It has been one year since the creation of the student garage-rock band, The Palisades. Within that year, The Palisades have managed to record three EPs and tour the entire West Coast, making their reach more expansive than the Idaho backcountry that gives them their name.
At 8 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 26, The Palisades will play a free show at the Underground Coffeehouse, where they first began performing together two years ago. Carly Roberts, the Underground’s concert series coordinator, said she is excited about the return of a local band with a captivating sound.
“It is music that engages the listener. When you’re listening to it, you feel as if you’re inside the song,” Roberts said. “They seamlessly switch between different rhythms and concepts to build awesome musical powerhouses.”
When senior Noah Magen and juniors Peter Coward and Luke Hogfoss met in fall 2009, their interests and passions for music compelled them to begin jamming together. With Magen on a djembe drum and Coward and Hogfoss playing guitar, the trio performed an acoustic set for an open mic night at the Underground.
“I think we did that once and we instantly were like, ‘OK, we don’t really want to pursue this so much,’” Coward said. “We decided to go electric and get a drum set.”
The band began using the Performing Arts Center’s practice rooms to jam. Drawing influences from bands such as The Strokes, and with help from Hogfoss’ grandfather’s homemade amps, The Palisades established a grittier, louder, electric sound.
“We made a lot of noise in those really small rooms,” Magen said.
When the trio returned to school in fall 2010, they continued jamming at Magen and Hogfoss’ new residence on Pine Street. There was also a change in instrumentation. Hogfoss, who played bass, and Coward, who played guitar, swapped instruments. Hogfoss continued providing lead vocals.
“Pete [Coward] didn’t know how to play bass, so he played it like a guitar, which he still does and it sounds really cool,” Hogfoss said. “He plays chords on the bass; it makes it sound more full.”
The band snagged their first gig playing at a house show in Portland, Ore. The owners had recently moved in and the house was completely empty.
“It turned out to be this huge house party and everyone was blackout drunk,” Magen said. “I think that right when we played the first note there were people crowd-surfing for some reason. They didn’t really care what they were listening to.”
The Palisades released their first self-titled and self-recorded EP in early December 2010. They continued playing at house shows, as well as some bigger venues, and eventually attracted the attention of mutual friend, junior Toby Reif. Reif, a student at Fairhaven College, had experience in audio engineering and needed to record a band for a class assignment. Reif had a particular interest in Hogfoss’ guitar skills and sought out the band.
“Luke [Hogfoss] has this really cool guitar-playing style where he’s playing in a rock band, but he rarely plays the kind of chords that rock guitarists play,” Reif said. “I was just blown away that he was playing in a borderline punk band with no power chords.”
Working with Reif, The Palisades released “DEMOnster,” a two-song demo in April 2011 and a six-track EP, dubbed the “Recently EP,” in August 2011. Reif is more than just a producer to the band, he is also featured playing the trombone on the song “Instrumental 2 (The Rapture)” of the “Recently EP” and often joins The Palisades during their live performance of the song.
“I think that every time we’ve played with Toby [Reif], we’ve gotten the best reviews,” Coward said. “People seem to really like the trombone.”
“It’s fun,” Reif said. “I just kind of jump up during the last song of the set and dance around for the first half of the song and play in the chorus.”
This past summer, The Palisades went on a nine-show tour along the West Coast, starting in Bellingham and ending in San Francisco. The tour came as a result of the band’s introduction into a collaboration project between 40 West Coast bands through the San Francisco-based indie record label, 20 Sided Records. Bellingham-based bands Candysound and The Cat From Hue were also featured on the tour.
“We were definitely the youngest band there and it was pretty cool because all of the bands were awesome,” Hogfoss said.
Roberts said that student-made music holds something special for music fans.
“Knowing that someone you may sit next to in anthropology is having these thoughts and putting them to music makes the music more relatable and real in a way that doesn’t often happen when you don’t know the people playing the music,” Roberts said.