Interview with The Panda Band


From the Funky Mofo archive: Damian Crosbie took some time off the Pand Band’s busy schedule to reply to Jo Whitby’s emailed questions. Here goes…

Funky Mofo: For those of our readers who have yet to discover The Panda Band, please introduce yourselves…

Damian Crosbie: Rufus (bassist), Stephen (Callan, keyboardist and sampler), Gabriel (Nicotra, drummer, percussionist), Chris (Callan, guitarist and backing vocalist) and Damian (Crosbie, vocalist and guitarist), all of sound mind and 18-plus.

FM: How and where did you meet?

DC: On the bus to Physical Education at high school.

FM: Are you all from Perth? What’s the music scene like over there?

DC: Stephen and Chris are from Ireland, but moved Ozside when they were young and not old enough to enjoy their motherlands’ pubs. The Perth scene is quite active at the moment with a few locals making it big in oz and the world. It’s encouraging and creates some healthy competition:-). Perth Bands also tend to help the rest out with touring, like Little Birdy have done for us.

FM: You’ve been touring quite a lot recently! Do you enjoy the live experience?

DC: We sure do enjoy it. It can get a little cramped on stage sometimes, but we use the space as wildly as we can. I like ridiculous light shows, and smoke machines.

FM: What have been your most memorable moments so far?

DC: Loads… but Mercury Lounge in New York was fun and full. We also find Brisbane and Adelaide crowds are so enthusiastic it really inspires you to kick it.

FM: You currently run your own indie record label, is that right? What made you decide to set that up?

DC: Yeh, we just wanted to release it with the minimum amount of hype and fuss. Coz we had quite a lot of attention before we’d even played live, we didn’t want to sign some deal straight off, all green and clueless. It’s pretty easy to do it yourself in Australia, some of the biggest artists are independent, in the true sense of the word, having very hands on is part in their whole career.

FM: I hear you are looking to sign to a UK label. Why?

DC: If you sign to a big name Label in Oz, they’ve gotta try and convince their overseas colleagues to feel the same as they do, and it doesn’t always work. If you sign direct to the UK, at least ya know they actually give a shit about you and will want to put a descent effort into getting the music out. All the Oz acts that people know of and have done well overseas, namely Jet and The Vines, signed overseas deals first. It just seems to work better.

FM: Which label would you like to sign to if you had the choice?

DC: Well we do have a choice and so far it’s been in our best interests not to sign, you’re just not in a very strong negotiating position when you start out, so we’ve chosen to wait. We just don’t want to be binmen when the contract is up.

FM: Can you tell us about your new album that’s nearly ready? What sort of vibe will it have? When can we expect to find it in our local record shops?

DC: Nearly ready?? I wish. We can’t wait to get recording it but that won’t be for another month-ish. Release date will probably be around March 2006 I would say. It will hopefully be colourful, growing, dreamy and not too long. We’ve had a tuff time cutting tracks which is a happy but hard position to be in at the same time, but I feel its better to leave people wanting more and leave room for growth than ask too much of listeners on the first record.

DC: What are you listening to right now?

DC: Crap UK radio – coz my MD walkman was stolen on our last tour over east. Can’t wait to get one of the wiz-bang new things and cram the whole collection on there. Before the tragedy, though, it was Neil Young’s After the Goldrush, Wilco’s A Ghost Is Born (the two have amazing similarities as I hear it).

FM: Do you have any expectations about the music business, what has your experience as a band been so far?

DC: They’ll get away with as much as they can when it comes to signings. I just figure if we were poor and pissed off it ain’t gonna make things rosey with the label so why not treat us well?? They probably figure we’ll just spend it on booze and too many guitars. Spot on.

FM: If you could work with any artist/s (past or present) who would they be and why?

DC: Don’t know if I’m that good working with others, maybe, my friend from Perth, Jeff Strong was good to work with, he’s an awesome singer songwriter and I’d love him to be in the band, but I wouldn’t want to have a fight on what songs to keep and what to ditch. Some times lyrics slow me down, so having Van Dyke Parks on board would be a laugh, or maybe find a young poet or writer who interested me.

FM: What are your plans for the near future?

DC: Record the album! And some festivals and east coast shows back in oz.

FM: Thank you for your time! Much appreciated!

DC: No worries.

Jo Whitby

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