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A Dirty Dozen with PALACEBURN – July 2020

| 29 July 2020 | Reply


According to a recent press release: “After a three-year hiatus, acclaimed hard rockers Palaceburn are exploding back on to the scene with their provocative Black Lives Matter anthem “And You Wonder Why They Kneel,” available now on all DSPs. The timely new song, which the band says was four years in the making after the 2016 murder of Philando Castile, was one that they say “NEEDED to be heard even if all it meant was adding one more voice to the masses who fight injustice, systemic racism, and police brutality” in the wake of George Floyd’s death. To coincide with “And You Wonder Why They Kneel,” Palaceburn also released an eight-minute and 46-second video depicting scenes from united protests in the band’s hometown city of Philadelphia, PA., as well as Washington, D.C., Denver, CO, and Seattle, WA, featuring footage filmed by the members’ friends who were at the heart of the movements.” We get Meredith Bell, Darren Makins, and JP Miglionico to discuss new music, influences, and much more…

1. Tell us a little about your latest release.  What might a fan or listener not grab the first or second time they listen through?  Are there any hidden nuggets the band put in the material or that only diehard fans might find?

Meredith: “Kneel” was written in response to the Philando Castile murder four years ago, and, subsequently, the controversy surrounding Colin Kaepernick’s peaceful protest. With the murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, this issue has, unfortunately, come to light again. We didn’t get a chance to release the song four years ago, and as stoked as we were to get new music out there… the situation is bittersweet. We really wanted to use this opportunity to speak out against the injustices plaguing Black and Brown citizens of this nation. As a Black woman, this is something that affects me personally. I have Black men in my family. My Black dad, my Black brothers. It could have been any one of us… or me.

2. What got you into music, and can you tell us about the moment you realized you wanted to be a musician?

Meredith: I started singing in my grandpa’s choir when I was four years old. When I got older, I went to a performing arts high school in VA. Being surrounded by like-minded classmates made me realize that I wanted to do this for the rest of my life. My grandfather was an incredible pianist and arranger – performing is in my blood.

3. Building on that, is there a specific song, album, performer, or live show that guided your musical taste?

Meredith: When I was in middle school, I was introduced to hard rock by a friend of mine. He let me borrow some CDs of his…. Saliva, System of A Down, Metallica, Pantera. I listened and immediately fell in love with the aggressive style of music. If I’d have to say out of those artists… Saliva’s Every Six Seconds album did it for me. Josey’s southern, soulful choruses combined with the rap-rock that was popular at the time – I hate to admit it, but Saliva was a bit of a gateway drug for me.

4. Who would be your main five musical influences?

Meredith: Good question! I’d say Amy Lee (Evanescence) is, easily, at the top of that list. My screaming style came from a combination of listening to Maria Brink (In This Moment) and Howard Jones (fmr. Killswitch Engage, Light The Torch). Lajon Witherspoon (Sevendust) not only has a powerful voice but is a prime example of a Black vocalist flourishing in this industry. Of course, I have to throw Josey Scott (Saliva) in there. My first show I ever attended was Saliva, (hed) p.e. and Breaking Benjamin. I remember looking up at Josey and thinking “This is want I want to do with my life.”

5. If you could call in any one collaborator to do a song with, who would it be, and why?

J.P: Selfishly, Maynard James Keenan from Tool, because I have been a huge fan of him and Tool for over 20 years and he can pull off just about anything.  I think however, that Howard Jones and Meredith singing together would be amazing. Their voices would complement each other so well.

6. How would you describe your music to someone who’d never listened to you before? What is the one comparison a reviewer or fan has made that made you cringe or you disagreed with?

J.P.: I think our new drummer Bon put it pretty well when he said we are a heavy rock band in an open relationship with metal. I try to inject some percussive funk in a heavy context in there as well. I have heard people say we are a heavier, grittier Evanescence. I can definitely see the comparison of that. I honestly don’t cringe or give too much thought to comparisons that I think may or may not be accurate. Listening to music is in the eye of the beholder and it’s really none of my business what people think or how they receive what they are hearing.  I guess I would hope people would say what we are doing is coming from a pure place and we are not trying to strangle or influences. I care more about the integrity of what we are doing than who they think we may or may not sound like.

7. What’s the best thing about being a musician?

J.P.: The best thing is just being able to be passionate about something that really gets inside of you. It allows you a healthy outlet to create and filter your emotions in a different way. Once the creation is finished you present it and then it’s out in the world forever – good or bad. That’s very satisfying. Touring and seeing different cities and meeting all kinds of people is also very rewarding as well. When we are able to, we will be right back to that. Nothing beats playing on stage and sharing that intense energy with the people who took the time to come see you play.

8. When the band is all hanging out together, who cooks; who gets the drinks in; and who is first to crack out the acoustic guitars for a singalong?

J.P.: Darren would be the first to break out the acoustic guitar. He is good at the stripped-down sing along stuff. I think we all have whipped up some food at one time or another, Meredith made a killer breakfast a couple weeks ago for us. Whiskey and I are close companions so you can usually find me throwing back on grandpa’s old cough medicine when we are just hanging out.

9. When was the last time you were star struck and who was it?

Darren: I’m very good at not losing my sh*t when I see someone famous or someone who I admire their work. It stems from advice I’d received early in my career “Whether you’re in little league or the end zone of the Super Bowl, act like you’ve been there before.” That being said, I did a tour right before the pandemic started working as a drum tech for a band that was on tour with Hell Yeah with Roy Mayorga of Stone Sour on drums, and literally everyone was absolutely wonderful, Roy is a great dude, hilarious, and a ridiculously talented drummer, Chad (ex-Mudvayne) was so awesome, everyone in the band and crew so nice and welcoming.

10. If you weren’t a musician, what would be your dream job?

Darren: I would either be working in recording studios, working on the road as a guitar tech/drum tech for your favorite bands, or start my own record label, which bass player Michael and I have been talking about starting one anyway. I love the music industry so much that if I can’t play music then I at least want to be involved in some way.

11. Looking back over your career, is there a single moment or situation you feel was a misstep or you would like to have a “do over”, even if it didn’t change your current situation?

Darren: I wouldn’t say a single moment, but an overall misstep as a band, is we’ve always had too many cooks in the kitchen, as the saying goes. We’d all try to source the food, we’d all try to prep the food, we’d all try to cook the food, and then we also had the chefs and sous chefs that we hired to guide us, and it was, again, too many cooks in the kitchen. We fired them all, and called it quits. Now, we’re getting our do over right now as we reignite Palaceburn. No chefs or sous chefs, and internally making sure we have a clear plan for who is doing what so we can divide and conquer the business, and we can all come together on stage to rock your faces off. Momma always says home cooked meals are better anyway.

12. If you could magically go back in time and be a part of the recording sessions for any one record in history, which would you choose – and what does that record mean to you?

Darren: I’m a student of audio production and recording and there’s so many engineers, producers, artists, and songwriters who I would love to pick their brain and ask why they made the choices that they’ve made. Albums like Michael Jackson’s Thriller, Prince’s Purple Rain, Pantera’s Cowboys From Hell, Metallica’s Black album, I could go on and list the albums and questions that I’d ask, but this article would be an extreme situation.




Category: Interviews

About the Author ()

ToddStar - that's me... just a rocking accountant who had dreams of being a rock star. I get to do the next best thing to rocking the globe - I get to take pictures of the lucky ones that do. I love to shoot all genres of music and different types of performers. If it is related to music, I love to photograph it. I get to shoot and hang with not only some of my friends and idols, but some of the coolest people around today.

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