We interviewed Palma Violets back in January, and since the guys are in town this week at the Rock & Roll Hotel, we figured we’d let everyone get reacquainted. Ask practically anyone about the band and you’ll get an overwhelming response of praise; they’ve been labeled as one of the most exciting acts out there at the moment, and having been signed to Rough Trade, that claim obviously has some serious credentials to back it up. I chatted to Harry Violent over the phone, and we talked about EVERYTHING, from the record to dipping sauces and squirrel hypnosis. In other words, there’s SOMETHING FOR EVERYONE IN HERE, so get reading, and then get tickets to the show tomorrow night at Music Hall of Williamsburg, which has somehow (miraculously) not sold out yet. HERE WE GO!
I’m sure everyone was just JUMPING at the chance to do a phoner right now! #SARCASM
Yeah, the phone waves are harder to convey tone and humor or whatever, so people don’t always jump at the chance.
Totally understand that bit on my end, too.
(Laughs) No, it’s alright, it’s alright!
So where are you now? Massachusetts, right?
Yeah, in Boston. First time, just in supposedly a “quiet” bit of the venue, but it’s not much quieter. Hang on, I’m just going outside, sorry!
Outside? Yikes! Well, apparently it’s not as cold where you are as it is here, by like, five degrees or something. So at least there’s that.
Well that’s good to hear! We’d heard it was a lot colder here than England, but it’s not been too bad so far. I thought it was supposed to get much colder than we’ve got in England, but so far it’s been pretty much even. I’ve packed sort of all the wrong things, though; I’m either too cold outside or too hot inside, it’s a nightmare.
Yeah, transitioning from outdoors to indoors in the winter is kind of the worst. Anyways, so the record, 180, is coming out in February, yeah?
Yeah, that’s right.
So if you had to come up with a mission statement for the record, what do you think that would be?
Like, to get people to listen to it?
Well, more sort of like, was there a theme or a vibe that was associated with making it?
No, not really. It was more just…I don’t know, it wasn’t a conscious decision necessarily. I think we’ve got a natural enthusiasm for it, and hopefully that will come across to the listener.
Cool. And (this is a very theoretical question) if your house was burning down, and we lived in a universe where music was flammable, and you could only choose one song from the record to take with you on your way to safety, which song would it be?
Off our record?
(Laughs) That’s a tough one! Alright, I’ll go with “I Found Love.” Yeah, “I Found Love.”
Okay, cool. That was me forcing you to pick a favorite.
Yeah, not necessarily a “favorite” since it changes for every show, but if you’ve got to pick one, I think that’s a pretty decent one.
Now, what were you guys doing before everyone came together as a band?
Just sort of mucking about, really! (Laughs) We were just sort of trying to get out on our own feet and trying to get by, so there was a lot of hand to mouth living and working random jobs and stuff, all that sort of thing. And then it was just trying to get into a position where we could start doing this.
Totally. Well, obviously it’s been a huge success, so good on you for that, but what do you think would be Plan B if this hadn’t gone over as well as it has in such a short amount of time?
Plan B? Well, different for each of us I reckon. I know Sam was doing a gardening course, so Sam might be doing a bit of gardening, but it’s really hard to say. I’d like to think that if this hadn’t gone as well as it has done, we’d still be trying our best to make it happen.
That’s good! Persistence! Well, fortunately it HAS been a huge success, and obviously being signed to Rough Trade was probably a huge moment. Do you remember what everyone did to celebrate?
To celebrate? I sort of remember…yeah, we got taken out…I don’t know, it was all so fast, really, that you can’t really work out which part was the celebration. There wasn’t really a moment where we said, “Right, we’ve made it,” because I think if that were to happen, that’d breed complacency.
Right. Okay, so now I’m going to take a few of the song titles and ask you some questions based on my very superficial interpretations. For instance, we’ve got “Chicken Dippers”; in your opinion, what is the BEST dipping sauce for chicken dippers?
