The Palace is this month’s featured Small Studio Sessions band. The Indianapolis based six person funk, soul, and rock act meld influences, leading to a dynamic rock and soul sound.
WFYI’s Kyle Long spoke with the group’s vocalist Ray Hutchins, and rhythm guitarist Ben Marcus - both of whom grew up in Indiana, and lead guitarist James Knott, who emigrated to Indianapolis from England.
WFYI’s Kyle Long: I understand you have a background in theater and musical theater. And that seems very evident when I watched the band play. Can you tell us a little bit about your background in theater and how that informs the work you're doing with The Palace?
Vocalist Ray Hutchins: I went into theater trying to get something that could take this thing — I feel like singing like my Excalibur — to make it sharper, to make it better, make my performances more, or our performances more, like have more sustenance in like that power now wow factor. I just worked really hard to do that.
Lead guitarist James Knott: It makes your voice sound even more powerful.
Rhythm guitarist Ben Marcus: Whenever we read a song, there's always a pretty intense discussion about the character of the song and...
Hutchins: Yes, we do talk about like, where's this song coming from? Why is it coming up? I use all my Meisner tools — Sanford Meisner, child of Stanislavski. You know, what I've studied? And all. But yeah, I do incorporate a lot of the theater and it does help with getting people to like get into it and everything.
Long: Do you feel like you're equally rooted in both the world of music and acting? Or is there one that's kind of pulling you?
Hutchins: Music pulls me more, I have to admit. I came out the womb singing and I love singing.
Long: And continuing on this theme of theater. Ben, am I correct that you met Ray at a memorial service for a local theater personality Billy Dunn? That played some role in your coming together, right?
Marcus: Definitely, Billy was on Broadway for a while. He was just a huge character. I mean, he's such a teacher of a person. At any time he was interested in what you were doing. He would also give you some notes and encourage you. And I know that was his relationship with Ray especially.
Hutchins: He was my mentor. I would say that. He's definitely...
Marcus: And because of that Ray came in and sang an open mic. And I just remember being blown away that this guy was singing out an open mic. And I think there was a serious bond, especially at the memorial service where Ray and I kind of realized how much Billy connected both of us.
Long: And I believe The Palace has issued three singles thus far. Is that accurate? Are there plans for a full length album? It seems like you guys have a lot of music.
Marcus: We're in the process of recording an EP right now with a bunch of our new stuff. So, yeah.
Knott: Should be out later this year.
Long: Thank you so much for being here today. The performance was incredible. I love what you're doing with The Palace. So thank you again.
Hutchins and Marcus: Thank you.
Knott: Appreciate it. Cheers.
Watch The Palace’s entire Small Studio Session at wfyi.org/smallstudio.