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04 Sep 2015

A Band on Fire: Tucson's Burning Palms Returns to the Coachella Valley for a Gig at the Hood

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Burning Palms. Burning Palms.

Even though Tucson band Burning Palms is relatively new, the group has been finding indie success in many communities—including the Coachella Valley.

The group is returning to the valley for a show at The Hood Bar and Pizza on Friday, Sept. 11.

Burning Palms has a garage rock/psychedelic rock sound, and many of the band’s songs have Wiccan/Pagan references. During a recent interview at the Ace Hotel in Palm Springs, where the band played a late-August show, Julia Deconcini talked about how Burning Palms got started.

“It originally started as a bedroom project of Simone’s while she was in Australia,” Deconcini said about bandmate Simone Stopford. “We joined forces about two years ago in Tucson, and I was playing in another band at the time. She came to my very last show with that band, and right as we played our last song, and I was stepping off the stage, Simone was standing right there. She said, ‘I saw you; I had a vision. I know it’s you; you’re joining my band.’ I was like, ‘Absolutely not! I just had this crazy adventure with this band, and I can’t do that.’ She said, ‘Please just come and try it out.’ Two years later, here I am.”

As is the case with many groups, band members have come and gone.

“Not a lot of people can tour as much as we’d like them to,” Deconcini said. “Honestly, I feel like we’ve been on tour nonstop and are keeping pretty busy. We just did a tour where we played Desert Daze, the Austin Psych Fest and the Milwaukee Psych Fest. It took us all around the country, and we did a short run after that. In a week a half, we’re heading out again.”

Burning Palms has found a lot of success utilizing Bandcamp to sell music and reach potential fans.

“I am of a big fan of Bandcamp, because we don’t have to build a website and maintain it,” Deconcini said. “It’s very simple with uploading photos of the band and tour dates, and the fans also get to hear our music.”

Bandcamp also saved the band from a tough situation.

“On one of our previous tours, we were in Minneapolis, and our van broke down,” Deconcini explained. “It was unsalvageable. We were able to post on our Facebook page and all of our social media: ‘Our van broke down. Please buy our merch.’ We updated our merch page with items that aren’t traditional, like, ‘We’ll write a song just for you, $200.’ Another one was, ‘If you have a mystery and can’t find something, call us, and we’ll help you solve your mystery.’ (We also did) things like palm readings, dirty talk and other things. … We made the most of an unfortunate situation, and we were able to make money to buy a new van with the proceeds within 24 hours and get back on the road. We only missed one show.”

Burning Palms’ music is not feel-good or traditional by any means. However, Deconcini notes there’s an upside to it.

“Our music definitely has a kind of a dark side to it,” she said. “I think, especially in our newer music, it’s taking a turn from being this high-energy music to much more magical and chanting songs. I think that comes from playing with different people. Every time we play with new people, we gain something new. After this tour, we’re going to be writing and recording the new stuff that we’re playing on tour. Half of our set right now is unrecorded.

“There are a lot of themes of strength and power. We’re not a girly-girl kind of band, and we want to emulate strength and power. Our songs do have some ancient and Wiccan themes to them. We’ve been calling it ‘witch rock’ for a while. It’s the most fitting … when we get asked about genres.”

Deconcini explained how those Pagan/Wiccan themes developed.

“I don’t think it’s necessarily anything any of us had the intention of studying,” she said. “I feel like a lot of it is something we’ve gravitated toward. I think that we all have very strong relationships with nature in general, as well as health and friendship. I just find that we’re more into cosmic energy, and we’re out to create good energy and feel grounded when we have the right intentions. As far as potions and pentagrams, I don’t think that’s the image we’re trying to create. It’s more of a lifestyle.”

Tucson has been great to Burning Palms, and creative inspiration is easy to find in the scene there, Deconcini said.

“Tucson’s music scene is wonderful. As far as the Tucson community goes, it’s a very strong community and really supportive,” she said. “Our CDs are made by a friend locally who has a lathe and cuts records onto all of our CDs for us. All of our shirts are silkscreened and made by friends in Tucson. All our music videos are also made by friends there. It’s a great place to pull things together, and we all have good understanding of each other’s intentions, and creatively, there’s a lot of collaboration. The scene has always been there, and there have always been great bands there.”

Burning Palms is performing with Tribesmen and Venus and the Traps at 9 p.m., Friday, Sept. 11, at The Hood Bar and Pizza, 74360 Highway 111, in Palm Desert. Admission is free. For more information on the show, visit the event’s Facebook page. For more information on Burning Palms, visit the band’s Facebook page

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