Tomorrow night, supergroup Palms will make their L.A. debut at The Troubadour. Consisting of Deftones vocalist Chino Moreno and three members of now-defunct post-metal pioneers Isis, the group is touring in support of their self-titled debut album. We caught up with drummer Aaron Harris, bassist Jeff Caxide, and guitarist/keyboardist Cliff Meyer over drinks at Mission Cantina (the inspiration behind the Palms song, “Mission Sunset”) to talk about how everything came together.
How did the three of you come together in Palms after Isis split in 2010?
Harris: After Isis split up, it was very traumatic for everyone. It was who we were for a long time. The three of us were still living here [in Los Angeles]. We would come here [to Mission Cantina] on Taco Mondays, meet for drinks, and stay in touch. We started to miss playing music together, so one day we decided to jam for fun.
Caxide: I had decided that I was done being in bands. After being in the same band for 13 years, I thought I didn't have anything else to say. I didn't want to be in my thirties, starting a new band and playing at Joe's Tavern in front of ten people. But getting back to playing with these guys, it still felt right. I think I just needed some time away from a band to realize that I wanted to do it again.
Harris: What we were doing was different enough from what we had done with Isis to make it worthwhile. It would be sad if we were just trying to write Isis songs without [Isis guitarist/vocalist Aaron Turner and Isis guitarist Mike Gallagher]. We didn't want to be “Isis Lite.”
Meyer: It was important to us to not just be “the dudes from Isis.”
When did Chino Moreno enter the mix?
Harris: The two of us had become friendly a few months before Isis split up. Larry Herweg, the drummer from Pelican, used to tell me he would see Chino hiking in Runyon Canyon. We were following each other on Twitter so I sent him a direct message and said, “Let's go for a hike!”
Caxide: Someone asked me how social media affected me as a musician and I said “it doesn't.” But this band was basically formed by Twitter.
Harris: I went out on tour with Deftones as a drum tech. We had an off day in Texas. Chino and I went out for a run together and he asked what was up with the band. I got back to the hotel and sent him a demo. An hour later he sent it back with a vocal demo. He never fully said, “I want to do it.” It just evolved naturally. When we got back to L.A. on the tour, Jeff and Cliff came out to meet Chino, and Chino said, “So I guess we're in a band now!”
Is there any sentimentality about the first Los Angeles show performing with Palms being at the same venue as the final Los Angeles show you did with Isis?
Caxide: I don't think so…we didn't go into this record thinking we would play these songs live. But now we're playing live and going “Oh fuck, how are we pulling this off?” But we've got Chuck Doom from Crosses playing keyboards for us, and Chino is playing second guitar on tour. There's definitely going to be little subtle changes here and there with the set up, but it will sound great.
Harris: It's very rejuvenating. I feel a little nervous because we haven't played live together in any band in three years.
Caxide: I haven't played a first show in over ten years! I'm fucking nervous. I've been nervous about these shows for weeks. It will be great to be back on stage with these guys, but it is pretty nerve-wracking.
Meyer: If we weren't nervous, I would say THAT would be a problem. I think we will be good, but if it's not, it will still be fun anyway!
What is next for the three of you?
Caxide: Collectively, our next goal is to get some film score work.
Meyer: Someone ask us to write some music for their movie, please!
Harris: I think our music has always had a cinematic quality. It would be really fun for us and I think it would work really well.
Caxide: Hopefully some filmmaker will read this and recruit us. Terence Malick is my favorite director. I always think of his films when I write music. Movies like “Days of Heaven” and “Tree of Life” were in my mind when I was writing for the Palms record. But to be clear, Palms is the number one priority now.
Meyer: There's definitely going to be another Palms record in a couple of years, when the four of us have time.