Interview with Palm Reader
I met Palm Reader singer Josh McKeown on a sunny Saturday afternoon for a drink and a chat about the goings on with Palm Reader for this year and about the entire career of the band:
How likely is it that we’re going to hear any new material this year?
We’re going into the studio in November, so it’s pretty unlikely, but we might put out a few teasers or start playing a few new ones live.
What’s your writing process like?
For the first two albums, we just sat in a practice room and just created a song fully formed. However, for ‘Braille’ we wrote it essentially on computers, with demos and slowly building up the songs. Initially we just wanted to make as much noise as possible, but this time round we focussed a lot more on making the album flow as a whole. It’s a pretty miserable album, I was having a difficult couple of years and the music leant itself so well to what I was writing about.
You had a huge production for your Boston Music Room headline show playing ‘Braille’ in full, is this the sort of show we can expect to see in future?
Absolutely we want to start moving towards that for every show if possible. We want to make it more professional, we never considered ourselves as a professional band before but now we’re taking a step towards that.
Any chance of fitting it in the Fighting Cocks show?
Absolutely no chance, this will be a much more stripped back affair, proper punk show.
You’re obviously close with Haggard Cat, how did you guys meet?
We met on tour. Our guitarist Andy used to live up in Nottingham before moving away for a bit and he knew them when they were still Baby Godzilla and we essentially just toured with them a few times and always stayed with them when we toured in Nottingham. We’re basically each other’s biggest fans, and (spoiler) I’m going to be doing some vocals on their new album to pay them back for Matt’s feature on ‘Braille’.
What are your plans like for 2000 Trees?
Because we’re writing at the minute we haven’t thought that far ahead yet. Because we now have three full albums out, we can cater the set to the festival – for example if we’re playing Tech-Fest we can play a heavier more technical show or for Trees we can put more songs with clean vocals in. We’ve essentially become the house band for the festival because we’ve played so many times, one year they told us we weren’t playing but someone pulled out and we ended up playing a set.
Is there anyone there you’re excited to watch?
Conjurer are good mates of ours, neither of us take life too seriously. Turnstile will be good, I’m really excited to see The Black Queen because you can just tell that Greg has wanted to do that for ages. To be honest it doesn’t matter who’s playing because all our mates are always there and it’s just a great time for everyone, last year I just sat around and drank shit loads of Guinness.
2000 Trees has got to be my favourite, but I’m so hyped to play Arctangent this year, I’ve been once before as a punter to see Dillinger [Escape Plan] but we’ve never been asked to play before, but we are now after ‘Braille’ and I’m fucking excited, it is an absolutely insane line-up.
What’s been your biggest accomplishment to date?
Has to be supporting Glassjaw at Brixton. The complete size of that venue still doesn’t compute, and it was insane that they picked us as their main support. Playing ‘Braille’ in full at Boston Music Room was incredible because of the response, it just felt like a step up for us. There are plenty of shows that have been my favourite for no specific reason just because of something stupid – some guy once got naked at a show in Brighton for a free t-shirt.
Dream band to tour with?
Converge probably, Dillinger would’ve been incredible too, or Mastodon would be insane. My favourite tour would be us alongside Employed to Serve and Conjurer just because I know we’d have so much fun. I want to set that tour up for next year.
Who are your biggest influences?
As a band, Converge are probably the ‘favourite band’ we agree on the most, maybe Mastodon too. My all-time favourite band are Elbow who are nothing like we do at all, but the song-writing is just incredible and I’ve never gotten so much inspiration from one band.
Do you get involved in the local Nottingham music scene much?
We never really involved ourselves in the scene in our hometown, the whole point for me was just that I wanted to get out of Woking – there isn’t a single music venue there at all. It’s kind of been the same here since moving up here, I just don’t feel involved up here either just because for us, it is just about trying to get everywhere on tour. It’s a good city for gigs though, you’ve got from DIY level pubs all the way up to the huge arena.
What was your reaction to the critical praise of ‘Braille’?
It felt incredible, it’s difficult to put into words, and this had been the album we’d been looking to release since starting the band – it was hard work but the response was incredible. We were close to calling it a day before the record, if it didn’t do well then, we were going to stop but the response has completely encouraged us to continue as a band. I don’t really feel any pressure from the response though – we’ve always considered Palm Reader to be a completely selfish endeavour, ultimately it is our thing and we don’t really care what people think. I’d love it if you like our music, but even if you don’t then we’re still going to release it and play these songs.