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interviews - feb 2005

Panda Bear
As part of the Animal Collective, Panda Bear has been a part of a group of a group who have released some of the most interesting music of recent years. Following the death of his father he decided to step out on his own in order to address how this huge lose in his life was effecting him. The result was the album ĎYoung Prayerí, a sparse and emotive album rooted in mood and the changing of atmospheres. After touring the UK with label mate Ariel Pink, Tasty forced a few questions Panda Bear's way to find out more about this thoughtful artist and the album in question.

The Album "Young Prayer" is obviously very personal in that it deals with your feelings towards the death of your father. With this in mind were you nervous as to what peopleís reactions would be to it? Are bad reviews of this more hurtful than of other material?
No not really at least not for me. I used to get really upset when id read reviews where people said how what I or we were doing was really shitty. Some people take it a little far I guess and they get personally nasty and I feel like thatís totally uncalled for. But these days I donít care much one way or another. I always get fired up if I read something bad but these days I get over it after like five minutes or something. People have told me really great things about young prayer too so I guess I choose to remember those things if I can. Across the board I suppose I try and look on the bright side and try to focus on whets good and helpful and not the other way around if you know what I mean. 

"Young Prayer" can at times feel quite abstract and ethereal. Was this a conscientious decision or did it just come about through the albums writing and recording? Was there a certain feeling or sound you were chasing with the album?
No I donít know that I was really trying for anything. well I did want something that was fresh and new for me and I always want to challenge myself and my thoughts and my mind and soul and shit. I wanted to write in a new way or at least a different way and I wanted to sing stuff that was more complex or harder or more intense if you know what Iím saying. I would say that the mood of it and the sound just sort of came out and came about because of what I was feeling and going through or whatever at the time. 

Do you see the album as a tribute/ remembrance to your father or a sort of vent for your hurt?
Most definitely a tribute sort of thing for my father. I wanted to cheer him up if I could once he got sick. He knew he was going to die within the year or something and thatís pretty fucked up. I canít imagine what that must have felt like. I was trying to thank him too for all the stuff he taught me and that was a lot. if I made a record where I was like Iím so depressed and look how bummed I am I would want to kick my own ass if you know what Iím saying. that seems kind of silly and indulgent. I guess I know lots of people feel thatís what young prayer is and I suppose I knew it would be that way but it doesnít bother me much. You can only do your thing and feel good about it and once itís out of your hands its public property as far as Iím concerned and you can spit on it if youíd like. 

Is it to be a one off solo project for Panda bear or can we expect further offerings?
I think ill keep making jams. I have some time on my hands these days and I canít stop making music really because its one of my favourite things to do so Iím pretty sure ill keep making songs. I imagine some day I wonít tour anymore and ill just make recordings. sometimes I wish I could do that right now but everything has its time I would say.  I just did a tour with Ariel and the boys like greckles and slice and john maus and they were all super sweet. I was playing all new songs that were more fun kind of sugary jams and definitely Lisbon inspired songs and ill probably record those this summer so maybe a new record this winter. 

There is a lack of traditional English language in the album and its vocals have more of a chant like quality too them. This seems to have left it a rather open album. Was this deliberate and do you welcome people bringing their own meanings to it?
I do certainly welcome people bringing their own thoughts and feelings into it. Definitely. Iím psyched on that. but there are words and I am singing English. I know it doesnít sound like it but the foundation of the whole thing is the words. I wrote the words first and set up everything else according to the words. I was going to put all the words in the liner notes at first but then I thought that was too heavy and too personal and maybe not fo
r everyone else so I took them out. But I set a little melody to every line of prose and then stuck them all together and thatís why it sounds all fragmented and meandering. I sort of like that though. Itís not the sort of thing I imagine anyone would listen to very often. I would hope its more like a holiday if you know what I mean. Itís only once a year or so but it fills the spirit with special feelings that are forgotten for various reasons the rest of the year. 

You have a UK tour coming up. Are you nervous as to what the UK's reaction will be to the material?
Well I played all new songs and people seemed to like them ok at least most places. There was a guy in
Nottingham who I saw reviewed the show but I donít think he even listened to young prayer because he said I played that and I definitely didnít. He also said I used a laptop and I would never do that on stage so heís all mixed up anyway. That was a terrible show though and I guess I apologise to anyone there. It wasnít what I wanted it to be that night for sure. Lots of tall pretty girls danced in Paris. They seemed to like it. 

