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They sing of escapism, death and diving headfirst into relationships they know will destroy them. They make sumptuous, soulful rock music in a dour ex-munitions factory. They're the fatalistic sound of the future. You are cordially invited to Palace, this generation's most moving evolution in alt-rock.

From a dank art warehouse in Tottenham to the world's most revered stages comes a band that merge the modernist guitar intricacies of Foals and Maccabees with the evocative depths of Nick Drake, Neil Young and John Fahey, Peter Green's roots blues and the esoteric experiments of King Krule and Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. What emerges on their debut album 'So Long Forever' is an atmospheric swirl of sound and melody that shifts from gargantuan future stadium rock to lovelorn torch song like a storm at sea. "We wanted it to be really diverse," says drummer Matt Hodges, "lots of ups and downs, massive epic moments then dropping down to intimate moments. I really think we've nailed it."

Its ups and downs, though, are the result of four years of relentless ups. Having each received a fine grounding in 60s pop, classic folk, psychedelia and blues from their parents, it wasn't until Dorset school-friends Leo, Matt and Rupert all separately landed in London in their early twenties that childhood suggestions of forming a band became a reality; in 2012 they first played together with Rupert on bass and reverb rattling the walls. "We knew we liked reverb," Leo recalls, "so we very quickly bought reverb pedals and were like 'this is the basis of our sound, something quite atmospheric and epic'. That was our starting point, emulating bands like Wu Lyf."

They quickly came up with two of their most enduring songs 'Veins' and 'I Want What You Got', but it took a few line-up shifts before the Palace gates truly opened. Leo's brother Wilby was reluctantly recruited on bass for a few sessions but left to concentrate on producing the band's artwork, replaced by another old schoolmate Will Dorey. In need of a place to gestate, they discovered The Arch, a warehouse community of musicians, artists and designers in Tottenham where they took over a spray-painted room in an ex-munitions factory that had been used as a drug den. "There's video footage of it, it was grim," says Leo.
"There's mattresses and drug paraphernalia, it was a very dark place." With the help of their fellow artists, Palace transformed the room into a "semi-functional" studio and rehearsal space by hand and set about recording songs in as "craggy" a manner as possible.

"It's damp and it's dark, and it's on a meter - so you never know when the lights will go off," Leo says, "We've always done everything in a slightly craggy, haphazard way. Nothing works when you're trying to record but you get it together, working in unusual conditions. But the atmosphere of the place seeps into the music."

In The Arch, when they weren't putting on fundraising nights to pay the rent, Palace's cavernous bunker vibe clicked. Fast. From just one track on Soundcloud and a single show at The Wreck in Camberwell they bagged an agent and created a fervent A&R buzz, despite being as green-gilled as bands come. "We were very much feeling our way," Leo admits.
"At our first soundcheck I didn't know what a soundcheck was. The sound guy went 'do you want anything in the monitors?' and I remember leaning across and asking Rupert 'what's a monitor?'"

As their streaming figures rocketed over a million ("four thousand plays was a dream, we never thought we could do that"), indie label Beatnik Creative snapped up a clutch of their self-recorded tracks for a 2014 debut EP 'Lost In The Night', garnering plays and plaudits from the likes of Radio One's Fearne Cotton, XFM's John Kennedy and the NME ("the award for the fastest rise of 2014 goes to Palace," they declared), while the band set about sorting a long-term deal from the teetering stack on the table. "We met the Fiction guys and they were really nice, normal people, music nuts," Matt says. "It was clear to see they were really passionate about music. In the end it was a very easy decision."

A second EP, 'Chase The Light', appeared on Fiction last year, developing their soulful, reverb-heavy narco-pop on tracks such as 'Head Above The Water', 'Kiloran' and the beatific basement blues of 'Settle Down'. Critically acclaimed, it spread their name - and Leo's Alt-J -meets- Jeff Buckley tones - onto the playlists of Huw Stephens, Annie Mac and Steve Lamacq and the line-ups of Live At Leeds, The Great Escape, Green Man, Bestival, Blissfields and Kendall Calling. They toured with both Jamie T and Ghostpoet, proving they could seamlessly slot onto any bill. "Unless it's Pantera," Leo jokes.

