‘We didn’t even know they were there’: the little-known bands finding fans years later | Music


lIn December 2021, a band called Panchiko played a gig. Hundreds of fans attended Metronome in Nottingham, England, and sang along to their songs. All this may seem like a standard routine for bands, but for the three members of Panchiko, it was a miracle. “It’s really nice to have a show where people have paid their money and they really want to see us,” said Owain Davies, 40, who plays guitar in the band.

“People knew the words to the songs, which is crazy,” said Andrew Wright, 40, who also plays guitar.

Davies commented on how much fun it is to make eye contact with people during such a performance. “If you don’t play against anyone” – which they would have done – “if you make eye contact with someone in the bar, they might not want to look at you,” he says with a laugh.

The last time Panchiko played a show was 20 years earlier, in 2001, at a festival in a small town called Sutton-in-Ashfield, and there wasn’t much meaningful eye contact. Wright said they played “for people walking around, buying a hot dog and staring at you weird”.

Panchiko disbanded not long after the 2001 show. The band members spoke occasionally, but didn’t see each other often — usually at friends’ weddings — until an internet mystery unexpectedly brought them back together in 2021. “It felt pretty incredible back then,” Wright says. “And I think the following has grown exponentially even since then, and it feels even more incredible now, to be honest.”

Panchiko will play Metronome in Nottingham, England in December 2021. Photo: Tom Platinum Morley/Courtesy of Panchiko

In 2016, someone found Panchiko’s 2000 CD, entitled D>E>A>T>H>M>E>T>A>L, in a thrift shop in the UK, but couldn’t find any information about it online. They posted on 4chan asking for help. From there, the songs and the search for their origin spread online, “on Reddit forums, Discord channels, private chats and YouTube,” according to a Vice article on the global effort to find Panchiko. It took four years for Davies, Wright and Shaun Ferreday, 40, who plays bass in the band, to finally find out that a dedicated group of internet sleuths were desperately looking for them.

Shocked that they suddenly had fans who wanted to hear their old band, the members of Panchiko gradually started putting more songs on Bandcamp, than Spotify, and later on cassettes, vinyl and of course CDs. They started with D>E>A>T>H>M>E>T>A>L and started adding more. For years Davies had carefully tucked much of their music on CDs and minidiscs away in purses (despite not having a CD player anymore), but there were some songs they recorded that none of the band members had left – they had to ask around to find out. see if friends had them. “We had all these things and then there was an audience,” Davies says. “And then we didn’t have to make the stuff, we were just finding stuff and presenting it to them, ‘Here, here’s something we did 20 years ago.'”

D>E>A>T>H>M>E>T>A>L is, despite its name, not death metal. The Panchiko song that inspired the album title was written in the late 90s, when nu-metal was enjoying mainstream success. The song that opens the album is wonderfully mellow with clear trip-hop influences. Distorted strings glide by easily, punctuated by chopped spoken word samples, a loop melody played by keyboard bells, and electronic beeps. It’s mildly moody with serious vocals, evoking a quieter version of Broadcast of Tricky. They hoped the mismatched title would be clever. “It seemed like a good idea at the time to give it a title that would be the opposite of what would come out of the speakers,” says Davies.

Panchiko in their early days.
Panchiko in their early days. Photo: Courtesy of Panchiko.

Some of the earliest versions of Panchiko songs floating around the internet were ripped from the thrift store CD, which was beginning to rot. Fans loved the added sound of the distortion. Panchiko has now recorded those versions on reissues of the music, under titles such as D>E>A>T>H>M>E>T>A>L_R>O>T.

Now they are working on recording a new album and preparing for a US tour starting in October, which is already partially sold out.

A few years before Panchiko recorded their first music, a band called Visual Purple also went through a similar process in Canton, Michigan, a suburb of Detroit. Like Panchiko, Visual Purple broke up not long after recording their album and has now also found a new successor decades later. An important difference: the three members of Visual Purple were only 11 years old.

“We just did it because it was fun,” said Kevin McGorey, now 37, the vocalist and guitarist for Visual Purple. “It was just a little harmless. There was no self-awareness at all.” At the time, he didn’t think his tapes would sell out in multiple rounds of release on Bandcamp in 26 years. K Records, the label founded by Beat Happening frontman Calvin Johnson, and whose logo was tattooed on Kurt Cobain’s arm, also distributed copies of the album, which sold out immediately.

