By Shannon Carlin
Many would say the Internet has had a negative effect on the way people communicate with one another, but Reese Donohue and Christopher Prudhomme of the band Painted Palms aren’t those people. The cousins, who grew up a few doors down from one another in Lafayette, Louisiana, will tell you that the web has actually been the driving force behind their musical connection.
It was about four years ago when the duo decided to stop working on their own individual projects and work together, but very quickly they each realized that they couldn’t stand to work in the same room. For some reason though they could write and compose songs over email, sending ideas for melodies and lyrics back and forth until they could come to some kind of a truce.
“Whenever we have tried to write songs in the same room, it just self-destructs,” Prudhomme told Radio.com. “The internet allows us to work in isolation and have complete thoughts without being interrupted by what the other person has to say.”
Prudhomme admits that the reason it is so difficult for him and Donohue to work in the same space is their very different working styles. “Reese’s approach to music making is very deliberate, very planned out. He likes to spend a lot more time figuring out what he’s trying to do,” Prudhomme explained. “And I’m a little more reckless.”
Being just a few blocks away and later, after Donohue moved to San Francisco, over 2,000 miles away from each other, helped the guys see how well they balance each other out when they’re allowed a little personal space. “In the same room it’s hard because one person tends to mess up the other one’s vibe,” Prudhomme said. “One of us wouldn’t be patient, or would be too patient.”
While the guys’ approach to making music is newfangled, their style is purely old-fashioned. The band’s debut, Forever, is filled with psychedelic pop that sounds straight out of the ’60s, the musical time period that the 23-year-old Prudhomme grew up listening to. “I had a teacher who had a Hits of the ’60s record in third grade that she’d play everyday while we did busy work,” he said, admitting that in high school he stopped listening to some of those hits, only to revisit them later when he got serious about songwriting.
Prudhomme says no one artist from that era influenced their style, but The Beatles definitely come to mind when you listen to Painted Palms.
The album’s title track is a Sgt. Peppers-esque track that was written in a stream of consciousness by Prudhomme, and, like many of their songs, is a mix of real and digital instruments, plus a few weird samples throw in for good measure. But the singer says their similarity to the Fab Four is purely subliminal.
“It’s hard because the Beatles occupy a weird space in music history since they sort of set the standard in a lot of ways,” Prudhomme said. “There are a lot of songs, maybe not even consciously, that reference the Beatles because they’re kind of just this icon that exists in the ’60s.”
While Prudhomme says The Beatles are one of his favorite bands, it’s David Bowie who has guided the duo’s musical direction. “I feel like he emerged out of ’60s culture and did his own thing,” Prudhomme explained. “We’re trying to craft our own psychedelic aesthetic too and with this album we realized our strength.”
(Courtesy of Polyvinyl Records)