It’s no secret how much PALMS means to me as a band. They have released the best album of 2013 – hands down, no argument – and the band itself contains humans from two of my favourite bands, Deftones and Isis. In July I got the chance to interview one of those Humans, the amazing Bryant Clifford Myer who plays guitar and keyboards for the band. Here is how it all went down:
H&W: There is an amazing mood to the album, it is full of a vicious ache that grabs you and draws you in. The swoon and sway of the songs provide a dreamy escape that flirts with all kinds of spacious and distant nightmares while still remaining fixated on that kind of rush that comes from an anonymous crush. When you were making this music were you conscious of how deeply connected it was to the suffocating swoon of an almost cinematic kind of heartbreak, I guess was the mood of it all an artistic plan or an improvisational movement captured in the moment?
BCM: To be honest that’s just sort of Jeff and Aaron and my M.O. I guess. Certainly through 13 years of ISIS and Red Sparrows and all our other musical experiences that kind of “cinematic” and frankly somewhat boring noodling is something we’ve had a lot of practice creating and performing so that comes naturally at this point.
H&W: The sound of PALMS has more in common with the dream pop of Cocteau
Twins and the blissed out electronica of Boards of Canada than it does with rock or metal. I can also hear the more tender moments of Sonic Youth mixed with My Bloody Valentine and Slint framed ever so subtly with the avant-garde pop sounds of someone like Laurie Anderson or EMA. All in all the sound of PALMS is communicated with an incredibly unique dialogue. Are any of these artists part of what influences you all as individuals helping separate PALMS from being just another rock band and what sort of influences were the band plugged into whilst making this wonderful collection of songs?
BCM: We never had any of that on our mind, the only tangible idea musically
was that it didn’t sound like ISIS or another instrumental post rock thing. And being fans of all those bands / people I’m sure the more “poppy” influence came out a bit more as we didn’t really have any restrictions on ideas or moods or sounds which was pretty cool and opened up some new musical directions.
H&W: How did the creation of the album take place, were there moments where
all four of you were in a Jam room composing together or was it composed mainly by yourself, Cliff and Jeff and then Chino added Vocals and Melodic structure later?
BCM: Aaron, Jeff, and I actually wrote a good portion of the music before Chino was really in the picture, and even after we knew he was on board the three of us still wrote and recorded the rest of the songs while Deftones were on some crazy touring schedule. Aaron found little windows of time to get Chino’s vocals recorded. He did do a lot of demoing and obviously put a ton of thought and work into it.
H&W: Both ISIS and Deftones are incredibly important bands with very dedicated and passionate fans. Both bands are responsible for crafting their own unique language musically. Did you ever feel any pressure by the expectations placed on you by the fans and how do you escape that fan stubbornness that comes from their sentimentality for you to keep repeating the same thing as a creative human being?
BCM: Not really, I’ve never really been that interested in that kind of message board things, that being said there was some thoughts of maybe some backlash from folks but that didn’t really happen.
H&W: I’m such a hardcore fan of both ISIS and Deftones and for quite a long time one of my dreams was to see Chino collaborate with anyone from the ISIS universe. When it came time to select a singer for the music you were making with Cliff and Jeff, what made Chino stand out from the other potential candidates, was he always at the top of your list?
BCM: He was really the only one we ever considered – Aaron and him had become friends and we had gotten to know the rest of those Deftones guys and they’re all super cool which is a big plus in this situation. Chino did some vocal demos and they were really great and that was pretty much that.
H&W: The music of PALMS is incredibly hard to define with most of the press opting to call it “post” this and “post” that. To my ears it sounds like some of the most progressive pop music ever made, how does the band define the sound of PALMS and was there any distinct focus on the type of genres you were keen to incorporate?
BCM: Obviously no – none of us ever subscribed to any of that sub-genre business.
The term “dream-metal” has been overheard on the interwebs which is pretty funny to me.
H&W: How do you see PALMS evolving from here and are there plans to make this band an ongoing collaboration?
BCM: Yeah we’ve already a handful of ideas/songs and now that these shows are done I’m sure we’ll be getting to it here shortly.
H&W: The other big question about future plans is whether or not the band is going
to tour internationally. Are their plans to take a PALMS tour worldwide?
BCM: We’ll try! No current plans though.
H&W: My favourite song from the album currently is the wonderful “Mission Sunset” which showcases all that is amazing about PALMS as a band from the progressive
and radical arrangements to the beauty and the swoon and of course that bliss.
It is the best love song I’ve ever heard and provides the ultimate escape when
it is playing through my headphones. Is there a moment or song on this album
that you¹re particularly proud of compared to your already flawless discography?
BCM: Thanks – Yeah that song is really fun to play live for sure. It sounds super nerdy but there’s one chord towards the end of that song which has this Lydian thing that just happens once – always makes me happy
H&W: What makes bands like ISIS, Deftones and now PALMS so important are the way they almost live outside of the need for genre classification. Anyone who is a fan of your work knows just how passionate you all are about music. Your music both past, present and future has that timeless forward thinking nature of bands like Pink Floyd, Black Flag, The Melvins and of course Tool. What do you think the secret is to making such progressive sounding music the way that ISIS did and now PALMS do?
BCM: Sitting around and doing lots of drugs – uppers and downers mostly.
H&W: Who are some of the bands / artists both past, present and future that you love that keep you inspired to do what you?
BCM: Jeez the list would go on and on and on – but you named a lot of ’em – Melvins of course musically and personally, Pink Floyd / Roger Waters, Swans, Moritz von Oswald, Jimi, Wu-Tang, Zeppelin, Mogwai, Squarepusher, the Dead, the Police, Tangerine Dream, etc etc etc etc.
Interview conducted by: Dan Newton
To read Dan’s review of PALMS debut album visit the following link: