Sunday, August 12, 2007

Laura Palmer: Not Your Average Dead Homecoming Queen

When most people hear the name Laura Palmer, immediate flashbacks to the early ‘90s brainchild of David Lynch and Mark Frost, Twin Peaks, surface like a bubble of cult televisiondom. The real-life (well, I suppose the other one wasn’t all that alive) Laura Palmer here in Dallas, with her deep, mesmerizing voice, and side-splitting routine, stands out as not only a unique local female musician, but a unique musician in general.
Laura Palmer and her drummer, Hunky Rooks, recently celebrated the release of their first album last month entitled “Johnny Cashin’ In”. Ever so gracious, the lovely Miss Palmer shoots the shit with The Sub-Rosa:

SR: How did you start out in the world of music?

LP: About 5 years ago I was living in New York and started working as a DJ around town. DJ Laura Palmer. Eventually I got a residency on Friday nights at a little club in Brooklyn that no longer exists where a friend of mine and I would DJ rock and soul music mostly and book bands. Around that time I started crashing on the couch of my good friend Seth (I was very destitute) and we began writing silly songs for fun. We only played out I think twice, and we called our band Full Pirate Gaylord. A couple of the songs I still play are from that era, like You Have So Much More Game Than Me and I Shit On Your Bed. I ended up becoming a horrible drug addict and moving back to California, where I got my shit together to some extent and taught myself how to play guitar. I moved to Texas in December 2004 and started playing open mics here and there, but I consider the spring of 2006 to be when I decided to take myself seriously as a musician and really pursue it.

SR: Tell us how you ended up in Dallas.

LP: My good friend Seth, who I mentioned before, moved out here because he was dating a girl in the Polyphonic Spree and working with them. I had been out here for a visit and knew the cost of living was really affordable and it seemed to me to be an easy place to work a day job and play music. I knew I had places to stay until I got on my feet, so one day I started putting my stuff in my car and I drove here from LA alone, with the intention of staying about 6 months. After that I was going to go to Nashville and then make my way back east. I ended up staying here because I got married, but we're planning on moving away next spring.

SR: What makes you different from other female musicians?

LP: That's very interesting because, if I was a dude, the question would just be "What makes you different from other musicians?" It is a very male dominated industry; for every female musician there has got to be at least 10 male ones. That being said, I think female musicians, especially female singer/songwriters, are prone to stereotype. Usually acoustic guitar or piano, long hair, high voice, a lot of opacity and flowery poetry when it comes to lyrics. With the exception of acoustic guitar, that doesn't describe me at all. I think what makes me different from other musicians (guys and gals) is that I attempt to discuss pretty serious subjects (humiliation, gender, homophobia, rejection) in a frank and honest way and often through the use of satire. We are not an inside joke folk band, nor are we a super self-important and humorless political band. We are something else, and I don't even think there's a genre that we belong to.

SR: Tell me about the chemistry between you and your drummer.

LP: I love Rooks. I like playing with him so much more than playing solo. He really evens me out onstage. Where I have spite he has sweetness. And visually I think the two of us are more powerful than just me alone. He's my partner, my little brother, and sometimes I feel like his boss and his mentor, but really he's my friend. He's also awesome for wearing the costumes I ask him to.

SR: What other musicians in the area do you like? Why?

LP: Well, I like the Tah Dahs but not just because I have to since I'm married to Roy. He's really one of my favorite songwriters. I also like the Theater Fire. My friend John is very funny as the Dutch Treats. There's a new band from Denton that I like called Street Hassle. It's a guy/girl two piece and she has an amazing voice. My favorite DJ is Wild in the Streets. There are a lot of people I'm forgetting. Sorry.

SR: What's your favorite place to play (in the DFW Metroplex)?

LP: I don't really have one. I guess whichever one doesn't screw us over on pay. I played at the Loft at Palladium recently and really liked it. Clean and fancy, awesome sound guy, very professional staff. Double Wide has my other favorite sound guy, which is very important. I have a feeling when John Freeman finally opens Sloppyworld that it will easily be my favorite place to play in the metroplex.

SR: What's you favorite food & place to eat in the area?

I am a vegan so my options are drastically limited in meaty Dallas. My favorite place to eat is Kalachandji's, which is a Hare Krishna temple in east Dallas near where I live. They have a great vegetarian buffet. The temple is beautiful and plopped down right in the middle of the ghetto. It's awesome.
My all time favorite food is french fries, though.

SR: Tell us about the album “Johnny Cashin’ In”.

LP: It's pretty kick ass and a long time coming. We just finished it in June. It is our very first recorded product. Only 8 songs, but we really like all of them. I felt like 8 good songs was better than 17 shitty ones. Not at all radio friendly, but fuck that. Plenty of frank references to drugs and sexuality. The people who own the CD seem to really like it. You should own it. Buy it at one of our shows or at Good Records or contact me through the myspace and I'll get one to you. Do it now!

If you’re wise, you’ll listen to the lady. This Laura’s no pushover dead homecoming queen! Make sure to grab a copy of “Johnny Cashin’ In” before Good Records runs out. You can preview a few tracks at Laura Palmer’s myspace (our #2featured link). Don’t forget to catch her with the Tah Dah’s at the Cavern on September 1st, and again at the same venue on October 16th with Oh My God.

-Written by Alison Marie Welsh
-pictures courtesy of Laura Palmer’s myspace ( by the talented Janelle Tohill)

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