Finally, when choosing your alias, why pick the Panda Bear? Are you also aware that Panda Bears sometimes wee up trees whilst doing a handstand to mark their territory?
No I didnít know that but its pretty sweet. I used to draw pandas on my tape covers when I was making eight track jams when I was 14 and 17 and 18 and stuff. Pandas are my favourite animal. They are warm and nice and cool but theyíll fuck you up if you mess with them. Iíd like to be like that. I can do a pretty good handstand sometimes. I can jump through my leg too. 

Thanks very much for the interview and I hope you are doing very well. Please take good care. Noah

Luke Drozd

Ariel Pinkís Haunted Graffiti
Ariel Pinkís latest album ĎThe Doldrumísí was a lo-fi wonder, as honest as it was sinister and with it this pop gem Ariel Pink has been brought in to the wider public conscience. With an album that seems to encourage you to ask a whole host of questions it seemed only natural that Tasty try and extract some facts form the man via the power of questioning.

You are the first person to be signed to the Paw Tracks label who isnĻt a member of the animal collective. This must be quite a privilege? How did it come about?
Well, I gave them 2 of my CD's when I met them at their show in LA, June 2003. I only got to know them on a personal level after they wrote me to say they were interested in putting something out. 

Your album ĎThe Doldrumsí was originally a CD-R you used to give out free to people, is that correct? Did you ever expect it to be snapped up by a label and released proper?
Well, it wasn't exactly 'snapped' up; I proposed the doldrums for release on paw-tracks. Probably because I NEVER expected it would ever be picked up, or discovered in a legitimate light. They considered it for a while and eventually gave Todd (carpark, pawtrack guy) the go ahead. Yes, I used to give it out free to people and still do (all releases) but not necessarily- I didn't promote doldrums so in all likelihood I sold more of those PERSONALLY than I needed to any other release. 

The album seems to be garnering lots of positive press. Was this a shock at all?
You kidding?  Such a total shock.  Never EVER expected this at all. I suppose I have Paw-tracks to thank. Itís amazing.  5 years after the fact, and this album is competing in the
same market as U2. Not sales-wise of course.  Itís been getting both good and bad press, but any press is good press, like they say. 

All the percussive noises on the album are created with your mouth. Why choose to create them this way rather than with traditional percussion or a drum machine perhaps?
I never learned how to use a drum machine.  I haven't the coordination to play real drums as I hear them.  Itís really a last resort!  But it actually works for me.  Itís the most instinctual part of the whole recording process actually and Iíve gotten very good at it.  Not without reservations of course - the lack of variety in tambres frustrates me to no end.  These days I do incorporate extraneous percussion sources to vary up the songs.  Back when I recorded the doldrums, I was still more or less trouble shooting, feeling my way as I went.  That goes for all aspects of playing and Recording. I think it was seminal and transitory; I certainly couldn't pull it off the same thing today, even if I were inclined. 

You obviously have an ear for a pop hook. Why were you drawn to almost muffling/ hiding these moments a lot of the time throughout the album instead of embracing it and making a more accessible album?
I over-do everything, and I don't know exactly why.  Overzealous lack of control.  Impatient to get results.  Attention deficit disorder to the MAX. God knows when I listen to it today I wanna completely give it a make over. But that can happen later.  Iím glad it came out in spite of it all. More important to get something new going.... 

Your compositions often sound quite raw and almost spur of the moment. How much planning actually goes in to the composition of a track?
Not enough planning.  I have no way of scoring my songs when I hear them initially.  They are shifty amorphous approximations at every step of the processes.  Itís by no means, off the cuff or careless - quite the opposite. it's even more tedious than normal because once I put down one track I generally need to "jam" with it on every instrument, recording over with every take in a sort of controlled-improvisation - it's basically a push to find the perfect (or minimum) performance on all 8 tracks, to maximize the urgency and vitality of a given tune.  And I make so many incidentals (better known as 'mistakes") along the way that Iím forced to consolidate the structure and estimation of tune without much foresight.  Basically Iíve learned that what I think Iím writing or hearing never quite makes it to the finish line in terms of what's conveyed. Something else transpires that's beyond my control. And this precise element that always seems to escape me, ironically, is the part that distinguishes and identifies the work as my own. 

