Opening Act: Palma Violets Channel British Pub Rock of the Past
We continue our partnership with StubHub to profile 12 of the best new live acts on tour in 2015
Formed in 2010 by four school friends — guitarist/vocalist Sam Fryer, bassist/vocalist Alex “Chilli” Jenson, keyboardist Peter Mayhew, and drummer Will Doyle — London rockers Palma Violets didn’t waste much time finding a formula for success: Unapologetically scrappy pub rock, with feeling.
Channeling some of the sounds perfected by The Clash or The Libertines with the youthful energy of fellow British “it” bands Arctic Monkeys or The Vaccines, Palma Violets burst onto the scene in 2012, when their single “Best of Friends” was named Track of the Year by trendsetting British rock outlet NME. By 2013 the group had a deal with London-based Rough Trade Records – home to Arcade Fire, The Decemberists, My Morning Jacket and Alabama Shakes – and they promptly released their debut album, 180, named after the band’s cheap London studio.
The album’s distinct and intentional lack of polish and smattering of ’60s influences rendered the Violets’ effort particularly impressive – most notably on epic sing-alongs like “14” and “Step Up for the Cool Cats,” and frenetic, bluesy rave-ups like “Tom the Drum.” After leaving fans (and themselves) drenched in sweat and booze at eardrum-destroying live shows, the Violets kept audiences both in the U.K. and abroad coming back for more. As Jenson told SPIN in 2013, “If there’s one thing we’re trying to do musically, it’s sound like we f—ing mean it.”
The band’s sophomore album Danger in the Club was released in May and offers more of the same kind of fuzzy, throwback rock n’ roll, but the record almost never came to be. After a lengthy spell on the road supporting the debut album – Coachella, Lollapalooza, Reading, etc. – and trying to live up to expectations bestowed on them by an enamored British press, the lads were at their wits’ end.
Concerned about the band’s demise, the four friends took an impromptu trip to a Welsh farm to decompress and to air their grievances. There they rediscovered their original spark and began work on the album that would become Danger in the Club, and they enlisted producer John Leckie, who’s worked with British heavyweights Muse, No Order, The Stone Roses and Radiohead.
The resulting album might not take any grand creative risks – these are still men in their early 20’s, largely writing about finding love or giving up on it entirely – but it does embrace the straightforward, blustery British pub-rock that brought the musicians international attention. And that’s not going anywhere anytime soon.
Check out StubHub Music and stay tuned for more in our Opening Act series, featuring the best new live acts on tour this summer.
Listen If You Like: The Clash, The Vaccines, Interpol
Where to Start: Go back to the beginning with the band’s first single, “Best of Friends.” You’ll get the picture.
On Tour: With loads of touring now under their belt, Palma Violets will continue to play this summer across Europe and Australia. Learn more about the group’s upcoming shows here.