David ‘Yorkie’ Palmer has long been a vital part of Liverpool’s creative landscape. Back in the late 70s, he and his mother Gladys gave bands such as Echo and The Bunnymen and The Teardrop Explodes much needed rehearsal space and support. In the 90s he found success with Space, before embarking on solo releases and working with the much loved Moongoose, who have had an incredible run of form that has continued even through the lockdown.
Moongoose’s Black and Yellow EPs demonstrated Yorkie’s determination to create, as he drafted in his son to continue working while all but confined to home. Both continue Moongoose’s trick of providing soundtracks to films that don’t exist, rich in atmosphere and creating a movie that plays in head while the music works its magic.
Latest album Tokyo Glow was one of 2019’s undoubted highlights and one the still receives heavy rotation here at Sun 13.
But Yorkie still has further plans up his sleeve, in the form of a new album and some sough after re-releases.
Before all this, Sun 13 caught up with Yorkie and asked him 13 questions. Read on to find out more about playing with Tom Jones, trusting your judgement and recovering from corona virus.
1. Where are you and what are you doing and how is that working out?
“I’m at home, in my studio, getting the masters and artwork ready for the twentieth anniversary re-release of my one and only solo album, Pitch A Ladder To The Moon, a Singles and EPs collection and two extended singles: Jettison The Past and Don’t Play!
The album and subsequent singles/EP’s were originally released as limited edition cd’s through my old website and haven’t been available now for about ten years. It’s been a long process getting all of the masters together but has been worth it. Jettison The Past was originally entitled Jettison The Past (Sold On Ebay) It was a reaction to the fact that I had amassed such a large cd collection that I thought I had become a reference library.
Some CDs I had never even listened to, I’d been given them by my record company at the time; some remained shrink wrapped. I kept a handful of what I thought were essential items and sold the rest…on Ebay, of course. I wanted the track to contain elements of all of the music I had ever loved in an audio collage/barrage. No samples were used.
This release is supported by a mighty fine video from Moongoose’s Mark Jordan. Don’t Play! was originally released in limited edition form sealed between two ceramic tiles. The decision was left to the owner whether to break the seal and play it or not.
I have had so many requests for this release that I have finally given in.”
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2. How have you been coping with the lockdown situation?
“The original lockdown earlier this year I found to be as stimulating as it was unusual. As a fan of such wonderful 70’s dystopian Sci-fi such as Soylent Green, Planet Of The Apes, Logan’s Run, etc. I never imagined that one day I would be living in such a scenario myself.
However, it gave me time to relocate my studio downstairs and also record two new EP’s by MOONGOOSE: The Yellow EP and The Black EP (both released through German Shepherd Records).
Due to the lockdown, I couldn’t bring in my usual Moongoose compadres (such as the ever essential Paul Cavanagh) so I asked my son Jack if he would help out. He was amazing and contributed Guitar, Bass and keyboards across the ten tracks that make up both EP’s
Mark Jordan did a sterling job getting the videos together for all ten tracks by remote. 5th of September I was diagnosed as positive for the Covid 19 virus. A week later, my wife tested positive as well.
It has been an absolutely horrible month, and we’re still feeling long term lingering effects of this terrible virus.”
3. Who is the nicest ‘celebrity’ you’ve met?
“I have a problem with the word celebrity: I know so many, and maybe unjustly think that I am on a par with them. Not through any amount of ego on my part, but just simply that I think everybody does a job, contributes something no matter what career they have.
The one person, however, I must single out would be Tom Jones. My Mum was a huge fan and to find myself working with the man for his album Reload was totally surreal.
A relationship was struck due to the success of the SPACE track The Ballad Of Tom Jones. He loved the song and eventually signed to Gut Records, our label.
We recorded the Kinks song Sunny Afternoon in Sweden with Tor Johannsen (The Cardigans). When we arrived we had no idea what we were going to do with the song, so I suggested a sort of Dub version. I arranged something and Tor liked it. That evening, after everybody had gotten their parts down, Tom came to hear what we’d done. He loved it.
The next day we moved to Tor’s main studio to record vocals. Tom and Tommy were superb, and Tom even did a second vocal take “Just In Case” (of course it was never even listened to). Tom started playing Female Of The Species in his live set, and the next time we met was for TFI Friday.
The Cardigans had turned down the offer to perform their duet Burning Down The House so Mr. Jones suggested us. It was a fantastic experience playing this studio construct live, with a full-on brass section, and I was super chuffed when Tom came over after the performance, shook my hand, and thanked me for my hard work.
Finally, we did An Audience With Tom Jones. We were the only band on it (apart from his house band) and while waiting backstage to be announced, I saw the previous guest on a monitor. It suddenly dawned on me…Fuck! It’s Tom Jones.
My mum would have been so proud. A true legend, never mind celebrity, he was so warm, genuine and funny. He regaled us with tales of his good friend Elvis Presley among many others.”
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4. When did you last get into an argument?
“I try not to get into arguments because I don’t like conflict. But, having a family, they are sometimes inevitable. Nothing that serious though.”
5. When did you last shout at the TV?
“Of late I would say far too often. Usually when a politician is spouting shit when people are ill or dying because of this horrible Covid virus.”
6. When did you last consider quitting social media?
“Never really thought about it. Maybe once or twice.”
7. Tell us a secret
“I’m not a natural musician. I have to work extra-specially hard at what I do.”
8. How would you describe yourself?
“Very shy, very stubborn, and, hopefully, very creative.”
9. What words of warning would you give your younger self?
“Watch out for the traps coming your way. Trust your own judgement rather than others.”
10. When were you last told off?
“Every day. By my family. They think I work too hard.”
11. What has been your favourite decade for music?
“I think every decade throws up good and bad music. Sometimes you need a bit of distance for things you once hated to be allowed to shine through.
However, the late seventies/early eighties were the years that shaped me as both a person and a musician. The sheer wealth of bands I got to see at Eric’s was unreal and the post-punk attitude of ‘Anything Goes’ allowed for so much experimentation that it allowed band such as The Balcony (one of my early bands) to (briefly) shine through.”
12. What band or record changed to course of your life?
“There are so many, but in fairness I would have to pin this on Virginia Plain by Roxy music. When I saw them on TOTP’s it was as if someone had beamed aliens into the studio. The sound of that record is so panoramic in scope…the instrumentation so bizarre and there’s no chorus.”
13. Thanks for taking the time to answer our questions. Is there anything else you’d like to say?
“Thanks for having me. Hope I haven’t bored you too much.”