Well, I know a lot of people would say mayo, and they’ll probably be annoyed with me for not saying mayo, but I’ll go with Thai sweet chili.
That’s a good one, I’ll go ahead and agree with that, but I think I’ll say barbecue sauce for myself.
Yeah, but there’s good barbecues and bad barbecues, so you’ve got to be careful. Thai sweet chili you always know what you get! (Laughs)
True, true. Okay, for the next one, “I Found Love,” have you found love?
All the time, all the time. I get my heart broken every fifteen minutes on the street, it’s great. (Laughs)
Amazing. Okay, and the next one is “Rattlesnake Highway.” I don’t think rattlesnakes are naturally occurring in the UK (I’m sure there ARE some), but does the UK have any naturally occurring like, dangerous or poisonous animals that you know of?
Well, not poisonous, but I’ve heard that if you lick a frog’s back things can get a bit dodgy. And you don’t want to get bitten by a rat, because we all know about the bubonic plague.
I know one member of the band has also had a bad time with a squirrel. Not venomous, but still…do you know what I mean? You’ve got to be careful.
Did they get attacked by a squirrel?
Apparently, yeah, although I quite like squirrels; we can actually hypnotize them as well. There’s a special technique.
So YOU can do that? That’s like a special thing you know how to do?
How did you learn how to do that?
I don’t now, I think it was Pete who taught us, actually. But what you do is you wave your arm in front of you, like, up and down in front of the squirrel, and you want to get low enough that they can see you. And you’ve got to do it while you’re walking up to it or else they’ll run away. They think it’s another squirrel’s tail, and they’ll come up well close and look to try and work out what it is. It’s good, but if you get caught doing it as you’re walking through a park on your own, it’s very hard to explain to people. (Laughs)
That’s hilarious. Well, now I know what to do. There are some scary squirrels over here.
We were befriending the ones in Central Park; they seem alright.
Maybe they are, but some of them are just so fat, though…I don’t know what the problem is.
They’re good capitalists, I suppose; you’ve got to make ends meet! We were outside the Guggenheim and were impressed with all the pigeons who are just so unsubtle and crude trying to nick everyone’s food.
NYC animals, living the American dream. Now, I’m not going to ask you about the band name because 1) that’s a lame question, and 2) you’ve already said there’s not really any significance, but I WOULD like to know if Parma Violets are any good?
Have you never tried them?!
No! I’m sure you could find them in the city, but they’re not super common here I don’t think.
We’ll have to sort you out with some, they’re lovely! You can even get Parma Violet-scented candles!
We have such shit candy here.
No you don’t, you’re having a laugh! People in England love your stuff, they order it off the internet! We’ve been going into every shop and just looking like absolute idiots because we’ll just go, “OH MY GOD, THEY’VE GOT PEANUT BUTTER TWIX AND STUFF!”
See, I would probably do the same thing if it was a store full of like, Curly Wurlies or whatever.
Get on the internet and we’ll do an exchange; we’ll send you some good Brit candy like Parma Violets and Curly Wurlies, we’ll sort you out with all that stuff. Have you got Irn-Bru?
Irn-Bru, have you got Irn-Bru over there?
No, I don’t think so; you’ll have to send one of those, too.
Yeah, and you can sort us out with some of the American stuff.
I guess the grass is always greener on the other side.
So has the band got any big goals for 2013 apart from touring and putting out the record? I mean, those are two big things right there already…
Yeah, the record’s coming out and we’ve got a lot of touring as well, so I don’t know, we’ll just try and make that the best we can I think, and then ride the wave, see what happens.
Cool. And I don’t want to keep you too much longer, but have you got any final words before the show tomorrow?
Just make sure you come and don’t be afraid to say hello. And please jump around, because let’s face it, we all love that, it’s infectious! And the T-shirt salesman is really handsome as well, that’s what I hear, so come and talk to him.