Contributor Spencer Young profiles Salt Lake City, Utah-based indie pop band Palace of Buddies.
Palace of Buddies is one of those rare bands that sneaks into your city at night, plays at some obscure café near an overpass, blows your mind, and then vanishes, leaving only a sexy bass-line throb in your ears Two weeks later that throb is still going as I listen to POB’s tour teaser-CD—an intoxicating blend of fleeting, floating pop songs able to endure the repetitive demands of an endless summer. I recently caught up with POB’s guitarist, Tim, to shed light on this bedazzling two-piece.
SY: Palace of Buddies just finished a West Coast tour. How’d it go? What were the revelations, highlights and low points?
POB: We just got home from our second West Coast tour, and it was a blast. We were able to play in many of the same cities as we did the first time around, but it seemed like we had a little more momentum with us this time. We had great responses in each town we played in. I’d have to say that some of the high points were playing in the Northwest through San Fran. We had some really fun shows there, and played with some great bands. We were able to see some of our friends and travel down the 101 (super gorgeous drive). I can’t think of too many low points to be honest, we had an amazing time together. Our van had a couple close calls, and at times, I thought that we were going to have to ditch it somewhere, but we were able to patch up the leaky tubes and make it back in one piece. I like to look at it as an adventure more, than as low points of the tour.
SY: You guys employ a lot of instruments—several keyboards and guitar pedals and go-go gadgets. How did this music militia come about? Was it an ad hoc or fortuitous?
POB: We have a lot of equipment to lug around. It takes us sometimes 15 plus minutes to set up, but each piece of gear that we use plays an important part in our sound and performance. I would have to say that it came about as more of an ad hoc formation than anything. We will have an idea of a sound that we want to incorporate into a song, and in most cases, because we are a two-piece, we will have to invent a way to trigger or play that particular instrument. For example, for our song “Noel,” Nick plays the bass line at the beginning on his keyboard through the bass amp while he is drumming, then we switch and I play the bass line through a midi foot controller, which triggers my synthesizer while I am playing a guitar riff. We switch off again later in the song. Kinda nerdy, I know, but it adds volume to our songs.
Being a two-piece has its limitations, but we try to break them by adding different ways of playing our instruments. We’ll have an idea for a song and then try to execute it in some way without backing tracks or any pre recorded mumbo jumbo that makes a performance more like a sing-a-long than live music. It can be complicated to do live, but when it works I feel that the sounds produced are full and interesting to watch.
SY: Your first album is primarily rock reminiscent of ’80s avant-garde electronic greats while your new stuff is more classic 60’s pop; are you guys retrofitting the Palace to allow more sweet sunshine in? Your second album is forthcoming this summer, will it be music you can play tether-ball or surf to?
POB: The first album was a culmination of early material that we had when we were trying to figure out what we were doing. Some of the songs on the album were written while we were still developing our sound and acquiring more gear, so they sound a bit more raw than the newer material, which seems to be a little more pin-pointed.
The newer album will be more focused than the last record, I think. We are finally reaching a point where we are not adding more instruments and have a grasp on what we are aiming at. We have a mix of a lot of similar sounding songs that will be released on this new record, which I hope will give a sense of a complete album where each song compliments the last one. This album will be a little happier than the last; we are going to let as much sunshine in as possible.
SY: What’s the Salt Lake scene like these days? And is Palace of Buddies outgrowing its crib?
POB: Salt Lake is a great place for music, although it still is a smaller town compared to San Fran, Portland, Seattle, and other cites that we have been playing in. The music scene is strong, but it could be stronger for sure. We have been pretty fortunate and have had a lot of good opportunities to play for bigger audiences here. Right now Salt Lake has some really amazing bands that would have a lot of national recognition if they were put in the spotlight.
Nick and I have thrown around the idea of moving to the Northwest; Salt Lake is definitely our home, though, and it would be hard to leave. I suppose that time will tell.