Interview: The Friggs Guitarist Palmyra Delran Discusses New Solo Album, 'You Are What You Absorb'
Her music has been called trashy, surf-rock and punky-pop, but in the end, it's hard to marginalize the sound of Palmyra Delran.
Perhaps the best way to describe the music of the founder and creative force behind '90s band The Friggs is to say it’s refreshingly honest.
Delran and The Friggs recorded and toured almost incessantly throughout the ‘90s, opening for The Selecter, Ramones and Cheap Trick. But it wasn't until Delran's 2008 debut solo EP, She Digs the Ride, with its solid guitar grooves and tales of dysfunctional relationship, that she reached the next level.
Delran's new album, You Are What You Absorb, is another intoxicating blend of punk-girl grit combined with hook-laden melodies and deep lyrics. The album's first single and video, "You're My Brian Jones," is a psychedelic romp back to the '60s with an infectious groove and smooth vocals. It's an album that (much like the title suggests) is best absorbed with headphones.
Delran's band consists of: Richard Devgreene (guitar), Michael Lynch (bass) and Mark Brotter (drums). I spoke with her about the new album as well as her plans for 2013.
GUITAR WORLD: Why the title, You Are What You Absorb?
I've spent my life listening to music and absorbing every cool aspect about it. Anything that’s touched or affected me in any way. I've also always liked the little accents or weird instruments that were put into spots where maybe they shouldn't go, but end up working. The fact is, you are what you absorb throughout life. It's about absorbing everything around you.
How would you describe the sound of the album?
It's a very diverse record. Those were always the kind of albums that were my favorites, and there's so much of that on this record. Some garage stuff; some poppy stuff (which is a little bit out of my element); some sleaziness and dirtiness. I also concentrated a lot on lyrics, so there are a few cool stories on there as well.
Let's discuss some of the songs from the album: "Shy Boy"
I've always been a big Nick Drake fan and was reading a biography about him. He was a very painfully shy guy. The idea for the song came out of that biography and evolved from there.
"You're My Brian Jones"
I had the music for that song for a long time bouncing around in my head. The concept for it was very strong, but the lyrics were giving me a problem. One day I finally decided that I needed to finish it, so I called my friend Rachelle Garniez to help me and we both just knocked it out.
You used a diverse series of instruments for this album, including a harpsichord.
That was a lot of fun. There was a harpsichord on the floor below the studio we were recording in. The guy who owned it said that we could use it, so the engineer ran a cable down a flight of steps. The sound of it was a little too baroque and not exactly the same tuning as the tracks, so it was a bit of a challenge. Almost everything on the album is real. The only thing that was sampled were the pizzicato strings. I like using the real stuff.
Do you have plans to tour?
I have a band in New York where we'll be doing a few shows on the East Coast and then I'll head overseas. I also have another band in Sweden where we'll be doing a Scandinavian tour most likely in May.
What have you found are the differences between the audiences here in the US as opposed to there?
They're much crazier over there and really love American music. It's a great experience touring Europe.
Tell me a little about growing up and playing guitar.
I started fooling around with it as a teenager but never did anything with it. It wasn't until I was in my first band (I was the drummer) and started wanting to write my own songs that I started getting serious about it. I started playing and formed The Friggs; which really got me more into playing and writing. I'm self-taught and don't adhere to a certain style. I don't understand theory as much as I wish I could, but I keep trying.
Have you ever found yourself intimidated as a guitarist?
I don't feel intimidated at all when I'm making my own records. Sometimes though, if I'm playing live and there's a really great guitar player in the audience, I might get a little bit nervous about it. But, I'm always aware of my limitations.
James Wood is a writer, musician and self-proclaimed metalhead who maintains his own website, GoJimmyGo.net. His articles and interviews are written on a variety of topics with passion and humor. You can follow him on Twitter @JimEWood.