Interviews

How did the Gooch Palms finally turn music into a full-time job? We catch up at Mountain Sounds 2017

With purple hair, a brilliant mullet and outfits that will turn just about anyone’s head, the Gooch Palms are two of the most outlandish people you’ll ever see take the stage.

But during our chat with Kat Friend and Leroy Macqueen at Mountain Sounds Festival, they betrayed their onstage personas, revealing themselves to be a pair of the most laid back musos going around.

gooch palms mountain sounds new album tour

Are the Gooch Palms as freakish in person as they are onstage? We sit down with the Aussie duo amongst the premium vibes of Mountain Sounds festival.

HAPPY: How was the tour?

LEROY: So great!

KAT: It’s been super fun. Actually it’s probably been the most fun tour we’ve done because it’s been the most Australian shows we’ve ever played in a row. Generally, we’d play maximum like seven shows, but this one has been massive. The Gold Coast we hadn’t played in years, and Byron, Ballarat and Wollongong have been sick, it’s good not just doing the big cities.

HAPPY: How is it being back home?

LEROY: It’s so good.

KAT: It’s funny, it feels like we’re on holidays in Newcastle. Leroy is staying at his parents and I’m at my parents. I don’t even have a mobile phone so I call him on the landline. His mum always answers so I’m like “hi it’s me again, can I speak to Leroy”. We’ve just been going to the beach a lot though, because if you don’t have anything else to do in Newcastle, it’s almost like a tropical holiday.

HAPPY: Do you guys prefer living in America now?

KAT: We love it, we left there right before Donald Trump got inaugurated, so we haven’t been in post Trump America yet, so that should be interesting. We loved it when we left, it’s just now everyone over there is a bit upset. We’ve got to go back in April, but we’ll see. It’s just a bit of a weird time over there now.

HAPPY: Would you ever move back here?

LEROY: I don’t think we’ll actually ever have a house.

KAT: I’d say not for a while, we have a house to live in over there, and we’re not sure where we’d live in Australia, because we move around so much there’s no point paying rent. We’re never really in the one spot long enough to justify it. That will probably make my parents sad to hear that, but it’s just something we’ve got to do. We’re actually subletting our room in LA at the moment, so someone is paying our rent, so right now we’re just floating around.

HAPPY: How’s everything been since you put the album out?

KAT: So great, everything’s moving forward pretty rapidly right now which is good. We’ve got a new management team, we’ve got booking agents. We’ve always had the same publicist, and she’s amazing. But I mean getting bigger support slots now is kind of propelling us here in Australia. And we’re going back to Europe at some point soon, so we’re just going to keep going with it. It’s really good to be able to play the new album, and people are still buying it too.

HAPPY: Are you going to Europe to tour or just for a break?

KAT: No we’re going to tour, it hasn’t been announced yet so we can’t say who we’re going with, but it will be a big one for us.

HAPPY: When do you go back to the States?

KAT: We’ve got like a month off, and as much as I want to hang out with Mum and Dad for another month we’ve got to go back, so we’ll go hang out with our LA friends, and just do what we do in LA. There’s so much to do there, you can do anything really. It’s a nice place to have a month off.

HAPPY: Are you looking forward to the tour?

KAT: Yeah, very much so. I was just talking to Toby from Skegss, and he thinks we’re all going to die.

LEROY: We managed to survive the Soho tour.

KAT: We thought we were going to die on that tour but clearly we didn’t.

LEROY: I think it made us better, and healthier. You learn tricks on how to stay alive.

KAT: The multiple nights thing is brilliant. We’re not playing a huge amount of venues, but we’re playing multiple nights at the same venue. So we can just leave everything set up, and just turn up in time for sound check. It ends up being pretty cruisey when you do that kind of thing. And we’re opening as well so there’s no pressure. We opened on the Waco tour, and we were done by like 8pm each night, so we’d be like “oh well guess it’s time for us to drink now”.

LEROY: That’s why we weren’t hungover at all, because we’d leave by midnight and be fine the next day.

KAT: Except for the last night of every city, they were the big ones. There was no getting out of bed the next day after those shows, which was great.

HAPPY: Have you got much else planned for the rest of the year?

KAT: Well, we usually do everything ourselves, so this time we really don’t know. We’ve just left it in the hands of our manager, and we’re just like “do whatever you’ve got to do for us and we’ll do it”. We just want to be everywhere, if they think something is worthwhile, we’ll do it. There’s always stuff going on behind the scenes that we don’t know about, so we’re a bit like “we wonder what we’re doing this week”. It’s kind of nice though. We went from having too much responsibility and burning out to not ever knowing what we’re doing or where we have to be. We’ve never had that before.

HAPPY: That must be pretty cool though.

KAT: Yeah it’s amazing. I thought I was going to be a bit of a control freak and not be able to give up control, but I was like “Take it I don’t want it anymore! Just tell me where I need to be”.

HAPPY: So is this your full time gig now?

LEROY:Yep this is our full time job!

KAT: Yeah we haven’t had proper jobs for ages now.

LEROY: It’s going on two years.

KAT: I was managing the band, and booking everything, so that was pretty much my job, and Leroy was working part time to pay the bills. The day Leroy left his job, we both worked there originally actually, it’s a vintage clothing store, that was the last time he had a proper job. This is harder work than working for someone else, but it’s so sick. Every night it’s something different and it’s always so much fun.

HAPPY: Does it ever get hard being around each other all the time?

LEROY: Nah, we don’t even think about it.

KAT: It gets hard when we have to introduce new people into situations, logistics get harder because we can sleep in the back of our tour van, and we can save money because we can share a bed, but as soon as you add a touring party, there’s so much more to think about, so it’s always been really easy, but it’s starting to get more complicated. But in the end it means more people can help us out. We’ve got our own merch guy now. Things are changing, but we’re ready, and in America we still do it all ourselves, just because it’s a lot of shows.

HAPPY: You guys play a ridiculous amount of shows over there hey?

KAT: Yeah, basically whenever we need money we go on a tour and then we can come back and live off that for however long we can. Whatever downtime we have feels really weird, and we don’t know what to do. It is very cruisey though.

HAPPY: I noticed the other day you’ve started your own label, do you reckon you’ll sign anyone to that or is it more for your own releases?

KAT: We have a lot of bands in mind.

LEROY:It’s just whether we can give them as much time as a band deserves. We’re so busy right now, as is our whole team, so to try and get a band on the label we’d want our manager and publicist to be able to help them out as well and we’re all just a bit busy at the moment.

KAT: We just don’t want to waste anyone’s time and half-ass anything.

LEROY:And we know what it’s like, when you want to release an album, you want 100% of attention put on that release. And we wouldn’t be able to do that at the moment. That’s why we started the label, so we could put all our attention on the release.

KAT: We’re definitely always on the lookout for bands though. Every time we’re drunk we’re like “This is the band, this is the one, let’s do it tomorrow”, and then we wake up and we’re like “ok let’s get real, that wasn’t a good idea”. It’s not the best time to be making decisions.