Bombast & Affectation
Biography, er... Statement of Intent, umm... Overriding Philosophy, whatever: Perhaps The Panic does nothing you haven't heard before. Haven't we all heard it all before? There's a drummer and a man playing bass and yet another singer with a six-string. Yea, this is not a foreign or refreshing format we're talking about and, even more galling, the songs are in straight, plain time signatures. You could tap your toe to them. Or spit and foam about old news and the disconnected bunch of hacks who are pushing it. Whatever. This band isn't about glitz or a cloying abundance of splashy effects. Woe be the listener who arrives to a show expecting as much. Perhaps their wares are a fusion of elements. Or maybe fusion is too considered a word for the disparate mash employed. It could be an apt criticism to say the band is floundering in a stew of it's irreconcilable influences. Conversely, maybe The Panic has sometimes got it right and the alchemy's borne up a reward; coal wrenched and pressed into diamond. 'Ska rock with evil funk inflections and a dose of unabashed twang,' is the tag which thus far seems a most accurate representation of the band's strivings. But what's in a description of music? So many musicians seem often to prefer defining themselves by what they are not. So, The Panic isn't about shoe-gazing or chronic heartache, nor are they about musty uniforms or hairstyles that'll be embarrassing in five years. This band doesn't want to be the loudest or the fastest (though volume and bruising tempos will always have their place). The lyrics spring neither from a well of bottomless rage nor from an unquenchable need to shed vain tears; something less pretentious than the oft-hammered extremes. Having once accepted the old dictum of simplicity being a virtue, the songsmiths have endeavoured accordingly. Thumping tunes, sanded chaos, a dancefloor and somewhere to be lost. All that and it could be said that those who aren't scrambling after some abstract notion of innovation are the ones whose work will come to be marked as singular and progressive. Arrive as a thief only to later find sturdier creativity. So, while presently sounding off with some melodious noises, The Panic's got nothing but the drive and (gasp) vision to be a better musical unit in one, five or ten years. To work those pockets of listeners and carousers, carving out a welcoming sonic space that unites audience and performer. What more does any band want? Bring dancing shoes and a will to move, fuel those moments with good song and the right attitudes. Lofty, asinine talk to be sure, but what's a bunch of dreamers to do but aim high, inflate, overstate...but maybe, thereafter, come close to the mark. Fabrication, Obfuscation, and Made Media Where did the band begin? Chris Freeman wanders into an establishment on Granville where Ryan Eugene Newman is passing time after having submitted a dated solo disc in anticipation of scoring a gig. Some idle conversation ensues. Mention is made of Spacehog, a band they both ardently consider to have flashed too briefly in the pan. And Freeman's bass guitar had been collecting some dust ever since he'd Gone West and settled in this mountain town. A visit is made to Ryan's nearby rehearsal space where the first tentative melodious sounds are made. Click: a small unity. Some difficulty and dispirit ensues in finding the drummer. Shows booked with no idea of who'll sit behind the kit. Sour grapes and unreturned telephone calls as more than a few come and go. Eventually, after an extended bout of being coy and acting like he has better things to do, Keith Weldrick signs on as the third and final link. If we weren't playing music, we would be: In our various and overlapping capacities as exhibitionists, blowhards, idealists, dreamers, doodlers, noodlers, and fools, we'd conquer in an unrelenting succession the disparate spheres of design, pornography, politics, avant-garde construction and early childhood education. Once we'd grown tired of the acclaim, we'd spurn these callings as ones unbecoming such civic-minded individuals as ourselves and then promptly board a southbound plane with all our earnings to get fat, old, and die on a beach. In this realm of musical composition, what's your idea of sincerity? Believing your own bullshit. There's always going to be some schmuck who'll hear your stuff and think loftily to himself that it's hokey, or nothing but posturing, or boring, or simply unpalatable, but there generally will be another out there who'll be believing right along with you. Connection. That one believer is all you have as a musician. If you're making the music with money in mind then there are two basic outcomes. One is you fall on your face because your fakery is uninspired and nobody's duped. The other is that you make your millions because little girls swoon (your love songs are marketed just right) or little boys bang their heads (because you're just such a bad ass) or some other contingent of the naive is taken in. And then you die in the very private hell of your own carefully delineated vacuity. What was the meanest thing ever said to you before, during, or after a gig? This more-than-slightly-inebriated-but-otherwise-entirely-upstanding woman stumbles up to us after a show and utters this vicious condemnation: 'I haven't seen a sexier bunch of boys in a band since Hanson dropped out of the spotlight!' We wanted this horrendous implication to go no further and it was only after a private, heated and lengthy consultation that the band resolved not to visit violence upon her. Why 'The Panic'? We deliberated at great length and utilised all the insight and deep contemplation that we could muster and, rather than Famous Ape or Burtus or Chance, The Panic gradually announced itself as the title of this unit. Before it became a noun denoting fright, alarm and an impending loss of control, 'panic', meant 'of or related to Pan'. There's a story told of a musical competition set up between Apollo, god of music, sun, poetry, healing, plagues, etceteras, etceteras, blah, blah, blah, and the aforementioned god of the woods and fields. Midas (him of the golden touch) is set up as judge. Pan puts his pipe, the syrinx, to his lips and unaffectedly brings to the small gathering his loose music of revelry, lust and debauchery. Then Apollo summons all the most grand melodies, harmonies and movements that the firmament can ring off and smugly awaits the falling of the verdict in his favour. But Midas selects the tunes of Pan as those most fine. Apollo flies into a petulant rage and turns the judge's ears into those of an ass to reflect what he deems to be the baseness of Midas' sensibilities. Pan goes merrily on his way.