Album Walkthrough: The Gooch Palms detail their third album, III
The party-starting LA-via-Newcastle ensemble bring the ruckus on their new album, out now.
If there's one band that knows how to get people moving, it's The Gooch Palms. Over the last decade, the two-piece have cemented their status as a band as eccentric as they are explosive; using three albums - 2013's Novo's, 2016's Introverted Extroverts and now, this year's III - to establish themselves and their sound as one of the more livelier on the Australian rock scene, with their songs usually sporting thrashing guitar melodies alongside soaring vocals that really leave a lasting effect. Over the years, the band have found great success in doing so. Formerly a DIY garage-punk band born in a Newcastle bedroom, the group are now largely based out of the US, where they find themselves playing shows like SXSW and working closely with Dune Rats' Ratbag Records, crafting an international audience to match the frenzied, cult following they've conjured through constant touring and consistent releases in Australia.
III marks a new era for The Gooch Palms, and while it may be a slight change of pace for a duo now finding new form in the States, it still brings everything we've come to love from The Gooch Palms both in sound and personality. It captures the energy of the band interpreted through a range of different scopes, showcasing their many facets as the album draws longer. Busy Bleeding, for example, enlists TOTTY's Kelly Jansch for a mega-jam of thick punk riffs and refined pop choruses, which stand tall among tracks like Burnout, which bring the charisma of The Gooch Palms in its most authentic self. Yeah Nah, in the meantime, feels more subdued and reflective; drawing on emotions and acousticness for a stripped-back single that showcases their versatility as a band. There's also New Phone Who Dis, which is worth a mention for its title alone.
There's a lot packaged into a long album, so to better grasp the album's themes and creation, we chatted to the band's Kat Friend, who walked us through the album one track at a time. Check it out while you stream the record below:
TODAY’S THE DAY
We had written most of the songs on the album before we got to this one. We felt we didn’t have an opening track yet, and I think one of us actually said “today’s the day we’ll think of something good!” So we kinda went from there with the lyrics about making today the day you buckle down and get it done, despite the challenges, and eventually come out on top! I guess it’s about perseverance and courage in a general sense. It’s a good old fashioned kick up the ass! But we had “opener” in mind for sure and with some extra production in the studio, we gave it a nice build that kinda hurls you into the album.
This one is about how us woman have to deal with that bloody pain-in-the-guts nightmare that happens once a month. Yes, we’re talking about periods. And on top of all the other bullshit we’re already dealing with! But not only that, it’s about how we just power through and get it done! Women are so damn tough! Anything you can do, we can do it bleeding!!! We’re also trying to help break the old taboo around the subject. Why is it that we can’t talk about it? It’s happening to half of us at some point in our lives!!! It’s a poppy, feminist punk song and super fun to play live, even if Leroy has to play the guitar solo with his mouth! Two fun facts… our friend Kelly Jansch from TOTTY helped with group vocals on the chorus and this was the last song on the album to be written and recorded. In fact, we almost forgot about it. Leroy had the guitar part saved in his phone memos and we only remembered at the last second that it existed. So we came up with the theme and got it written and recorded in a few hours.
COAST TO COAST
This was the first song we wrote for this album. We were living in LA at the time but were actually on tour and driving up the Pacific Coast towards Northern California when we wrote it in the van. We’ve driven along the Pacific Ocean so many time both in the US and Australia so we thought, “damn, we spend a lot of time on the shores of both sides of this ocean, we should write a song about it”. So we did. That, and touring in general, as it takes up a huge chunk of our time! Plus Leroy wanted to mention Detroit in a song as his favourite NBA team is the Detroit Pistons, so it gets a mention! Essentially it’s about still feeling connected to Newcastle from the shores of California through the ocean that joins both countries. And how we feel the need to be near the coast whenever we’re not on tour.
ARE WE WASTED
This is a song about intense new love. The kind of love that sends you giddy and makes you feel amazing. Are we wasted? Nope! Just high on love, baby! We love this one! It’s just a fun call and response pop song that we both sing. High energy and high spirits!
Day off? Someone wants you to do something you don’t wanna? You know what to say!!! YEAH NAH MATE! This song was inspired by big old anthems like Hey Jude by the Beatles and tacky early 90’s sing-a-long ballads like To Be With You by Mr. Big. Leroy gets to show off his signature falsetto in this one and belt it out like the powerful vocalist that he is! We also had some help with the gang vocals from our buddies Dune Rats.
This song is us airing our frustration about cheap, ugly apartments going up next door to music venues and then the new residents complaining about the noise, forcing the venue to shut down. And let’s not forget venues being straight up knocked down or converted to make way for said cheap, ugly apartments. Soulless developers looking for a quick buck leaving once vibrant areas as baron culture-less wastelands. It’s the same story wherever we go. We ask “what happened to [INSERT VENUE HERE] and the response is always “oh it got turned into apartments”. It makes us so mad!!!! We put a cheeky beep at the beginning to cover a swear even though there’s another swear in the song, just for shits and giggles. It doesn’t come across as a super serious song even though it is a topic that really boils our potatoes.