Come November 2015, the band were ready to record their debut album, venturing off their self-imposed "craggy" island for the first time to Unwound Studios in Hackney, with producer Adam Jaffery (Dev Hynes, Beach Baby) at the helm. "We've always liked that DIY vibe," Leo says, "it's suited us so far, doing things ourselves in a slightly dodgy studio. But the album was our first experience of being in swanky-ish studio where everything works and there's someone who knows what they're doing. Before, what we knew was stuff that was a bit shit and a bit broken and everything was too hot or too cold in the room."

"Even though the album was done in a nice studio, not ours," Matt adds, "there's still something in the song-writing and the songs that relates to The Arch. They were all written there and you can kind of hear it. It doesn't feel polished and clean."

It feels, frankly, all-consuming. From the brooding post-math firestorm of first single 'Break The Silence' - recalling noise-pop legends like Kitchens Of Distinction and Sigur Ros as well as more contemporary atmos-rockers - to ornate, broken paeans like 'It's Over' and 'Slaving On', it's a record that tackles loss, romance, and the shifting tides of human emotion with both power and restraint. A self-destructive infatuation drives the single, Leo howling "I wanna burn in your fire" to reflect "the idea of being drawn to someone you know is going to destroy you in some way. Someone who's dangerous but equally appealing and attractive. You almost can't help yourself... there's something intoxicating about knowing you're going to get hurt or crushed in some way."

Love, for Palace, is a fickle fury. 'Fire In The Sky' obsesses over the possibility of a long distance affair falling apart, while break-ups are the source of both deep despond ('It's Over') and wistful optimism (the breezy au revoir of 'Live Well'). "One's emotion and opinion towards a certain situation can change from time to time, certainly with me," Leo explains. "You'll deal with a similar situation in very different ways depending on the person you're dealing with. Especially in relationships I've been through things where you leave and you feel positive, it ends and you feel fine, and other times when you go 'why has this torn me up so much?' It's a natural human reaction to respond to things in inconsistent ways depending on how you're doing mentally at the time."

As the album progresses, its palate expands. 'Family' is a nod to Leo's nearest and dearest and 'Holy Smoke' a tribute to someone he lost last year. "I had this moment of being around them afterwards," he says, "and 'Holy Smoke' refers to this thing where you open the window and the soul goes out of the window when someone dies." On more upbeat notes, the pounding title track celebrates escapism ("the Amazon is where I belong") and 'Blackheath' concerns mysterious goings on with toothless crones on the heath. It all adds up to a stirring, fine-crafted journey around the heart's bruised chambers, and it will undoubtedly unshackle them from any cumbersome comparisons and launch their own hypnotic cult.

"There are definitely some similarities with some modern artists that are out there right now but there aren't shitloads," Matt argues.
"There are references to artists from forever so I hope it sounds a little different, it sounds like Palace."

A sound so powerful it's been know to reduce fans to blubbing wrecks.
"People have been in tears several times," says drummer Matt Hodges. "One girl who was probably really high or having a terrible comedown at Secret Garden Party was in tears watching us, but glued to what we were doing. And there was a woman in Holland in floods of tears watching us play."

By the time you read this they'll have left Glastonbury a sodden mess, on their way to overwhelming the world. Brush off your finery, your Palace appointment awaits.

"One of our favourite new bands." - Huw Stephens

"spacious, romantic pop" - DIY

"an echo drenched sound reminiscent of early Foals" - Guardian

"somewhere between Jeff Buckley and Kings of Leon." - Times

"Possible successors to The Maccabees... Palace deal in theatrical melodies to tingle the spine." - NME

"darkly beautiful, with twilight seeming to break through every note." - Clash

"Languid and shimmery... the sweet-sad spot between indie emo and Sixties blues" - Rolling Stone



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