Unless you’re either an Atlanta concert lizard or a huge fan of noise rock, chances are you’ve never heard of Palaces. And truly, that’s a damn shame. BUT, the band is readying their first output since 2012 in the form of Hellas Chasma and it’s a cavalcade of brutal noise rock that at times eschews the genre for grind, punk or hardcore. Plainly put, this is a nine headed beast that ain’t for the faint of heart. Just ahead of the album’s release we had the chance to pose our set of Profile questions to the trio so head inside to see what they had to say. And by all means, hit the links contained within to show them support!
How did you first get into playing music, and have you achieved the level of success that you hoped for?
Eric Searle (guitar, vocals): I first began on drums in elementary school. I played snare drum for the school band. When I turned 13 I got a guitar and began messing around with it. Eventually I started recording horrible grungy songs on a little Sanyo boombox. I still have some of those tapes lying around. As far as success goes, I feel as long as we enjoy it, it’s successful. It’s nice to have people react to it in a positive way, which is why we do these interviews. They help get it in front of more people, but it’s not why I do it.
Jeremy Weeks (bass, vocals): Band Camp! That’s where you realize what you’re into and how you’re gonna get it. And girls don’t really go for tuba players so I grabbed a bass and then played in like 5 bands in high school. It was my favorite thing to do, playing in the basement, playing at churches, playing in my room. I achieved the level of success I was hoping for when I learned how to play my favorite songs in my parents basement. Everything since then has been lucky and I appreciate it all, even if some of those shows were ass.
Jonathan Balsamo (drums): I started out playing just trying to learn songs by bands I was listening to as a kid with my friends, punk and metal stuff. I joined my first serious band at age 18, Atlanta thrash band Dark Overlord, and have been playing ever since. I’ve never viewed it as a success or failure endeavor as long as I was having fun making music and playing live so I guess I would say that I have achieved the success I hoped for, yes.
What’s the most you have ever debased yourself to get your band onto a show, into a magazine or otherwise promoted, covered, and praised? (If you don’t have a story, please tell us any funny/embarrassing story.)
JW: This might sound ungrateful, but my fresh out of high school metal band sold tickets for the venue and were told we would be opening for The Blood Brothers and Against Me! We go ballistic and get all of our friends to buy tickets, some who have never heard these bands or didn’t even really like live music. Come the day of the show, the venue put us downstairs to play first, while the next band was going to play after us but upstairs. So all these people were upstairs waiting for the bands because that’s where the show REALLY WAS. It was a shitty feeling, and it seemed like they pulled one over on a bunch of kids, but we did have a decent amount of people watching us simply because they heard live music downstairs and likely went upstairs after. Probably fucking confusing, too.
JB: Yeah, I would say having to sell tickets to shows and beg friends to buy them is the worst thing I’ve been asked to do.
What do you see as some of the great things happening in metal and what are some of the worst things happening inside the scene right now?
JB: I think right now is an amazing time for metal in general as far as the quality of the music being made and the variety that is available, I think people are more open minded these days and are willing to not get stuck listening to one sub genre or whatever. The downside being it’s so hard to keep up and listen to all the great music being made these days.
JW: Great: live streams, special merch being made to support bail funds and other charities/initiatives, the Two Minutes to Late Night Quarantine Sessions, and bands finding ways to be more interactive with their fan base. Worst: the numerous losses in life this year, most recently Riley Gale from Power Trip. That guy was my age and it’s a huge hole left in the metal/hardcore scene. RIP Riley
ES: I feel the same as JB. The greatest thing in metal right now is the sheer amount of really good music coming out. I don’t think anybody can keep up with it all. I guarantee there’s some band releasing something today that I won’t hear until a few years down the road. One day it’ll cross my path and blow me away. The worst thing is the overproduction that a lot of bands utilize. I love good production, but some of it is so sterile and computerized. It’s a bit annoying, but that’s personal taste I suppose.
It seems that now everyone has a passion for some cause and that those people are very open about displaying their passions. This is probably a very, very good (and progressive) thing socially. What are some of the most important issues (social/political/humorous/etc.) for you and how do you insert those issues into your music?
JW: So it’s double sided for me, because I’m more of a riff writer than a good lyricist. But we do have songs that are speaking to the injustices suffered by people who are historically disenfranchised by the evil men behind the curtain of our government. We also have a few songs speaking to mental health and I can only hope that it makes people see that it’s important and OK to speak about what you’re going through, because chances are everyone is, even if THEY don’t speak up.
