Panther Ray is the Twin Cities' new psychedelic rock hope
With so many bands in the Twin Cities recording great psychedelic rock, it's hard to keep track of them all. One that may have been lost in the purple haze is Panther Ray, who quietly released their first EP, Parallel Motions, last spring. The disc combines classic psych sounds with '80s jangle and modern shoegazin' rock, all held together by nuanced studio craftwork. On Daily Season, their new EP out this week, Panther Ray has captured some rich guitar shredding that sounds like a lost recording of Arthur Lee and just the right amount of trombone.
Photo by Jamie Moncur
Gimme Noise just had to introduce you to these guys, so we chased down their mystery machine to ask them a few questions about the new disc.
Gimme Noise: The last time I saw you guys play it seemed like you were having a hard time deciding who was going to play what instrument.
Joey Johnson: It has always been a way that we collaborate. From the time we started playing together, we definitely recognized that everyone has the tools to be creative on each instrument. As we've gotten more serious about what we do, we've made an attempt to solidify the lineup a bit but we have no intention of setting aside that aspect of our creativity altogether.
Daniel Ries: In most songs these days we're sticking to the layout of Andy [Rockwood] on bass, Joey on drums, and Evan [Kramer] and I on guitar, but there are definitely some songs where we prefer to deviate.
Andy Rockwood: I think that everyone has different musical ideas and therefore not keeping a standard lineup all the time keeps the songs unique from each other.
GN: Daily Season sounds a lot more confident than your first EP to my
ears. Are the new songs ones that were written and rehearsed at the same time as Parallel Motions, or did they come later?
JJ: Daily Season is a collection of songs that have been in our proverbial pocket for a long time alongside others that have come into being during the recording process. "Ought" and "Beasters" are two of the first songs we ever wrote, but it took until this release to have recordings that we were satisfied with. "Caterpillars" and "Bubbles" are much newer and were written around the time of our first release, Parallel Motions.
GN: There's a lot of studio effects on both EPs that are hard to re-create in a live set. How does a song like "Green Lake" change when it's performed in a club?
DR: That is definitely one of the trickier ones to arrange for the live
setup, similarly to the track "Soar" on our last EP. We don't really try to play things exactly as they're recorded on most songs, but when the song is pretty reliant on certain sounds like those two, we definitely do try to replicate some of it. It contains some reverse tracking and such, so we just try our best to approximate the feel and dynamics of the recording by using guitar pedals and different techniques of playing.
GN: Do you think there's a second revival of psychedelic rock going on in recent years? It seems like there are a lot of bands that into '60s psych records and also the jangly indie rock of the '80s.
JJ: I think that's true. For us personally, this is the music we love. I feel like the popularity of these styles has certainly had a renaissance, but the influence that it has on our music is more subconscious than intentional.
DR: Yeah, I think it's definitely an accurate assessment about '80s jangle pop as well. It seems like a lot of modern psychedelic bands,with ourselves included, are located on some point between the shoegazey, jangly indie stuff from that era, and the stuff from the heyday of psychedelic music in the sixties.
GN: I guess the follow-up question to that is what do you guys love to listen to?
Evan Kramer: Lately I've been really digging Donovan, Guided by Voices, and Pink Floyd... Unfortunately I missed the last Dan Deacon show, but I've been listening to a lot of his stuff lately.
AR: I don't really keep up with new stuff aside from a few local bands.
Some of the biggest influences for me have been American and Brazillian psych rock bands -- specifically Novos Baianos -- and lots of doo-wop stuff.... and Creedence.
DR: Just off the top of my head, I've listened to a lot of the Byrds, Jefferson Airplane, and Van Dyke Parks this last year, but that's a lot of old stuff. As far as new stuff goes, I think Tame Imapla have been really great, and locally, I've been pretty floored by some sets I've seen from Magic Castles and Leisure Birds this year.
JJ: My musical tastes are probably the most different from the rest of
the guys, as I mainly listen to jazz, but we definitely find common ground on some bands like the Kinks and the Beach Boys.