Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Pan Interview

1.For those that have never heard of you before, can you tell us a little bit about the band?
Chris: We have a standard 3 piece rock setup (drums, guitar/bass,vocals). Definitely riff-oriented and we love our feedback, but we're always shifting the mood around. We're rooted in the stoner/doom/death sound but don't have a problem taking it elsewhere. You'll hear the occasional nod to black metal and I suppose there's even a small jazz component from time to time. I think there will always be an experimental nature to the band
Ken: We have been together as a three piece since around 2009 or so. Chris and I started the band back in 2007 as a two-piece. As for how we sound, that has always been difficult for us to explain quickly. I would say that it is a mixture of stoner, doom and death metal, but we also barrow form other genres as well. Lately we have just been calling it “northern Michigan heavy metal” for lack of anything more concise to call it.

2.Recently you have released a new album, how would you describe the musical sound that is presented on the recording and also how does it differ from your 2 previous recordings?
C: On this album we went for all long arrangements. 5 monstrous slabs of whatever the hell it is we do. Again the mood varies, at times quite widely, from the beginning to the end of each song. I'd say the biggest example is with "Slow Waters and Grey Skies." It starts out southern/stoner rock and ends up sounding something like late-period Bathory. It is the best sounding album we have made so far. We recorded the majority of it in our friend Andy Roggenbuck's basement. He did an amazing job preserving our live sound while cleaning it up into a well-rounded studio mix.
K: My first thought would have to be is that Driftwoods is more mature than the other two albums. Our first release was a three song live demo called Fucking Primitive: Live at the Loft. That release was basically used to sell at our early our early gigs, and that was recorded when we were still instrumental only. As for Advent, our first full-length, those songs were mostly all written when we were still a two-piece, and we were still trying to figure out exactly what we wanted PAN to do. Well, we are still trying to figure out what we want PAN do musically. I think that with Driftwoods, we are a little more focused, or comfortable with what we are doing. As for production, Driftwoods is our first release where we did not record and engineer it. Our friend Andy Roggenbuck mixed and mastered Advent and when we approached him about doing that again, he asked if he could man the helm from the get go, and I am very glad that he did.
J: Driftwoods is our best sounding recording to date, thanks to our wise decision (and his insistence!) to get Andy Roggenbuck involved right from the start this time around. He's very good at doing things. Stylistically, Driftwoods is similar to Advent in that it defies easy categorization (much to the chagrin of reviewers and critics), but I believe it has a cohesion that exceeds that of Advent. Fucking Primitive: Live at the Loft is more of a promo/demo recording that preceded the addition of vocals to Pan's sound. The sound quality is rough, the performance is imperfect--you might say it's...fucking primitive! That being said, I still like it and it contains an early version of Cold Winds & Dark Waves, which is the opening track on Driftwoods. I like all 3 recordings, but I'd have to say Driftwoods is the strongest. It contains elements of death metal, stoner rock, black metal, even perhaps some ambient/noise influences and psychedelia. But to try to categorize it is to miss the point. Pan is unpigeonholeable!

3.Your lyrics cover some Occult topics, can you tell us a little bit more about your interest in this subject?
C: PAN's references to the occult are usually used as a vehicle for broader lyrical themes. It's most mentioned in the song "Serpents and Bones;" where shadowy figures, released from an ancient spell, usher in a phase of dormancy and regrowth for a planet that seems to have spun out of control.
K: I do not know if there is a really direct interest in the Occult. When there are some Occultish topics, I think it is mostly bits and pieces of what we picked up along the way.

4.I know that the bands name come from Greek Paganism, what was the decision behind naming your band after this deity?
C: Pan in Greek mythology represents a lot of what our music is influenced by. We admire the natural wilderness and strive for the musical proficiency that he symbolizes.
K: I cannot remember exactly why we chose that. I think it had something do with the quick description we saw in a book once. It was probably something like “Pan-god of the forest and rustic music”, and we probably said something along the lines of “well, we like the woods and music. Works for me”.

5.What are some of the best shows that the band has played so far and also how would you describe your stage performance?
C: Currently, we're gigging mostly in small clubs/bars in southern Michigan. The response has been overall positive and I'm having a great time meeting new fans. We've been playing with some really talented bands of like-minds who have kept us motivated and inspired to keep making this music that we love. Our live show is pretty straightforward. We get up there and jam. Being the guy with the microphone, I usually try to keep it pretty light with the audience while maintaining our badass persona :-).
K: Best shows… A few weeks ago we played our first “hometown” show in four years, so the crowd and the energy there was great. That was a very fun show for us.  As for our stage performance, I would like to think it is relatively straight forward. We like the idea of just being able to stroll up to our gear and start playing… no fuss, no muss. I think we are able to maintain the power trio sound with heavy metal, and that is something I do like.
J: In the early days after I joined the band we'd host concerts in the loft/practice space for close friends and family. We'd do it up big with lights and fog and cloaks and play every single thing we knew how to play. Those are still probably my favorite shows. Our first show in Kalamazoo, which was sort of our unofficial CD release concert for Advent, was also a highlight--more for its significance as our foot-in-the-door to doing "real" shows than for the performance itself. And we made some good connections there that got the ball rolling for things to come (Thanks, Ben Boggs!). We've only recently started playing gigs with any regularity--maybe 1 or 2 per month--so at this point I'd say every show is memorable and unique in some way. Of course, some performances are better than others. Some sound systems are more (or less) conducive to a successful show. Some audiences are more receptive than others to our still unfamiliar way of doing things. We've been in top form in front of unenthusiastic crowds, and we've played poorly in front of cheering strangers who didn't seem to notice or care about our flagrant fuck-ups and flawed execution. I think each show is a learning experience.

