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Going Overboard: Palm Reader On Following Up 'Braille' and Their Split Covers EP With Conjurer

Friday, 25 October 2019 Written by Laura Johnson

At the end of this year Palm Reader will wind up the touring cycle for their 2018 album ‘Braille’. The hardcore band plan to celebrate by playing the record in its entirety during a hometown show at Nottingham’s Rough Trade in December, also known as “the place that welcomed us with open arms when we started to write it” according to drummer Dan Olds. 

The quintet’s third full-length marked a shift for them, and solidified their position in a fertile UK scene after a period of uncertainty. “We did nearly split up before ‘Braille’, but it progressed us as a band, profile wise,” bassist Josh “Posh” Redrup explains. “The tours we got off that back of that—we went out with Rolo Tomassi, Contortionist, did some more shows with Will Haven and did a really successful headline run. We did Brixton with Glassjaw, which was ridiculous.” 

Palm Reader have been ticking off their collective bucket list together for nine years. “Just been too stubborn to quit,” guitarist Andy Gillan quips. But, 2020 will not only find them celebrating their 10th anniversary as a group, it will also likely be home to the release of their fourth album, which they revealed to us back in the summer they were already seven songs into. 

They’ve come a long way from their early rehearsals in Redrup’s mother’s living room. These days, prior to hitting their practice space, previously their first port of call, they now demo tracks at Gillan’s home studio. Having previously lost ideas to poor memories in other bands, the guitarist is meticulous in ensuring Palm Reader’s new material is captured in real time.

There are no plans to utilise Gillan’s space for anything beyond demoing, though. The new album is being recorded at Middle Farm Studios in Devon with producer Lewis Johns, who worked with the band on their first three LPs and also has records with Employed To Serve, Funeral For a Friend, Rolo Tomassi, and more on his CV.

“Production-wise it will have some similarities to the last one, purely because Lewis is doing it,” Redrup says. “While Lewis has a sound to a degree, he’s a great producer, so it depends what the band sounds like and is after, that kind of thing. But there will be an element of his signature on it.”

“It sounds like us. I think it sounds better in some respects,” Gillan adds. “I don’t think this one’s going to be as big a progression from ‘Braille’ as ‘Braille’ was from BTOWL [2016’s ‘Beside The Ones We Love’], in terms of how it sounds. It’s more mature, shall we say.”

That sense of maturity may now come naturally to the band when it comes to writing and recording, but it’s more of a balancing act when it comes to touring. “Being in a band is essentially just escaping reality for as long as possible,” Redrup says. Gillan offers another viewpoint and a reminder that, just like Joe Public, bands have to make money to take care of rent, bills and their dogs. 

“Financially it’s just a black hole,” the guitarist says. “It’s just an endless pit you keep throwing money into. And then hopefully at some point someone will go, ‘Oh you’re pretty good, we’ll actually give you money for doing this,’ rather than being like, ‘What’s the bare minimum you can do a show for?’

“We try and play as much as possible — I’m not going to say unfortunately — but unfortunately in recent times we’ve been made aware of things like profile, and how you shouldn’t play every shithole every day of the week because you want to prove you’re bigger and better than that. Unfortunately that means that the number of shows you can play diminishes quite a lot.”

Those days not spent on the road have been used wisely, with the band utilising the time in between real life and summer’s festival appearances to record a covers EP with supremely heavy midlands metallers Conjurer, following a request from the venerable London label Holy Roar. Due out on December 13, it will feature Palm Reader taking on Tire Me by Rage Against The Machine and Circles by Thrice, with Conjurer reworking Blood and Thunder by Mastodon and Vermilion by Slipknot.

“As with every decision that needs to be made with Palm Reader it comes with a lot of disagreement and discussion,” Olds admits about selecting which tracks to cover. “There were a few different choices of songs floating about for some time, mainly because there are only a very few select bands we all agree are great. Thrice and Rage Against The Machine being two in a very small list.

“The idea of Tire Me was quite an easy one to make. Rage have an insane back catalogue of songs and we didn’t want to do a basic choice like Killing In The Name. As for Thrice, it was a little bit tougher to decide. Personally, I love To Be Everywhere Is To Be Nowhere, but Josh and Andy have a bit more knowledge of their catalogue, [so] they decided a shortlist and we went from there.” 

The EP was recorded at Phoenix Sound studio in Mansfield, which is right next to a funeral home. “So when you’re recording you may even see a corpse,” Olds tells us. It’s owned by Hamish Dickinson, a friend of the band whom they have worked with previously on their single Always Darkest and a Björk cover. “He’s got a great ear for all aspects of the recording process and he offers that no bullshit advice,” Olds adds. 

Dickinson can also attest to the fact that Palm Reader tend to go overboard in a production sense, which Olds admits was definitely the case with “all the harmonies and the little tasty bits” on Circles. Overall, the cover finds them taking a bolder approach than the subdued original, with its vocals delivered with more tenacity by Josh McKeown and haunting guitar lines dominating the spotlight around the three minute mark. The same is true of their face-melting rendition of Tire Me. 

But are these stylistic moves they'll be repeating on their future work?  “Josh has a fantastic singing voice and we wanted to utilise it as much as we could,” Olds says. “Maybe we’ll add more of this to the new album, maybe Andy will grow his hair like Brian May, maybe we’ll headline Live Aid. Maybe.” 

‘Conjurer x Palm Reader’ EP is due out on December 13 via Holy Roar Records

Palm Reader Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows

Thu November 28 2019 - LIVERPOOL Jimmys
Fri November 29 2019 - SWINDON Victoria
Sat November 30 2019 - LEEDS Temple Of Boom (Louder Than God Festival)

Sat December 21 2019 - NOTTINGHAM Rough Trade

Click here to compare & buy Palm Reader Tickets at Stereoboard.com.

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