Los Angeles’ Palm Springsteen are cheeky and in-your-face in the best way – with a confidence and boldness worthy of some of the most famous names in the industry, their music challenges you not to move to it and makes you question if it was made for Earth or an intergalactic dance party. Though they only have two singles officially released, Palm Springsteen have shown immense promise making what they like to call “blow pop in space,” and their tunes are bound to blast from the speakers of the coolest parties very soon. During their live show, there is not one static body in the audience.
Atwood Magazine chatted with Nick Hinman, singer and frontman of Palm Springsteen, before their headline show in New York City’s Berlin, where they were supported by Atwood favourites QTY as well as Lakes and James Moon. Meet Palm Springsteen, and don’t forget this name.
A CONVERSATION WITH PALM SPRINGSTEEN
Atwood Magazine: Nick, if I’m not mistaken the idea of Palm Springsteen became more realized when you made the move from New York to LA. How do you think the move influenced you?
Palm Springsteen: I think in New York I was too focused on surviving, whereas when I moved to LA I finally found time to just focus, period. I was able to set up a little home studio and write on my own time, and ultimately experiment with Palm Springsteen a lot more to develop a sound.
You define yourself as “blow pop in space” - could you tell me a bit more about this definition?
Palm Springsteen: Yes, definitely. It’s the love child of Rick Deckard and Korben Dallas hanging twenty on a proverbial asteroid wave.
You’re a California band, but when I listen to your music I don’t hear as much of an explicit California sound as I do with other bands from there. Why do you think that is?
Palm Springsteen: I think because it draws from my music influences that I would DJ when I lived in New York. Lots of 80s new wave and post punk bands like Book of Love and early Ministry, Jesus and Mary Chain and Gary Numan. I really like the sound of arpeggiated bass and hard edged synths. I think it’s a balance of those NY and U.K. band influences with a California warmth that makes it unique.
Your music is so high energy, I feel that somehow it evokes both past eras of music and at the same time is a fantastic reflection of music from today. Is there an era or artist you’re sonically inspired by the most?
Palm Springsteen: I love New Order. I wouldn’t say they’re my biggest influence but there’s a feeling of nostalgia they provoke that resonates with me, a lot of which came from Peter Hook’s bass lines. Vocally, Alan Vega is also super influential. I like to yell and scream, especially live, and that was a defining characteristic of his that I was drawn to. Like using my voice as a percussive element as well as melodic.
In April you did a series of shows you named “Palmchella” right when Coachella was happening. How was your “world tour of Los Angeles”?
Palm Springsteen: It was great! We really gave Coachella a run for their money. It’s hard for them to compete with a Palm Springsteen World Tour of Los Angeles. I think they may be interested in collaborating or joining forces next year to avoid the conflict, and we’re open to negotiation. But that’s TBD.
Do you feel like people are more receptive to music in LA when there’s a huge music festival going on, or is it more challenging to play shows during this time since there’s so much happening in the city?
Palm Springsteen: I think it worked to our advantage. A lot of our shows were in between Coachella weekends and the crowds were super fun.
“She’s Got Claws” has some graphic and intense lyrics, but I feel like when you listen to the song as a whole you don’t get that vibe, it’s dark but not ridiculously so. Can you tell me a bit more about the song? “]
Palm Springsteen: It’s about being scared to commit yourself to another person romantically, it can be very intimidating. The imagery more reflects the gravity of the emotional hurdle than a literal clawed monster. Still, women can be pretty terrifying.
What I like in “She’s Got Claws” is that you describe a situation where you were in pain, but instead of focusing on your pain you focus on the power of the woman who caused it. What’s the story behind the song, and was it important for you to portray this woman as this great and powerful figure?
Palm Springsteen: It’s autobiographical, I’ll say that much.
If you were going to do a music video for “She’s Got Claws” and you could choose any woman in the world to play this strong female lead, who would you pick?
Palm Springsteen: Bruce Willis.
Why did you choose to cover “Wipeout Beat”? And has the song taken on a new meaning for you since Alan Vega passed?
Palm Springsteen: It was one of my favorite tracks off Saturn Strip, his seminal 1983 album that’s often overlooked. He was trying to transition more into a pop artist, and the product was an awesome weird mix of genres. He was a great storyteller, and the song takes you on a fun intergalactic ride. We had planned to release the track along with “She’s Got Claws” last summer, and I was looking forward to him hearing it. In some cruel twist of fate he passed away a few days before we released it. In that sense it transformed from a homage into a posthumous tribute, which is bittersweet.
You’ve been playing a few shows in LA and New York and have two great songs out, what’s next for Palm Springsteen?
Palm Springsteen: We recently recorded some tracks at a studio in LA which we’re going to release in early August! Can’t wait.
And what’s the sentiment you want to send with your music and live show?
Palm Springsteen: Woo!
You seem to be a fan of Leonardo DiCaprio, if you could invite him to join the band, what instrument would you have him play?
Palm Springsteen: I think we all agree he’d be a really talented designated cowbell player and/or interpretive dancer/hype man.
If you were to choose a planet in the solar system - or any other space object - to define Palm Springsteen as, which one would it be?
Palm Springsteen: Besides the obvious and most juvenile planet answer, it’s simple; We’re a space yacht.
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photo © Nicole Almeida