Pala

The ‘classic’ PALA line-up of Alex Grant (vocals, guitar), Graham Spencer (guitar), Paul Williams, (bass) and Ben Haynes (drums, vocals) came together at the very start of 1997.

The band stumbled through a million different genres before arriving at a strange sort of late-nineties power-pop that treaded a previously untapped line between arena-conquering bombast and lo-fi poise.

The amount of time the band spent gigging (they were referred to as “the hardest-working band ever” by their first label) meant that there was a distinct PALA sound. But with each member pulling in different musical directions, this sound skidded into an almost schizophrenic quantity of musical territories, from the simple pop of Orange Dress to the full-on, 90-second, industrial pelt of You Took My Money & Ran.

In 1998, they released the magnificent Machine demo; three fantastic but murky pop songs which attracted attention from all kinds of industry types. One of these types was Mat Whittaker of AAS Records, who agreed to release PALA’s debut single the following year.

Be A Celebrity was released in January 1999, and sold almost all of its 1000 pressings. It got played by Steve Lamacq and another 148 stations around the UK. In fact, it became one of the top 3 singles worked by Overground Plugging. The response from the single was almost unanimously positive. The song itself was a near-perfect pop song with a not-completely-ironic lyric. This was a band who craved success, yet chose to release their debut single on a label called Artists Against Success and backed the single with the golden nugget of dirt called Queen of Lofi.

As if this wasn’t enough, they hired a rapper for the next single. Released on REPEAT Records in April 2000, Cat-Like Creatures was unique among the records of the time. When it was recorded, it was a song with two gaping instrumental holes in it. Makif duly filled those holes with an inspiring rap that elevated the song to A-side status. The song that was to have equalled Be A Celebrity in the popularity stakes, First To The Moon, was relegated to the second b-side. PALA had bigger ideas.

The single again sold well and was played by John Peel. PALA, as always, hit the road flat out in support of the single. They committed themselves to self-funded, self-arranged tours and played pretty much everywhere, from Aberdeen to Bedford, paying their way through CD and t-shirt sales.

PALA amassed enough material through out their time to release one final single with a twist. Their three-track single came with ten bonus tracks. Released in February 2001 and costing just £3, it comprised of live versions, sessions, acoustic material, demos and old songs. Unfortunately, You Took My Money & Ran failed to live up to the heights of the other two singles and the touring took its toll on PALA’s members and their finances. At the end of 2001, they called it a day.

After three years apart, and spells in other bands, PALA decided to reform, albeit temporarily, for a few dates. They are putting together a compilation of their best moments and rocking the UK one final time.

Alex Grant: Vocals, guitar

Ben Haynes: Drums, vocals

Graham Spencer: Guitars

Paul Williams: Bass

  • Be A Celebrity
  • Stop Mumbling
  • Queen Of Lo-Fi
  • Machine
  • Orange Dress
  • Never Come
  • Accelerator
  • First To The Moon
  • Cat-Like Creatures
  • Worry Lines
  • Bored Of Stripping
  • Break Of Day
  • I Think I’m The Man
  • Keep In Time
  • Livin\’ La Vida Pala
  • No Cheeses
  • Some Kind Of Theme
  • Stop The Funk Rock (Stop It)
  • UMP
  • You Took My Money And Ran