Having your band’s debut show as the opening act for of Montreal is certainly a way to hit the ground running. For San Francisco’s Painted Palms, a couple of cousins who grew up together in Louisiana and moved to the Bay Area at separate times, it isn’t clear how their music sifted its way to Kevin Barnes’ (of Montreal) ears. When the opportunity arrived for them to tour and become label mates with Barnes’ band on Polyvinyl Records, they were ready. Three years after that discovery, Christopher Prudhomme and Reese Donohue are set to release their debut full-length LP, Forever, on January 14. On Friday they’ll have their record-release show at Rickshaw Stop. We caught up with Donohue and asked him about the band, where they came from, and their self-described “dance oriented, energetic” live sets.
It’s been said that Kevin Barnes discovered the Canopy EP (released in 2011). Were both you and your cousin living in San Francisco by then? Do you know how Barnes discovered your music?
I had been living in the Bay for a couple years at that point, but Chris still lived in Louisiana. I'm not sure exactly how Kevin [Barnes] found it, but it was beginning to appear on some small blogs here and there.
You guys grew up in Lafayette, Louisiana together. Was there any hint of your future collaboration back then? Did you have shows or gigs back home?
I had moved out to California before Chris and I ever played music together. When I went home for the holidays one year, he brought some samplers and microphones to my house and we sat down and made a song, and that was “Falling Asleep” from the EP. I went back to California so we never got the chance to play a show.
A point has been made about how you’ve both collaborated at long distances over email and the Internet. Are you working more closely together now that you’re both in SF?
Chris and I have found that our approaches and methods when writing are pretty different. I tend to be methodical and deliberate, while Chris is a little more spontaneous and improvisational. When we get in the same room and try to make a song together, our approaches can impose on one another. So the distance the Internet provides actually helps a lot in the writing process. Our roles are pretty fluid; I don't think there's a single element that makes it to the audience without scrutiny from both of us.
Your press release mentions “’60s psych-pop” influence paired with “modern electronic production.” I hear “Spinning Signs” taking a nod from the Nilsson-penned (but Three Dog Night-popularized) “One (is the Loneliest Number)." The album hints towards The Beach Boys and Beatles’ experimental, psych-era vibe. On the other hand, tracks like “Soft Hammer” bliss out and are more contemporary sounding. What are some of your more contemporary influences?
I don't know that we have any go-to contemporary influences. I think we could hear a very small aspect of a single song and become inspired by that. Overall, I couldn't stop listening to Screamadelica (while we were working on this album) and some of the other ‘90s Manchester bands. Some of them did an amazing job of teasing our psychedelic elements from ‘60s pop music and creating lush, electronic songs.
You’re rising in a scene at a time when some heavy-hitting musicians are leaving the Bay Area. What are your observations on where the Bay Area is headed musically?
It's a really exciting time for music here. I feel like the "garage rock" narrative dominated this city for a long time and there's really a lot more going on here than that. I think people are starting to recognize the versatility of music coming from this area.
The story of rising rents and struggling artists getting pushed away from the Bay Area has been made clear. How are you surviving and making ends meet?
I got lucky and moved into a house with rent control. I tried to move out maybe a year or two ago to find my own place, but it was impossible, so I gave up.
What do you miss about Louisiana and the South most?
I think there's a pervasive joie de vivre in the South that's pretty amazing. People are really grateful just to be alive. That can be pretty rare.
I saw that Berkeley-producer Yalls had given you the remix treatment. What other collaborations do you see yourselves getting involved in?
Yalls is great. We haven't tried too much collaboration at this point. I dunno…I would love to throw some beats at Antwon. Fucking love everything about that dude. I'm a big fan of the stuff Giraffage is doing too, would love to play [live on a bill] with him, but there are so many amazing musicians out here.