Shaun Ferreday, Owain Davies, and Andy Wright of the British rock band Panchiko sat with RadioUTD’s Katya Zakar for an exclusive interview. Stream their latest release, Failed at Math(s), here.
(Interview has been edited for clarity.)
Hey Y’all! This is Katya with RadioUTD and I’m here with members of Panchiko…
Shaun Ferreday: I am Shaun.
Owain Davies: I am Owain.
Andy Wright: I am Andy.
And today, they’re playing at the southside ballroom in Dallas, TX. Rainy day outside, but they made it out alright. This is you guys’ second tour in the US, correct?
SF: Yeah we were here last year in October, not so long ago. I didn’t expect to be invited back so soon, but it’s been pretty nice. Everyone’s been super friendly coming out of the gates.
Yeah you guys have a very, very active fanbase. I’ve never seen one that’s just so loving and supportive of you guys. Genuinely.
SF: Oh yeah, it’s amazing. I dunno it’s what baffles us sometimes, people connect with it so much. We’re really lucky and it blows our minds. It’s amazing and we’re really grateful for that. But on a day like today, for that wish we had more umbrellas.
AW: Yes, more umbrellas.
Yeah of course! How has it been to see overnight success from a decade’s old project that you basically just forgot about?
AW: I’m not sure overnight is the right word, maybe five years. It feels like it’s happened pretty quick but in slow motion, as well if that makes sense. The way that things have developed, it’s been a crazy pace, when you’re in the middle of it, it feels kind of fun. It’s a bit much for me. Well, I’ve already got a slow mind, like I can’t really grasp what’s happening and I’ll probably work it out in like 6 years.
Ok, so just run me through the process of basically how everything happened because this is a very unique story.
OD: Yeah, so basically what I knew of it was that I woke up one day to a Facebook message on my phone. I was like ‘I don’t use Facebook, what’s new?’ It wasn’t from someone that I knew and he was like ‘Hello, are you by any chance the lead singer of Panchiko?’ I knew that we had never put that music on the internet, or anything like that, and I responded saying ‘That’s a name I haven’t heard in a long time. How do you know about that?’ That’s me telling myself, not messaging that. At first I was like, ‘How do you know about that band?’ Well people in the discord group were like, ‘You seem like you know something?’ So then, I was just like ‘Yeah, yeah I was in that band.’ But, before I think I said, ‘yeah’ I was like ‘why are you going around searching for Panchiko? They were saying that the cd got found in a charity shop, uploaded to 4chan, the sound was really degraded so nobody could hear what it was. They were part of a group hunting down the band members for like 4 years or something like that. This way, they could get the original band members to make a clean version of the demo, D>E>A>T>H>M>E>T>A>L. So from that point, then I was like ‘I’ll go contact Andy about it on Facebook.’ I asked him what he thought of it.
AW: Yeah and so then, we weren’t really sure whether to release the songs again. We were pretty unsure. But we managed to hunt down a version that was vaguely a little better, mastered it up, and put it on Spotify and we were simply amazed at the response.
You guys got one of the top releases of bandcamp immediately.
AW: Yeah, it was like the top release or something. It was crazy, and we’ve been consistently in the top bandcamp of I dunno, a year.
Yeah, so you guys definitely blew up. You guys did do a re-release or a re-recording of D>E>A>T>H>M>E>T>A>L right?
AW: Yeah we just wanted to do some of those songs justice, not like we weren’t proud of those demos, but they were just demos. We wanted to make something with a bit more production value. Is that the nice way to put it? Yeah, that’s the nice way to put it. Yeah, and everyday just gets more crazy.
Again, this is your second US tour and you guys had pretty strong openers, julie, They Are Gutting a Body of Water and computerwife. How was that? How was your first US tour?
OD: It was amazing, half of us haven’t ever been to the US, and we went with no idea what to expect. Half of us haven’t toured ever. Then we got to know Water, then julie and all these other amazing people. We love to work with them. They’re all successful in their own right. It was really nice, just them saying ‘Sure, we’ll come with you.’ Yeah it’s been really good.
You guys went from a high school project that was kinda abandoned, got really big on bandcamp, then had a huge US tour. It went all over the US.
OD: We did 3 weeks last time, and then 4 weeks this time. Yeah we got very lucky.
