarco, Palace have also built a large proportion of their fan base through the power of free music sharing platforms such as Spotify and Soundcloud where their singles have racked up hundreds of thousands of plays. “From a really boring perspective, it’s been quite a good way to see who’s listening and from where [and seeing] comments and likes; that’s good, [making it] an interactive thing.” Leo comments.
The Louisiana affords its acts little margin for error, but this is all forgotten in the shadow of Palace’s simple togetherness
I ask about the importance of the free sharing of music, and they respond simply, “It’s really important, if you can’t put it on there then how is anybody going to find it?” Drummer Matt Hodges continuing with “Exactly – if you’re not out there then we’d just have to be touring all the time, which wouldn’t be a bad thing.” Palace discuss their music’s relationship with the internet in a wholly positive light – but I was interested to know if they had received any negative feedback.
“We’ve been so lucky” Leo begins, “I genuinely think I’ve only read like three [negative comments]”. Matt chimes in “One of them was just capitals – ‘SHIT’. There was also one that just said ‘Great – another average indie band’, just, really blunt”. When they play in the evening, and swing into their instantly likeable ‘Head Above the Water’ from this year’s Chase the Light EP, it is clear that they are beyond the “average indie band” label; perhaps their skill for creating memorable songs is not fully appreciated till you catch yourself humming one of their tunes hours later.
In speech they come across as the relatively new band that they are, Leo explaining the extensive touring as “a good opportunity to make new fans… we’re getting better at the process of touring and working out how that all works”. However, this apparent process of trial and error barely translates at all into their live show, which comes across with the smoothness of a much more mature band, particularly with the mid-set hit ‘I Want What You Got’, which juggles brooding lyrics and a gentle rift and eventually progressing into a much larger sound. This sense of maturity comes largely with the synchronisation and rhythm Palace maintain – impressive in sound check but astounding amidst the adrenaline of the intimate show: The Louisiana affords its acts little margin for error, but this is all forgotten in the shadow of Palace’s simple togetherness.
As a band who expertly balance the extremities of delicate acoustics and shattering chorus lines, it seemed fitting to ask if their writing process differed from song to song, to which Leo replied “I suppose as long as the song has lots of feeling and there’s something there behind it, it doesn’t matter if it’s big or small”, with guitarist Rupert Turner elaborating that “I think we get to it quite quickly when we are working on it, whether it’s going to be a big one or a quiet one; usually that happens quite naturally”.
“Although not always,” Leo continues, “we’ve had trouble recently – getting songs like ‘oh, this could be massive or it could be really acoustic.’ I think a lot of the guitar work is very delicate but you can put real punch behind it, but it’s fun to have a real range in songs.” It is this range that contributes so much to the Palace’s charm, and in a live setting the disparity between the often vulnerable lyrics of hits such as ‘Bitter’ and the heavier tunes over which they are set really become apparent.
Palace carry such a momentum in their live show that the end comes as a surprise, but as an audience member you get a sense that this is merely a pause rather than the last we’ll be hearing of them as a band. Palace have a big year ahead of them. “We’ve got the European tour in November after this UK tour, and then we’re going to get stuck into recording the album so it’s all pretty exciting. November and December we’ll be in the studio, and then lots of touring next year.”
They also discuss a “rough plan to go to America next year” and looking through their social media it is easy to see why, with many comments asking them to fly Stateside soon. “So much of the interest is from America, weirdly, I don’t know why it speaks to them necessarily but that’s the dream, to go and play there,” they elaborate, but it seems quite clear why America is calling for Palace’s presence. Energetic, charismatic, and already set with a collection of great songs, it looks as though there are big things to come for this band.
(Feature Image: Grace ‘Piccollo’ Pickering)