Sebastian Danzig – Palaye Royale ‘Fever Dreaming…’

When you’ve been in a band that has been seen as an icon of their genre for as long as Palaye Royale, an introduction kind of seems almost redundant at this point. If you don’t know who I’m about to talk to you then honestly, I’m kind of jealous that you get to discover them for the first time. Their long-awaited fourth studio album launched, perfectly timed, in line with everyone’s favourite holiday, Halloween.

Just before its release, we had a chat with one of the brothers, founding member Sebastian Danzig to tell Wall Of Sound everything there is to know about Fever Dream

How are you, Sebastian?

I’m doing as well as I possibly can!

I am really excited about this record. It’s been a decent break since we last heard new music from you, and a body of work like this. I know that that was quite intentional, and I believe the words you were trying to ‘remove yourselves from the chaos’ that was going on. Tell us how you came back from that as the trio in and went: “Okay, it’s time to start creating again and we’re ready, we worked through this!”

Yeah um, so you know for people that don’t know the story, we were living in our car. We were playing the Sunset Strip in Los Angeles from 2013-2015. And then we’re like “we need to get on the road”. We realise that moment we got evicted from our house when we came back from doing a high school tour. We signed on with Sumerian Records and that was kind of like a last resort situation. Luckily, we’d been with Ash Avildsen who believed in the project from day one, just letting us be the band we are. We just left for a tour in 2015 and didn’t stop till the pandemic started. We went one by one opening for every band in the world. Any bus we could get on and do a tour with. Being paid $25 bucks, $50 bucks, sleeping in a car, cooking meals outside of, you know, gas stations with a crockpot. We went from our mom’s car to a van, to an RV to a bandwagon and then we finally got to the bus right before the pandemic hit. We finally were doing 2000 people headlining by ourselves. 

Then the ‘Bastards’ album was set to come out, and it came out. Then Black Lives Matter happened. We were like, that’s more important, we can’t talk about this album anymore. We were like, we need to regroup & figure this out. We were in a really dark place at that time. We despised one another. We were getting into fistfights. It wasn’t a healthy relationship. We were on the road for so long. 

Our producer, Chris Greatti started the ‘Fever Dream’ process. In the beginning, he was like, “I love you guys as friends, but I will not work with you unless you are kind to one another & you have a little bit more positivity”. So, we became really good friends once again and treated each other with respect.

I think because of that, the ‘Fever Dream’ album came in all conjunction with us as the best album we have produced. He got the three of us back to the roots of how we’ve been as brothers. All of us shine on each song in the best way we possibly can. We took our time on this album. We were working a 9-5, or really, 3 PM to 5 AM. We were at Emerson’s house recording. We did a few writing trips in Malibu. We just took our time. We made the effort to like bring instruments that truly matter to us & characterised us as a band. Piano is such a prevalent instrument in our lives & it wasn’t really shined on records, and we really used that as the base. Mellotron was a great universal thing that we wanted to do, and we were just tossing around songs then it came to 2021 and it was songs like ‘Line It Up’, ‘Oblivion’, ‘Off With The Heads’ and ‘Fever Dream’ that all came together and it just rounded up exactly what we’re delivering for the world! 

I absolutely love everything about what you just said because pretty much like everything else that I want to touch on you just grazed over the top of. I’m really excited to delve into some of what you’ve just said. I’d love to start with the way that you write your music. This kind of came as a bit of a shock to me, because the theatricality of your music, your visual production and all of that kind of stuff is one of the things that your band is really known for. Given the stories that you tell through your music, I would come up with terms like intricate and complex when I think about your sound. So, when I learned that you wrote everything on this and on your earlier albums from just the piano before they become these really beautiful, intricately performed songs. How do you get it from point A to point B?

I think with like the Fever Dream’ aspect it was like we took it with a different approach. Remington is such an incredible songwriter. I run the business and Emerson runs all the artwork but this is a really good album in that Remington listened to everything we have to say. Because if I could sing, it would be easy for me to deliver lyrics. Music I deliver really well & sonically you know what works best with Remington’s voice. It was that we trusted one another. We respected one another. I think that is what’s making this album stand apart. The process has always usually started with us jamming. Some ideas like ‘No Love In LA’ I just wrote on the mellotron when I was playing it, we’d just got the mellotron and I sent Remington a voice memo. He sent me a text message with all the lyrics to the chorus. Already written, like in 5 minutes. It was some incredible things!

