photo by Doron Gild
words by Sheryl Witlen
photos by Doron Gild
Electronic explosion The Panda Band have come a long way from the western town of Perth, Australia to be with us today. Damian Crosbie (Vocals, Guitars), David “Rufus” Namour (Bass), Chris Callan (Guitars) and Gabriel Nicotra (Drums) make up this intelligent, experimental collective. Riding on the tails of numerous Australian awards they have come a long way from one of the smallest of cities in Australia and their sound captures the feelings of isolation and distance in a raw and passionate melodic form.
After their performance, the band talked about music, Australia and killing cougars:
Sheryl: How did the music scene in Perth help for you to get here?
Damian: When we first started we got a lot of support from Perth bands who were getting bigger and so they took us on east coast tours. We got a lot of help from the National Youth Radio.
Sheryl: So your album came out in September of 2006, are you working on anything new right now?
Damian: We are doing demos for the next album and are probably going to do some recording while we are here in New York for an EP in between.
Chris: We have a little portable studio to set up in our hotel rooms and not-so-nice hotel rooms and we are going to try and record lots of songs. We are going to listen to the ESPN hunting channel.
Rufus: ‘Cause killing cougars is the right thing to do.
Damian: Are we allowed to tell a story in here? I was watching the ESPN hunting channel where I was watching the hunting of a buck. After the buck was shot the hunter exclaimed, ‘God has blessed me today.’ I found that a bit disturbing. So that was quite confrontational, waking up to that first thing in the morning.
Sheryl: So do you channel those feelings into your writing?
Chris: Yeah, the blues. We’re gonna call the next album “The Hunting Blues.”
Gus: It’s gonna be a great second album
Damian: It’s gonna be an ‘up” album.
Sheryl: Is the writing process more of a collaborative effort?
Damian: The new album has had a lot of input from everyone this time. Whereas the first album mainly came from home demos i did. Then we sort of adapted that wave. Now every one’s recording.
Sheryl: So you all went to high school together but when did you officially come together as a band?
Damian: April of 2004.
Rufus: The saga continues really because we did go to High School and there was a band that we performed with another member who is still in Australia and then we added Chris over here and that went on for a while.
Rufus: Well you were doing your own fantastic thing.
Damian: Actually he was in the band.
Rufus: Oh Yes! You were! Just playing drums and whatnot.
Chris: And then we found Gus, who was better and then he went for a few years to live in London and then when we came back we kinda reformed.
Damian: David wanted to do a side project for the National Campus band competition, wanted to do it as a joke and then we started doing all these punk songs and we couldn’t go through with it. Then we started getting serious and from those songs we had the ones we first sent off to the National Radio Stations and that became the start of the band. So we had to form a band after that.
Sheryl: How is the energy of an Australian audience differ from that of say a New York or American Audience?
Damian:American audiences i found really, really seem to enjoy it, maybe even get it a bit more than Australian audiences. They seem to be a bit more open minded towards like a lot stuff going on in the music.
Chris: It must be maybe because you guys have a lot of radio stations or something. In Australia it is quite limited so a lot of people get stuck in commercial radio and you only hear the seven same songs over and over again. We aren’t really a commercial band.
Damian: I just remember our first reaction was that they didn’t really give a stuff if they knew you or not. They’d come right up to the front and cheer and everything whereas in Australia people are more a “oh, if i haven’t heard you on the radio” they don’t give you as much time.
Chris: I found that even if they do like you they won’t come straight up to the front. A few people are really up there.
Rufus: Yeah they seem very self conscious.
Damian: It’s all a bit stupid really, mob mentality.
Chris: Love you, Australia!