ES: I personally don’t mess with politics much in my lyrics. It’s more mental health related or poetically embellishing a story based on true events. I do try to be clever sometimes by adding in little references to obscure things.
JB: My biggest goal has always been to provide people and myself with a way to de-stress and come together by enjoying very loud and violent music. To love and respect all people and be part of an inclusive scene. The world needs more love as modern life kills the soul.
What, or who, got you into metal and how old were you? How did your family take the news?
JB: My parents had good taste in music so I grew up hearing a wide variety of stuff from Black Sabbath to Zappa. I was in 5th grade when I discovered Iron Maiden. Powerslave had just come out and away I went. My family has always been supportive thankfully.
JW: My uncle Chris, who’s played in numerous metal bands around Portland, Oregon. I might’ve been 12 or so. My uncle Joe helped too. He’s more of a Harley riding beer guzzler in the crowd.
ES: The first metal band that I remember being labeled as a metal band is Metallica. I was 11 or 12, but I got more into the grunge and hardcore movements at the time. It wasn’t until I was in my early 20’s when a friend let me borrow Death’s Individual Thought Patterns that I started actively listening to a lot of metal. My family has always been accepting of any of my interests. They don’t understand the music we play sometimes, but they think it’s cool that we do it.
What advice do you have for aspiring music critics and outlets out there? How can we all better serve the genre in the eyes of a hard-working musician?
JW: Give everything a shot. If you listened to it and it flopped, then say why. The more concrete and honest the assessment, the more respect bands will give and the more effort they will put to make something that’ll be worthwhile and hopefully turn heads.
What’s your goal? You guys thinking world domination? Maybe saving a continent? Maybe invading one? Do you guys have day jobs or hobbies you want to share? Whatever it is, please let us know.
ES: World domination? Lol, not so much. I’m personally into music production. I like to work on stuff like that. Wood working, building shit, riding bikes, computers, and web design. About to go on a hiking trip out to Utah for a week as well. Should be nice.
JB: As always for me it is about playing live and hopefully we will get to return to doing that soon. I would like to hit the road and tour for our new album and on a dream come true level maybe play in Europe or Japan one day.
JW: haha maybe local domination first. I would love to invade every continent and devour all the food. That’s a lifelong dream I’ll achieve one day. I am in school so I am enjoying that at the moment, as well as time with my wife and dogs.
When you’re not obsessing over your own material, what are some of your favorite albums to listen to currently? (Feel free to include non-metal)
JB: Some records I’ve been enjoying lately: Der Weg Einer Freiheit – Stellar, Church Of The Cosmic Skull – Is Satan Real, WAKE – Devouring Ruin, END – Splinters From An Ever Changing Face, Canopy – Humanity Loss
JW: The new Nas is great, any noisey bands like the new Metz or Heads. Thou keep putting out good stuff and if you haven’t heard Rope Sect and Tropical Fuck Storm, do it ASAP.
ES: I’ve been listening to: Wake – Devouring Ruin, HHY & The Macumbas – Beheaded Totem, Swans – Leaving Meaning, Tomarum – Wounds Ever Expanding, Chat Pile – Remove Your Skin Please, The Secret – Lux Tenebris, ASC – Astral Projection. The new Carcass songs are pretty cool.
What is the 12-month outlook for you or your band? Any specific events on the horizon that the masses should be aware of?
JB: In lieu of playing live we’ll be doing some in studio/live stream events featuring songs from our new album as well as a first look at some brand new material.
JW: Well now that we all live in the Covid-verse, keeping busy with writing is top priority. Content is what helps keep things grounded and is what we can continue to offer to hopeful listeners. Next summer is what I am hearing as the earliest anyone should anticipate to be able to play live for people.
ES: Yeah, we’re recording a live session video at West End Studio in Atlanta. It should be out a little after the album release. This is definitely a new experience for us, but we’re pretty excited about it. It’s a weird time to release an album right now, but back when we started recording it there was no way of knowing this virus was going to wreak havoc on the world. Instead of holding the record for another year, we decided to put it out there. Maybe it’ll help relieve some of the boredom people are living with. Haha. In 12 months from now I hope we can at least play live again.
Summarize your band in exactly one word. (Disclosure: If you include additional words, we will select our favorite for the final publication)
Many thanks to Palaces for their time!