Your work has a playful yet sinister element to it. Did you want this odd teaming of both innocent and scary, like a paedophile dressed as a clown? Where do you want to take your music from here? Are you hoping to retain the lo-fi aesthetic of Doldrums or embrace some Phil Spector production madness?
Again, it's funny to entertain ideas about all this, but keep in mind - it's now almost 6 years since I recorded that album and everyone is grappling with the
same issues that the few who heard it then dealt with.  For better or for worse, I moved on, with evidence to support that I still operate on within the "lo-fi aesthetic", though Iím pained to call it that.  Funny you mention Phil Spector, as the technology was underdeveloped much the same as mine (he had a reel to reel for one, Iíve only got 1/8" cassette) but they don't seem mutually exclusive to me. All in all, Iíll probably go on doing the same thing Iíve been doing - only better, hopefully.

Luke Drozd

Charlotte Hatherley
Charlotte Hatherley might look like the tuffest girl bassist in the world, but donít let that fool you cos she cries in Japanese record shops, the wuss! Tasty talks to the best thing about Ash as she releases ĎBastardoí from her very good actually debut album, ĎGrey Will Fadeí. 

Is 'Bastardo' based on a real-life experience of yours?
It's all true, except the guitar theft. It's based upon the universal experience of a one night stand gone wrong. 

How did you managed to get all those people into the video for the new single (Pegg, Walliams, Laverne etc), and are those people particular heroes of yours?
The comedy world is very small and incestuous! I'd met David Walliams and Simon Pegg through Edgar Wright, the video director. He'd worked with Simon on Shaun Of The Dead and is good friends with the Walliams. A few favours were pulled and they were in ! Edgar also hooked me up with Lucy Davis and Julia Davis. Lauren Laverne has been a good friend, and it was great to have her in it. I love everyone who was in it and feel like a very jammy bee-atch! 

Is it still hard for a woman to get on in the UK Music Industry. Do you think it's still run by men for men, or have things changed at all?
I can only speak from my personal experience. I've found it quite easy to get along in the music industry, despite being the only girl around for much of my time with ash. I would put most of that down to being with such a cool bunch of guys, and my inherent tomboy nature. I  would LOVE to have more female musicians and roadies to hang out with, but they are very hard to find. Most of the women I meet as a musician are from the record companies. Nearly all the record companies I deal with have women working in the top jobs, and in Japan the majority of  workers at our label are female. So that makes things a little easier for me, and shows that the music industry isn't quite as male dominated as they used to be. Thank god.  

What's the best thing about being a solo artist?
I can be a control freak and get away with it 

How proud are you of 'Grey Will Fade'?
I walked into HMV in Tokyo yesterday and completely unexpectedly found my album. I was so proud I almost wept. 

Do you think the stuff you grew up listening to had any influence of the way you wrote the album?
Well, I've always been a huge fan of David Bowie, and I can hear that in some of the guitar parts. More recently I've listening to a lot of post-punk bands like XTC and the B-52s, melodic music with experimental guitars and arrangements, and I think they've had a bigger influence on the way the record sounds. 

It must be quite odd to be the in the position you've got to now in such a short time. Did you always think you'd make it this quickly?
I've been in bands making music for 10 years now, so it doesn't feel like such a short time. I started in a band when I was 15 and joined Ash when I was 18. I've never had ambitions to be a solo artist, but I've always known that I wanted to play guitar and make music.  

What sort of things are you listening to now? And can you name me one great unsigned band you think people should hear.
I'm going through an 80s American punk phase. I read a great book called 'Our Band Could Be You Life' about the SST, Sub-pop and Blast First labels, and bands like Black Flag, Minor Threat, Husker Du and the Minutemen, very inspiring!.We recently toured with a band called The Crimea, and they come highly recommended by me. 

Do you feel any affinity at all with the Ladyfest movement? Have you ever been asked to get involved with that, or anything similar to it?
I've never been asked to be involved but I would love to be! I would jump at the chance to meet other female musicians, I don't get to hang out with many. It's all boys on the road with me.  

Do you hope to carry on as both a member of Ash and a solo artist?I see no reason why not. I love being a guitarist in Ash, and my solo project and the boys can happily co-exist. It's the best of both worlds.

