With this blog, we’re always looking to spotlight young talent, and the Panamas are no exception to this rule. I am and always have been a big fan of theirs. An earnest Stockport group with a lot of heart and a lot of humour, I really find myself endeared to them, and I anticipate their success to be a rapturous one. I sat down and had a brief chinwag with vocalist Charlie Andrew about all things Panama, and what we can expect from the boys in the coming years…
Hello, hi, good afternoon Mr Panama. First up, I am nosy, and I always ask this – where did you get your name from?
Well there’s two stories! The interesting one is a true story but just happened to link to our name and is not the actual reason. My Dad went on Wheel of Fortune just before I was born, and he wasn’t doing too well up until he was asked the question: ‘What word is associated with hats and canals?’. To which he replied ‘Panama’, and then went on to win the show! The actual reason was because my step-dad suggested it and we went with it as it was far better than our old name.
I love that first reason. So, how long have you guys been mates? When/how did you form?
Well, me and David actually met when I was about a month old, and he would’ve been maybe just over 6 months old – through our mothers being friends. We all went to the same primary school apart from Lorenzo. But we actually started the band in Year 6 (due to a lack of things to do at wet break.) We met Lorenzo in Year 7 and he joined the band, and it has been the same lineup ever since.
Ah, the trials and tribulations of a dull wet break. What genre would you say you are/are aiming for? Who are your biggest musical inspirations?
Without trying to sound completely pretentious, there’s not a specific sound that we are aiming for. We just want to do what we feel sounds good, without putting the pressure on ourselves to fit into a certain box. You know, “if it feels good, do it”, and I think that shows in our EP, as each song is different from the last. We have so many individual musical influences that we all try to incorporate into the songs, but I think the band as a whole have always been influenced by Artists like The Smiths, New Order, Bowie, Suede, The Red Hot Chilli Peppers and the Stone Roses. There’s too many to name to be really honest.
And if you were to dabble in another genre, is there one you’ve always fancied trying/stepping outside of your comfort zone for?
Personally, I would love to try loads of different genres and I’m sure the rest of the lads would. Some that I would really fancy trying are Country, Hard Rock, Disco… and maybe even Trance.
A trance Panamas, well I never! Well then, tell us about your recent EP release – firstly, why ‘Rita of Cascia’? Who is she? What is it about?
Rita of Cascia is the Patron Saint of dreams, and the song is sort of like a complaint to her, as I gave myself the idea I was going to find it easy to get back into the dating game. But I was mistaken! The verses are about the situations that led me to realise that it was not going to be easy. The EP was written during the first lockdown, and I felt at this time that as songwriters we really upped our game, both lyrically and musically. We were meant to record before the pandemic, but looking back I am really glad we didn’t as the songs we had were nothing in comparison.
Who did the artwork? What was the vision behind it?
The artwork is by Vincent Patterson. It was already on his website and was called ‘Between Grief and Nothing’ , from a film called Breathless. It was one of the first films to use jump cuts, which the first song of the EP has at the end. Which is, well, yeah – why we named the first song ‘Breathless’ and the second song we called ‘Between Grief and Nothing’.
Any plans music video-wise? Any of you budding actors?
We would love to do a music video , but we want it to be professional which our budget doesn’t really allow. I think our collective performances in the school plays show that we would each put on a great acting display if the opportunity ever came about.
And how was your EP release show? Are you enjoying being back on the gig circuit as it were?
It was amazing! I think with not playing so long we were quite anxious that no one was going to come and see us, but tickets sales went way better than we could have expected. As soon as the doors opened it started filling up and by the time the support was on, you could barely move. It seemed like everyone was having a great time and singing all the words, especially during ‘Rita of Cascia’, which was on another level. We have loved doing gigs since being back on the circuit and we can’t wait to do more – and hopefully play a lot more around before the end of the year!
What do you see/want for the future of The Panamas?
Well personally, my favourite thing to do is write, record and play gigs with my best friends. So really, that’s what I want for the future of The Panamas. It’s what truly makes me happy. Whether that happens not, I’m not sure. But it is certainly something we are going to go for.
If you could work with any other local band who would it be?
Recently, we recorded a Buzzcocks cover for a Strawberry Studios Forever album where we worked with George and Kyle from Fuzzy Sun, who produced it. We had a great time doing that, we all got on really well and felt like we all worked off each other really well and would love to do it with original music. So I would say Fuzzy Sun!
And, finally. What are your favourite music releases of the year so far?
There have been loads of really good releases so far and too many to name but in terms of albums off the top of my head, I really like the Inhaler album and think the new Lathums album is good too!
Thanks, Charlie. See you soon and good luck to you and the band!