LOMM: Can you give a little biographical and historical info; who is involved in the band, and how did you guys meet up?
Jeremy Weeks: I can speak to 5 years ago, when I came in to help reform the band. JB is a pulverizer on drums and I always look forward to what Eric is cooking up on guitar and songwriting. My former thrash band opened for them and I was pulled into the dark noisy elements of their music, so when the opportunity to join in on bass came, I reached out and started a dialogue. 5 years later we have replenished what was before, but given a new sound to match the previous records chaos.
Jonathan Balsamo: We formed back around 2010 in Atlanta as a collaboration between Eric Searle (Guitar, Vocals), our first bassist M. Chvasta (Bass,Vocals) and myself (Jonathan Balsamo, Drums) as their band Light Pupil Dilate was looking for a drummer. I was playing in Atlanta math rock band Sorry No Ferrari at the time but as that project was winding down I was looking to get back to playing in a heavy/metal project. After a few initial times getting together we decided to start fresh as a new band and PALACES was born. Chvasta left PALACES in 2013 to focus on his other project Dead Register. After a year of looking we were joined by Jeremy Weeks on bass and we returned to playing live and writing in 2015.
Eric Searle: Pretty much what they said.
LOMM: Pandemic has taken an emotional toll on everyone yet the arts have been hit especially hard. The musicians are vulnerable to financial upheaval. How have you guys been holding up?
JW: I can say that 2020 has been a half and half. I finally married my partner, we are buying our first house, and I am back in school for the first time in 6 years. Working in the public has been easy but I know people who have had it harder than me so I won’t bang my drum too loudly.
ES: Thankfully for me personally I haven’t been impacted by the pandemic very much…knock on wood. I definitely miss going out to shows and bars, but it’s also been a much needed time to self reflect and hit pause on the daily grind.
JB: Besides the emotional distress of not playing live or attending shows we have tried to stay busy writing new material and releasing our second album.
LOMM: On the other hand you seem to have had a productive time. Is that right?
ES: For sure. It’s been the craziest, most bizarre year I’ve ever lived through, but it’s also been extremely productive. Being off from work gave me time to concentrate on putting our new record together as well as work on new riffs/material. That’s definitely the silver lining of 2020 for me.
JB: Not only have we released the second LP ‘Hellas Chasma’, but we had the opportunity to record a live in studio performance at West End Sound Recording with Tom Tapley (Mastodon) and began tracking some new material. We hope to have that video performance ready to premiere soon as I feel it is a killer representation of us as a live band.
JW: We’ve been cooking up new songs since late last year to keep things moving for when we “go back to normal.”
LOMM: What does your genre mean to you, why did you choose this genre?
JB: I can honestly say we never set out to be part of any particular genre. We’re all fans of a wide breadth of heavy, loud, aggressive music, so I think those things come through in our sound. We just write songs that we’re happy with personally and we hope that listeners enjoy them as much as we do.
JW: The energy. Ever since I heard punk and grunge at an early age, I wanted to be part of that type of music, and no genre has the energy that “guitar music” creates and harnesses.
ES: I agree with both of them. We’ve never tried to sound like a genre, but we are genuinely interested in heavy, aggressive, moody, fast, slow music. Music with depth, atmosphere, anger, sadness, dissonance, and a little bit of song structure too. We come from a more hardcore punk mindset, but we tend to play some technical stuff, so it comes off as metal. I’ve always liked the term Metallic Hardcore, but it’s whatever. There are no rules, that’s the rule.
LOMM: How did the initial musical and thematic elements evolve?
JW: I think that the words match the songs. The pissed off songs are matched by searing guitars and hard hitting beats. The technical songs dive into more “out-there” territory.
JB: Usually Eric or Jeremy will bring song ideas or riffs in and we collaborate on them as a group. Sometimes songs go through a learn then deconstruct process before we arrive at the finished song.
LOMM: Are you happy with your product? I mean, what aspects of it do you think you guys nailed, and what parts do you think you could improve upon?
JB: As an artist I think it’s hard for me personally to ever be completely happy or satisfied with an album. I feel it’s important to always pursue the next level of writing or performance, but with Hellas Chasma I can say we are all very happy with how the album turned out. If I may give props to our guitarist (Eric Searle) for not only playing guitar but also recording, engineering, and mixing the entire album himself at his home studio and capturing the vibe he did. There are a lot of cool textures throughout the record. As for improvements, I just hope we continue to develop as songwriters and eventually up our merch game lol.
JW: Happy, yes, but not fulfilled. And I think that’s a good thing. The next song has to be better than what you wrote before, and that’s a good challenge to keep because it will inevitably help you improve as a musician.
ES: Like JB said, it’s hard to be 100% happy with any art I create. That said, I love what we did on this record. I’m super proud of it as an album, both song wise and production wise. I don’t think we could’ve done much better. There’s always things to improve on and I already have a growing list of ideas for things I’d like to change/try next time.
LOMM: How has the overall reception been?
ES: Pretty amazing. People are genuinely digging it.
JW: Lots of kind words and people promoting for us simply because they like the music. We definitely are down to work with anyone in distribution so the rest of the world can hear it. There’s a lot of music being made out there and while we don’t want to compete with anyone, we would like as many open minds and open ears to hear what we have to offer.