Just before they take off on tour with Psycho Path, we caught up with TEAM's Scott West to find out more about recording on pig farms, the East Midlands DIY music scene and cumulative band heights.

So you recorded the ep [50 000][Dead Sharks] on a pig farm in
Leicestershire. Is it normal for farms in the East Midlands to come complete with a recording studio and where there plenty of bacon butties available?

HAHA - No I donít think it is normal! and this one werenít a studio either! We just took all of our stuff down to a mateís farm while his folks were on holiday. We had two days to set about making noise and recorded the result. We had an old 4 track and a steam powered computer there Ė hey presto a mobile studio! No bacon butties but we did witness one of his dogs devour a piglet which was a bit gruesome.

- My old English teacher would be very annoyed with your use of
punctuation and you do have a penchant for strange titles. Does
[50,000][Dead Sharks] mean anything or is it just made up?

[ ] those things mean working title I think. It gave us two song titles and looks cool when written down. Thereís nothing worse than predictable song and album titles.  We just like the sound of interesting words and how they are put together. See how Iíve avoid answering the question!!

- The album 'Penalyn' was put out on the ever excellent 'Captains of Industry' label. Did you find it easier producing the record through a label rather than the self release of the e.p.?
Being with COI meant the l.p. got proper distribution and landing on peopleís desk from an established label. We went about the same process for recording the l.p. as we did [50,000][DeadSharks] and produced it all ourselves again. COI were happy with us doing what we do and we appreciated the control they let us retain. They have an excellent DIY ethic Ė which made sense for us to work with them. There is much mutual respect, TEAM make the music COI put it out. It really is that simple. That way we avoided the horror stories you hear about some labels and the way they treat their bands. Its more of a partnership, a joint venture in this cut throat business.

- You describe yourself as guitarnoisepop? How would you define this and are there any other bands that fit the bill or do you see yourselves as one of a kind?
Thatís the sound we make, guitarnoisepop. Hopefully it kinda explains itself Ė noisey guitars playing 3 minute pop songs. Itís always hard to describe what your band sounds like to someone. ďwhat, heavy metal?í ďarh, like oasis?í etc etc we usually just say Ďyou heard of nirvana? Kinda like thatí and most people are happy cos they have heard of nirvana! I think more people should use the term, thatís our real mission re-naming genres! I suppose TEAM are one of a kind, there arenít any other bands that sound like us or us like them. We obviously have our musical influences which come through in the music; we just hope people can hear that we are on to something a bit different to the run of the mill guitar music.

- There seems to be a whole bunch of great DIY bands around in the
East Midlands at the moment. Would you class yourselves as part of this scene and do you think you suffer or benefit from being outside the gaze of the main London A&R scene?
Yeah Ė there are some awesome bands around Leicester and the East Midlands. The Ďpineapsterí forum is a good central point for gig swapping etc. Tired Irie, Teen Amateur, Love Ends Disaster and Ideals Grace are some of our favourite local bands of the moment. We benefit from being central for gigging and stuff but like to do our own thing. London is always a great place to play but a small band can get swallowed up in it all; we like to think we have the best of both worlds.

- Obviously we at Tasty are all deeply saddened and shocked by the news of Busted splitting up. Would you have any career advice for the band members now that they are in civvy street?
Spend. Spend. Spend. They must have made some cash. Enjoy it while they can. I donít think they will really know what civvy street is like, scrapping together petrol money and recording and gigging on no-budget.

- How did your forthcoming tour with the Slovenian band Pyscho-Path come about? Do TEAM have a big following in the Balkans?
Yeah Ė massive following in the Balkans!!! Nah - Garry from S-a-N Agency (booking agent) hooked us up with Psycho Path as he has us both on his books. They have toured with QOTSA and Girls Against Boys so we have a lot to live up to! Itíll be our first proper tour and itís gonna be fun fun fun. Weíre putting Psycho Path up for the tour Ė so you never we can go and tour the Balkans and Europe with them at some point, which would just be awesome.