SF: julie and them, they can do their own tours. When we started talking to them, it got really interesting, because they did it because they wanted to do it. They said they listened to a bit of our music back in the day and it’s been really friendly and welcoming. We get some people in the UK and the whole story, it’s almost world wide. We have fans all over the place. The main concentration of fans we have are based in America, and that realization of actually starting to meet people that have made this possible, which is really cool. We played LodgeRoom, which was an amazing venue. That was when we got to meet one of the early founders, a guy called Jojo, of the discord, and the other night we got Jojo up on stage to play guitar at the Fonda in LA. It was great, the fans stopped looking at us and were like ‘Jojo!’ It’s been really nice just to see them having fun or supporting someone who’s into the music. It’s been really nice, everyone has been very welcoming. We might sound a bit distant, but more like ‘I dunno, is this really happening?’ I’m really grateful for everyone who comes along to the shows.
I’ve seen that you guys are basically the musician’s musician, like every artist really loves you guys and is it true that you guys are making something with Destroy Lonely?
SF: No. Well, he came to the New York show, and he said we were working together. He came, and we were all best friends and then he deleted all of his messages on Whatsapp and never spoke to us again. So, fuck you destroylonely!
That’s crazy. That’s such an opium thing to do! Nah, nah, there’s so much drama in that little collective. Opium tries to be mysterious, so no harm no foul. Believe me, it’s alright. That was so funny, because in that interview, he said it all nonchalantly, ‘yeah I’m working with a pretty obscure band, y’know Panchiko.’
SF: I dunno what’s going on there.
OD: Maybe he’s been busy too, he had an album come out around the same time as us. He might have to manage his time a bit and he’s a bit like ‘Maybe I can be working with whoever else.’ He’s very busy. I’m not sure, you’ll never know what happens when people get into contact. He’s got a busy schedule.
Do you guys have dream collaborations though?
OD: Dream collaborations? Uhhm, I dunno… What do you think guys? Bonnie Tyler surely.
AW: I dunno, I would be a bit hesitant to collaborate with people you really like. I dunno, I would want it to be a natural process, meeting them, seeing if you can work with them. As you can see, people are lining up to come meet us in our green room here in Texas to discuss maybe doing a future project. Maybe we’ll get some. I dunno what to say, because I would be scaredto mess it up.
SF: It would be good to work with Wilco, or if we were old, we could do some old people.
It’s alright, age doesn’t matter. If you could resurrect somebody?
SF: Probably, John Lennon.
But obviously, we gotta talk about your new album, Failed at Math(s). You obviously had D>E>A>T>H>M>E>T>A>L before, but was the recording process like this? How did it feel to go back to something you hadn’t done since 1997? Were there songs in the vault? Were they new?
SF: Well I think, it was kind of half and half, with Failed at Math(s) and off Ferric Oxide, really. For other songs, folks have come with me to some bolts and it’s been quite a learning experience again. There’s some alright stuff on there, I think it turned out quite good. A strange and quite convoluted process, some of them were months like Portraits and yeah. It didn’t quite flow as we expected it to start off with, but we got into it.
OD: Yeah I dunno if it’s fair to say we can’t recreate the old thing. Andy’s done music for years and I have made music as well for years. So it’s about bringing some of those bits of us changing, but still trying to be Panchiko. I dunno. Get some samples in there, some guitars and then sing over it. Failed at Math(s) was done in like a week right? That was something last summer I started writing, and sent over to Andy and then made some suggestions and then try to be more collaborative on it. I think some of the tracks off Ferric Oxide were done as demos, and people were adding bits to it afterwards. And there were a few made from social media as well, there’s one on it called Find It. That was made from just posting synths on social media. So like when we got Instagram, we would post snippets of music being made to see if people would like it. One guy was like ‘Oh that’s really nice, I like this’ and then so I thought I would go in the studio the next day and finish off the stems and then send it to Andy and then do lyrics on it. So like, half new, half old and just a bit daunting. You question yourself a lot because people like the death metal stuff and we need to make something that resonates like that, but we can’t recreate it exactly. There’s no point doing an album like that, you gotta do something that opens the doors for developing the sound and being able to do whatever we like.
Where do you guys want to go sonically in the future?
OD: Whatever sounds good and natural, I think. I like electronica loads and I do like a lot of post rock. I wouldn’t mind, like doing 20 minute songs. Two twenty minute songs, and that’ll be an album. Maybe full Meatloaf, sure. Maybe postrock meets Meatloaf and it’s like a Meatloaf opera. I would send things to Andy, and he would trim songs down a bit. We’re trying to make things concise to possibly leave people wanting more instead of a double-chorus type at the end. Maybe just do one, or make it a bit shorter. I’d explore anything really, as long as we feel it’s genuine and honest and it’s coming from a place where we’re enjoying music like that. We might put a flugelhorn, I dunno, or something like that.
