Interview: Chile’s Panico pack a punch

At first listen, there’s something vaguely familiar with Panico’s sound. It is garage rock, no doubt there, but with something of a Latin twist to it. Tropical rock as they refer to it on their Myspace page. Think rough, fast-paced yet melodic songs. Catchy guitar riffs and heavy drum sequences. And Eduardo, the band’s charismatic, can’t-sit-still frontman, whom we email interviewed late last week…

Panico3

Where are you right now, and what are you doing?

Hi there!! We’re in Chile in Valparaiso where we performed at the Rockodromo festival on Saturday night, heading on to Santiago tonight.

What time is it where you are?

17h.

Can you tell us a little bit about your move from Chille to Paris in 2001? What spurred it? How much do you miss Chille?

In 2001 we’d been doing Panico for 7 years.  We had already a long story, our label Combo discos and about 4 records released.

In those days bands would’nt play much outside Chile, and at some point we were frustrated of performing in the same venues for the same people.

We needed some fresh air so that’s why we decided to move towards mexico. But finally the first label interested in releasing our music outside chile was a french one.

That’s how we ended in Paris.

Listening to your albums, you come across as a band born to be performing in front of an audience. Would you rather be on stage than in the studio?

Two totally different situations. Our music is based on a mixture of energy and transe so it works really good live. But the studio is the place where we experiment with sounds and rythms so both are great to us. But we’re definitely a band that enjoys gigs!

Can you tell us a little bit about working together with Jon Savage on Kick? How did you find recording in Glasgow compared to recording in Chille or New York?

The difference with all our previous recording experiences is that the studio we were recording in was owned by musicians and therefore it was full of instruments, pedals, weird synths. And above everything it wasn’t clean and clinic as many studios are. This one was messy, strange as it was built in the backstage of an old theater. And Paul was great, we really enjoyed sharing this moment with him. He was very professional and focussed, as we only had 5 days to do the whole album.

You also had Christian Vogel remixing the album, and Joakim contributing to the producing…how did that come about?

That was for our previous album, Subliminal Kill.  It happened because Joakim was releasing the album on his label  and he suggested Cristian to mix some tracks, we were in the idea of making a record that would sound great in night clubs.

You sing in English on Kick more than you do on any other of Panico’s album. Is it a conscious decision, a more a natural progression?

It’s because I was bored to sing lyrics that no one could understand outside south america! So when we started writing this album i added more and more words in english in my songs. It’s sort of a Spanglish thing. At the end, nobody really understands what i say – but i think it’s fun doing it. Seriously i think i can have a better contact with our audiences in europe now.

To Europeans, your history begins in 2005 with Subliminal Kill. But, in fact, you’ve been around since 1995 if I’m not mistaken, having released four albums in Chille. How difficult has it been to crack Europe?

It was hard, specially at the beginning, because we came from a comfortable situation to a tough one. So it took long before we started having our own audience again. Also we had all the classic problems people have when they come to europe and want to live there : visas, language, money etc…. So it was like penetrating a jungle without the equipment ! But now we’re enjoying this a lot, I think people know better the band, it’s been very intense.

Your relationship with Tigersushi began by a chance encounter in a Parisian book store. Could you tell us a little bit more about that?

It was in 2004, we were living our worse days : absolutely no money, no label, no distribution. We were desperate and we wasted our last funds in releasing a 12″ vinyl with 4 songs. So we were selling ourselves the ep to record shops and some art book stores. We met Joakim in one of those and we enjoyed the music and that’s how all began again…. it was our last chance!!

Being mostly an electronic label (although recently that could be debated), it might seem odd to some that you’ve developed such a successful relationship with them. Could you talk to us about your work with the label, and how you see yourself fit in with the rest of their roster?

It’s true, but at the same time Tigersushi is an eclectic label and Joakim is open minded. We wanted to have a weird rock band in his label; and he thought we’d fit good.

Would it be right to say that you’ve moved the band a little closer to pop with your latest album? Its definitely a little more radio-friendly…

Yes probably; it’s because we came back to writing songs more than just jamming and building tracks based on that jam sessions. We wanted to write songs again and sing chorus and bring an emotion to the listener:)

You’re about to embark on the European leg of the promo tour for Panico. How has been the response to the latest album? Can you tell us about some of the opening acts you played with in Latin America, and some of those you’ve chosen for Europe?

Yes, we’ve had a good response to the record, specially in the UK, wich is great for us. We’re working there with a label called Chemikal Underground and they’ve done great work. We will tour the UK in April and then the rest of europe and summer festivals.  Now we’re in Chile doing a summer tour as the album was just released here, and we’ll be performing with LCD Soundsystem in Santiago next week. All very exciting!!

What’s next for Panico? Can you talk to us about your schedule for the next 6 months?

We will perform in Europe and South America for a couple of month, and then in September we’ll release a movie called “Panico, from rock to eternity”. It’s a documentary directed by James Schneider. The camera follows the band on a trip to the Atacama desert in the north of chile and shows the recording of an experimental album in isolated ghost towns and meteor craters.

What is the band’s vice when on tour? The bad habit you instantly get back into…?

We’re like any band, alcohol abuse I guess !

What are you listening to at the moment? Who gets to pick what you all listen to on the tour bus/van?

Depends, there are no rule, but it’s all very eclectic, from cumbia to industrial music. I’m enjoying the album of a band called Creep.

If you had to make a top 5 playlist of your all time favourite songs, who would make the cut?

I’d say

Perez Prado “Caballo Negro”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e7kgTSOmT0k

Modern lovers “Roadrunner”

Los Golpes “Olvidarte nunca”

Sonic youth “Teenage riot”

Bo Diddley “Who do you love”

Panico’s new album, Kick, is out on Tigersushi