K Records posted on Instagram about the album, “and people were kind of panicking,” said Shelley Salant, a musician who runs a record label called Ginkgo Records, which released the Visual Purple tape in March this year. “You know, I understand why people freak out. It’s really good. And it’s pretty amazing that it was made by an 11-year-old.”

Visual Purple in 1996.
Visual Purple in 1996. Photo: Courtesy of Kevin McGorey

By the time they recorded their self-titled album, McGorey had already been playing guitar for two years. In third or fourth grade, he took a guitar to school to play Lola for his class (“I really loved the Kinks,” McGorey says). His father, Chris McGorey, said his teacher enjoyed it so much that he took McGorey into the teachers’ lounge to make an encore for the faculty.

Visual Purple was McGorey’s first band, with his friends Paul Rambo on bass and Matt Carlson on drums, and their biggest appearances were at the sixth grade talent show and their Dare graduation ceremony (a photo from the Dare show serves as the cover image for the album), where they played nearly all of the original songs, except Pink Floyd’s Another Brick in the Wall (which a teacher tried to interrupt for its anti-educational lyrics, McGorey’s father says).

“I thought they were very original,” says Chris McGorey, a musician himself. Chris McGorey, who describes himself as “the George Martin for Visual Purple”, recorded the trio in 1996 with “one decent mic” and the four-track tape recorder he had previously used for his own projects. “I was really impressed that they wrote all their own material,” he says. “It was a raw, happy sound. Kevin did vocals without a filter straight from the pre-adolescent heart!”

In 2016, McGorey’s father pulled out the tapes (“I’m one of those people who keeps everything, hoping that one day it can be unleashed on the world,” he says) and gave them to him. Then, in 2020, during the pandemic, McGorey decided to put the songs on YouTube. Sallant, a friend of McGorey’s, heard them and came up with the idea to release them as cassettes. There was no Visual Purple reunion gig tied to the release (McGorey still plays music professionally in Detroit, but Rambo and Carlson have moved), but internet buzz spread, including a recommendation from Cryptophasia, a music newsletter written by Jenn and Liz Pelly. , twin sisters and music journalists in New York City. The Pellys described Visual Purple’s music as “outrageously sick raw noise pop”.

Visual Purple’s name and album title are a reference to Bill Nye the Science Guy, and the song titles are simple subjects: Ghost, Sneakers, Fur Coat. On Glue, a wistful pop song reminiscent of Guided By Voices (a fact observed on the Bandcamp page description), McGorey describes a predicament: “I was just kidding, but now I’m stuck with this glue/Glue is all over me / Glue take it off me.” A song about the band itself and an annoyed neighbor, Noise starts off strong with an intriguing melody on slightly distorted guitar, then picks up speed with swishing drums and layers of grungy guitars.It sounds like it would fit comfortably on C86, the NME compilation from 1986 that represented a pivotal moment in indie music.

Visual Purple’s album is slated for another cassette drop and may eventually come out on vinyl as well. But there will be no additional material – this was their one and only recording. “It’s not like they have another secret album,” Sallant says. But McGorey has been playing music continuously in the decades since Visual Purple broke up, most recently releasing songs under the moniker Vinny Moonshine, on a label called Metaphysical Powers. And he has taken inspiration for his current music career by releasing some of his oldest material. “People’s reactions to it seem to be genuine joy, so I love that,” McGorey says.

Vinny Moonshine.
Vinny Moonshine. Photo: Ian Rapnickic

For the members of Panchiko, there is a similar sense of disclosure that comes from interacting with fans in a way that wouldn’t have been possible when their music was originally released. “I think we have more of a connection with the fans,” Ferreday says. “We used to have no connection with the fans. We didn’t even know they were there. Because we know they’re there and we talk to them all the time, you care more about them.”

“It’s a position that a lot of people in bands would kill for,” Wright says. “And we don’t want to mess it up.”

“We still realize it’s a privilege,” Davies says. “And we owe so much to these people who invest their time in enjoying what we do.”

The Valley Voice
The Valley Voicehttp://thevalleyvoice.org
Christopher Brito is a social media producer and trending writer for The Valley Voice, with a focus on sports and stories related to race and culture.


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