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Buzz Bait: An Interview with The Gooch Palms

The Gooch Palms photo by Taylor Wong
Gooch Palms at Echo Park Rising by Mitch Livingston

The Gooch Palms at Echo Park Rising by Mitch Livingston

It was an ordinary Wednesday night at the Cambridge hotel in Newcastle, Australia when vivacious musician Leroy McQueen first met mega babe, Kat Friend. Four years after meeting, the power couple decided they wanted to make music together. What started with just a bucket, a tambourine, and a guitar soon evolved into The Gooch Palms- multiple Australian tours, two American tours (with slots at places such at SxSW) and a forthcoming tape with Burger Records. The small-town duo blew up quickly and their infectious tunes certainly deserve to be well known. If you haven’t had the chance to catch them on their tour, do not fret, you can still catch one of their action packed shows (which usually results in nudity) TONIGHT, Dec 5th at The Echo for The Gooch Palms Burger tape release, alongside The Memories and The High Curbs. The Gooch Palms play their buoyant tunes with great enthusiasm and they are definitely  a band not to miss. I had the pleasure of sitting at Echo Park Lake with them and a pack of Coopers and Tim Tams (if you haven’t experienced the pleasures of these Australian delicacies then I feel bad for you, son) to discuss their US tour, their upcoming sophomore album, and why it would totally suck if aliens landed on Earth.

Intro by Paige Vreede

Interview by Paige Vreede

The Gooch Palms Featured Image by Taylor Wong

Paige: So you guys played your first show outside of Australia last year in Las Vegas and were here in L.A. for quite some time. What was the initial point in which you decided you were going to return to America?

Gooch Palms by Mitch Livingstong

Leroy McQueen by Mitch Livingstong 

“This one time we where playing a show and I jumped off the stage completely naked head first and started crowd surfing when I felt some stubble on my pee pee then I felt a mouth go around it! I was like fuck I’m getting my d sucked by a dude…” – Leroy McQueen

Leroy McQueen:I mean we did a six week tour in 2014 and we didn’t want to leave it too long until we came back and then two or three days after we got back to Australia we were asked to play SxSw. So then we were just like lets see what will happen and we kept getting more shows off of it, so we decided to do a big tour. We also wanted to record with a producer over here anyway so we’ll slap that in the middle and then we got the visas and that’s how it happened.

Paige: Was it impromptu or planned out?

Gooch Palms at Echo Park Rising by Mitch Livingston

The Gooch Palms at Echo Park Rising by Mitch Livingston

“Midtour got a bit bleak.  We were just like sad. And we turned up to Baltimore and we were playing with Shannon and the Clams and we must have just looked sad because people were like “don’t give up” -Kat Friend

Kat Friend:It kind of just snowballed I guess. We didn’t know where we were going to live until a month or two in.We were just going to wing it and turn up. One of our friends had a room here so we just figured we’d move to LA and live here as long as we can.

Paige:You guys have played over 100 shows in the US and Canada since March. You also played SxSW.

Kat Friend: yeah we’re actually coming back next year

Paige: That’s amazing. So you’ve been all around the states. What are some of the worst and best places you’ve been?

Kat Friend: I like Ohio, but there’s something about Cleveland. There’s too many bridges

Leroy McQueen: Our first show there was the worst show ever in the history of the band. Last year we played the same night the Cleveland Cavaliers last game to get into the NBA finals. So everyone was like basketball who gives a shit about music. We played at a live music venue that had every tv turned on with the basketball game on, which I understand.

Kat Friend: but we did strategically play at halftime so some people turned around and noticed a band playing. But yeah Cleveland’s alright. We really love playing here (Los Angeles) especially since its our new hometown. We really liked playing Texas. We did “South By” last tour and this time we really went through Dallas, Austin, El Paso.

Leroy McQueen: Yeah and every show was like packed. It was weird. Sort of rolling into a new state and you don’t really know what to expect. Like San Antonio was packed. Everyone there knew us. They were there for us.

Kat Friend: Yeah Austin was really fun. We got too drunk and had to sleep outside of the venue.

Leroy McQueen: Yeah and some guy tried to break into the van while we were in there.

Kat Friend: We were too drunk to care so we were just like get away we’re trying to sleep. We were really drunk, but if we were sober it would’ve been terrifying.

