PALMA VIOLETS with DECADES and ALWAYS at the Horseshoe (370 Queen West), tonight (Thursday, January 24), doors 8:30 pm. $12.50-$15. HS, RT, SS, TM. See listing.
Every year since forever ago, the UK music press has picked a young back-to-basics guitar pop band as the next big hope for British rock 'n' roll. This year, the honour goes to Palma Violets. And like almost every band before them, they're pretty damn excited to have landed in New York City for the first time.
"Everything looks amazing!" bassist Chilli Jesson gushes as he gets his first glimpse of the Big Apple. "It looks just like it does in the movies, man!"
If he's worried about whether audiences on this side of the Atlantic will be as receptive as they've been back home, he doesn't sound like it. Then again, given that they've already enjoyed a record label bidding war and several cover stories before even releasing their debut album, maybe it makes sense that they're itching for a bigger challenge.
"The press in England has been amazing, but when you come over to North America, it's just the best feeling because you're away from all that hype and bullshit. You're coming to foreign lands, a million miles from home, and all you've got is a fucking guitar. You've got to try to play the best show you can."
Unlike most contemporary buzz bands, Palma Violets didn't get their start on the internet. Instead, they played endless shows at their rehearsal space until word-of-mouth attention began to grow. According to Jesson, there wasn't any calculated attempt to appeal to the retro yearnings of music writers.
"We don't know how to use the internet. We've got no SoundClouds or MySpaces. Looking back on it, though, that was amazing, because people had to come out to experience the music. They couldn't just go online and listen to 30 seconds and say, ‘This is shit.' They had to go to the show."
Their studio space also provided the name for their forthcoming debut album, 180 (Rough Trade). If you enjoyed their single Best Of Friends as much as NME did (the mag named it 2012's song of the year), you won't be disappointed in the raw, live-off-the-floor sound of the rest of the album, crafted with help from Pulp bassist Steve Mackey.
"We tried out a few producers before him, but they were just bastards. We'd never been in a studio, and all these guys were calling us idiots. Steve told us to make as many mistakes as we wanted, because that's rock 'n' roll. Three takes for each song and move on."