Palma Violets: The stage invasion that turned into a cake fest

Dom Elton, far right, plays with the Mayfield house band, Dan Sawyers, Aaron Hartley and Gregg Powell.
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During one stage invasion in America, someone put cake all over the guitar and pedals of Palma Violets frontman SamFryer.

‘It actually made my guitar sound better,’ he laughs.

Palma Violets

Palma Violets

‘It was a real cake fest.’

‘It was for our bass player, Chilli’s birthday,’ he explains.

Such is the chaos and madness of a gig by Palma Violets, a band who are quickly becoming the pied pipers of stage invaders.

Sweeping the globe with their raucous indie garage rock, the band are keen to make their mark on the music industry.

Ahead of playing a festival gig in Rotterdam, frontman Sam sheds some light on what it is like to be on tour with the Palma Violets and how they deal with fans dancing all over the stage.

He says: ‘There is a time and a place for a stage invasion, but we’re totally for it.

‘We were usually always the ones that got up on stage when we went to gigs. We were the kids who jumped around.

‘You can’t stop people from doing it, from treading over my guitar pedals and kicking over my amp, but the whole thing is a good learning experience.

‘In the Cleveland cake fest there were about 40 people there in a massive room. It was just one of those nights that got a bit messy.

‘We had a similar one in Brighton at The Great Escape festival. Half of the crowd said we were the worst and the other half said we were the best.

‘I’d been electrocuted. I had a really dodgy guitar and there were just some songs it reacted to.’

But it’s not all birthday cake and faulty electrics. Palma Violets have crammed in a superb debt album – titled 180 – and gigs across the globe.

‘We’ve just come back off tour from America, the highlight of our career so far,’ says Sam.

‘We did one amazing drive from Seattle to Minneapolis and we saw every kind of weather. We had beautiful sunshine, wind, rain and snow.

‘We didn’t have one of those massive tour buses. We rented a small van and drove everywhere across America.’

It’s a long way from Lambeth, where the band was formed just two years ago by Sam and bassist and vocalist Alexander ‘Chilli’ Jesson, keyboard player Jeffrey Mayhew and drummer William Doyle.

Much like the Arctic Monkeys, Palma Violets broke on to the scene through a massive online presence and a heap of pressure was piled on to the young band by the music media.

But it didn’t take long for Sam and the lads to rocket to success.

The band got in to the studio and were quickly gaining the attention of several record labels.

‘It has been absolutely amazing. It’s all happened very quickly and we’re really proud of the record we made. That was our first ever time in the studio.

‘Steve Mackey (the producer) was super confident in us.

‘We are very much a live band and that live sound is caught on the record. Sometimes he didn’t even say he was recording, so we started messing around and coming up with new songs.’

The band chose their label, Rough Trade, because of their experience in the studio too.

Says Sam: ‘Rough Trade came in to the studio to see us.

‘While other labels just sent us gifts, Rough Trade asked us to play a show for them and they wanted to sign us there and then.

‘Given their history as a label, they stuck out the most.

‘They just love rock and roll and they are so excited about music.’

Having been endorsed by one of Britain’s famous music labels, Palma Violets quickly started drawing in the masses with their effortless garage rock.

The band’s reputation soared when their song Step Up for the Cool Cats was played on BBC Radio 1 by Zane Lowe and was named his Hottest Record in the World that week.

Says Sam: ‘Zane Lowe was one of the first interviews we did.

‘It was definitely a nervous interview. But he seems to like the band.

‘One thing that really put me off was how fast he spoke. You can’t really understand him always when it’s live on the radio.’

The NME also voted the band’s song Best of Friends (three and a half minutes of rowdy pint-raising garage rock), as the best song of 2012.

The song was so popular, the original video of fans jumping around in a small sweaty venue was re-made into something more polished.

Part and parcel of being an ‘It’ band includes having to do numerous interviews with well-known titles, something which Sam already has an opinion on.

Says Sam: “The NME is always an interesting interview.

‘ They blow things out in every sort of direction. We’re quite nicely spoken guys but if you read our interview you’d think we were complete thugs!’

Love or hate them, there’s no denying Palma Violets’ success so far.

All eyes will be on the band – with a mean age of 20 – when they release their second album.

Sam concludes with some advice for other bands trying to get out there and noticed.

‘I think you just have to believe in yourself .

‘Don’t try too hard, because desperation is unattractive. You always need to keep an element of mystery.

‘We didn’t put ourselves out there because we knew we weren’t ready for that kind of thing.

‘But people love gigs and the rumours about us grew out of proportion.

‘I was quiet and ill-educated when we started. I just wanted to play guitar.’

Palma Violets play the main stage at the Isle of Wight Festival in Seaclose Park, Newport, on Friday, June 14. For tickets (£37.50 to £185), see isleofwightfestival.com

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