Then there were songs like Fever Dream that we had the verse & the pre-chorus already done when we wrote the ‘Boom Boom Boom’ record in 2014/2015 but we couldn’t write a chorus. Chris had these chords, and it came out beautifully and became one of the most epic tracks. Something that’s really going to round up this whole album is that ‘Eternal Life’, ‘Off With The Head’, ‘Oblivion’, and ‘Fever Dream’ are just mega tracks that we really are so proud of but it really shows who we are.

We’re not trying to, like, write a crazy dramatic long song, that’s just who we are as individuals. I think that’s finally coming across on this album with Remington’s approach & delivering it. He’s been singing in such a growly dark voice, but he can also, and was, so delicate on this album. I think that’s such a rare thing that we haven’t really done exploring all those worlds & nuances. Emerson’s piano approach to writing ‘Oblivion’ & stuff is just, melding all these really beautifully crafted ideas and then making them into songs. Songs that can stand the test of time and will be a huge stamp for who we are as a band. I think we are at the best we’ve been as a band.

When you’re reeling off the song names, there’s one that keeps coming up that’s the HUGE stand out for me. I didn’t think that it would be, but it’s ‘Oblivion’. I listen to that song and Remington‘s vocals are almost like, hauntingly beautiful. In the way you were just mentioning that sort of rock/raspy side, but then also really delicate. I feel like pretty much all of that from start to finish is demonstrated in that song. After listening to the album, I found myself, kind of like walking around singing it. I had to figure out where that came from and why it made such a big impact! Chris Greatti obviously is a big name. He’s worked with some of the biggest kind of, I guess ‘emo-rock’ artists in the world right now. How did his impact change the writing process, and how did you even get to the point where you got your work with someone so incredible?

So starting off in 2019 when we were making the ‘Bastards’ album, I hit up Chris on Instagram. It was kind of like that Spiderman meme where we like, point at each other and we were like “We’re like the same!”. I went over to his house, and we wrote ’Nervous Breakdown’ & then we recorded ‘Fucking With My Head’ there. We then became such incredible friends! On every outing we were always with one another till the crack of dawn, getting fucked up and having a laugh. Just being genuine friends. So when we did the writing trip in Malibu, we called it ‘Sunset Swim’. Every time we didn’t have an idea we would go swimming, just all go into the ocean and come back. When we would come back we would just write! It was one of those things where, with Chris, when we first met him, he always worked with another producer, they would work together. The first project he has ever done by himself was this ‘Fever Dream’ album. Now it’s so beautiful to see, he just did Willow Smith’s whole album, Yves Tumor’s whole album. He just did YUNGBLUD’s whole record by himself. He’s just such a savant of a musician but he also cares what the artist has to say. He doesn’t want to change who they are for what the general culture wants as audio. Like he heard me playing piano at 6 in the morning at my house once and he was like “wait, you play piano?” I’m like “So does Remington & Emerson. Emerson is even better than me!” he was like “FUCK! We need to capture that. He really took a liking to expressing who we are as individuals through music and not trying to change us for what he thinks is going to work. He just lets us be who we are. But also, he was in the driver’s seat in the sense that we were able to trust him when he said “all right no, no, no. Let’s change this up!”. We trusted him. When WE said we didn’t fuckin like something, he was like “all right cool, cut it”!

I love that. Such a beautiful dynamic relationship. I only really heard about him on the Willow album. When people sort of came to me and were like; “have you listened to this record” I was like “Willow Smith? that’s not anything I would ever believe I would like!”. To have such an impact on a record and somebody sound like that, I love the way that he worked with you guys and then brought so much out of you as individuals. You can hear that on the record, there are definitely changes. But it’s still so quintessentially ‘Palaye Royale’. Absolutely beautiful.