Leroy McQueen: It was a packed show and it was the most drinks I’ve ever seen. Everyone told us not to sleep in the neighborhood but we were like fuck it, we’re too drunk to drive. That was a really fun night since we made it out alive.

Kat Friend: The best shows were the ones you don’t have to travel

Leroy McQueen: That’s what I like about this (Los Angeles) area. You can play in so many different places in front of so many different kids. And we can sleep in our own beds.

Gooch Palms at Echo Park Rising by Mitch Livingston

The Gooch Palms at Echo Park Rising by Mitch Livingston

Paige: Was there any point during The Gooch Palms tour in which you were just like “what the actual fuck are we doing”?

Leroy McQueen: Theres a point in every tour. Even in Australia.

Kat Friend: Midtour got a bit bleek, we were just like, sad. And we turned up to Baltimore and we were playing with Shannon and the Clams and we must have just looked sad because people were like “don’t give up” and we didn’t know why everyone was saying that. We were putting on big smiles. We had just had an altercation with a guy who accused me of backing into his car. The show was amazing, but we must’ve just had that mid-tour sort of slump look.

Leroy McQueen: It may have been because we had just done the CMJ thing and that was super corporate-y. We came out and had a couple of issues with promoters and had problems not getting payments and all that. Then we came out to Baltimore and this guy just abused the hell out of us for hitting his car. It all just kind of built up. But I think its good that that happened because everything after that is just amazing.

Paige: Sometimes you need that low point to remind yourself to just get back to it.

Leroy McQueen: Yeah exactly. You get a little selfish sometimes too. Like I’m a full time musician and people would kill to do that, so sometimes you just have to slap yourself in the face and say like “start enjoying it ya dickhead”.

The Gooch Palms shot by Taylor Wong

The Gooch Palms shot by Taylor Wong

Paige: Well its just your lifestyle now. I’m sure it’s easy to forget about it sometimes.

Kat Friend: Yeah we keep going back to cities and play more than once, and they just keep welcoming us, so that’s really nice.

Paige: Yeah well you guys are definitely known, so I’m sure with time you’ll only increase in popularity.

Leroy McQueen: Hah well we hope so. So yeah next year we’re going on tour with Guantanamo Baywatch and so we have a ton of shows with them, so that’ll be really great.

Paige: So Leroy, I heard last year you tried cheese curds and it actually ended up giving the shits. Have there been any other interesting American foods you’ve tried this year around?

Leroy McQueen: Hahahah I mean something we don’t have back at home is Taco Bell and Del Taco and I’m kind of obsessed with them.

Kat Friend: It was probably the amount of bad food you had, and not actually the cheese curds that did it.

Leroy McQueen: Well it definitely did a number on me because now everytime I see curds at a food time I just get chills down my spine. It was bad. But I mean I love cheese. It was just one of those things.

Kat Friend: we had a lot of pepto bismal on tour this year

Leroy McQueen: we were gut ready. no cheese curds since last year

Paige: Speaking of shitty incidents, I hardly lasted a year living with my ex. What’s it like being in a relationship, in a band together and touring together? I mean you guys are pretty much together 24/7.

Kat Friend:It’s good I mean the only things we ever fight about is if someone else is annoying us we’ll talk about it and it’ll build up

Leroy McQueen: It’s always a promoter. We pretty much do everything ourselves with the band, um so it always has to do with someone being annoying that we’re trying to work with whether it is… I don’t know.. it’s normally a promoter

Paige: So its kind’ve always because of a third party

Kat Friend: Yeah we’ll just start arguing

Leroy McQueen: And we don’t even know what were arguing about and then we sort of back track and go “oh wait this has nothing to do with me or Kat”.

Kat Friend: Were kind of both yelling about the same thing. We get along pretty well. We’ve been together ten years, next year.

Leroy McQueen: I mean I wouldn’t have started a band with Kat and Kat wouldn’t have started a band with me if we didn’t think it would work out with each other. We were together four or five years before The Gooch Palms was even a thought because I was still playing in other bands and whatnot and I kind of just got sick of playing in bands with a bunch of dudes, ya know?

Paige: So how did this all start then?