Andy, you have two side projects?
AW: Uhh, yeah I was in a band called Swimming. I’ve been in a lot of bands, doing a lot of mixing and mastering work. I didn’t really leave the music world. But I wouldn’t say this has been any kind of level of success in any of our pursuits. Yeah you can’t really second guess what would resonate with kids and it’s fun.
Again, you guys like to use video games as a source of inspiration right? You guys have a few samples. Do you guys have a favorite video game? Is there a character from any franchise that you relate with the most?
AW: I dunno, I’m the geeky one, playing Mario Kart on the N64. So that sample for D>E>A>T>H>M>E>T>A>L comes from the old sega console called the Sega Saturn. When you put the disk into a cd player, the first track is loads of data, so it makes a brrrr noise at you and the second track goes, ‘This is a game cd for Sega Sound Systems. Do not put this CD in a CD player or it might damage your audio system.” I remember that it’s one of the things people contacted me about and people asked me about. I initially denied it, but I immediately remember that the sample for D>E>A>T>H>M>E>T>A>L comes from a Sega game called Burning Rangers. As soon as they checked it out, people were starting to piece it together. Slowly as you remember things, as time comes. But when it comes to games, I don’t have, like, favorite characters. I dunno my favorite games, one called Grandia on the old Playstation. There’s another one called Panzer Dragoon Saga, for the Sega Saturn, with a character called Azel who’s really cool. She’s pretty cool, like half cyborg, half human, half stone machine or something like that. It’s like thirds then. There’s tons of games, but I can’t remember them all, a mobile one called FrostBunker at the moment. It’s great for stress management and that’s really good. It makes stress fun, remember stress is fun.
SF: Yeah I don’t think I’ve played a computer game, ooh maybe Amstrad, since 1990.
AW: You haven’t played Candy Crush?
SF: I do not play Candy Crush. I played Just Dance with my daughters sometimes. Before that it was Dizzy in Fantasyland. Dizzy is like an egg that wanders around. He had a hat like Indiana Jones. Yeah I’m definitely not a gamer, but we did kind of get obsessed with Mario Kart for a bit.
AW: I was obsessed with Mario Kart to an unhealthy amount, I think I dropped a grade in my GCSEs. It was a dark time.
Nah, me too, I love Mario Kart so much! Oh highschool was dark for all of us. Oh yeah, that’s right, who failed at maths?
SF: I think we all failed at maths. Even if we didn’t we lost so many brain cells. It was like two and a half decades ago. Favorite memory from highschool? I dunno, you’ve stumped me.I’ve got nothing, nothing that I could talk about.
What was your favorite memory from highschool or your childhood in general?
OD: Yeah I suppose I remember doing band nights in high school. Yeah, the nice memory of that was being in a band and playing music to play a lot of covers. What I liked about that is that I was doing it at 13, 14 something like that. A bit younger than Panchiko and I still remember playing in older bands and with people who are 16, nearly 18 playing in bands. Those people would support us in school the next day by saying hello or being “cool.” There’s obviously a lot of people who would like to be negative to us for being into music. Yeah I have a nice memory of playing music and how it connects you with people. Come on, Andy.
AW: I can’t think under this sort of pressure.
Anything you guys have liked on tour so far? Y’know more recent memories?
AW: More recent memories, they don’t do so well. The tour so far has been mindblowing to be completely honest. Everyday is really cool, it is quite hard work, even though we only work for like two hours a day. Getting to see all the places and being able to meet loads of amazing people, it’s just really nice. Everybody, just like last time, is really friendly, and just lovely too. We had a nice dinner near Alcatraz, that was good. I can’t remember where else we’ve been.
SF: Hollywood. Hollywood may not have been the land of dreams we were fed to believe.
Did you guys walk on the walk of fame?
SF: We walked on the street on the opposite side and it was the worst.
That’s disgusting, I’m so sorry. It’s the worst place to be in.
AW: Yeah, it was some sort of post-apocalyptic scene. Just to get to the guitar center.
Oh you guys went to that Guitar Store?
