DETERMINED: Newcastle band the Gooch Palms have spent the past year in the US attempting to break the notoriously hard market. Picture: Simone De Peak.ANYONE that’s seen a Gooch Palms gig knows the Novocastriantwo-piece revel in thewild and wacky.
This often includes guitarist and vocalist Leroy Macqueen getting naked onstage. Howeverduring theiryear-long mission to expose the US to their quirky brand of DIY punk rock, the Gooch Palms developed some modesty.
“That [the nudity] didn’t really happen that much over there because it’s such a sensitive country to things like that,” Macqueen said.“Even watching TV you don’t hear the word ‘crap’ or anything like that, but I can walk into Walmart and buy a gun. That’s what’s so bizarre about that place. I’ve got to think about our visas and things like that. I started really enjoying that aspect, as the band started out as that, but there’s only so much one man can take.”
It seems Americans could take quite a lot of the Gooch Palms, who proudly sing oftheir Newcastle roots in songssuch as Hunter Street Mall and Trackside Daze from their debut album Novo’s.
Since moving to Los Angeles last March,Macqueen and his partnerand drummer, Kat Friend, have played across 45 US states.
Touring the massive, and largely insular US market, has been perilous for manyAussie bands. Even Cold Chisel and Powderfinger enjoyed minimal success there. How did the Goochies fare?
“It’s brutal and insane,” Macqueen said.“We did 130 shows. Sometimeswe did like 18 shows in a row and then had one night off and we’dgo again.
“It’s something I dreamed of doing since I was a kidand I know Kat has as well. We were just so determined to not let it beat us and get us down. There’s always rough moments on tour. We can get sick and feel like you’re never going to get better again and the van breaks down.
“You realise it happens to every band, big or small. It’s just insane to think we’re from Newcastle and the next minute we’re playing to crowds all around America. It’s a real trip.”
While Macqueen might have kept his clothes on, the band’s trademark humour continued to shine through.
“We’re so foreign to so many of them who have never even spoken to an Australian before,” he said. “I know Kat and I are pretty easy-going and we can ham it up as well and give them what they want. They love Australiana and they remember it from Crocodile Dundee. If you can ham it up for them, you can have them eating out of your hand bythe end of the show.”
The overseas excursion hasnot diminished the Gooch Palms’ growing appeal at home. In their absence, through the use of social media, momentum has continued to build.
Next Fridaythey begin their east coast tour to promote the latest single, Tiny Insight, which Macqueen saidis about“driving my 08 Holden with my boards in the back.” The tour will also feature songs fromtheir second album,Introverted Extroverts, recorded last yearin Detroit and slated for a June release.
The tour passes through the Cambridge Hotel on February 20 for an anticipated hometown return, before the Gooch Palms fly back to the US for a host of festivals, including theirsecond appearance at the famed South By Southwest in Austin.
Treat them mean, keep them keen, is their Australian touring model.
“I know with a lot my friends who are in big touring bands they say that it’s something you’ve got to stay conscience of, not touring too much,” Macqueen said.
“You kind of get burntout and everyone gets burnt out of seeing you.That was the plan going over to America and touring heavily and making everyone miss us, then pop back into Australia for a tour beforeleavingagain.”