Influential post-metal band Isis may have formally disbanded back in 2010, but three of the members — bassist Jeff Caxide, drummer Aaron Harris and guitarist Bryan Clifford Meyer — were far from finished making music together. So, they enlisted Deftones vocalist Chino Moreno to complete the quartet they're calling Palms.
Speaking to Exclaim!, Moreno explains that it was clear "he wanted to keep being creative and do stuff with music. So the idea for them [Harris, Meyer and Caxide] to continue on making music was obvious."
What was less obvious, at least initially, was the scope of Moreno's involvement in their new project. "I don't think they had a complete idea of what it was going to be, or even that I was going to be involved," he says. "Obviously we talked about things all the time, and one day I mentioned that I would love to do vocals on a song or whatever they were working on at the time."
When those demos arrived, it soon became clear to Moreno and the former Isis members that his role would be larger than a simple guest spot. After going back and forth with several demos, the three former Isis members eventually asked Moreno to provide vocals for their entire self-titled record and become a permanent member of the group.
"I think it was as much as a year or so after [hearing the first material] that I actually got sent the demos of what would become the Palms record. It wasn't something that we felt that we had to do, or that we were like 'We have time constraints' on; it was like, 'These are my buddies who I would be hanging out with regardless of whether we were making music together or not,' and it just so happened that we decided to, and we did it."
As a result of this very natural, organic process, completely free of outside pressure or constraint, Palms sounds entirely different than any of the individual members' other projects.
"It took me a lot of listens to just the music until I became familiar enough with it to know where the next part was going, and how the music blossomed," Moreno says. "But once I did, it was a pretty natural thing. I reacted vocally to what was presented to me, and there wasn't much thought put into it other than that. Obviously there was the idea that it should sound like this or like that, but it sounds exactly like what happened when I reacted to the music that they presented."
Moreno's vocal "reactions" give Palms a musical tone and texture that is at once meditative and peaceful, while also being sweeping and vast in scope. Above all else, the comfortably writing and recording process imparts a sense of freedom to the record.
"I think that the overall mindset is that, just knowing, I don't have to do this. We don't have to do this. I like to make music, and especially with friends, and knowing that in the back of my mind, that this isn't something that I have to do other than [for] the reason that I want to and like to do it, it makes the experience of doing it all the more pleasurable for that fact."
Palms is out now on Ipecac. You can read more of Exclaim!'s new interview with the band here.