Keep the Palace Fires burning

Palace Fires are the fantastic new band formed by former Gene members Steve Mason (guitar) and Matt James (drums).
This time around, Steve and Matt are joined by Ed Bannard (vocals and guitar) and Mike Buchanan (bass).
Their haunting, folk-tinged debut single, Nothing Comes Close, is released on August 21st. It has already drawn comparisons to Jeff Buckley and Nick Drake. Pop Junkie spoke to Matt about his latest venture.


Pop Junkie: How does it feel to be starting out in a band again? Is it exciting? Does it remind you of the early days of Gene?

Matt James: It’s dead exciting – I highly recommend it. It is very similar to the early days of Gene. The genuine possibility of failure or success is always in the back of your mind, spicing things up. Of course, if it does go tits up, I’ll always have positive memories of what it’s like to get signed and have a record released.

Pop Junkie: How did Palace Fires come about? Did you and Steve audition for singers? How did you decide on Ed?

Matt James: Steve was running an indie club called Rendition and Ed played there in his then band, The Lanes, from Nottingham. They exchanged numbers as Steve was really taken with Ed’s voice and manner. We met up with him and agreed to see if we could write together. The first song we wrote was called Fear Of Falling and it made us all want to write song number two.

Pop Junkie: Did you have a good idea of how you wanted the band to sound? Was it a conscious decision to move away from that Gene sound? The new single sounds like Jeff Buckley or Nick Drake.

Matt James: I think Steve and I initially planned something quite different. We were writing songs that sounded a bit like early Police and The Who, but the moment Ed came along we ditched all we had and started again. His voice was very versatile, and he brought a lot of alt folk influences to the party. As with any band, it’s a meeting of minds, styles and influences. That then forms an original hybrid. I think we both knew Ed was a class act straight away and they don’t come along very often. I can see the Buckley/Drake similarities with his voice on the current single. He also reminds me of Mark Lanegan and Jim Morrison on other tracks you’ve yet to hear.

Pop Junkie: Who writes the songs? What’s the process when it comes to the lyrics and music?

Matt James: Our debut album was written by myself, Steve and Ed. Mike joined after we’d written most of it, but he was hugely involved in the recording process as he has a producing and engineering background. We tend to write quite spontaneously. One of us will have an idea and then we’ll develop it with whatever instruments are to hand. Ed will sing loads of alternative lyrics and melodies, and we’ll record them all and pick the best sounding. Then a theme for the song will form.

Pop Junkie: Are you looking for massive success? Arguably Gene never achieved their full potential, so what would you like to do with Palace Fires?

Matt James: Gene had three Top Ten LPs and 10 Top Forty singles and toured the world loads, so I don’t look back with regret. We had a great time and kept it going for years, until one or two of us had had enough. It’s a very hard industry to break into and it makes no difference if you’ve been there before. Palace Fires have the potential to be a huge act – perhaps even bigger than Gene. I have a belief in everything that I do. It helps when you are the first act on at the Barfly again!

Pop Junkie: When can we expect an album? Can you let us know what it will sound like?

Matt James: Next year, I reckon. It has tinges of folk and country, as well as rockier and bluesy tracks. Some of the tracks have turned out a bit like Love, though that wasn’t a deliberate thing.

Pop Junkie: Sum up the new single in a sentence.

Matt James: A good song delivered with heart and soul.

Pop Junkie: How do you feel about the forthcoming release of the new Gene Peel sessions CD?

Matt James: I’m honoured that they have chosen us amongst such distinguished company. Peely was a lovely bloke.


2 Responses to “Keep the Palace Fires burning”

  1. Tomas Wong Says:

    Hi, I only care that I have my mother proud of me. Because I know that my father hates me so I really dont care if he is proud of me or not. I have tryed to walk the strait and narrow path and faltered afew time. But, at the end of the day I would like to know that my Mother was proud I was her son
    I am sorry if it to you not interestingly.

  2. Britney Pocked Says:

    Wonderful and informative web site.
    bye, bye 😉

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