Kat Friend: We had a bucket, a tambourine and a guitar and a tiny little practice amp. He started writing songs on the guitar and we got the bucket and the tambourine out just to record what it would sound like and the tambourine and the bucket sort of evolved into a snare drum and a floor tom, with a little tambourine on the snare and he used to play that on a backing track and we would play the backing track live on a tape machine and I played organ which i kind of just taught myself by looking at chords on the lap top on the organ.

Leroy McQueen: But then the tape got eaten. One night we were playing in Melbourne and it just sort of went sheraloolooo

Kat Friend: And I was like hold on that drum was so simple I could probably manage to do drums and then we only have to bring two drums, a guitar and an amp. It has kind of evolved. He has a stack of amps now.

Leroy McQueen: We’re always evolving. We’re always trying new tricks to try to just feel it out, like I’m always just thinking of the next amp I’m going to get. Kat always gets angry about it. I’m not a massive tech head but in a two piece you do have to think of the amp as almost another member of the band so I’m always thinking maybe ill get another amp to boost some more, ya know?

Kat Friend: I don’t even know what brand my drums are. its very simple.

Leroy McQueen: Its’ actually surprisingly really hard. Like I’ve been in four bands and stuff and this is actually the hardest band I’ve ever had to write songs for because you gotta go like there’s no bass line to go with that guitar part. I’m throwing songs away all the time cause like that would work better with a full band.

Kat Friend: We also have to work with a very simple drum beat. I’m only working with two.

Paige: Yeah but that’s what makes you guys so talented. You have to come up with good music with minimal instruments.

Kat Friend: It’s all this guy.

Hah aw give yourself some credit. So you guys are from Newcastle and you sort of have a love/hate relationship with it, can you tell us why?

Leroy McQueen: We were born and raised there.

Kat Friend: Have you been there?

Paige: I have. I had breakfast on the beach there and I can’t say I hated it too much.

Kat Friend: It is beautiful. It’s like a post card, but apart from the beach there’s really nothing else to do.

Leroy McQueen: Yeah there were some grim times. I left high school when i was 16 and then I did a carpentry apprenticeship and that didn’t work out so I was kind of just kicking around Newcastle. I would just get so fucking depressed thinking like I’m never going to get out of here. My family had never left, my friends had never left and the only band I knew to do anything outside of Newcastle was Silverchair so ya know what I mean it was hard to want to be like a band. They’re just a small indie band thats cool.

Kat Friend: Silverchair went from being nobodies to being massive because they just got found by the right people and no one goes like maybe that’ll happen to us.

Leroy McQueen: It made me want to be in a band, but there were no cool younger bands that were like coming out of high school playing. I thought I was doomed thinking I was going to be working some weird job.

Kat Friend: And when we started the band we could play in front of any crowd in Australia, except for Newcastle, it was like oh my gosh what is wrong with this place. Our first half of the album is about being a band from Newcastle where no one cares about you, which as soon as we released the album people started listening to the songs and coming to the shows and we were like thats funny, how ironic.

Leroy McQueen: Then we realized we could change everything because kids started getting into our band. We used to rep the local football team, the Newcastle Knights and wear their apparel, and then kids started rocking up to the shows wearing Newcastle Knights gear and chanting Newcastle and now there are so many kids being super productive doing stuff that I wish was around when I was 16, so it’s cool.

Kat Friend: We just started coming out saying we were from the greatest city in the world Newcastle, in Newcastle and everywhere in OZ, so it kind of caught on. It trickled down to Newcastle and everyone was sort of proud to be from there. They thought there were cool bands coming from there now.

Paige: Wow, you guys seem to have had quite an influence there then.

Leroy McQueen: I wouldn’t say that. I think everyone just kind of needed a kick in the ass.

Kat Friend: Well and everyone else kind of just left. They all went to Melbourne, which anyone would do if they’re a musician.

Leroy McQueen: We started the band in Sydney and as soon as we got back to Newcastle it seemed like it started to get good. I don’t know. Like we’re going to go back and live there.

Kat Friend: Yeah for two and a half months we’re moving back in with our parents over there.

Leroy McQueen: Thats a little thing full time musicians don’t tell people.

Paige: Yeah, but that’s just reality.

Kat Friend: I mean we can’t just rent a house for two months.

