The elegant and sweeping pop of Palm Ghosts comes from longtime Philly music scene fixture Joe Lekkas, who fronted the indie-pop collective Grammar Debate! for several years in the aughts while also working as a promoter and founder of the Philly F-M festival. But as all things run their course, Grammar Debate dissolved, F-M discontinued after its 2011 installment and Lekkas got out of the club booking business, giving him more time to write and reflect. Palm Ghosts is the result of that time looking inward.
Tell me about Palm Ghosts. Who are the players, what brought y’all together?
“I was working so hard all the time that I kinda neglected everything else around me, which led to some major anxiety problems,” Lekkas tells us. “Writing and recording these songs myself really helped me work through those issues and rekindle my love for writing and performing music again. It also made that brutal winter go by a bit faster. I realized I am happiest when writing and recording songs, so I need to make time for that every day. It’s like meditation for me.”
Appropriately, the new music video for “Seasons” from Palm Ghosts’ self-titled debut has a wistful and yearning vibe to it. Directed by David Kain of BITBY and conceived in collaboration with Lekkas, it strikes a dreamy French New Wave tone on the Schuylkill Banks. Keith Pierce of Northern Arms (who previously starred in a short called Check Please, which made Lekkas want to cast him in the lead) and Lisa Zeuner (formerly of Surefire Broadcast, currently a dance instructor) are a star-struck couple who encounter one another repeatedly in various Philly locales. Their dress and the tone of the film is vintage, but it’s juxtaposed by a comically modern undercurrent: street signs and cyclists that pepper the background.
“We wanted to do a video influenced by Goddard films,” Lekkas says. “I thought it would be a good visual compliment to the moody vibe of the song. When we figured out that Keith and Lisa would be our actors, we kind of told them what we were doing and let them do their thing. Lisa brought that french new wave vibe we were looking for, but then Keith has a natural Charlie Chaplin-esque thing going. We thought it worked really well! A double tribute to American AND European cinema.”
On record, Palm Ghosts is made up of Lekkas (lead vocals, guitar) with Walt Epting on Drums (“We’ve been playing together since we were teens,” Lekkas says), Maura Dwyer on cello, Alex Yaker on keyboards, Dan Storer on bass and Vince Tampio on trumpet. Live, Lekkas, Epting and Tampio are joined by Alec Meltzer on keys and Jim Becker on guitar.
Their self-titled debut record gets an independent release on August 27th, and the band will embark on a 10-day east coast that month as well. Their live debut takes place on August 9th at Bourbon and Branch; more information on the XPN Concert Calendar and the band’s website. Watch our premiere of “Seasons” below.