Audioasis Interview Spotlight: Panther Attack

by Rachel LeBlanc

Escaping the burgeoning garage-rock scene of Detroit, the four guys of Panther Attack headed west, their expansive, jazz tinged instrumental music packed in their suitcases. Although their arrival to Seattle didn’t equal instant success, with their first year spent starting anew in basements, they had left a mark back in Michigan. “We were playing in Detroit for two years, and had built a fan base there,” reminisced guitarist Josh Grapes, “and we opened for larger bands, such as Don Caballero. It was becoming stagnant, however.” Bassist Jon Wiens landed a job here in Seattle, but their interest in this locale was also sparked by a friendship cultivated with now defunct NW bands Vermilion and The Building Press.

The creation of Panther Attack developed from a classic case of split bands. As drummer/guitarist Kelly Mynes explained: “Jon and I were in a band together, except the guitarist started turning crazy -- instead of playing his guitar, he would just sit there and laugh at it.” When Josh and his brother, drummer Andrew Grapes, found themselves suddenly out of a band as well, the four decided to, well, band together. “At first it was really confusing, because both Andrew and I were the drummers of our previous bands. We wrote ten songs which consisted of one guitar and two drums; we would play over top of one another. It still can be confusing, but we’ve figured it out.” Democratically is their method for writing songs, Jon explained, with no one person in charge.

As a big fan of their style of music myself, I wondered: what album drew an interest to instrumental rock in themselves? Kelly’s first introduction to the genre is the same as mine, Tortoise. Jon’s wasn’t particularly a “post-rock” band, but Yes’ Closer to the Edge. The Grapes brothers said they shared music growing up. “We tend to be the biggest influence on each other for our music style,” Kelly noted, mentioning they all grew up listening primarily to harder rock. With four years in carving a space for themselves in the enormous Seattle music scene, the guys have made headway, with their second release, EP Sharp Moments, available in records stores this past Tuesday and their next gig at the Georgetown Music Festival next month. While the first CD, Martyr Bonus, was an accumulation of five years worth of song writing, their latest release will showcase their most recent work in the past year. Jon compared the EP and previous CD, “This song writing process was more condensed, and fresher than the first CD.” “We decided to release the current songs we have now as an EP to get them out there, before releasing another full-length,” Josh added. Their engineer, as Andrew chimed in, was Brandon Eggleston, whom they had worked with before, but this time around were much more comfortable with. Describing their evolution of sound, John interpreted it as, “A little bit more punk and harder edged; we sped the music up. There are less jazzy elements than before.” As a reasoning for their instrumental only take, Kelly told me, “We’re much more an emotional band, bringing our point across through music than lyrics.”

On that point, I would highly agree, having caught their most recent show at the newest venue King Cobra. You can pick up their vinyl-only release at record stores across town, as well as catching them at above mentioned Georgetown Music Fest.

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