As part of the release of Digcast VI which focuses on NYC music, we are posting on each band in the podcast over the next five weekdays.
Follow the link above to listen to the guys in Palomino discuss their track “Ghost Story,” their favorite pop culture ghosts, and some favorite places in the city.
Palomino is an alternative rock band of members Elijah Campbell Amitin, Mike Sweeney, and newest member Pat Deeney, based partially out of Greenpoint, Brooklyn and Chelsea / Western Manhattan. They have released one EP so far, the self-titled Palomino, five tracks of rock music with different shades. I like that each one is of a larger piece but all feel a little different on their own, a nice mix of variety of and cohesion. Listening to it gave me flashes from 90s rock bands most primarily, but it never sounds very derivative or like overt homage. The result sounds like the work of a band that likes certain kinds of music and processes them in their own way. It becomes an interesting fusion. There’s rock, a little bit of alt-country, some punk and so forth. It all sounds pretty cool.
My discussion with the guys in the band mostly progressed through the EP, so I’ll pepper in some of my thoughts throughout the interview below. You can hear us talking about “Ghost Story,” the rollicking tune that kicks off the EP, in the podcast, and we actually didn’t cover the last track “All Winter Long,” which I will say here is a classic sounding, old pop/doo-wop slow-dance rocker that ends the work on a reflective note. Palomino is definitely a strong debut, but I expect the band to get even tighter and further hone their sound as they integrate Pat into the creative process (he joined after the songs were written and recorded).
The EP is available here on Bandcamp and it’s free, so check it out. Find Palomino on Facebook and Twitter, and here’s their website again. There are no upcoming live dates listed as of this writing, but the band will definitely be playing some shows this summer so keep an eye on their website.
I spoke to Elijah, Mike, and Pat in their rehearsal space and besides going through most of the EP, we discussed performing live, the New York City music scene, and more.
The second track on the EP is “Ponte Vecchio,” which drew me in for highlighting a landmark site in Italy. The verses have a sort of tidal, surf groove, moving forward like waves to a big chorus. It’s a great story of life in another land.
TWD – “Ponte Vecchio,” I really like that one, it was my introduction to you guys. I was especially interested in it because I have been to Florence. I assume someone has been there? I wanted to ask whoever had, what about it was your inspiration?
Elijah – I was studying abroad there for art and restoration my last semester of college. It was great, a fantastic city, it was just amazing. I guess the song is about kind of the danger, the feel of anything can happen in a foreign place. It doesn’t have to be Florence, though that is what the lyrics are about. Being there at night, having no particular place to go.
I used to play some music, it wasn’t the Ponte Vecchio, it was another bridge there. They had these triangular platforms over the river. We used to jam out there. Some guy brought a fiddle and I brought an acoustic guitar, we used to play over the water. It was like something out of a movie, it was really cool.
The song is a bit of nostalgia, it’s also exploring that feeling of uncertainty. It’s an ode to Florence in some ways, an ode to being young in an old place.
The third track is the slow burning “California Waits,” which has an “out West,” country feeling in both its lyrics and music. I dig how this one is puts together two halves almost, the more languid, bluesy first part with the driving, rousing second part. If it is about change, maybe it captures the transition from focusing on what you will leave behind to what lies ahead.
TWD – The next track is “California Waits.” California and going west is something I haven’t really done much. I’ve only been out there once. I don’t know if you guys have traveled a lot out west, but it kind of has a mythic feel and I think the song really taps into that. It seems about the idea of change. Maybe you’re going to, maybe not. Maybe you want to go somewhere new, maybe you can’t.
E – That’s exactly it, yeah.
TWD – What are some of the big changes have happened to you guys that were pivotal moments in your lives?
Pat – For me, moving to New York City was a pretty big moment. I’m not from here, I’m from upstate, I know Mike is too. I’m from a town where there’s more cows than people and there’s really not a whole lot going on, so coming here has been a drastic change.
TWD – How long have been here?
P – Going on three years.
TWD – Pretty happy with it?
P – I don’t want to leave. Just getting going.
Mike – I would say the same thing. I’ve always played guitar and actually Pat and I played guitar together in a band in Binghamton.
E – The same guitar? On one the neck, one on the body?
M – Yeah, we were like a traveling freak show.
P – I stood behind Mike.
E – I wish I got to see that.
M – Yeah, he was teaching me barre chords. But moving, nothing I had done prior to it was like moving to New York in terms of music because as soon as I moved down here I joined a band that a couple friends of mine were playing in. All of a sudden, you’re playing in places where people were coming to see music and not just some random hall that somebody rented out for a show. That was really cool, being immersed in that and meeting a lot of different bands. That was a big eye opener.
