Thursday, March 31, 2016

Century Palm: Reforming Musical Realms

Photo by Rico Moran

Toronto's Century Palm play a unique style of Post Punk/ New Wave with scads of gusto and charisma.  In a world full of people that seem to have been there and heard all of that, it takes truly exceptional group to stand out among their peers and predecessors and that's exactly what Century Palm does.  Their songs shimmer with melodic vocals that are encased in cold, catchy, sometimes even quirky guitar riffs which build high atop a strong foundation of bass and drums. Swelling saxophones and kindling keyboards, which sometimes take the drivers seat, are also march in succession.  This band takes elements of  Devo, Gary Numan, Siouxsie and The Banshees, Joy Division and Gang of Four and melts them all together to forge a sword that cuts most of today's humdrum lifestyle music into ribbons.

Interview by J Castro

Who is currently in the band and what does everyone do in it?
Andrew Payne writes a lot of the songs and sings them, and plays the rhythm guitar and the Moog.
Paul Lawton plays the bass and sings and writes songs too. His songs remind us that death is approaching.
Jesse Locke plays the drums and is amazing at it.
Alex Hamlyn is lead guitar, saxophonist, and knows the most about music theory of any of us.
Penny Clark is me. I am the synth player. Allow me to tell you the story of the band.

How did you all meet and decide to play music together?
PENNY: I met all those guys in 2013 on my first tour (of my life) with my other band Tough Age. They were playing together on that tour as a conglomerate Ketamines/Zebrassieres band. Ketamines was fronted by Paul and Zebrassieres was fronted by Andrew, so in terms of musicians playing in the band, Century Palm is kind of the fully fused version of that tour, plus me.

I moved to Toronto about a year ago and Paul played their initial recordings for me and I got really excited by the songs and started giving all kinds of commentary that was inappropriate for someone who wasn’t actually in the band. A few months later, they were looking for a new keyboard player and I managed to worm my way in there. We bonded by standing in a snow storm together for three hours.

S/T EP released October 16th, 2014 on Planet of the Tapes

What band or musician first inspired you to want to pick up an instrument and learn to play and/or write music?
PENNY: Mudhoney. Their music is so big sounding. Music is really connected to energy for me and that band has tons of it.

How would you describe your band to your grandparents?
PENNY: I would describe it in this manner: “You probably won’t like it. But you might! We’re playing pretty late. I guess it’s like rock music, basically.”

What sorts of things do you typically enjoy writing songs about? 
PENNY: Century Palm songs are very introspective. A lot about the inner self and that person’s experience with the external world. With my favorite parts, I have scenes that I visualize in my head while I’m playing them, like a beach or crickets at night. Nature stuff like that. 

I’ve heard people say that playing and writing music is therapeutic to them.  Have you ever found this to be true?
PENNY: Definitely.

Photo by Rico Moran

Does it annoy you or distract you at all to see some of your audience members fondling their phones while you’re up on stage performing?
PENNY: Usually I look up or down and not at the audience directly. Direct eye contact… is kind of weird if you don’t know the person and you’re not gonna have a conversation or something. But I would especially look away if it’s a phone-checking kind of crowd, because nothing will take you out of the song faster than seeing people who look like they’re totally disengaged with what you’re doing.

After one of your shows, what sort of feeling or sentiment do you hope your audience walks away with? 
PENNY: I hope they’re happy.

What is your favorite album to listen to from start to finish?
PENNY: Apollo Ghosts - Landmark

What’s the best advice anyone has ever given you that you still follow to this day?
PENNY: Be nice to people. Being mean in a “clever way” can be really fun and it is a quality that is generally pretty celebrated in our society but it is so useless for getting anything worthwhile accomplished. Don’t put other people down. Don’t have a power trip, be open to the people around you.

Valley Cyan 7" released August 22nd, 2015 on Deranged Records 

What is the best way people can hear and get a hold of your music?
PENNY: We have a 7” on Deranged, a 7” on Paul’s mysterious label SCI. In the future you can hear our whole album, when it comes out on Deranged, and another 7” when it comes out on Hozac.

We also just released a song as part of the Pentagon Black compilations that were released in the form of a poster. Get songs and decorate your house!

If you want to listen to Century Palm songs in a digital manner, you can use our Bandcamp. Our tape of the first four songs is sold out except for one copy at June Records, which as far as I know, is still there,

What lies ahead for the band in 2016?
PENNY: Mostly recordinnnggg and a few shows. In Toronto, we’re playing with Nap Eyes on April 7, and in Ottawa with Tough Age, BB Cream on April 22, and with Tough Age in Toronto on April 23rd. 

Be sure to follow Century Palm on their sonic adventures on social media!

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