Leroy McQueen: It’ll be fun getting to surf everyday

Paige: I’m sure your family will be ecstatic to see you guys as well

Kat Friend: My parents have been babysitting our cat since march so ill have to give him millions of cuddles. I still Skype with him.

Leroy McQueen: Yeah Newcastle is great it’ll always be a part of us for sure.

Paige: What are some of the major differences between the music scene there and here?

Kat Friend: Well Australia is kind of hard to crack. Sydney is pretty stiff to get a gig anywhere. A lot of the bands there are a bit elitist. We found our go to bands that we’re friends with that we always play with in OZ. It’s hard starting out there because nobody wants to give you a chance. We’ve worked real hard though and now we can get a crowd in Sydney. We actually played a farewell show in Sydney. We’ve always sold those out. Newcastle is sort of like that as well, but if you work hard enough you get a good loyal following.

Leroy McQueen: Its quite similar, its just smaller.

Kat Friend: I do feel like you have to work a lot harder over there to get that loyal following. Here I feel like we turned up and we’re like heeeeey.

Leroy McQueen: People seemed to be tuned into what were doing over here.

Kat Friend: We were just lucky we’ve got great friends as well. Like we’re friends with Shannon and The Clams and Guantanamo Baywatch, Nobunny and Hunx and those guys paved the way for bands like us to stroll in.

Paige: Yeah that’s definitely a foot in the door for sure.

Kat Friend: Yeah we played with all those guys back in Australia so as soon as we were in America we had all the same mutual friends.

Paige: Your style of music really appeals to the kids in LA.

Leroy McQueen: Well were pretty lucky we’ve got Burger Records.

Paige: That says enough in itself

Leroy McQueen: Yeah I didn’t know how big they were until we got over here. Everyone asked if we had a Burger tape.

Kat Friend: We were like well lets hit up Burger and do a tape haha. We had a few Burger tapes back at home didn’t we?

Leroy McQueen: Yeah they were just bands we liked without even realizing they were with Burger.

Kat Friend: We’re fully involved with these guys now

Leroy McQueen: Yeah it feels good to be a part of the family

Paige: Well you guys totally deserve. So Leroy, I know you’re kind of obsessed with all things space. Can you tell us the most fascinating fact you know about it?

Leroy McQueen: Um they found these frozen type cloud things in deep space. They found some sort of space clouds in like deeeeep space. There’s also like those frozen planets that are attached to stars and are sifting off their gravity and kind of float off.

Kat Friend: Rogue planets.

Leroy McQueen: Yeah we’re into those rogue planets they’re super interesting. They sort of just shift around.

Kat Friend: We found out about a dwarf star that is cool enough to touch!

Paige: Did you guys freak out when the UFO came then?

Leroy McQueen: I was so bummed I missed it.

Kat Friend: We were just minding our own bussiness at home like awww man.

Leroy McQueen: I would be super bummed if UFOs came, because it would just be like that’s it. It’d be all over. What if the aliens didn’t even look like we want them to? What if they had like weird T-shaped heads or something? There would be nothing to read about on the internet. No more x-files. Everything would just be done.

Paige: AND WHAT WOULD WE DO WITHOUT THE INTERNET?!!? Your last full length was NOVO’s back in 2013 and today you released your single, “Tiny Insight”, congratulations by the way. What’s your sophomore album Introverted Extroverts about and when can we expect its release?

Kat Friend: Pretty much half the songs are about having fun, excellent lives and being able to party with our friends, especially in Newcastle, which is where we wrote all these songs. The other half of songs are about wanting to hide away and not be seen. We locked ourselves away a lot.

Leroy McQueen: There wasn’t much to do.

Kat Friend: Yeah we became a bit introverted and weird. We got a lot done, but yeah some of the songs are just about us hiding away not wanting to do anything and then we would get ready to go out and we would have a massive night and then hide away again. But LA is completely different, so its a completely different scenario than what we wrote about. By the time the album comes out we’ll be back here not even living that kind of life anymore. We kind of just do something nearly every day now. It’s funny with LA, you can go out really any night. We like to crack a beer just any old time… like right now!

Paige: Yeah we’re definitely open to the idea of drinking whenever. It’s totally acceptable to be sitting in a park drinking on a Wednesday.

Leroy McQueen: Wednesday was the best night to go out in Australia.

Kat Friend: We met on a Wednesday night.