JB: With so much truly great music coming out these days it’s an honor to get positive recognition for the album.
LOMM: Have you ever been on a tour? Given live performances? Is it tough for you not to be able to do so now?
JB: We have all toured with other bands in the past, but as of now PALACES has not done a proper tour due to life responsibilities and obligations outside the band. We hope to start doing some out of town shows when the covid situation allows live music to happen again. We have managed to play locally around Atlanta frequently the last few years opening for some of our favorite touring bands as well as our friends who also are in the Atlanta scene which is super strong musically. We miss that so much and can’t wait to get back on stage.
JW: We’ve played tons of shows but they have all been in the southeast. The last question can be summed up due to the pandemic as well as that we have all the grown up responsibilities to tend to, but so does everyone else.
LOMM: What do you see for your future? How is it looking?
ES: It’s all on hold for the moment, but we’ll be here when things ramp back up. Lot’s of cool shit coming down the pipe.
JB: Yeah, we’re excited to put out Hellas Chasma on vinyl next year and continue to write the next album. We also have a limited run of Hellas Chasma cassettes being released in partnership with Shadebeast Records in Athens GA. They’re a metal themed record store/promoter/social club of all things heavy and metal.
JW: If there is an iron to strike when it’s all over, we’ll be right there with everyone else.
ES: Oh yeah, the cassettes with Shadebeast look super rad. They’re part of a limited edition series they’re putting out. I think we’ll be third in the series. Really cool packaging and design. I believe Daniel Shroyer from the amazing band SAVAGIST is putting them together, so shout-out to him.
LOMM: Could you tell us about the lyrics / themes /concepts you focus on or plan to focus on? How did the ideas come about, and how do they influence the writing process? Who is writing the lyrics?
JB: Eric and Jeremy write all of the lyrics and share vocal duties on all the songs. As far as concepts I think we tend to focus on the bizarre nature of the human condition and modern life.
JW: The cliche of the guitarist and/or bassist writing all the words and thoughts applies to Palaces too. They come about from your daily experiences and the ones that stick around for longer than you may have expected.
ES: We write about lots of different topics both fiction and non-fiction. The lyrics may come from a classic piece of literature or from a news event. They may also be completely made up and selected for the imagery they bring to mind. Lyrics are hard to get right, but as long as they aren’t cheesy/stupid, most things will work.
LOMM: Which is more exciting? Being on the road or studio?
JB: Definitely on stage playing for people, there is nothing like it.
JW: Shows. It will always be shows for me. I can play and execute as cleanly as humanly possible in a studio and still have machines take it to 100%, so I’ll save my 100% for the stage.
ES: I’ll go against the grain here and say studio. It’s an environment that I love fucking with. It’s apples to oranges though, completely different fruits. Playing live is amazing of course.
LOMM: Who is composing the songs?
JW: We’ve trashed parts and transitions before, we’ve also brought them back into the fold. It’s not just his song or my song, it’s a teamwork kind of thing.
ES: Jeremy or I will usually bring in some melodic/rhythmic structures for a song and it blooms from there. Definitely a group effort.
LOMM: What bands do you draw your inspiration from?
JB: Some bands we dig are Today Is The Day, Botch, The Mars Volta, Mastodon, Cave In, Dillinger Escape Plan, Cryptopsy, Baptists, The Armed, WAKE, Intronaut, Converge, Oathbreaker, The Cure, Cult Leader, KEN Mode, Lazer/Wulf, Canopy, Trap Them, Carcass, At The Gates
JW: Oh man. Cave In, Mike Patton, Botch, Helmet, Alice in Chains, Yautja, Mew, Meshuggah, and a slew of small/local artists throughout the years.
ES: Lately I’ve been going through the Death Grips and Autechre discographies again. As well as Love and Rockets. I’m inspired by tons of bands, you’ve probably heard most of them.
LOMM: What’s more important to you? Catering to the audience or music for its own sake?
ES: Music for its own sake. “Know your audience” gets creepy. We’re a band, not a tech company. We make music we want to hear/play, if others can find ways to relate or simply enjoy what we do, that’s a beautiful thing and reinforces the theory that music is the universal language.
JB: Music for its own sake, being true to ourselves musically.
JW: I mean that’s a double sided question. It’s hard to know how to cater to an audience but most people respond positively to what we have to offer, so I suppose you want to keep offering up more of that.
LOMM: When you look back at your music career, what do you consider to be your greatest accomplishment?
JB: Getting to share the stage with some of our musical heroes and playing for people that appreciate the healing power of loud aggro music.
ES: Not everyone has the ability to make music, so I feel blessed to have even accomplished what I have. This whole ride as PALACES has been an accomplishment. Every song, album, show, lyric is relative to the past and future of this band. We ride or die through the ups and downs. We’ve been pretty successful at achieving our goals, but like JB said before, we need to up our merch game. Lol.
JW: This record, for me. I am immensely proud of the music on this record and I hope to build upon that.
LOMM: Anything else you think your fans should know?
JB: That we appreciate and love you. Hail.
JW: We’re not super busy on social media but be on the lookout for the next posts. Something for eyes as well as your ears.
ES: Stay safe out there. Love.