- Considering you formed less than two years ago you've had a great deal of success. How would you like to see the next two years pan out?
Just building on what weíve done already really. Get out and gig to as many people as we can and progress in all aspects of being in a band. If we donít progress it aint worth doing. We have to move on and grow to keep TEAM alive. Itíll be interesting to see what position we are in in another two years. Weíve already ticked off so much on what we wanted to achieve. Weíve just got to raise the bar again and get some more ticks in more boxes. Work has already started on the next album - due 27th September Ė exactly a year on from the penalyn lp Ė itís almost written and will be recorded soon. One step at a time really, but we are very excited about committing the new songs to tape to see where that may take us.

- If you were doing an interview what question would you like to be asked and how would you answer it?
Q: How tall would TEAM be if you all stood on each others heads?
A: [censored until after the competition!!!]

To win a copy of the debut album 'Penalyn' simply tell us how tall you think TEAM would be if they stood on each other's heads! The nearest guess gets the CD posted to their door. Email answers to

TEAM Tour Dates:

Tue, Feb 8th Ė Leicester, Sumo

Wed, Feb 9th Ė Stoke, Riggers

Thu, Feb 10th Ė Leeds, Royal Cellars Park

Fri, Feb 11th Ė Lincoln, Bivouac

Sat, Feb 12th Ė Nottingham, Junktion 7

Sun, Feb 13th Ė Manchester, Retro Bar

Producing blissful pop music is a piece of Cake, for some
Ever since this subtle and seductive Sacramento based quartet whipped up a stirring and crafted self released debut album; ĎMotorcade of Generosityí in 1994, Cake have sweetened the world with their coated and crisp music. Singer/songwriter John McCrea has always expressed his fervent disliking for what can be termed as the trappings of the industry; this includes working with renowned and respected producers and exhibitionistic guitar playing. However, what he does like and does very well is produce heartening and captivating music that touches the soul. The guys kindly agreed to mull over topics ranging from the role of politics in music to pop music in general. 

You hail from Northern California, has where you come from dictated your style of music and how would you describe the Northern Californian music scene at the moment? How well do you fit in with it?
We've always said we come from a dry and dusty place, and that might come through in the music. We are also working out of the state's capitol, Sacramento, which is a theater of the absurd but also sometimes a very poetic place. The music scene in Northern California is diverse. There are many bands, however, that understand the place that their music comes from.

In my humble opinion 'Pressure Chief' had a trickle of irony running through it like a stream through a country village, i.e., it was well placed. Do you think irony or dead pan wit has much of a part to play in modern music?
Music is certainly a reflection of the way we all approach our world view or how we behave emotionally. Although there seems to be a tendency in music to express something pure, or untainted, there is also a place to express the middle ground of thought. This kind of writing might actually be more honest about the way life really feels. Sadness is often mixed with humor in real life.

You are about to embark on a European tour. How does your live sound
differ from that on your records and how do you want to leave people feeling after witnessing a live Cake show?
The live sound is different from the album because we are actually living the music as we perform it. We might actually sound like more of a "rock" band on stage, compared to the precise feel of a studio recording. The crowd should go away exhilarated, confused, and satisfied that they witnessed a genuine performance. 

You have done a cover of the diamond of the disco era hit 'I Will Survive' in the past. Would you say this is your bands' motto and how have you kept going all these years in this turbulent music industry of ours?
From the start we have appreciated our listeners. We kept a mailing list of people who had shown interest in us, and every month we stamped, addressed, and sent postcards to these people. We have continued that appreciation by providing what we believe is quality music, both in record and live performance.

What are your views on recent attempts by musicians to influence
voters in the US Elections? Do you think there was a lack of conviction to some of the attempts (mentioning no names) and it was more bandwagon jumping than a serious desire to bring about change? Do you think music and politics should be kept separate?
We talk politics with each other, so we feel compelled to discuss issues with our listeners through the website ( Everyone seems to want to impress their point of view on others, and musicians are no different.

Which of your songs sum up your current mood and why?
"Wheels" is probably the song that sums up our current mood. Basically, there is a lot of amazing things happening in the world, but still we are destined to go through the same paces that anyone, anywhere, ever has. These are incredibly interesting times, but we all still have the same basic needs that we always have.

What are your aims and plans for 2005 ?
CAKE plans to tour through the summer of 2005. We have a lot of international touring to look forward to, as well as performing at various festivals in the states.

Finally, if you could change one thing about the music industry what
would it be and why?
Music videos may have altered the course of popular music. To its detriment? We will never know. There does seem to be a lot of posturing involved though.

Dave Adair