This song is a personal song about Leroy burning out mentally while we were on tour in Europe. He wouldn’t listen to me when I was saying he needed help as we’re just too close and he thought I was just being a bitch and trying to hurt him. It took a good friend of ours who was on tour with us at the time to help him see that his anger, which led to his breakdown, was coming from a place of terrible anxiety. She nudged him to seek professional help, which he did when we got back to Australia. He’s doing great these days. We’re big advocates for talking about mental health as we have both suffered with anxiety and depression throughout our lives and struggle with our brains every day. It shouldn’t be a taboo subject either. Fuck all these taboo subjects!!!
This is a true story. This one time when we were driving from Austin to El Paso in Texas we decided to take our night off in Marfa, a little arts hub in-between the two cities mentioned above, but really, it’s in the middle of absolutely nowhere. We decided to take the old highway as it’s a beautiful drive, one of our favourites in all of America. We had been to Marfa before but never seen the mysterious Marfa Lights, a strange phenomenon where these star-like lights dance and dart across the desert at night in front of a mountain range. We planned on seeing them that night. But as we were driving into Marfa, there was a black egg-shaped object floating in the sky in the distance. I thought it might be the weather blimp they have on the other side of town and we were waiting for it to turn so we could confirm it was the blimp and that we were just seeing it from the front or back. But it stayed egg-shaped, it never turned to expose the blimp shape we were waiting for. We also never go any closer to it even though we were driving straight towards it for hours.
We were joking that the aliens that cause the Marfa lights must be out on a day trip! We eventually arrived in Marfa and the egg just disappeared. That night we went to the Marfa Lights viewing area and got to see the crazy lights, it was a really cool way to end a wacky, supernatural day. We wrote down some lyric ideas after that experience and kinda just stuffed them in the glovebox. Then when Leroy came up with the music for this track we explored a few ideas to base the lyrics around but they all sucked. I then remembered the Marfa stuff we’d chronicled and since forgotten about, so we decided to make the song about the whole experience and it suited the song perfectly!
WHEN I WAS A KID
This song is a super cute song about little Leroy, as seen on the front cover of this album! As you can tell by the photo, he was quite the little rockstar and a typical only child. It’s about how he would rush home from school to draw Marshall stacks on his sideways trampoline with chalk or string fairy lights in the lounge room in preparation for the big rock concert he would be putting on for his (very patient) parents. The concert would involve him singing over the top of Ten by Pearl Jam after coming out of the backstage room (his bedroom) just like the real rockstars did. He had a plastic guitar and microphone and big dreams!!! As well as Pearl Jam, he dreamed of being as big as hometown heroes Silverchair, the greatest frontman of all time, Freddy Mercury and even the King himself, Elvis. He would practice his moves in front of the mirror and always be listening to or performing music, even if it made him a freak to his mates. So stoked we both get to live out our childhood dreams of being in a band and this song reminds us how lucky we are!
Leroy had written this one and didn’t really have any lyrics but he wanted it to be about Summer. So I went away into an empty room in the studio while he laid down the guitar tracks and I wrote some lyrics about spending a day at the beach in the summer sun. Leroy was supposed to sing this one but he wasn’t getting the phrasing down as I’d written it, so I went back into the room with a microphone and my laptop and sang a quick guide track for him to follow. When I showed him and our producer/engineer Dylan, they both suggested that I sing the song and that it even had a bit of a French vibe with my vocals. So we decided to record a verse in French! But the only problem was, none of us spoke French. So I did a very quick and dodgy Google translation and rearranged it a bit to fit the melody. It probably doesn’t make any sense in French but at least we had a crack! To add to the French vibe we added an old analogue organ bit at the end that sounded like an accordion on this super old keyboard thing. It got so hot when Leroy was playing it that it started smoking so he had to nail it in one take, which he did! Lucky or he would have burnt the place down!!!
NEW PHONE WHO DIS?
This song is a cheeky snapshot of how reliant we are on our phones to the point where we don’t even have to really think for ourselves at all if we can have our devices do it for us. I personally don’t own a phone and I love it. I don’t need to be connected to everything 24/7. I wish I could be completely disconnected. I use my laptop because part of being in a band these days is constantly pushing your product in people faces on the internet, hence why you are reading this right now. But I know what it’s like to be out of the loop so I just channelled that into a more extreme version. The lyrics are about a person who is completely reliant in their phone accidentally breaking it and realising they need to get a better grip on both living away from the screen so they can function independently and also literally get a better grip around their phone so they don’t drop it again! In this song, we refer to phones being electronic brains. It’s so true. I wouldn’t know what time, day or probably what year it was without asking Leroy to look at his phone to find out!!! So sad! We both sing this one together.
I GET OUT
We’re both super proud of this one. It’s the most complex song we’ve ever released. When Leroy wrote the music he wanted it to sound like it could have been on the Batman Forever soundtrack and I reckon he nailed it! I wrote the lyrics about going stir crazy and just needing to get outside and how good it feels. There are many more layers on this one and we had fun with different vocal effects. There are big layers of Mellotron (famously heard at the beginning of Strawberry Fields by The Beatles) at the end to build it up. We definitely had “ending” in mind with this one. It was also a bit different to all the other songs so we felt it worked best at the end. We also like to end our albums with a ballad.
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