Seattle-based noise band Panther Attack play obtuse, nontraditionally structured experimental rock music. Panther Attack songs take a meandering path that can lead from gong-smashing percussion to mathy guitar riffs to space-age dreamy loops, often spiraling off into stream of consciousness tinted jams. Sung Amongst Shadows, the band's 2014 release, is a cleaned up amalgamation of the band's decade long career, a full-sounding layered album with downtempo rollers and twitchy, tinny toe tappers. The album is available for download at Panther Attack's bandcamp page.
Panther Attack plays tonight at Volcanic Theatre Pub, 9 pm. $5.
- Tia White
AG: Andrew Grapes: Drums
KM: Kelly Mynes, Drums, Guitar
JW: Jon Wiens, Bass Guitar
JG: Josh Grapes: Guitar
Source Weekly: Do you get lumped into the experimental category? Math rock? Is that how you would define your music?
AG: I wouldn't define our music; I would leave that to the critics. Personally, I think once you start defining the music you play, you set constraints to what you're creating and that's something we would like to avoid. Although, because of the nature of the music being polyrhythmic, instrumental, and from a rock perspective it does get pushed into categories like this but hopefully we can transcend these boundaries.
JW: Not sure that “experimental” would be an appropriate descriptor – we put our current release through significant trial and error with hopes of ultimately creating music that what we find interesting to listen to and to play. So, Panther Attack’s music is not as spontaneous as one might think of “experimental” music, but it definitely isn’t jam-band material either. It seems to me that Panther Attack tends to get lumped into the “Math rock” category as there are dynamic characteristics that are similar... All I know is that if you limit your exposure to music based on a perception of genre, or other preconceived notions, then you might be showing up too late to the party.
SW: You guys have been together for quite a while now, how long has the band been around and how do you keep things fresh?
KM: Honestly, we don’t keep things fresh because it takes us 6 years to write an album.
AG: We've actually been around for some time now - over a decade - honing our skills and craftsmanship in basements, dive bars and practice spaces. You’ve got to pay the dues though! Keeping it fresh is a different story. The most important ways to keep it fresh are to keep learning, move forward, and to not shut out different ideas or ways of thinking.
SW: Tell me about your vinyl only release? What do you think about guys like Jack White and Ryan Adams selling tons of brand new vinyl?
AG: It was fun. We did it to try something different. All the artwork and screen printing was done by us personally. Big name artists selling vinyl doesn't bother me at all. There's a certain character to vinyl and the way it plays is a little different on each person’s turntable – plus, the way it smells, how it sounds, and the ritual of actually digging the album out and physically placing it on the turntable and dropping the needle. It's an experience.
KM: Sharp Moments on vinyl is awesome because it sounds a little bit faster and grittier than it does when played on CD or otherwise.
JW: I like Jack White and his shtick. As for the other guy… Summer of ’69 is one of my top ten songs of all time – that video speaks to me immeasurably.
SW: Tell me about Sung Amongst Shadows? How is it different than your previous albums? What are you most excited about on the new album?
JG: The main difference is that we re-wrote all of the songs for Sung Amongst Shadows. Whereas before, we just wrong the songs and played and recorded them with very little revision. We went back and looked at how we could re-write the Sung Amongst Shadows to make it better. So, it is like version 2.0.
AG: Sung Amongst Shadows is our most encompassing effort to date. After recording the songs, we sent it out to our friends to ask for their input and participation on the recordings, which in the end took on a much bigger and well-rounded personality. We're really pleased with the outcome and we can't wait to perform it live.
SW: What do you hope listeners get out of your music?
JG: I hope that listeners feel some sort of emotion, and that they get some kind of story out of it. And at that same time, are slightly impressed by the music.
JW: I hope listeners get an eerie and overpowering sense of human instinct that forces an awakening from the drone-like repetition that is the everyday perceptions and acceptance of the way things are.
SW: You guys moved from Detroit to Seattle correct? When was that, how have you found the music scenes to be different in those two cities?
AG: 2004/2005. The caliber of bands is a little higher in Seattle. It forced us to step up our game. The rock scene in Detroit didn't really set a high standard of musicianship for us.
SW: Is complex rock better than simplistic rock?
KM: Depends on the mood. I think listeners should be accepting of all types of music, and use it to their advantage based on their situation. If you’re feeling chill, then listen to something chill...
SW: How do you tell a story in a song with no lyrics? Is that even the point of instrumental music?
JW: It’s as possible to tell a story with music as it is to tell a story with a painting, drawing, or photograph. Lyrics are not necessary to convey imagery.
JG: I think you can tell a story through music by having different movements in one song – you could have something that’s maybe fast, staccato, and then counterpoint with something else that is smooth or slow. Music is its own language and you may not always understand it completely, and even if you don’t understand it you just might get the gist of it. Also, you have to be in a space to be able to hear the story. If you are listening to Beethoven the first time and your head is in a different space, then you might miss his genius.
SW: What are all of your musical backgrounds?
AG: Grew up on Heart, Journey, and the Doobie Brothers. Moved on to Metallica and Megadeth. Then spanned out to acts like June of '44 and Don Cabellero. Headed on to Coltrane and Mingus. Now all I listen to is Miley Cyrus. I'm mostly self-taught with little professional training.
JW: Two out of three band member’s mothers suggested we should cover “Wipe Out” by the Surfaris because it’s instrumental and people know it. Although the song “Wipe Out” metaphorically encompasses all of our backgrounds, yet we will probably never seriously cover it because it’s too straightforward.