Rock bands that split are the order of the day and Hunter’s Palace’s life span was shorter than most. The group had two members, became three for a while and then reverted to mainstays Alex Vella Gera and Peter Sant. Peter has now decided to call it a day and is seeking fame and fortune in London. Last Sunday Hunter’s Palace had a farewell gig at Misfits… but their disbanding was a well kept secret. In their short life the Palace produced two EPs, both of which are sure to become collectors’ items.
Both of you have been enthusiastic about music for many years what inspired you to pick up instruments and perform?
Alex: Definitely listening to Syd Barrett era Pink Floyd, and Neil Young. I always wanted to be a guitar-toting hero lurking in the shadows on a stage but when that failed for technical reasons I did what came second best - I found a guitar toting hero and hung around with him.
Peter: Elvis Presley. Up to the age of 5 I used to stay home listening to one album of greatest hits, then I discovered Carl Perkins and saw how much better it can really get. I don't enjoy performing. I prefer recording.
Your style is very unusual for Maltese bands, what do you attribute that to?
Alex: I guess we just listen to different music then most other people. I don't know what other people listen too though.
Peter: Most local bands are heavily Americanised, and I shamefully include ourselves. We just listen to a different section of American music - country, free folk...
Which musicians/bands do you listen to and which have inspired you?
Alex: I have listened and listen to too many to mention. Inspiration is something else... it's hard to define exactly what inspires you unless it's totally obvious. Probably everything I've listened to has a finger in my pie.
Peter: As above. Everything you listen to comes out in what you play. If you're forced to listen to crap all day it starts coming out.
There are many myths about rock musicians, what kind of relationship do you have between yourselves and with your followers?
Alex: That's a joke isn't it? If we were a traditional five-piece band we would outnumber our fans.
Peter: I've never been given the chance to throw a TV from a hotel window, but I'd be more than willing. And threatening Alex with a loaded gun would increase our creative pace considerably.
Is your main desire to entertain? Change society? Or are you mortals trying to create the immortal?
Alex: I'm not sure either of the three are valid. I can't really explain why it is I find myself occasionally with a guitar in hand before a handful of listeners or in front of a microphone with the tapes rolling.
Peter: I have no particular desire to entertain.
Can you tell us something about the high and low points of your career so far?
Alex: The high point for Hunters Palace with regards gigs is definitely, in my view the one we did at Remedy in Paceville in January. Things just flowed out of our fingers effortlessly. The low point gig is the last one we did at ‘Sinners in Heaven’ in March. Basically, we all had a chip on our shoulder of some sort or other and the last ten minutes was literally us making noise for no artistic purpose at all. We were so pissed off we decided to piss off everyone else present.
Creatively our high point must be the EP released now and a couple of songs off our other EP, ‘Idle Times,’ and for a low point there are a few silly songs we recorded just because we were bored and thankfully one day Peter's computer crashed and we lost them all.
What would you like to see done to improve possibilities for musicians in Malta?
Alex: The obvious much repeated ad nauseum answer to that is... SPONSORSHIP.
But I think that's all rubbish. More places where gigs can take place would help, but people would still chat away at the back whatever you do. There really is no interest as such. This country is tiny, we must get used to that fact. One in a million will turn out to be special. How many musicians are there in Malta?
Peter: I don't really give a damn about musicians in Malta. That may sound arrogant but... I mean, good music is good music, I don't care where it comes
from, the back streets of Zejtun or New York.
Are your songs a reflection of your characters or are you just reflecting what you see out there?
Alex: One song is about being in a bar and getting drunk so that when you meet your ex you won't breakdown... another is about leaving Malta for good, another is about a man who feels that he cheats on his wife just by smiling at a pretty girl in the street... so life is life, tra la la la la.
Peter: It's obviously a reflection of character, whether words or melody. Bah, that's it.