I think that was the important essence. It’s easy to get dragged into different territories and genres when there are a lot of people in the room. Not necessarily in the recording room but in like, the business room. They’re like “you should do this, do that. Remington should be an even heavier singer”. But I wear 3-piece suits every day, and scarves, you know? Emerson looks like he’s straight out of the 1920s. Remington looks like he is out of the ‘punk’ era, with a little emo twist on it. But he (Chris Greatti) has this top sensibility of understanding what a good crafted song is. I owe so much to Chris; I owe so much to my brothers. For us, just having a body of work that, for the test of time we are going to have and we are really proud of it.

I want to touch on how you’re excited to perform this one. Obviously, you’ve got a plethora of music behind you, but I almost feel like every track on this album deserves its chance to be played. I’m like, it’s one of those ones where you’re like “can you just tour this album in full please“? How are you approaching that and what does that look like for you? 

It’s funny, on this tour we’re on right now, we have had like three busses break down. We hired all this amazing equipment and everything. Our tour manager quit. I’ve been tour managing so the show has kind of suffered. Not in the performance aspect, but it suffered in the production aspect because there are so many moving pieces. Gear is getting left in places, we have U-Hauls & rental trucks and all this stuff to move the shows. So, I am really excited for 2023 when we are in Europe & we are doing arenas. We’ll have the production, and we can hopefully have a strong routine and our vision can be portrayed stronger.

The songs are so dynamic, as you said we’re so visual and that’s such an important thing. The music videos are so over the top and we need to portray that in a live setting on the production aspect. Whereas performance, you can throw us in a club, or an arena and fuckin Remington will be jumping 30 feet off of a balcony and we will fuckin rip the show because we have done it for so long. We are like seasoned athletes at this point. But the show needs to elevate to capture the visual dynamics of what it is. 

I guess that’s the benefit of being able to play in arenas over clubs as you’ve got the space. You’ve already got the attention to detail to put behind that. When you were touching on at the beginning of our chat, sort of doing that grinding and getting on this and that and any tour you possibly could to open for them. You’re trying to show people who you are, but it’s not your setting. I’m really excited for you guys because not only do you get to show that now from a live sense, but I feel like this album encapsulates that as well. There’s not one part of it that’s missing a piece of who you guys are & who you’re performing!

Yeah thank you, I appreciate it.

Photo Gallery by Luke Sutton aka @LukeaSutton

I’m gonna throw one more question to you. Obviously, it’s probably not something you can probably answer straight away but the Soldiers of the Royal Council Down Under… I think everybody wants to know. Are we going to see you with this record?

Yeah, our plan for 2023 is, we’ve given a lot of love over the years to America. Europe is slowly but surely becoming our favourite place. But there are so many incredible parts of the world that we are now venturing into. We are doing Mexico, we are doing Asia. We are gonna do Australia! So 2023 is gonna be like, giving the love around the world. I’m more than excited to be there.

When we played in Sydney last time, that was the only all-ages show we got to play for some reason. It was a madhouse, and that was only like 600 people! I can only imagine when we go back and do 2 or 3,000 people it’s gonna be fuckin mental so I’m really, really excited.

I’m excited for you and not knowing sort of what size room you’re going to play here or anything, there are some really stunning venues and I remember always thinking to myself when I first heard your band “I hope they get to play The Forum in Melbourne one day”. 

Okay, cool!!

Me saying that out loud is me manifesting that into reality! 

I love that! Let’s put it out there! I love that.

Even when you go into the toilets in that venue they’re like the most stunning thing. It’s like it was built like Bajillion years ago, it’s so unbelievably stunning so this is just me manifesting that!

I like that. Thank you for the positivity on that one!

My pleasure! I love that the record comes out in time for Halloween. Everyone can just lock themselves in & listen to the record with its spooky vibes to get in the mood. Thank you for the chat!

Thank you so much. Speak soon, thank you & have a good one. Bye!

Interview by Lili Jean Berry. Insta: @lilijeanberry

Fever Dream is out now on Sumerian Records.
Stream it here

Palaye Royale – Fever Dream tracklisting

1. Eternal Life (Intro)
2. Eternal Life
3. No Love In LA
4. Punching Bag
5. Broken
6. Fever Dream
7. Line It Up (feat. LP )
8. Toxic In You
9. Wasted Sorrow
10. Paranoid
11. Oblivian
12. Lifeless Stars
13. King Of The Damned
14. Off With The Head
15. Off With The Head (Outro)