Leroy McQueen: at the Cambridge hotel.

Kat Friend: We’re going to play there when we get back. It’s our dream to sell it out.

Leroy McQueen: Yeah we’re stoked we just get to headline it. That’s an achievement in itself.

Paige: I know you guys have some songs that are a bit do-woopy, some that have punk influence, and some that are pretty surf rock. What sort of stuff can we expect on the new album?

Leroy McQueen: Yep, that’s it! There is a little more that went into it. The last record was done within 9 hours we didn’t expect it to do anything and now its in its third pressing.

Kat Friend: Yeah that’s (Novo’s) the one Burger put out on tape. It’s getting released in Europe for the first time so it’s getting a completely second life.

Leroy McQueen: It came back from the dead. The new one we spent two weeks on in the studio with this guy Bill Skibbie. he’s really cool, he’s all about sonic sounds. We wanted it to sound more like our live shows.

Kat Friend: He played through like 50 amps so that helped.

Leroy McQueen: Yeah that was fun. When we just sort of sat there and selected whatever sounded best for that song. We thought about the songs a bit more, but other than that it’s very much a Gooch Palms sounding record.

Paige: Yeah Bill Skibble worked with bands like The Kills, The Black Keys, and Jacuzzi Boys and now, The Gooch Palms, so that must’ve been great.

Kat Friend: What’s really great about him is he’s good about finding the right sound for the band. like all of those bands are so different. He doesn’t have a signature sound, he can get the best out of the band. We want someone who can make us sound like us. It’s hard to make a two piece to sound big. he knew how difficult it would be, but it was all about the best guitar sound and the best drum sound.

Leroy McQueen: He just wanted to make sure everything sounded good to our ears, which was the most important bit. I’m really stoked on it. I just want it out. June seems like a right time to release it. We’re putting it on our own label as well.

Paige: It’s called Summer Camp right? Tell us a little about that.

The Gooch Palms at Echo Park Rising by Mitch Livingston

The Gooch Palms at Echo Park Rising by Mitch Livingston

Leroy McQueen: We had a few meetings with some indie labels that had been interested with us and we left thinking I don’t know man. We are kind of control freaks and this is our baby.

Kat Friend: We’ve also hear a lot of horror stories of how other bands have been screwed over.

Leroy McQueen:It would’ve been great to have the guarantees, but I just don’t want it to come out on a new label and be upset about the marketing or promotion

Kat Friend: Plus we cant get jobs here so we have the time.

Leroy McQueen: We see so many cool bands as well, and we can put out there 7 inch as well. a ton of bands do it.

Kat Friend: The Gooch Palms have always admired Dead Moon, because they’re a couple and only a three piece and it’s stripped back and raw and they’ve done so well for so long and they do everything for themselves. We know we’re never going to be totally rich doing it this way.

Leroy McQueen: Nobody could give us a release date or anything. So it was either sign to them and not know what was going on, but have some money or we could have a release date which is a bit more exciting since we have an actual date. We’re the only ones who can let us down. It’s nice having a job to do every day. We have so much to do leading up to the record.

Kat Friend: We were trying to come up with a name while we were on the road and we kept seeing summer camp signs everywhere, ya know the little wood carved with the yellow writing, and we thought it was a cool name.

Paige: Hah thats awesome! So you guys are going on tour when you get back to Australia. Are there any Aussie bands you hope to play with, that maybe we in America should look out for?

Kat Friend: We’re kind of giving our favorite bands a break because we always make them play with us when we’re over there. We are best buddies with Palms.

Leroy McQueen: I used to play bass for them and they are just fucking legends. Also, straight arrows. Royal Headache. We sort of latched more to a Sydney thing. I love straight arrows a lot. I’m playing a solo opening show for thee oh sees when they come to Newcastle. You cant really play two shows there, but I still want to do the show so I’m just going to come up with a solo set because I really want to play with thee oh sees and straight arrows. I think everyone would love palms and straight arrows over here.

Paige: The Gooch Palms are more than just musicians, you always seem to put on quite a performance when you play. Leroy I know you’re pretty down to get naked on stage. Can you tell us the weirdest shit that’s happened with any fans sans clothes?