Track four is the one that felt the most familiar to me, in a good way. The vocal melody soars and the music has a mix of tunefulness and energy that reminds me of a lot alternative rock songs I heard on the radio growing up. As we discuss, this song tells several stories, each of which has neat details.
TWD – And then, “Far Away.” I really like the imagery of the lyrics in that song. I especially like that detail about how the band just kept playing after the incident in the bar.
E – (laughs). I can tell you about that. That song is a whole bunch of vignettes put together, but that line in particular, my dad was a salsa player – still is – in the 60s in New York, and they used to go to Puerto Rico to play a lot. He has story where there was a fight and the bouncer got shot in the face.
TWD – Wow.
E – It doesn’t hurt him, it just goes through his cheek. I mean, obviously it hurt him, but it wasn’t deadly. So then he stabbed the kid who shot him. The band…maybe the band didn’t play on (laughs).
TWD – Poetic license.
E – Yeah. But I seem to remember him saying they went on playing after that. That kind of music you play all night as long as people are dancing. It seemed like a funny story to put in there and it seemed to fit because the song is about traveling around. Well, I’m not even sure what it’s about exactly. What’s that Julia Roberts movie? Traveling Pants?
M – Pretty Woman?
P – My Best Friend’s Wedding?
E – Eat, Pray, Love. Maybe it’s like that. If anyone’s seen that movie, you can email us (everyone laughs).
TWD – I heard the book is better. Keeping up with the idea crazy incidents live, has anything ever happened at one of your shows?
E – No. Besides technical difficulties, nothing crazy.
M – At our last show, we had flocks of little children flying all around us the entire show. It was like seagulls or something.
TWD – Where was this?
E – That was at Shape Shifter Lab in Brooklyn. It was an all ages thing. We opened up for Emily Danger. There was a lot of little kids there. Like 4 year-olds. Some of it was family.
M – Usually my mishaps involve my drums falling over in the middle of a song. But I haven’t had that recently.
TWD – It doesn’t seem like there are too many really absurd things happening at shows.
M – Seems like there would be more. I’m always amazed more people don’t freak out. It’s like traffic, I’m always amazed more people aren’t getting hit by cars or buses cause there are so many.
TWD – Yeah. Sometimes you see things and it doesn’t seem like there should be enough space to avoid it or get through.
E – There really isn’t any space and it’s like that with the music scene. There are so many bands. I was talking to someone the other night and he was like “You guys have to start playing outside the city.” It goes against everything you’ve ever been told about music and art in New York. This is where you come to make it. But it’s not like that as much, it’s so over-saturated here. You have to go somewhere they don’t have as many bands. And people don’t usually go out just to see a band play, unless they know what they sound like and have heard of them before. It never really occurred to me that a small town is actually where you make it and then you come to New York as a bigger fish. I mean, it did it occur to me, but I didn’t think that was common knowledge now.
M – It’s good to build up your chops outside of New York City because there’s a lot less embarrassment.
E – I think it’s more embarrassing if you fuck up in front of only a couple people. If it’s a big group, who cares?
TWD – You could argue that there are a lot of benefits that come from the sheer number of bands and the infrastructure of the clubs and rehearsal space and so on.
E – Yeah, of course. There are all kinds of good shops to go, a lot of resources. At the same time, it’s like a Wild West where it’s not really organized. It’s organized from a financial perspective; from the club’s end, it’s highly organized. You bring X amount of people and we take X amount from the door.
But artistically it’s not quite galvanized the way I’d like it to be. That’s one thing we’re going to be trying to do more is reaching out to others similar to us and like-minded so that we can build our fan base together and help each other. We’re looking, that’s what we’re trying to do. We don’t quite fit in to the typical indie stuff of the past few years. It’s hard to find your niche.
TWD – I did see that you made that spotify playlist of your influences. The one band I noticed was the most common was The Replacements. I haven’t listened to them a ton, so I was wondering what would you say is a good entry point or what you recommend?
M – Tim.
E – That’s a good album, yeah. “Unsatisfied” is good.
M – Yeah, that’s probably my favorite song. It gets into the raw emotion that they put in.
TWD – It seems like their story also involves mixing styles of rock music. It feels like what you have, that fusion of things that becomes it’s own thing in a way.
E – Right. And Husker Du was another that did that. For some reason, that era of alternative music or whatever you want to call it speaks to us at the moment. We’re not trying to sound like that, but we listen to it and don’t mind showing our influences. We’re not trying to reinvent the wheel. We’re trying to make songs that could fit in any year.