A whole lot has happened for everyone in the 18 months since the last time Mirage (it's me) spoke to PALS (today it's Conor, Luke and Sam, no Fraser [thank god]). A new member. Some new songs. A tender after-hours peck on the cheek from Triple J (PALS have a very impressive Unearthed page). We meet at the Croat for a chat-ette (mini-chat).
For those of you who don't know, the Croatian Club is really a nice place. Several times in this interview we had someone come up to say ‘hello’, ‘goodnight’, ‘see ya boys’ as well as a number of other nice things, sometimes in other languages. It's got that old RSL-y smell. You know the dank-ish carpet is dank-ish and wet, but you don't want to know exactly where(ish). You shouldn't care. Just relax and soak it up. But make sure you say hello to everyone there if you want to fit in. Maybe mumble some gibberish if you want.
What has changed since Mirage last spoke to PALS?
Sam: Yeah, two years ago...
Conor: 18 months.
S: Nearly two.
I remember late November – it was spring, when the Spring EP was about to come out. Have you just been writing?
C: Yeah, we've just been working on this album [In-between]!
How is Brucey going?
C: Apparently he got back today – there was word in a group chat on Facebook.
Great. Why an album? Nobody does albums, man. Sorry.
C: We had a whole heap of songs. Six or seven in the bank. By the time we started jamming them, I had more than that written. I thought we may as well put them all out.
Were you demoing with Fraser as you were going?
C: Not really. I'd write something at home and bring it to the boys. Work on it together. Everyone figures out their own parts.
So you just worked together with Fraser on it?
C: Yeah. It was a fairly slow process.
Is there a theme to In-between?
C: We called it ‘In-between’ because it feels like a lot of the songs are kind of contradicting themselves. Saying one thing but also saying the opposite. Not knowing what to do or how to make a decision.
Do you [Conor] sing on the whole thing? Some of it sounds like Sam.
C: No, it's mostly me [laughs].
S: Fraser does some 'Oohs'.
‘In Love’ especially sounds like Sam's voice. Are you sure it's not him?
C: Good [laughs]. Yes, it is me.
There is a lot more singing-singing on this new thing, isn't there?
C: I didn't really want that at the start. The songs all started out really, really heavy. Everyone seemed to like the softer stuff, though. I was pretty hesitant to share them at the start. So many feelings to share.
It's different, sitting in a room to record something to playing at a gig. Not so much energy flying around.
S: Did you listen to it today?
Yeah, the whole thing today.
Some trivia: I like some talking on my music. Who is talking at the end of ‘Molly’?
S: A little bit of Luke and Fraser.
C: I'm in there making the noises.
L: We like some random stuff in between, it's good.
S: Just trying to make the album look really big, actually.
There are a few cute little interludes on there.
S: We should have done more, I reckon.
Are there CDs? Tapes?
S: Just finalised the CDs today, actually – so there will be CDs. Tour is starting toward the end of this month and across May.
Up and down the coast?
S: Yeah. Eight or nine dates across the next two months.
How old are these songs? Have they been around a long time?
C: Around the time Brucey left we were playing one of the songs on this album live; from there we were writing full-time.
It's been a steady thing since then?
Is Chemtrails dead now?
C: Hopefully [laughs].
S: The chemtrails got 'em.
C: We played in Wollongong on Good Friday [sighs].
L: That whole thing is really out of boredom.
C: We kept getting asked to play.
The PALS reputation.
S: People just want to see Luke's face.
L: Nobody comes up and says the songs are good or anything, it's always 'You look real weird'. Thanks, everyone.
S: If you looked boring, it wouldn't be good. Even if it was heaps good music, I reckon.
So I'll write it down now, no Chemtrails album coming soon. I've had people asking, you know.
S: I'm sure you have.
Do you have new music in the pipeline? What's next?
C: Started writing for sure. We played 'Drain' at the Spring EP launch a year and a half ago. For me it's really painful. We've played it over a hundred times, I reckon. I would like to avoid that if possible in the future.
S: This has made us better at talking about ideas, though. Before the end of the year there will be at least one song.
C: We'll put a couple of these new songs on Unearthed. Hopefully get a bit of hype. We got that play of 'For Once I'm Right' on Triple J, but who knows.
L: New music director though.
C: Kingsmill is the massive music director now.
S: I wonder if he's heaps rich.
C: Pretty wealthy I'm sure. Don't put this in though – I don't want to piss them off.
Don't worry, nobody is going to read this.
Get your ears around the new album at palsnewcastle.bandcamp.com/album/in-between.