SF: We needed some stuff and we like going out on a walk before shows to see where we are, apart from the inside of a van or a venue. It was definitely educational. Great venue, the audience was amazing and I’m not sure it’s a land of dreams. The venue was nice, the Regency, and there was this huge beautiful hall. We then had a visual artist touring with us, Zach, and he’s been doing visuals for us at the moment, Elestine and the Search for Gold, and Horse Jumpers for Love and it was really nice in that setting. Because, we had a big balcony at the top and we watched their sets, which was really cool. The venues have been getting bigger and bigger and bigger. San Francisco was really good, good show, good visuals and we went out for dinner and saw Alcatraz.
What was your favorite thing to eat so far on tour?
AW: I like the service stations, I like the chips, with some really great flavors.
What’s your favorite flavor?
AW: Aww what’s that one with the chile? Chile Limon is really good. You don’t get that one in England.
OD: Even just the salted ruffles. You’re allowed much more salt here in America.
Did you like Bucees? What is your favorite order, like your favorite thing to get from there?
AW: Oh, I love Bucees! Bucees tastes so good. I’ve only been there once, but I can’t wait for more. They’ve got plenty of meat chefs that chant with a new order. You don’t have that down at my petrol station.
OD: Their brisket sandwiches are very good. I dunno, we are looking forward to getting there again. We did see a sign for one, it was only a thousand and thirty-nine miles away. So we’re nearly there.
Anything else you’re looking forward to in Texas?
SF: Real southern barbeque food, hopefully we can get some in Austin. We went to Terry Black’s in Austin. So, we really enjoyed some proper, authentic real-deal, but I’m sure experts would probably say there’s a couple of tiers above that. We’ve had some high tier foods. They showed us the smokehouse and the propane tanks.
OD: Never seen so many sausages in my life.
AW: Yes you have.
SF: Yeah it’s really cool, to be able to fit those things together on tour. Just to appreciate and see that side of America, which isn’t really tour-isty. I feel like we met tons of real people and done tons of things real people do here everyday, apart from playing loads of gigs.
I mean Austin… It’s the live music capital of the world.
SF: Yeah, yeah it was really nice getting to Austin. I mean, we’ve seen every gas station ever, have we? I mean, we’ve seen a lot and just experiencing it all. Just meeting loads of wonderful people from all walks of life. Yeah maybe just not a touristy experience, I feel like we’re getting an authentic flavor of everything.
Last question, because I know you guys are so excited to go up and play on stage for your millions of sobbing wet fans outside. We’re going to love it. Is there anything you guys have been listening to on repeat on this tour run, like in the van?
OD: We listen to George Strait. I mean, we’ve linked to the region. I haven’t been listening to loads of stuff on tour. Not really a lot on my phone and all that business. I dunno, I was listening to a lot of lib day, picking up random records like I-F from old techno. There’s a track called Space Invaders Are Smoking Grass, got back into that one again and I pulled that one a lot. Yeah I guess I listen to a lot of a guy called Four Tet. I like a lot of album stuff.
I love Four Tet! Do you like wingdings? It’s good.
OD: I don’t think I’ve heard of that one.
They have a side project called The random characters in it.
OD: Oh I’d better check it out. What have you been listening to Shaun?
SF: Reese, our tour manager put on this sex playlist today.
AW: Not sure if that was intentional.
SF: Yeah, I was wavering today for sure. There was some grace chains on there. More varied than I expected. Reese is kind of in charge of the stereo in the van, so yeah George Strait is featured heavily. A lot of country. I’ve been listening to a little bit of classical music, just to go to sleep.
Who’s your favorite composer?
SF: I dunno, I just put on the playlist, and that’s it. There’s also my usual moody shit, people like Bon Iver and stuff. I go for depressing music generally, that’s my happy place. Where the sad songs are, that’s my happy place.
How was playing for the festival Sick New World?
AW: It was an amazing lifetime experience. It was quite well received. I was very worried, but it turned out quite well.
SF: What type of music do you listen to?
AW: Deftones, evanescence, is the good stuff. Mitski, I’m completely obsessed. I was convinced by fans to go check it out and I was completely mind blown.
Alright, this was such a pleasure! Thank you guys for having us!
AW: Of course, it’s really nice when people want to come talk to us!
SF: Thanks for taking interest in our lil’ old story.
It’s a beautiful story. Any last words?
OD: Inspirational? Well look, if we can do it, anybody can do it. But as long as the thing you made was a true representation of something you made or were feeling. Easier said than done. If you want to do it, just do it. Keep writing music, making art.
Better late than never. Thank you guys!