Interview: Michael Cera Palin
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Stepping off the hot streets of Atlanta, Georgia, three-piece indie rockers Michael Cera Palin put their hearts and souls into their craft. Comprised of Elliott Brabant (guitar/vocals), Jon Buncic (drums/mixing), and Jon Williams (bass), the group has released 2 EPs that push the boundaries of contemporary party-punk music, stretching their upbeat rhythms and prose to encompass the listener in a sheet of vibrant warmth.
Their most recent EP, released in February, and titled I Don’t Know How To Explain It illustrates a striking contempt for the silent norms of society, producing an emotional testament to the empathic and hungry DIY audience. Kicking off with the track “Portrait of a Man on a Couch With Cats”, the album is instantly carved into an epitaph of power, opening with cyclical guitar riffs before converting a mellow period of rising action into a torrent of rage and candid emotional expression.
Covering heavy topics like self-harm and internal preservation, Michael Cera Palin doesn’t hold back in taking ownership of their music and creating a metaphorical sphere of consciousness, from which they embrace the listener in the most personal manner. As if the album couldn’t speak volumes for itself, the record’s core revolves around the indie adaptation of Sheryl Crow’s “If It Makes You Happy”, an single synonymously echoed by vocalist Elliott Brabant as being a banger that manages to mirror a lot of emo undertones and appeal to a sense of mutual sensibility. The song fits perfectly at the center of the EP, melding a universally popular song into MCP’s catharsis-enforcing style of rock to create a revolutionary bend on contemporary pop music.
Delving into the background of Michael Cera Palin, whom have been creating music for years under the oxymoron moniker that hybridizes an angsty, millennial actor and former Alaskan Tea Party governor, the band contributes their sound to their collaborative song-writing and plethora of genre influences. By incorporating different styles and personal experiences, MCP is able to piece together instrumentals and lyrics from a skeletal frame, to a fully incorporated song. “Everyone brings something to the table” cites bassist Jon Williams.
The band’s heavy influence from different genres can be contributed to their progress as artists in the ever-present diversity of Atlanta’s DIY music scene. The music and arts scene that encompasses Georgia’s largest city is more genre-neutral than a lot of its urban equivalents, allowing for show bills to be comprised of bands and artists from a multitude of different musical backgrounds. This phenomena, notes Elliott Brabant, contributes to a local fan base that has a well-rounded interest in music. “Kids go to shows because they want a show to go to”, says Elliot, which leads to a lot of the local prosperity and growth that Michael Cera Palin have endured. Although the exposure of indie rap and other genres played a huge role on the group’s sound, Michael Cera Palin’s style heavily mirrors that of a modern midwestern emo, accumulating pent-up emotional aggression behind guitar riffs and crashing drums, before invigorating the listener with an incomparable sense of energy and intrinsic meaning.
Michael Cera Palin’s breakthrough EP was released in collaboration with Chatterbot Records, an up-and-coming DIY label started by Alex Atchison. Launched only in 2017, Chatterbot has played a pivotal role in expanding the sphere of DIY music to new corners, releasing records from superb artists like Origami Angel, Foxy Dads, and Smol Data. The band met Atchison well in advance of to the formation of their successful record label at a show where MCP was opening for New Orleans punk outfit, Donovan Wolfington. The show was Alex’s first and they took a real interest in Michael Cera Palin, staying in close contact with the band until Chatterbot was launched and I Don’t Know How To Explain It became the label’s fifth official release. Elliot described Alex as “young and enthusiastic”, alluding to how Atchison’s label mirrors the effort and motivation factor witnessed in influential DIY labels like Funeral Sounds. With a new global following and the support of self-starters like Atchison, Michael Cera Palin hinted at a potential split EP being the next step for the band in the near-future.
From top-to-bottom, Michael Cera Palin is a true standalone in terms of DIY music. From their mastery of their craft, dedication to their community scene, collectivist attitude, and connection to the music en masse, it’s incredibly to admire the Atlanta rockers. Their latest EP is a work of art, melding raw emotion into an aesthetically beautiful representation of youth, love, imperfection, and change. With a potential split album in the works, according to the band, I consider myself insanely excited to bear witness to the future of this group, and will wait with baited breath to see how Michael Cera Palin can continue to stack on to their already impressive indie rock discography.
If you want even more of a feel for Michael Cera Palin’s personality and Chatterbot’s creativity as a label, they just filmed a wacky tour documentary together. Part meme, part something else. It’s pretty funny stuff.
Shannon Mahoney // @Icancountto10
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