Friday night I went over to Union Pool to interview Palmas and see their show. I was first greeted by Matt Young (guitarist) and Kurt Cain (vocalist), and both greeted me with immense smiles and vibrant energy. Soon after, Pat Degan (drummer) and Eric Camarota (guitarist) joined passing jokes at each other as they approached. Within a minute of meeting Pat, he exclaims, “I just took the roughest shot of tequila of my life.” Lastly, came Adam Cantiello (guitarist) savagely stuffing his face with elote. Kurt jokingly yells at him, “There’s a lady present, geez, no shame.” OH, by the way, if you were wondering what elote is, it’s corn with mayonnaise and chili powder aka one of the best foods in the world….. but I digress.
Standing in a circle outside underneath a heat lamp, beers in hand, we begin the interview below.
How did you decide on the band name?
Kurt: So we chose the name Palmas… it’s hard to answer this because at the time we had a different name and we were changing our name and we were looking for something a little bit more representative of us, a little bit more summery feeling. Palmas means palms in Spanish. We also wanted to be a little bit mysterious. We didn’t want it to be a name where everyone would know what it meant right off the bat. I like certain band names that are a little bit elusive. It felt right for the music that we were playing it has a little exotic vibe—something not of the Philadelphia area where we’re from.
How did the band form?
Matt: We’ve all known each other for a very long time. We’ve all been in bands when we were younger and we all kind of knew of each other. Adam and I had just been talking for a while about being in a band and Eric and I were talking about working together in some capacity.
Kurt: We were all tired of making shitty music. So we wanted to make a good band.
Matt: I lived in California for a little bit when this kinda started happening and I moved back and we were like “hey, let’s do it, let’s start a band.” Adam knew Pat, I knew Kurt. Not to sound cliché but it really started out of the friendship of we all just really enjoy playing music let’s get together and play.
Pat (talking to Matt): I think you nailed that one.
I notice that Matt lives in Brooklyn but it says the band is from Philly– how do you guys make that work being from two different cities?
Matt: Adam actually lives in California right now. Generally, I take the bus to Philly every weekend right now and I know it sounds kind of crazy but it works out. Adam was in Philadelphia up until five months ago. We’ve made it work. We send demos back and forth. We send Adam our ideas that we work on together and he gets to put in his input. He sends us ideas from where he’s at and work on his ideas.
Kurt: Yeah you know it’s 2016. (pauses) Vote for Bernie.
Matt: Yeah we just use the internet to make it work, you know? We also just found ourselves in a fortunate situation before he moved that we had a lot of songs already written so it wasn’t like we were desperate for new material. He flies back to play with us.
*I turn to ask Adam if he ever plans to move back to Philly or New York and why he left to begin with. The boys heckle him and laugh saying, “Can we get this on the record?” “How long do you plan on this sham?”*
Adam: My day job brought me out there and my lady and I moved. I think that there’s a possibility that I can be back on the East Coast at some point.
Kurt: Or we all move to the West Coast.
Who are you guys listening to right now? Who are you inspired by musically?
Kurt: Right now we’re listening to this band called Harumi.
Adam: It’s like 60’s psychedelic and kind of started the whole psych thing. Stumbled upon this band and we’ve been obsessed with it lately.
Matt: Kurt also got us all into The Zombies and they’re one of my favorite bands recently. We got this really amazing opportunity to meet them and interview them and it was like this whole thing. Now that we’re recording I keep finding myself saying well what would they do?
Kurt: I mean, obviously we love the Beach Boys. I mean every time we listen to something that they do it’s like we find something new. I think you can definitely hear that in some of the stuff we put out and some of the stuff we’re going to put out.
Matt: I mean, the Beach Boys they were just one of the original pioneers of experimenting in the studio, you know? They started out as like a bubble gum pop band and then they started doing different stuff and I think we’re super influenced by both aspects out of that—when they were a pop band and when they were experimental and started adding new sounds. I think we would really love to find a mix of that. Pop songs but with intricate arrangements, you know?
Kurt: Nancy Sinatra definitely.
Matt: Also more modern bands. We all love The Growlers. They’re one of our favorite bands. La Luz is another one. And then also this may be an unconventional answer but we’re super influenced by Quentin Tarantino movies and his soundtracks. In some of his newer movies he has a lot of hip hop and R&B type stuff but in a lot of his movies it’s western meets surf. That’s kind of what we would love to accomplish.
Kurt: (jokingly) If you say Quentin Tarantino enough he’ll call us up.
What made you come up with the album title To The Valley?
