It’s not unusual for there to be a long winding queue outside Manchester’s O2 Ritz even on a cold wet evening.
Less usual is that some people have spent the night outside the venue, their excitement visible in sleep-deprived eyes and animated chatter.
Inside is busier than usual before the doors open.
There has been a pre-show meet and greet so a few dozen people are already hugging their barrier spots as stagehands busily work on stage.
With three bands on the bill, backstage space is at a premium. We find a small production room to utilise for a distraction-free chat. Sebastian Danzig dressed immaculately in a plaid three-piece suit, sits in one of the rooms office chairs sporting a huge grin, hugging a mug of hot tea. There is no tension in his, jealousy-inducing, razor-sharp jaw and cheeks, his face radiates contentment. Events of the past 24 hours are not associated with serenity, the culmination of last nights resulted in the cancellation of only their second UK date of the tour.
“They (the venue) talked to us about the show and we signed the document stating we will not climb (at the venue)” Explains Danzig “Kind of absurd because it is a rock show at the end of the day. But we understand for the safety of the fans – if you have a problem with us doing this – we’ll sign the paper and we did. They then said ‘shows cancelled’ after we signed saying ‘well, we don’t trust you’. I was like basically we are being arrested for a crime we haven’t even committed and well – there isn’t even a crime.”
It is clear the situation in Glasgow was a bad situation for the band. “At that point your like are you profiling us now” Danzig laments about the venue and promoter. Leaning forward in his chair he explains that the situation isn’t much more than just the band that feel punished. “You’re not only hurting us you’re hurting the fans. Their money and their effort they’ve spent to get here. So, we go back and ask hey who was it (that made the decision) no one giving us a clear answer. Eventually, we found out finally it was the promoter – and he’s saying that we didn’t sign the document. We have a fucking photo of us signing it.”
Palaye Royale made the best of the best situation spending three hours outside on a freezing Glasgow evening meeting everyone and playing an acoustic set. “The fans, well no one was like ‘how dare you’ (about the cancellation) so it was great to feel the respect from them about that. But it is transferred to all our shows now. Every day we’ll walk into the venue and be handed a ‘here’s your written list of rules’. The problem I have with it is you have Frank Carter and you have Yungblud and any number of bands that are jumping off everything and stage diving. Remington just hangs off a balcony and we get blasted and told if ‘you step foot on the balcony we’ll cancel’. It seems that it is just us that these rules are given too.”
Referencing a previous conversation, I repeat it feel people are trying to find something bad, wrong or to complain about. Danzig goes to sip his tea stops and animatedly nods “It is so strange to me. We are so stoked to play to 1,500 and 2,000 people on only our second European tour that a huge jump and I just want to play. Today too I brought out blankets for the people who were outside, who’d been out all night. One person on Twitter world was like ‘how dare you not bring umbrellas – you fucking piece of shit’. It is a reach on everything. We are loud the way we dress the way we sound we are loud. But we mean well and are thankful beyond belief that we get to do this We have never had the attitude that we deserve this success never ever not once”.
It wouldn’t have escaped anyone that the tour is called The Bastards. Something that was heard in relation to Palaye Royale regularly during the past couple of years. I wonder if the tour name is a reaction to this and a way of defusing a pejorative name. “It is funny how the evolution of the band happens. Once the Koko gig sold out (November 2018), we didn’t need to go now open up for Shikari. But we agreed to it, so we are going to do it. That’s us we agree to something we will do it. So we go ahead and every day we hear ‘you fucking bastards’ every night we walk on stage and its ‘ fuck you – fuck you – you bastards’. ”
Letting go of an exasperated sign Danzig continues “We just played one of my favourite shows of my entire life yet I’ve been eyeballed throughout and walk off stage to more of the same abuse. But, we got through it – we got thicker skins. However no, we are not reclaiming bastards because of that tour but because in 2015 we were going to change our name to The Bastards when we signed our record deal. The record label hated our band name. They thought no one would be able to say it. His (label executive) favourite band was Depeche Mode and I was like do you think everyone knew how to say Depeche Mode when they saw it – no they learnt how to say it.”