6.Do you have any touring or show plans for the future?
C:  As far as live shows, we're looking to venture a little farther out this year. We will continue working on our Michigan fan base though setting up some mini-tours that may venture into some nearby states like Ohio and Illinois.
K: I think currently we are going to take a month or two break from playing live because we are all going to be very busy with our lives outside of the band. During this time however, our goal is to start writing some new material and get some much needed practicing in. We all live relatively far away from each other, I live one and a half hours drive from chris, and four hours from john, so we don’t get to practice very often. We have been talking recently about trying to get a Michigan mini tour planned for November or December.

7.According to the Metal Archives page the band is signed to Working Class Druid, can you tell us a little bit more about this label?
C: Working Class Druid is pretty much a stamp that we've been putting on the projects we've worked on for the past few years. We may seek to develop it into a proper label in the future, but at this point we are an unsigned band.
K: This is kind of a funny question for us. When we first started PAN, we also started Working Class Druid with the intention of having it be a label to release our music, as well as any type of other local music we wanted to record and produce. We also used it a few times as promotion label. When we first started playing out, we would have to do everything because there is virtually no metal scene in northern Michigan. So we would have to book the venue, the other bands, make the posters, etc… So we would usually say something like “Working Class Druid presents [show, venue…]”. Now we pretty much only use the Working Class Druid to put on our albums to let people know, we are still doing this on our own.

8.On a worldwide level how has the feedback been to your music by fans of metal?
C:  We've heard some encouraging feedback from countries including Italy, Poland, Canada, and Germany. It's really exciting to have our music heard in other parts of the world. From the responses we've received, it appears as though metal fans from these countries view us as a talented, promising band.
K: To be honest, we are just starting to get some worldwide feedback. It seems to be mostly all positive. Its funny, We have been sending Driftwoods to different places to be reviewed, and all save one have been sent outside the US, and the one we did send inside the US decided he did not want to review it anymore hahaha.

9.Where do you see the band heading into musically during the future?
C: Probably just gonna let it roll as they say. We're starting to accumulate some pretty dope new riffs and we'll probably start a focussed period of writing for the new album this winter. Ken has acquired an old Hammond organ with a Leslie amplifier. I foresee that making an appearance on the new album.
K: I think we are just going to keep exploring what our sound is, and what we can do with it. Some of the new parts we are just starting to write are exciting to me because they are new of course, but again, it seems like we are starting to be even more comfortable with what we are doing.
J: The existential void.

10.What are some of the bands or musical styles that have had an influence on your music and also what are you listening to nowadays?
C: If you're familiar with our music, you can probably gather that we've heard of Opeth before. Otherwise, bands like The Sword, Down, Witchcraft, Melvins, Gojira, Katatonia, Bloodbath and Darkthrone have and continue to be a source of influence. Some of the albums I've been into lately include Cathedral - The Etherial Mirror, Aura Noir - Merciless, and the new Triptykon - Melana Chasmata. Aside from that I love Weird Al.
K: I grew up listening to a lot of different kinds of music. There was quite a bit of jazz, classical and good old rock and roll being played in the house I grew up in. I was very into 70’s rock when I was younger, and I think that has influenced me in my approach to playing drums in PAN.
Right now I am not listening to a lot of metal to be honest. I have been listening more on the mellow side of things… so post (I am still not entirely sure what that means, but heard it associated with some of the bands I am listening to…) rock(?), and recently Sigur Ros has been making their way into my stereo lately. And then there is always Waylon Jennings, I am a big fan of his. I just ordered some new albums, I have to order them online because there is not a record store within 90 miles of my house, and most of them are heavy and I cant wait to check them out… The new Vader, Eyehategod and Monarch!.
J: Opeth is probably the biggest influence/inspiration that all three of us share. However, there are plenty of other bands we all like: Gojira, Vader, Witchcraft, Katatonia, Craft, Black Sabbath, Uriah Heep, to name just a few. But I think each of us brings his own unique influences to the table as well.

I've been listening to and thoroughly enjoying the latest Gorguts album Colored Sands, the most recent studio album Viljans Öga by Swedish prog-rock badasses Änglagård, Helmet's 1990 debut Strap It On has made its way back into rotation lately, and I've been digging some early Leonard Cohen--the folky stuff from the first few albums.

11.What are some of your non musical interests?
C: Hiking and biking and kickin' it with my wife.
K: Doing things outside, I am a fan of that. Hiking, camping, sitting on a boat, things like that. I also like ice hockey quite a bit, playing and watching games on the television. I also like to drive cars. Just driving for driving’s sake. That is also how I listen to a lot of music, when I am out on a drive. Oh, and bourbon.
J: Reading books, sipping bourbon, imagining the undoing of the un-undoable.

12.Before we wrap up this interview, do you have any final words or thoughts?
C: Aaaaaaand..........I got nothing. Dammit.
K: Thank you very much for this opportunity, honestly this was my first interview about PAN, I hope I was not too boring and babbling and all the things that make interviews terrible to read hahaha.
J: If you add an "s" to laughter it becomes slaughter. That's pretty weird, eh?

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