Palm Springsteen

Track premiere: Listen to the LA singer paying tribute to Alan Vega
By Clementine Zawadzki | 20 July 2016

Top image: Palm Springsteen; photo by Danielle DeFoe

Nick Hinman floats between Los Angeles and New York, making music cut from the same cloth. Somewhere between the concrete jungle’s energy and LA’s blasé ambiance, Palm Springsteen evolved from being an idea into a fast-forming reality.

Like Dr Frankenstein with a guitar, Hinman made Palm Springsteen a reality. Realising his sonic vision (self-described as: Blow Pop in Space), this resulted in music as chilled and breezy as you’d imagine it to be. Here, we’ve nabbed the exclusive premiere of Palm Springsteen’s debut track, She’s Got Claws, a cool electronic chill, and a cover of the late (and oh, so great) Alan Vega’s Wipeout Beat, enthusing influences of interstellar significance.

Clementine Zawadzki: Describe Palm Springsteen.
Nick Hinman: Palm Springsteen is exactly what it sounds like. It’s a person, a place, a thing, a portmanteau, a serious dad joke, a moniker, an alter ego, Bez from Happy Mondays, and a party robot doing a gnarly hang ten on the glassiest left. It’s also interchangeable for the word ‘grease’, in the song ‘Grease’, from the movie Grease.

CZ: How did you get into music?
NH: Probably when my mom used to put a top hat on me and parade me around the living room singing show tunes when I was a child. She still does it now I’m an adult too, actually. I also used to take piano lessons when I was seven or eight, and then moved on to drums in middle school, so I was always in a ‘band’. I was actually in a pretty sick Led Zeppelin cover band when I was fourteen. Probably the sloppiest cover of Moby Dick you’ve ever heard.

CZ: And when did you write your first song?
NH: I wrote a song called Lady Poseidon when I was eighteen or nineteen. I was listening to a lot of Richard Hell at that point, and it was kind of ripping off the chord progression of Blank Generation. It was about a pirate that falls in love with some damsel who screws him over, and then he shoots her and they get sucked into the sea together. I think I just wanted an excuse to yell, “there she blows!” Twice.

Palm Springsteen; photo by Rachel Remz

CZ: Do you remember the first album you bought?
NH: CrazySexyCool by TLC. But, I also forced my dad to buy me Def Leppard’s Pyrotechnica when I was kid based solely on the album art, but I can’t remember which one came first. Both are great though.

CZ: And the first and last gigs you’ve been to?
NH: Actually my first real gig I ever went to was David Bowie on his Reality tour in San Jose, California. It was so mind blowing. He did an homage to Freddie Mercury and sang Under Pressure with this amazing woman he had on tour with him. Recently, I saw my buddy Mickey play in his band Collapsing Scenery in Williamsburg on a rooftop. They’re really sick. He can bring the heat, for sure.

CZ: Your music in three words is…
NH: Here’s four. Blow Pop in Space.

CZ: What inspires your writing?
NH: I usually take inspiration from my everyday life. I usually start with the music, and then as I start to write I begin to hear lyrics based on how the music provokes me. Sometimes it’s vice versa, and I’ll have a concept in mind first and work it the other way around. I’m a big fan of science fiction. I think I’ve actually watched Blade Runner three times in a day once. And Gary Numan is definitely one of my biggest influences. I think the first time I heard The Pleasure Principle I was so blown away by the sound he got without using any guitars. I like the sound of feeling like you’re in the middle of a laser/pillow fight at 130BPM. Ultimately, Trouble In Paradise [Palm Springsteen’s debut album] is written about an intergalactic relationship, which hits a lot of bumps in the proverbial star-road. And needless to say, an intergalactic relationship takes the idea of “long distance” to a whole new level.

CZ: And what is She’s Got Claws about?
NH: It’s about a stage in a relationship where you haven’t committed, and you don’t know if you want to. But the other party involved is holding on tight, in an intimidating but kinda badass way. “Teeth for knives, your punctured skin, remembers why, remembers she’s got claws.”

Palm Springsteen; photo by Danielle DeFoe

CZ: Alan vega sadly passed away this week. You are obviously a huge fan, having covered Wipeout Beat, what is it about his music that thrills you?
NH: I’ve always been a huge fan of Suicide, and I remember at one point I was delving into Alan Vega’s solo career and came across the album Saturn Strip. It’s such a phenomenal album. And actually, it features Al Jourgensen from Ministry playing synths on it, right around the time they were releasing With Sympathy in 1983, another amazing record. Alan Vega was moving more into the pop realm on the album, but still retained all the cool parts of Suicide and his earlier solo stuff. I just fell in love with Wipeout Beat, and it’s such a hidden gem, I thought it would make a great cover. It also definitely fits the Palm Springsteen vibe. He made a music video to it too, which is so rad. I was hoping he would hear the cover too. Rest in peace, jukebox babe.

“I’m a big fan of science fiction. I think I’ve actually watched Blade Runner three times in a day once.”

CZ: What’s it been like playing with your band?
NH: Well, we’ve actually already played three shows, and we have three more planned. The band came together really organically, which has been great. I was playing solo shows in Los Angeles, with a trigger pad and a guitar, and my buddy Hayden Tobin came by and suggested we take some songs to his studio in Glassell Park. He was immediately stoked and on board to play guitar, so we worked through about five songs together there. I was in New Orleans with my long time friend Kyle Sirell, and I played him a few songs there and he was psyched to play drums. Then Kyle introduced me to Luca Buccellati, his roommate, who’s also an amazing producer, and he was super down to play synths.

We basically had one practice on the 3rd of July, played a backyard BBQ on the 4th, had another practice and learned two more of the songs, and headlined Baby’s All Right on the 6th. Then had one more practice, and played at Niagara on the 12th. Each show has gotten better and better. 

Follow Palm Springsteen on Twitter and Instagram.
Follow Clementine Zawadzki on Twitter @Clementinelaura.

Read Next