Even though a clique it has been a rollercoaster since 2018 for the band. The end of last year saw then take a break from touring Sebastian explains how they went into the break. “Dublin was the first date of the tour. I’d never been there before, and it was sold out and it was fucking wild. It was like ‘ohh yes we are back’. We hadn’t been on stage for 4 months and we need to get back some headspace. When we toured with Rob Zombie and Marylin Manson all last summer and that was incredible but also incredibly dark. We had fun with them, hanging with Manson at 4 am was fun as a kid I’d have been ‘what the fuck’. Plus, we got some cool friendships from that. But it was dark for us as a band because we went from being comfortable as we were to having to get a pro crew on a budget. We could not be anything less than 100% professional. You cannot walk into arenas with just a van and trailer they’d be like what the fuck get off this tour. So, we had like 15 people in a 10-sleeper bus. ”
Danzing continues “Then we went to Australia, I am shocked we didn’t break up then or at Leeds and Reading. We had full-on fistfights – beating the shit out of each other. But that is what 750 shows in four years can do to you. Four years straight going from sleeping in a car for two and a half years to a bandwagon and finally to a bus we’ve just got comfortable. This tour I’m like we got a bus, we got a crew – it’s easy. I don’t know why people complain at this level all you got to do is put on a great show. I mean that’s my job put on a great show”
Palaye Royale has always provided a cohesive package from the lights, stage décor and the way they dress. The merch queue at Manchester’s O2 Ritz was as the first of the two support bands start winding past the first long bar up past the exit – this remained right up to Palaye’s 9 pm start time. Props to the band’s merch maestro Austen who works at a pace the Tasmanian Devil would consider speedy. All the time Austen wears a huge smile and speaking personally, without even a micro of agitation, to every person who arrives at the counter. Palaye’s merchandise has become something more than just cohesive and is now something of an extension of Palaye Royale as a band.
Drummer Emmerson Barrett’s artwork is used often and the options can sometimes be quite unusual and unexpected. “We get hit up by brands all the time, they see on social media we are doing well and they want to put products together. We’ve realised an amazing thing – you can go out be your own business. We do things ourselves rather than partnering with people. We want to put out products we can really stand behind. The make up we make is the only make up we wear is ours, it’s good quality too – it is not shitty drug store stuff.”
Pointing out the parallels, even though slight, between Palaye Royale and Jeffree Star when it comes to the importance of a cohesive brand and ‘must-have’ merchandise. Laughing Danzig point and bob’s his head in agreement. “Yer yer yer and it’s all good. Jeffree Star built his brand out of the ground from nothing. His story well, that is inspiring. The merchandise gives you a chance to earn. We weren’t getting label support; venues will pay you shit even when you sell out a 3,000 venue. So, we did VIP’s just to stay afloat on the road and share more with the fans. The make-up part of it though has funded the band for the past two years because the music part on its own just doesn’t.”
A Jeffree Star and Palaye Royale collaboration would be an exciting idea I suggest. “That would be cool” Danzig states emphasising the cool. “Even a tutorial with our stuff. Even if he obliterates our products and talks shit about them I’d be fine with that.” Jeffree Star like Palaye Royale has encountered a lot of backlashes, some valid most less so over the years, however, he has grown and changed yet still finds past issues regurgitated again and again. “Everything changes … there’s progression. What you’d say in the 90’s you wouldn’t think of saying in the 00’s” shares Danzing. “Right now, Remington is like ‘I’m gonna wear a skirt all the time and not give a shit’ and we wear make-up. These things should seem so normal but just five years ago people were like ‘what’s going on?’ and even now we go to middle America and we get eaten alive for it. Our audience though – everyone is so loving to each other no matter what and that is so important to us.”
With the band’s sophomore album completing their Boom Boom Room era. We’re on the cusp of Palaye’s third album release; the first of the new Palaye epoch. What can we expect from the new release I ask. Taking in a large breath, folding his legs and leaning back in his chair Danzig imparts “I think that the Boom Boom Room cycle was a lot of us learning and learning to play together. We were all on the same page then, now every song is a fight ‘I don’t like that’ ‘I like it to sound like this’. So, we put that and each of our influences into the songs. We are not splitting songs between us. It’s like that part of the bridge is mine but that part is a different style. When you talk about it is sounds incohesive but when you hear it; it makes sense. It is 15 songs of up’s and down’s that are really listenable. There is this track on the record that by no means should have made it to the record considering how it comes about. We were in the desert at Joshua Tree. We pressed record and we all just played. Its called Lord of Lies and is 1 minute 45 seconds long. Remington came along hadn’t listened to the song and we were like ‘do what you want’. So, he does in one take, top to bottom. You’re not sure what he’s saying, it’s very fast with a punk attitude: Misfits style.”
With the rest of the UK tour, the Europe tour, a storyboard movie and an album release in the very near future; will it be possible for Palaye to find some space for themselves? “I’m engaged now so it’s great to be where we are now. I used to be satisfied with just a bed on tour cause I was going to party my head off. But now I have a different mindset. I don’t think I’ve had a drop of alcohol for a long time … well, maybe a glass of wine with dinner. But my thought process now is I like I’m too busy to drink or party like that.”
Stretching out his arms, his empty mug swinging from a finger Danzig is off to prepare for the show. The audience fills the building with their conversations and singing along to preshow music. Everything runs smoothly. Everyone appears to be having a great time. Charming Liars and especially Counterfeit’s support slots are impressive. Palaye Royale’s set is incredibly energetic, immensely fun and completely bereft of any climbing or jumping from balconies. So, promoters everywhere can breathe easy now.