San Francisco – San Francisco-based buzz band Painted Palms have been tearing up the indie airwaves since the release of their debut LP, Forever, earlier this year. Now the pair of cousins are heading out on a month-long tour headlining across North America. Vocalist and guitarist Chris Prudhomme sat down with BestNewBands.com for a quick chat before they headed out to talk about the band’s Postal Service-like composition techniques, distant celebrity relations, and the ambiguous origin of their colorful band name.
BNB: So you’re from Louisiana? I just moved here from New Orleans myself.
CP: I grew up on the north shore [of Lake Pontchartrain], so Mandeville/Covington area. I was born in Lafayette, LA; a couple hours from there.
BNB: So are you related to [Chef] Paul Prudhomme at all?
CP: I think it’s really, really loose…like third or fourth cousins or something. Yeah, we don’t know the guy at all.
BNB: I read that you guys were in two different places when recoding Canopy EP, right?
CP: Yeah, I was still going to school in Baton Rouge, and Reese was here in San Francisco, so we were doing everything over the Internet because we couldn’t be together.
BNB: So how did you guys get started? Did you have any musical background? Did you just kind of decide to jam one day?
CP: Reese and I grew up playing music, but never together; we both played guitar, and then we got interested in computers and stuff, and then one day we were home for Christmas or something and we were killing time before a family dinner and we decided to make a song, and we liked it. It ended up being one of the songs on our first EP.
BNB: Is that “Falling Asleep?”
CP: Yeah! And we just kept doing it, because it was fun.
BNB: So at what point—between that EP and now—did you decide to go forward and make a whole album?
CP: It took a little while to get more serious about it, but once we got some interest from a record label we decided that it was a pursuit that we always wanted to undertake I guess, so ever since we started talking to the record label we decided that we could really jump on the opportunity to do what we really wanted to do.
BNB: Where did the name [of the band] come from?
CP: (Laughs) We actually don’t know! We don’t remember exactly…people always have idea on where it came from, so we kind of like to collect those. They’re often better than anything we can come up with (laughs). One of the ones we heard recently was that at Hearst Castle, William Randolph Hearst, at the end of his life, had these groundskeepers for the palm trees on the grounds, and he had them paint the palm trees as they grew, so that he could basically eradicate any signs of death on his property. Someone came up to us after a show one time and asked us if that’s where we got the name, and we thought that was really cool, so we cite that story.
BNB: Nice! So, for Forever, the LP…were you guys in the same place for the recording of that one? Were you here [in San Francisco]?
CP: For half of it, I was here. But we still did everything separately.
BNB: Oh really?
CP: Yeah. We’ve never made a song together. For half of it I was still finishing school in Baton Rouge, and when I finished I moved out, and we finished the record in the same city.
BNB: So was there any song in particular that was more difficult to complete, especially because of the distance? Was there an ‘Everest’ on the album that was particularly hard to summit?
CP: I don’t think so, it all kind of came together at the same pace. The record in general was weird because we had a whole lot of songs so it took a long time to figure out what we wanted to do. We had this large body of songs to pick from, and that was probably the hardest part: figuring out how to represent the band.
BNB: You’re heading out on tour across North America. How do you feel going into this tour?
CP: I’m really excited about it! It’s our first headline tour, we’re still just kind of wondering what it’s going to be like. We did a lot of touring in the first part of this year, so I’m eager to get back on the road again.
BNB: Is there anywhere on this tour that you’re excited to go to?
CP: Well we’ve been to Montreal before, but I was really sick, and we had to stop the show because I couldn’t even make noise, my voice just gave out…so I’m really looking forward to going back to Montreal because it’s a really cool city.
BNB: Is there any new material in the works or are you guys just kind of sitting on this batch for the moment?
CP: We’re always writing stuff but we’re just going to wait and see… We like to see how songs come together and then decide what to do with them after.
BNB: Final question: if you could have any band or artist cover any one of your songs, what band would it be and what song would it be?
CP: Aw man, that’s a good question! That’s hard. Reese and I would probably have different answers on this. I’ll do one that strikes a kind of middle ground: I think it would be really cool to have Talking Heads cover a song of ours…we share a love of them, they’re one of our favorite bands. But, what song though? What song would be badass to cover? (Chuckles) I think maybe “Hypnotic.”
BNB: Yeah! Good choice.
CP: That’s already our kind of cool, Talking Heads-ish song.
Catch the psychedelic duo in your home city this summer, or if you’re SF-based, at the Treasure Island Music Festival in San Francisco this October. Tour dates below. Check out the band’s music, videos, and more at http://paintedpalms.net
Painted Palms Headlining Tour
6/19: Brooklyn, NY – Glasslands
6/21: Montreal, QU – Il Motore
6/23: Toronto, ON – The Garrison
6/24: Detroit, MI – Magic Stick
6/25: Indianapolis, IN – The HI-FI
6/26: Columbus, OH – Rumba Café
6/27: Chicago, IL – Empty Bottle
6/28: Minneapolis, MN – 7th St. Entry
7/1: Seattle, WA – Barboza
7/2: Vancouver, BC – Biltmore Cabaret
7/3: Portland, OR – Bunk Bar