Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Talking trash (pop) with Palmyra Delran

Palmyra Delran (Photo by Albert Mitchell)

By Andy

If the song is enticing enough to produce copious goosebumps and if she wishes it's nestled in her own songwriting arsenal, then it resides on Palmyra Delran's crucial-tunes list.

"Sometimes I'm like, 'Dammit, I wish I wrote that song!" Delran exclaimed over the phone from New York on a recent Monday. She referenced "Cupid" by Sam Cooke and "Picture Book" by The Kinks as examples, but she probably could have gone on for hours about her affinity for musical gems, many of which she delivers to listeners on "Little Steven's Underground Garage" on Siriusxm.

Delran -- whose band history includes The Friggs, Pink Slip Daddy, The Coolies and the Doppel Gang -- marked her fifth anniversary with her "Underground Garage" deejay gig in May. She also gets cooking with "Palmyra's Trash-Pop Shindig!" show on Siriusxm.

"It's just been a dream. Steven is the coolest guy, he's like, 'Tell your stories, you were in an all-girl band,'" said Delran, adding that her boss wasn't searching for pro deejays, "I think he just really wanted some music slobs (laughter) who could rise to the occasion or something."

During her four-hour shifts, she's required to hit upon some Ramones, Beatles, Rolling Stones, British Invasion, girl groups, R & B and power pop, along with digging into her specialties like the Trash Pop Treasure or some weird holiday that she matches up with a song.

A Trash Pop Treasure is a forgotten tune that's at least 10 years old and should have been a hit in her eyes. "We haven't heard that Marshall Crenshaw song in a couple of years, you know?" she cites as an example.

How about a favorite in that realm?

"It is hard and I'm gonna probably punk out here. Within my Trash Pop Treasure, I try to hit my favorite types of music. I do a lot of power pop because there's a lot of power pop bands that are like, 'Who the hell is that?' Like I just played The Miamis last week and it was like, 'Only New York people remember those  guys,' you know what I mean?" she said, adding that Northern Soul, glam and sleazy blues tunes are also on the table.

A There's Something Hard in There fave in the Trash Pop Treasure bailiwick was "It Shows in Your Face" by The Gas. On the holiday front, who could forget National Wear Your Pajamas To Work Day with "Punk's Pajamas" by The Strange Boys?

On her Siriusmx shows, you can surely hear Delran unleash some of her top tunes and stories from her rock 'n roll journey. She's pals with Debbie Harry, who was directed her way when the Blondie singer was searching for a guitar teacher. And then there's the time, which Delran recalls with a cackle, when Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys took bites out of food backstage and put the pieces back on the table. Delran and her friend cracked up at that scenario in the '90s, but the topper came when Wilson signed her pal's 8-track Beach Boys tape without even commenting on the archaic musical vessel.


When Delran's slinging her guitar and singing, she lists The Coolies as being one of her fave and most meaningful projects with Kim Shattuck and Melanie Vammen of The Muffs and The Pandoras. One-hundred percent of the profits from the six-song "Uh Oh! It's...The Coolies" EP -- released last July on Little Steven's Wicked Cool Records -- went to The ALS Association Golden West Chapter. Shattuck passed away from ALS last October.

"When I met Kim, it was like literally instantaneous, we just started laughing and it was like, 'OK, alright, I'm staying in touch with this one,'" said Delran, who met both Shattuck and Vammen when they were playing in The Pandoras in the 1980s. Delran reconnected with Vammen in recent years and now they're a tight duo. "She's my gal," Delran said.

During the trio's early phone conversations, Delran recalled, "We would just yak for hours and laugh and just laugh, but the whole time Kim would always joke around with me about, 'Let's start a band.'"

When Shattuck became sick, they began planning a single to benefit ALS, and that turned into an EP, which sold out of its three pressings. When they approached Little Steven about the music in the works, Delran said, "His comment was, 'Wait a minute, two Pandoras and a Frigg, what do ya want?'"

Shattuck and Delran (Photo by Dave Hummel)


Delran was born in New Jersey, moved to Spain with her Spanish parents and the family returned to Jersey for good when she was 6. She traveled to New York City in the '80s and '90s and moved there in '99.

Despite massive gentrification, "There's still a really cool energy here. I can walk by Bob Dylan's first apartment or where Andy Warhol's Factory was, it's right down the street from me. I still imagine those people walking around those streets, even though it was 40-50 years ago. It's still really cool to me," she said.

Delran added that she scopes out vital spots in musical history when she visits Memphis and other cities.

"What else is there in life that's gonna give you that feeling? Such awful stuff going on right now -- if you can go there and just be like, 'Wow, I betcha Bob Dylan wrote that song in that apartment; Oh my god, it's The Brill Building'... you can just feel good for like eight seconds," she said.

At age 8, she entered the world of rock 'n roll when she began listening to the Rolling Stones with a friend of her's five older brothers.

"When I'd go to her place, the older brothers would be like, 'Oh, check this out, this song' and I just felt like I should be hanging out with these brothers. They pretty much corrupted me," laughed Delran, noting that her sisters and her friend listened to bands like the Osmonds before Mick 'n Keith and the boys hit her scene. "I was like fascinated that the Rolling Stones peed on a wall, that story really got me."

Who knows if there was any public urination reported on the day Delran and her friend saw the Stones live in 1978 at an outdoor concert. When the show was in full swing, the friends inched their way through a heap of drunkards and wedged themselves near Richards' spot on stage to witness his guitaristry up close. That was a great day, she said.

Delran soon got into artists like Patti Smith and Blondie and checked out gigs by the Cramps, Buzzcocks, Iggy Pop, Madness and others at the Hot Club in Philly. She remembers defending herself for liking Smith when some of her friends weren't on board with the punk poet.

When Delran became a musician, she found her second family and the music flowed even more freely. At that point, "Everyone gets it, you don't even have to explain why you like these bands, and then if you're lucky enough to find musical soulmates -- and I'm lucky to have a handful of those."

Delran a-rockin' (Photo by Albert Mitchell)

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