LEROY Macqueen remembers a time three years ago when barely anyone wanted a copy of The Gooch Palms’ debut record Novo’s.
Instead, many believed Macqueen and his girlfriend and drummer Kat Friend were a pair of colourful and quirky freaks. Much has changed. The Gooch Palms are Los Angeles-based, have courted a fan base on either side of the Pacific and they are gearing up to release their hotly-anticipated second album Introverted Extroverts on their own label Summer Camp Records.
“It’s crazy to think in 2013 when Novo’s came out we probably couldn’t have given it away,” Macqueen says before flying back to LA on Tuesday. “It took a year or two to kick into gear, but with this one we have kids knocking down the door to get their hands on it.”
Introverted Extroverts has garnered substantial momentum through the steady release of singles Trackside Daze, Tiny Insight and the latest, Ask Me Why, over the past year. Do the Gooch Palms believe album No.2 will be their national breakthrough?
“It’s definitely starting to feel that way,” Macqueen says. “I’ve hopped in the car about four times and Triple J are there playing Ask Me Why. Even the volume we’ve been pushing in America has been awesome as you know all the hard work we’ve done is paying off. We’ve opened up a whole new market for this record, which is America, and Novo’s didn’t have that market.”
Introverted Extroverts was recorded in two weeks last June in Benton Harbour, Michigan, famous for being the home of Whirlpool washing machines. During the making of the record The Gooch Palms stayed in nearby Detroit, a renowned rock’n’roll city that gave birth to Iggy & The Stooges, MC5, The White Stripes and, of course, Motown. The Novocastrians felt at home in the Motor City.
“It’s such as hard city,” he says. “It definitely embodies some of Newcastle’s spirit, Detroit, like when we lost BHP in the late ‘90s and Newcastle was really busted up and really down and out. In Detroit you kind of have that in your belly, that feeling when you’re there. People are sticking it out and the people left are doing amazing things.”
The record was produced by Bill Skibbe, who has previously worked with The Kills and The Black Keys. Skibbe drove Macqueen and Friend to improve their songwriting in the studio, and the results are obvious.
The songs are far more polished and complex than its predecessor Novo’s, without completely losing The Gooch Palms’ trademark low-fi punk sound. It ranges from the 1950s rock’n’roll vibe of Living Room Bop and Invisible Man, to The Ramones’ pop-punk of Eat Up Ya Beans to the grunge-inspired Sleep Disorder. Friend has also increased her vocal duties.
“We didn’t want to go too far away from our raw sound, but we also wanted to up the ante from Novo’s and I think we really hit it for sure,” Macqueen says. “There was a real structure to the recording experience. It was really fun to do it that way rather than nine hours in our front bedroom at Islington.”
The Gooch Palms will return to Newcastle on September 10 to play the Cambridge Hotel. It is expected to be a triumphant homecoming for a band that has become a major influence on Newcastle’s emerging indie rock scene. Bands such as RAAVE TAPES have previously supported The Gooch Palms and cite Macqueen and Friend’s success, through their DIY ethic, as an inspiration.
“That’s what is good about social media because a lot of those guys have added me to Facebook,” Macqueen says. “It’s awesome to see all the parties they’re throwing. I think it’s great. It goes in waves. When I was younger there was a such a strong hardcore scene and now there’s a new wave coming through. Hopefully they keep going and start spreading out and infiltrating some other cities with the good word about the 2300.”
The Gooch Palms release Introverted Extroverts on June 15.