“I guess this is our first tour of the year,” says Lou Miceli Jr., vocalist for New Jersey group Palisades on the afternoon of February 12. Miceli is currently seated in one of three green rooms located behind the main stage at The Intersection. It may sound like something out of a movie, a rock star in their dressing room, but in reality, he’s just killing time before doors open for the band’s first night on tour with Starset. Grabbitz, another the tour, is producing new music on his laptop just a few feet away while tucked inside a hooded sweatshirt. “We were just in Europe with Escape The Fate, ”but unfortunately we had to drop off because three of us became deathly ill with the flu. It was super bad. I had a 103-degree fever.”
The look in Miceli’s eyes at this moment expresses relief. He and the other members of Palisades who fell ill in early January were among dozens of people who allegedly got sick after attending the music festival cruise known as Shiprocked at the top of the year. “Brandon, our second singer, got sick first. I knew it was a bad sign, but we still completed four flights in order to make it to Milan. That day, our first day there. I got sick. We played the show, as well as the next, but then we hit a well. Thankfully, the band and our team understood our health was the more important thing and supported us going home to recover.”
Palisades is one of an increasingly limited number of heavier alternative bands who have found continued success in the latter half of the twenty-teens. While others have struggled to hold listener interest Palisades have kept fans consistently engaged by adhering to a strict, two-year release cycle that has challenged them to maintain constant creativity. That kind of stress may be too much for some, but Miceli sees it as being part of the job.
“I feel like that is what you have to do now,” he explains. “It’s so imperative to constantly be writing music and constantly be turning out new stuff for your fans. Especially in the present day of music, with Spotify and everything. People want new music, and they want it instantly. We are constantly writing on the road and in hotels. We have the gear to record demos, and we carry it with us on the road. It’s nonstop, and we kind of like it that way.”
Palisades has never been a band that was easily classifiable. Though they have always promoted as a rock band, the members see themselves as something much harder to define. They see themselves, at least in part, as a combination of influences that hail from every corner of music. Their songs fuse elements of pop, rock, punk, hip-hop, and electronic music with honest, often profoundly personal lyricism in a way few bands have been able to accomplish. Twenty years ago that kind of sonic diversity may have been shunned in an industry that believed in easy to sell products, but that isn’t the case today. The digital age has blurred the genre-based community borders to the point where everyone enjoys a bit of everything openly, which in turn has fueled interest in artists who seek to blend sounds in new and exciting ways.
Miceli and company found particular success with their 2017 self-titled release, which celebrated its first year of release just two weeks before our conversation. To hear him discuss the record, you get the sense there isn’t a single song he believes would be good without the others by its side. His pride is palpable, and it’s well deserved.
“Honestly,” he says, upon hearing mention of the record’s recent anniversary, “the reception to that record has been insane from fans both new and old. The same goes for the reception from the press, as well as our own pride in the material. I think with that record we were pushed to be uncomfortable and to explore who we really wanted to be as artists. It made us be vulnerable, and I think we uncovered a rabbit hole we are going to try and further explore with this next release.”
He continues, now speaking to the album’s success. “I think it’s a combination of constantly working to rediscover ourselves and our love for music, as well as the opportunities that come our way because of that. Warped Tour and the community around it has always been good to us, but when the world of rock radio pick up “Let Go” it opened doors to fans that we never had a chance to play to before. That kind of reception and exposure is hard to put into words for you.”
Miceli claims the band will be continuing to thank fans for their support through tour efforts that already stretch deep into 2018, but as soon as the band wraps their current run, he hopes to spend at least a little time back in the studio.
“We had a relatively quiet end to last year. We did two short tours and in between wrote. We wrote all the time, just writing, writing, writing. [Being in a band] is our job, after all, and it’s not like we could ignore the response to the last album. Everyone kept telling us how great of a job we did, and that only made us want to go back and write and even better record. We wanted to learn how we could push ourselves to be an even bigger, better band? I think we may be onto something, but we won’t really know for sure until we get into the studio. I’m excited about it.”
At this point, Miceli begins to talk about the band’s other plans, which involve tour efforts not yet officially announced. Before more than one name leaves his mouth, he catches himself, falls silent, and laughs. With the slightest hint of embarrassment in his voice, he says, “We actually can’t talk about that just yet. It’s that time of year where we pretty much know what we’re going to be doing, but until the press releases drop we aren’t allowed to say anything. We’re going to be booked pretty much the entire year.”
The conversation soon returns to the topic of new material and how the group is coping with all the attention they are receiving as of late. There are perhaps more eyes than ever on Palisades, and Miceli is aware of their gaze. “A lot of bands self-title their first record as an introduction to who they are and what they sound like, but for us, that title was more of a reintroduction showcasing who we had become. As far as what we’re going to do from here, I think we’re going to maintain a lot of the elements from that record the fans seemed to love. That said, there is always room for improvement. I think this one may be a little more aggressive. Not in a heavy way, per say, but more in your face, more driving. The goal is to make every album more emotional than the last. If you hear it and think, ‘this is me,’ then we’ve done our job.”
Hours later, several hundred fans, most still under the age of twenty-one, fill The Intersection’s main room. Palisades hit the stage at precisely 8:31 and greet the audience by excitedly requesting they put their hands in the air before launching into “Aggressive,” one of the many singles from their self-titled release. The thick groove delivered by bassist Brandon Elgar provides the perfect foundation for the band and crowd to build upon, and together they forged that all-important bond all genuinely memorable live performances create while bathed in blue light.
As the band’s set progresses the room slowly becomes alive, and the tightly packed crowd slowly began to separate, inch by inch, as attendees started dancing to the music. Those who knew the words sang along as if their lives depended on it, and every so often you could catch Miceli making eye contact with those individuals throughout the set. He saw their support and wanted them to know it. As he had commented earlier in the evening, “It’s hard to believe the way people can respond to a song, let alone one you wrote.”