Leroy McQueen: This one time we where playing a show and I jumped off the stage completely naked head first and started crowd surfing when I felt some stubble on my pee pee then I felt a mouth go around it! I was like fuck I’m getting my d sucked by a dude haha, I came backed on stage and said to Kat I just got my D sucked by a dude!!!

Paige: That’s hilarious. The Gooch Palms have obviously played in front of numerous audiences. Apparently even Andree 3000 has seen you guys.

Leroy McQueen: That was crazy

Kat Friend: It was at a little shack of a venue in Detroit there were probably about 30 people there and he was one of them. He was sort of just in the middle swaying back and forth like Stevie Wonder to all our ballads, and we were just like ohhhh my gosh.

Leroy McQueen: I thought he was just being nice until he bought a record and a t-shirt hah. I was like whoa that’s insane. I was already stoked that night because Dan from the Gories was DJing that show and they’re like my idols so I was already freaking out. Dan was like hey how ya going and then I look up and Andree 3000 is standing there and I was like this is the greatest night ever.

Paige: What an experience. So for someone who hasn’t been to The Gooch Palms show, what can they expect this Saturday?

Kat Friend: It’ll be super fun

Leroy McQueen: A lot of smiles, a lot of waving.

Kat Friend: There’ll be drooling because Leroy cant help himself. He’s like a St Bernard dog.

Leroy McQueen: There will be drooling. There will be banter, whether you can understand us or not. Everything else is never planned and if anyone shows up then yeah.

Paige: I’m sure lots of people will! You might have to keep your junk in though. I heard its an all ages show.

Kat Friend: The junk will be tucked away. The Gooch Palms will  be playing with The Memories who are always hilarious and amazing. They’re good friends of ours. The High Curbs, we havent seen them play yet, but we like their tunes.

Leroy McQueen: Yeah I found them on Instagram and they looked cool. I listened to their music and they’re rad. It feels cool because The Echo is like an incredible venue so to get the headline show there, it’s a nice way to end the year in America so were stoked. We’re excited we can’t wait.

Kat Friend: It’ll be a big party its our last night in LA so were going to party.

Paige: It’s The Gooch Palms farewell show, I know you guys love those.

Leroy McQueen: It’ll be fun as hell

Kat Friend: It’s an early show so we can play the show and then party on afterwards.

Leroy McQueen: Oh and wer’e going to be selling a ton of misc merch from the whole year. Sort of like a garage sale.

Kat Friend: Yeah it’ll be like a yard sale with all of weird random stuff we need to get rid of.

Leroy McQueen: Yeah stained shirt $2. I’m excited.

Paige: Haha that’ll be great! Ok so, I have a total wild card question. Just reach into the box and pull one out.

Leroy McQueen: Ooooh I like this. So the question is “if you could go back in time which era would you go to?: I would go to the nineties at my age now. I want to end up in 1997 so I could re-watch the 1997 grand final where the Newcastle Knights won so I could have a beer.

Kat Friend: What a nerd. I think I would go back to ummm maybe a time I wasnt alive. I was already alive in the nineties. Maybe all of the seventies. Yeah New York in the seventies. That’s where it was all happening. We got nearly all of our inspiration from those bands.

Leroy McQueen: Wait I want to change my answer. I have two answers. I would like to go and see the first ever Kiss concert in the seventies. They’re the greatest band in the history of music that ever existed full stop. For a second there it was The Eagles

Kat Friend: He’s just jumped on The Eagles bandwagon. I’ve loved them for years.

Leroy McQueen: I just watched a doc that blew my mind and now I’m obsessed. but definitely 1997. I’ve changed it back just so I could have a beer and watch the Grand Final. It was so exciting they won in the last 10 seconds. Everyone came out of their house and littered the streets.

Paige: Yeah I used to live near Suncorp and whenever there was rugby on it would just get insane.

Kat Friend: Yeah its a bit sad when we wanted to watch the state of origin nobody knew what it was.

Paige: It’s all just footie. Anyways, thanks again for giving us some time with The Gooch Palms, guys!! Here’s a block of dairy milk!

Leroy McQueen: Ah thanks so much! It’s funny my dad is such a chocolate head, but he always stays skinny. I’m excited to go back to the chocolate.

Kat Friend: Yeah doesnt your dad like this fruit nut kind? I’ve definitely seen it in the pantry..

Leroy McQueen: You’re a fruit nut.

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