Adam: When we first started this band we were always bouncing ideas around. Band names, song names, and I feel like the things that come the most naturally are when we’re not stressing out over things kind of fits really well. To The Valley has a line in one of our songs that’s on the E.P Better Guy. I think it was just one of those things where it was tossed around and it seemed to fit and we all liked it. You know to have five guys agree on one thing right off the bat is (laughs) kind of monumental.
Kurt: At the time Adam was moving to California and it was kind of like… to the valley.
Adam: I live in Long Beach. You know, represent Snoop Dog, LBC.
Do you have a favorite song on the album?
Matt: “Take My Hand” is definitely my favorite song.
Pat: “Take My Hand”
Adam: “Better Guy” or “I Want To Know.”
Kurt: “I Want To Know.”
What is your music making process?
Matt: I think there’s two ways that this happens. The first way is that either Adam, myself or Eric come up with a riff and then from there the song builds. Kurt has a lot of ideas on where to take it. Or the second option where Kurt as a singer comes in and is like I have this idea for a song and I’m thinking it should be this style and then we go from there.
Kurt: It comes from a riff most of the time.
Matt: Yeah, most of the time it’s like we were screwing around at home on guitar and I came up with this little part. What can we take from this little part to make a full song? I think we find in our process when we’re trying to write a song. I’m going to quote Eric here, Eric is just always like, “You know, when we try to force a song it doesn’t get written.” Or it gets written and we don’t like it. The ones that work for us are the ones that…it just comes out of nowhere. It just happens. Kurt will just start and singing and okay that’s it. You know?
Who is the main writer?
Matt: When it comes to the riff parts like I said it’s either Eric, Adam or myself and then Kurt takes that and really kind of sculpts the idea. It’s like we’re the colors and he’s like the paint brush.
Pat: And I’m Bob Ross.
Everyone dies with laughter.
Matt: And Pat throws down the beat. You know, it just works.
Pat: And it’s awesome.
What has been the biggest challenge for your band?
Matt: Recently, it would be Adam moving to California. I think we just want to continue to improve ourselves. We’ve been a band just about a year now and for some reason people are liking us. But that was easy to do because we started from blank there was nothing to compare to what we had previously done. Now it’s we’ve got to be better. We’re challenging ourselves.
Kurt: Also, I think what’s difficult is once you enter the industry, you know, all we want to do is write songs and put out music. We would put out music tomorrow if we could. But once you’re in the game it’s like you have to wait on different things and now we have direction from people and so it’s tough knowing which road. There’s a million roads you could take and it’s like what road do we take? I think that’s been our biggest challenge right now. We’re looking for the right people to guide us.
Matt: Also, Palmas, us as musicians it’s the five of us but Palmas as a team is like ten people now. It’s a lot of behind the scenes people wanting—their best intentions but sometimes the opinion isn’t the same. It’s all just trying to figure out how to work together. That’s been an adjustment for us.
Kurt: It’s new for us you know having management. But honestly, every step we’ve taken has been a step forward thus far so we just want to continue doing that.
Pat: There’s good work ethic. We have good work ethics.
Kurt: We push each other too.
Adam: And we make the most of my time here. We really pack the weekends and the time is spent rehearsing, writing or playing shows or doing interviews. You know, as much as we possibly can.
Kurt: The ultimate goal would be a full length record with a producer that we would just dream of working with. Which, right now as a young band you just don’t have the budget to do that. So our dream would be to have that budget and have the means to make the record of our dreams.
If you were stuck on an island and only had one record to listen to what would it be?
Matt: Blue Hawaii– Elvis
Adam: The Beatles- Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
Pat: Doors Greatest Hits
Kurt: Beach Boys- Pet Sounds but I might go with Beach Boys Greatest Hits. I mean, you’re stuck on an island…you want to listen to that kind of music you know?
Eric: Creedence Clear Water Revival’s Greatest Hits
Matt: Can I change mine to NOW THAT’S WHAT I CALL MUSIC 3?!
After the interview, we went inside so they could prepare for their show. In love with their personalities and passion, I was curious to hear their music and watch them perform. Once the show began I was in a trance, unable to stop swaying my body and moving my feet. Palmas was brilliant. These guys could have toured around with The Beatles or The Beach Boys if they wanted to. Their sound was perfect and their moves were mesmerizingly in sync. I heard a girl in the crowd say, “Oh wow. This is kind of like doo-wop” And she was right. These boys, born in the millennial generation, are bringing a taste of fresh nostalgia for a time we only dream about…a time that happens to mesh perfectly with the modern indie music world.
Needless to say, Palmas is just fucking awesome. I left the show feeling inspired and grateful for the chance to have met this hilarious, driven, inspired and original band. Obviously, any band that likes corn with mayonnaise and aggressive tequila shots is a win win in my book. Their new E.P Into The Valley is available now! I guarantee it will make you want to go out, get a vinyl record player and lay by the beach.