The Palomars about their album: Supper Club Riot

Posted by Dee-Ann On August - 28 - 20171,692 views

The Palomars from Vancouver, Canada (on the West Coast), mainly refer to themselves as a rockabilly band, stylistically they range from traditional rockabilly to western swing with some jump blues thrown in. The band was formed in 2011 after having played separately in other rockabilly and country bands prior to that. They just released their CD “Supper Club Riot”.

I checked one of their songs on youtube  and love the sound of the western swing song “Swing Valley Drifter”. So I immediately wanted to know all about them.

Who did influence you?
I remember in my teen years being TOTALLY into Elvis movies, in particular Jailhouse Rock and Loving You. The songs were exciting and he was such an amazing performer who always had 2 or 3 girls chasing after him. I must have associated rockabilly with getting girls. I also loved the swing rhythm of Bill Haley in my teens and the first album I ever purchased was “Rock Around The Clock”. This was at a time where all my friends were into heavier rock and blues.

I started my first rockabilly band in 1998 after playing 60s and classic rock for a while. During that time, I discovered the music of Ray Condo & His Ricochets (also from Vancouver) and I was blown away by how the band combined rockabilly with swing music, with the twin lead playing of guitar and steel guitar. Not to mention Ray’s riveting live performances which I saw many times in clubs here in Vancouver. The steel guitar playing of Jimmy Roy also caught my attention, and within a few years I started playing the steel guitar and I’m absolutely addicted to it now….thanks, Jimmy!

Do you write your own songs?
Yes we write our own songs, we probably have a dozen or so we’ve written including 2 instrumentals. Being rockabilly, most of the music is just fun and fantasy and influenced by 40s and 50s themes, in particular Film Noir and 50s Sci Fi movies. For example both “Out of The Past” from our first album and “Build Your Gallows High” on the new album are inspired by the 1947 Film Noir movie “Out of the Past”. It’s one of my favourites of the genre. I do a get close to real life with “Jail Cell Bop” which is actually a break up song, but told in a funny way. Generally we try to keep the mood fun.

The way we work on songs is I’ll come up with most of the song including lyrics, melody and song structure. Then I bring the songs to the band where we work collaboratively on song structure, beginnings, endings, etc. I often bring songs to the band lacking a bit of confidence in whether they are good enough, and I’m always blown away by how the guys (drummer Sandy McNair and bassist Ken Wilson) bring the songs to life. They are a great rhythm section and very musically intuitive.

Tell us about Supper Club Riot

We are excited about the release of our latest CD “Supper Club Riot” for a number of reasons. I think we remain true to the 40s and 50s themes, and the songs have a bit of range including some traditional rockabilly, western swing and instrumentals. The instrumental “Lovers Luau” is very Hawaiian-influenced while “Supper Club Riot” is very up-tempo and wild. It’s always hard to come up with a title for instrumental songs. We had “Supper Club Bop” as a working title, then our bass player suggested “Supper Club Riot” and I exclaimed “Yes, that’s it”, fit perfectly with the song’s idea. So much so that it is the title track for the album. We commissioned a local graphic artist, Irwan Kurnaedy to do the cover art, based on a pulp fiction cover look from the 40s portraying a riot in a supper club. I think he nailed it.

The songs were recorded in my tiki-themed basement music studio/bar so it created a nice atmosphere to record in. I’ve got a lot of bamboo on the walls which imparts some warmth to the sound.

What are your do’s and don’ts on stage?
We try to maintain a 50s vintage look on stage but it’s up to each band member what to wear. Our bassist Ken Wilson owns Rebel Rouser Wear here in Vancouver selling bowling shirts and other vintage-styled clothes and shoes. So he supplies us with some good duds.

On stage, we like to keep things going moving quickly from song to song, but also breaking at times to engage the crowd with what we’re about and tell a funny story or two. We have a really good rapport with each other too, which keeps things relaxed and fun. If you have fun and enjoy what you’re doing, it comes across on stage.

Do you like other styles than rockandroll?
I enjoy a fair bit of jazz; listening to Western Swing makes you realize that it is very similar to big band music which is very jazz influenced. I also love classic country from the late 50s and early 60s and I’m really digging what Country Side of Harmonica Sam (from Sweden) is putting out currently, they’ve really nailed that sound, but also given it a freshening up.

Is there an artist you would like to work with in future?
I enjoy a lot of the current artists out there doing the old school style of rockabilly/country. It would be great to work with folks like Big Sandy, James Intveld, Country Side of Harmonica Sam, and Lucky Tubb.

Where would you like to play?

It would be fun to play Viva Las Vegas, Tom Ingram has our latest CD, so …. maybe?? Would also be nice to play in some of the festivals in the UK, there is such a strong rockabilly scene there.

Tell us a fun story about your band or gig.
I was in my first band, The Ploughboys in 1999. We were playing at a club in Vancouver where Ray Condo & His Ricochets played. While we were playing, some of the band members walked in and I got so nervous since I idolized those guys. I was wearing a western-styled suit and cowboy hat. After our set finished, they introduced themselves and referred to me as “Little Ray” since I looked a bit like Condo, only shorter. We developed a friendship with them after that and were invited to open for them at their CD release party for the “High and Wild” album in 2000.

Do you regret anything?

I do wish that I had started playing rockabilly and traditional country sooner, but all that other stuff I played was good training, so I’m not fretting about it.

What are your future plans?
We intend to keep playing and would like to play a couple of the big festivals in North America next year. Also, continue writing and recording; playing live is fun and immediate, but once you’ve played that’s it, whereas a recording preserves your work and presents it to a much wider audience

Finish this sentence: we will never ever….
play new country!

Build Your Gallows High:

Swing Valley Drifter:

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