Interview: together PANGEA on working with a Replacement, rowdy West Coast crowds, and not fucking around in the studio

 
 

Los Angeles garage punks together PANGEA have never met a stage they couldn’t crush.

With a raw and unpredictable approach to their craft, while also exuding emotion and never being afraid to push the envelope artistically, they’re a band that are just as fun at a house party as they are at a regular music venue. It’s this no-frills style that instantly makes the listener gravitate to them. Coming out of a scene that’s rich in rock and roll talent, together PANGEA supply something different by bringing catchy melodies along with heavy riffs. It makes for an emphatic style that’s bound to stick in your head while also blowing your brains out.

Joined with Kentucky fuzz rockers White Reaper, together PANGEA will be rolling through New England this weekend with stops at The Middle East in Cambridge on Saturday with local sludgeheads Dinoczar, and at Fete Music Hall in Providence on Sunday with surf punk weirdos Gymshorts kicking the show off. Vanyaland had a recent chat with frontman William Keegan about the band’s latest EP, The Phage, starting out at Cal Arts, experiences with playing the Northeast, and when we can expect to see their next full length come out.

Rob Duguay: In October together PANGEA released The Phage EP, which was produced by The Replacements’ Tommy Stinson. Where was the EP recorded and what was it like working with Tommy in the studio?

William Keegan: It was recorded at Kingsize North which is in the valley near North Hollywood. Working with Tommy was really cool, he was very laid back. I guess how he approached it was that he wanted to get as much of a live sound as possible. We didn’t do too many takes, most of the tracks were recorded in one take. All the vocals were done in one take so he was that kind of guy. We didn’t fuck around too much and we did it all live. That was basically his approach and it was great workin’ with him, super sweet guy. It was kind of intimidating working with him at first but it was great.

Must have been awesome that you guys got the get the EP done fairly quickly with Tommy keeping things simple.

Yeah.

You can definitely tell the live approach with the recording itself from the way everything sounds and how everything is structured. The EP also has a stripped down pop hook driven sound where together PANGEA’s previous full length Badillac was a mix between ’70s stoner fuzz metal and high octane punk. What made you guys want to go that route with the EP?

That wasn’t necessarily a conscious decision. There were these kind of songs that we had that were leftovers from the Badillac sessions that just didn’t fit. We felt like that album had a distinct vibe so when we had these other songs that didn’t fit, we didn’t use them. A couple of them we used for The Phage, it wasn’t really a conscious decision to make an album that was that much different. It’s just an album that’s a collection of songs rather than it being a full concept. That’s why it’s an EP instead of a full length because it’s more of a collection of songs that we wanted to record.

That makes sense, pretty much just stuff leftover from a previous recording session that you still wanted to put out there.

Yeah.

When together PANGEA started out, you started playing shows around the campus of the California Institute of The Arts after you, Danny Bengston and Erik Jimenez met there. Did you notice any big differences between playing shows on campus at Cal Arts versus playing in venues around the area?

Danny was a student at Cal Arts while Erik and I would just hang out there because it was the only thing going on in the suburbs that we lived in. We started as a band there playing shows, that was our first experience playing for audiences which was mostly just in small gallery spaces or house shows. Sound wise there were two different experiences. For house shows you gotta get a PA and you gotta get a PA that doesn’t suck so people can actually hear your voice. You have to learn to turn up the amps to the right volume so you can kind of hear everything.

I’m guessing that all those shows sounded like shit. I don’t really remember but they probably all sounded like shit but people had fun, When you get to a venue you get the chance to take your time, make everything sound right and get the vocals right so people can get a better sense of what it is that you’re trying to get across. That sort of actually changed the songwriting also. In a venue there’s just more that you can do and get across than at a house show or a small space.

With a house show there’s more of a DIY approach where at a venue you already have a sound guy and a legit sound system all rigged up. You guys are going to be rolling through The Middle East in Cambridge and Fete Music Hall in Providence this weekend. As a band from the West Coast, how would you describe your prior experiences from playing in the Northeast?

We’ve never played Rhode Island before. New York has always been good, Canada is always good with cities like Toronto and Montreal. Surprisingly we’ve had good audiences. The difference would be that when we’re at home in L.A. people kind of get a little crazier, there’s a lot more crowd surfing and moshing and stuff. I think it’s just because they’re more familiar with us. Obviously we haven’t played nearly as much on the East Coast as we have on the West Coast. There’s not a huge difference, I think people are just a little less familiar with what we are like live.

Especially when you guys are from California and you’re going to the other side of the country where half the people who go to shows don’t even know about you guys.

I feel that a lot of people have been coming just to check us out because they listened to a song on Youtube or something. When they see us live I think they’ll be in for a kind of a different experience. People respond well, people tend to be pretty stoked and we’re really happy about that.

After this current tour ends do together PANGEA plan on going back into the studio and putting out another full length?

We’ve actually already began demoing the next album. It’ll definitely come out next year, we’ll be recording it early next year and then it’ll come out in the Summer. We’ve already started working on the record, we have like seven or eight songs ready to go.

TOGETHER PANGEA :: Saturday, November 21 at the Middle East, 472 Massachusetts Ave. in Cambridge MA : With White Reaper and Dinoczar : 6:30 p.m., 18-plus, $12 : Advance tickets : Facebook event page :: Sunday, November 22 at Fete Music Hall, 103 Dike St. in Providence, RI : With White Reaper and Gymshorts : 7 p.m., all ages, $10 : Advance tickets : Facebook event page