In The Middle with Palace

Day four of Green Man, the diverse and mellow festival set in the beautiful valleys of the Brecon Beacons, and my legs are covered in mud as a result of the torrential rain of the past few days. I worry Palace will take one look at my dilapidated state and run away in fear. However, after a warm greeting involving both smiles and laughter, it is clear that the boys have embraced the festival spirit as much as I have.

“It was like trains, planes and automobiles.” Will, the bassist of the band, remarks on their journey to the festival. After hiring a tour bus with not enough seats, Rupert, guitar player of the group, had to take a last minute train to make it on time to play their 2.30 slot at the Far Out tent. It seems that this nick of time behavior is quite normal for the band. “One time,” Leo, the lead singer, adds, “we got dropped off for a festival in Holland 30 miles from where we were meant to be, in the middle of nowhere.”

Musically, the band are sophisticated and entrancing. With Fleet Foxes-like harmonies and hypnotic guitar progressions, one cannot help swaying and nodding to the beat upon listening. On the other hand, one can also not help but laugh at the contrast between their music and everyday behavior; Leo is attacked by a wasp on several occasions during the interview, sending the boys into fits of laughter, and, miraculously, the subject keeps directing itself back to dirty humor and poo jokes. Matt, the drummer of the band, tells me quite appropriately, “when we’re together we turn into a group of 5 year olds.”

After successfully stomping on the pesky wasp, the conversation turns to the various festivals and gigs the boys have played over the summer. “People at a festival are always more open,” Matt remarks. “You get a lot more people stumbling across what’s going on, popping their heads in.” Will however, rightly adds: “But then a gig can be good cause the people are coming to support you.”

Touring all over the world results in the boys coming across a wide range of audiences. They remark that UK crowds are “connoisseurs with music, they demand to be entertained.” In contrast, the French “really go for it”, giving every new band a chance. Rupert does however assert on the warmness of the Green Man crowd, the hippyish and welcoming atmosphere of the festival seemingly noted by everyone. No matter where they play, the boys have a quite obvious love of playing live and gauging a reaction from an audience: “being a kid everyone dreams of it, watching these great musicians on stage and being like, I want to do that.”

Serious talk over, laughter and silly questions begins to take over the conversation once more; by this point I’ve learnt that mocking each other is a definite standard amongst the boys. “Will would be the ginger twat.” Leo states after I’ve asked them what they think their labels would be. “We also have the cute drummer (Matt), the bearded git (Rupert) and the lanky wanker (Leo).” Will wittily sums up in one sweeping statement. “I think you mean hunk.” Leo adds, sending the boys into yet another fit of giggles.

So what’s up next for the band? “I think we feel we could make a real thing of it,” Leo says seriously. “We’re gonna put the album out early next year and hopefully it’s just gonna get bigger and bigger. We’re in it for the long haul really.”

During my small, but hilarious chat with Palace, I believe, just as Leo says, that they really are in it for the “long haul”. Having known each other since secondary school (apart from Will, although Rupert rather sweetly adds, “we knew him spiritually”), the boys share a bond not just musically but also reminiscently of their naughty school boy days. The vibe of the weekend was chilled and simple: a bunch of people gathering together to connect over some great music. This reason alone is why Palace fitted so perfectly into the set of the festival and will indeed continue to get “bigger and bigger”. They have all the right ingredients to do so: a laugh with some great mates, a few drunken tales to tell along the way and most importantly, some great bloody music.

Stasi Roe

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