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In this exclusive interview, I speak with Sebastian Danzig, member of the Vegas-based fashion-art rock band, Palaye Royale. Danzig clues us in on how it all began, what it was like beating out Coldplay for an award, and what is next for this extremely progressive band.
RS: When did you know you wanted to be a musician?
SD: In my generation, you are usually given the gift of academics, athletics and/or the arts. I was fortunate enough to receive all of these. I was awful in school but excelled in sports and music, as well as chess. I was classically trained in piano from the age of six, picked up the guitar around twelve, was almost a grandmaster in chess by fourteen and played AAA ice hockey until I was fifteen. But, being a lefty made it difficult finding guitars, so I didn’t have that much focus on learning for the reason that I didn’t have a Gibson, Fender or Gretsch. Basically, I wanted to look “cool” more than anything and a Tennessee Rose or a Les Paul can do just that. The reality is no parent will give a two thousand dollar guitar to a child because most children change their minds daily. I really wanted to play hockey professionally, but that dream ended due to injuries. That led to devoting my life to music. I’ve literally been doing this “professionally” since age fifteen.
RS: Who were your biggest inspirations?
SD: Musically, I am inspired by The Animals, The Faces, Small Faces, The Rolling Stones, The Doors, David Bowie, T. Rex, and Velvet Underground. Honestly, anything from the 60’s and 70’s. I also enjoy some 20’s and classical. I also pull inspiration from filmmakers, philosophers, and fashion designers.
RS: When and where was the inception of the band?
SD: The inception of Palaye Royale was created through a time of separation from our youth (Remington Leith, Emerson Barrett and me) If we are getting on the “time grid”, I believe it was the summer of 2011 in Los Angeles, CA at Charlie Chaplin’s house.
RS: What role(s) do you take on in the band?
SD: The autocrat, asshole, dictator, leader, influencer, guitarist, organist, and mouth-piece. Whatever you want to call me.
RS: What is the meaning behind the band name?
SD: Palaye Royale is an old dance hall in Toronto where two souls very near and dear to our hearts, met.
RS: Fashion plays a big role in the band. In terms of your own style, is there a message you’re aiming to convey? And what would you consider the most important takeaway about Palaye Royale’s collective image?
SD: Youth movement. Really being what you want to be. We look like proper musicians who sound just like they look. As well as trying to instill that it is about the music AND the image, something I learned from my idols.
RS: Could you touch on what each member of the band brings to the table throughout the creative process?
SD: Emerson Barrett, aka The Pirate: is the heart.
Remington Leith, aka The Vampire: is the panty dropper front-man.
Sebastian Danzig, aka The Gentleman: is the brains. (I despise speaking about myself like this.)
Writing is a collective effort from first note to final mix. Our only goal is to keep the pure intention of our art alive. We are extremely hands on with everything from videos, production, etc. We have a very hard time listening to outsiders.
RS: Okay… we’ve seen the term: “Soldiers of the Royal Council” floating around the internet. Can you explain just exactly what this is?
SD: It is our lovely cult-like fan base but are more of a family these days.
RS: The band achieved a major victory in MTV’s 2014 Musical March Madness when you beat several very notable bands. What was that experience like and how did you personally celebrate?
SD: It was absolutely mind-blowing – I owe it all to the “Soldiers of the Royal Council.” We celebrated by having a night of debauchery at the Chateau Marmont (We are fancy like that!)
RS: Being an unsigned band, you have broken many barriers and continue to grow. What do you believe are the pros and cons of remaining unsigned and/or signing with a label?
SD: The pro of remaining unsigned is that you have to do everything yourself. And yes, that is a pro. It comes down to you making “it” happen. The con is that it is ridiculously hard to be paid from any financial avenue. The record label will always stop you in your tracks to the point of starvation and living in your car. We know this from experience. You need to hear “no” a million and one times before you get that “yes”, meaning those golden gates open for you. We are happy to say we have paid our dues, been kicked in the teeth, and have proven ourselves . We are finally signed, and with a label that sees the vision of the band. It is quite exciting, to say the least!
RS: You have had a pretty grueling recording and touring schedule. Any rituals or routines you’d suggest to other bands or musicians who want to stay productive and healthy while traveling and performing?
SD: Keep you pure intention of your art alive and enjoy every moment of it. You can be your own worst enemy. I’ve learned the hard way of chasing fulfillment of “glorified fame”. It doesn’t happen that way. Also, keep away from debauchery on the road. It only leads to a miserable and lonely time. Do that all at home.
RS: You recently released your first full-length album. Can you tell us more about the process and experience?
SD: It is about time. We constructed the idea of this record two years ago. We just needed the funds to do so. The process of recording was classic rock n’ roll brought into the 21st century of modern technology. We were lucky enough to work alongside James Iha, of the Smashing Pumpkins, to co-produce the album. We are currently in the mixing phase and the mixes are sounding brilliant. It wasn’t a walk in the park, though. The debut album is titled Boom Boom Room. We just released a video for the first track, “Live Like We Want To”. We were lucky enough to shoot it on the original CBGB stage, which was rebuilt at YouTube Studios in LA.
RS: Your music videos are pretty grand in scale, with some stunning visuals. Do these concepts come straight from the band, or have you collaborated with directors and/or writers?
SD: We do almost everything when coming to the films, from set design, directing, and editing. We do have our trusted guys to make sure everything runs according to visual plans, though.
RS: Could you talk about your relationship to music growing up, and how it has grown or changed as you’ve evolved?
SD: As corny as it sounds, the music has and will always be there for me. Through happiness, sadness, light and dark. These recordings will grow from my youth to my last day and hopefully, live past that. It’s quite beautiful.
RS: You’re gearing up for both the release of your full-length album, Boom Boom Room, and a North American tour. What are you looking forward to most about the tour, and are there any cities you’re looking forward to visiting most?
SD: I’m looking forward to meeting all of the “Royal Council”. And of course, growing even more as a live act. I can’t wait to play the cities in Canada, my home country.
RS: What is next for the band and for you as an individual?
Check out more from Palaye Royale by visiting: www.palayeroyale.com