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the AU interview: Jae Laffer of The Panics (Perth)

Ahead of their national tour, celebrating the release of their new LP Rain of the Humming Wire, Larry Heath recently caught up with The Panics' enigmatic front man Jae Laffer to chat about the new album and more. Here's what went down:

Whereabouts are you at the moment?

I'm in a place in Perth, looking out on a rainy street and yeah.

I'm glad we're not the only ones dealing with rain, it's absolutely disgusting in Sydney at the moment.

I think the whole countries like that at the moment, which is quietly great, it's a good thing anyway.

I don't know it's not fun, but we'll get through it. Aside from the weather, how's everything going?

Very very good, we're just finishing a lap of the country at the moment. It's kind of a pre-album kind of tour, it's been going great, the crowds have been out in force. Which is wonderful, it's been a little while for us, so yeah it's been really good. Just getting re-acquainted with the live stage. we've been away for a while, so yeah it's been great.

I managed to catch you when you did your little industry gig at the Sydney theatre, the new songs are just sounding so fantastic live, have you been playing a lot of them during these little preview sets?

Yeah we have, we've been taken on about half a dozen of them. At first we thought maybe it was a bit too muchfor people, but at the end of the day the songs were sounding so great in rehearsal. They had such great energy to them especially on the live stage. It even surprised ourselves.

After the first gig, there wasn't the slightest sort of feeling that people were waiting for them to finish, so we've been rolling with it. It's a great feeling that we've been putting new music out there. It feels like it belong to all the other songs.

It's been quite a while since Cruel Guards came out, of course it was the J award winner of that year. did you feel any pressure making the album, to be living up to an album that was so well received?

No, not really. I mean, we set a pretty high benchmark for ourselves anyway. I think if anything it just gave us confidence in what we do, I mean the last record did well for us. It was still really messing about, being ourselves, gives you a great confidence when people respond so strongly to that. It's just a matter of recognising our strengths and rolling with it.

We did quite a lot of travelling off the back of Cruel Guard, we got to go and live overseas and tour with the record. This one took a bit longer because we were out doing things. I don't really mind how long it takes. as long as when it comes to completion that it feels like the album it's supposed to be. I'm very proud of it, and happy to keep adding to the pile, it's great.

That's for sure, how long ago did you start working on the record?

Probably had a year or so of pretty hard touring, after that once we settled down in Manchester in England, we were there for a while. We set up a house and a rehearsal space in an industrial estate in Manchester. Most of it got started musically there where we were travelling around Scotland and England quite a lot and during the weekdays we managed to come back to Manchester and come up with ideas.

Everyone was coming up with great bits of music. We had heaps and heaps of heaps of stuff to choose from. Specifically for me in terms of what songs I wanted to take and put some words on. That was pretty much where the sound of the record came to fruition.

Of course, one of the benefits of the last album being such a success was that you can record overseas. You recorded in NY in Dreamland studios. Talk a bit about recording there, I know it was an amazing space.

The thing about the space is that it's a big empty space, the area is amazing. Certain times of the day the sun shines through the big glass at the top. Everyone would be illuminated, it was a real good feel like that. Apart from the control room there, we spent the first few days basically building the studio ourselves. Setting up spaces for everyone. Walls and petitions, I set up a bungalow in the middle of the room. Sort of like a church, with party lights and a little bar. So that I could spend my nights there singing.

It was great we could make it like our home and we didn't have a car or phone reception. It was like setting up a big treehouse on top of a hill, we got to work around the clock. It was good like that. Whatever hours people wanted to work they could work. If you didn't feel like it then you could go outside and build a fire and have a drink. It was great like that.

I know, you've been saying it's a lot like camping.

I got to change that, it sounds like the army. It's strange that it's like that. but we've been together a long time and we've been living in houses together all this time, it's very strange but it's kind of like a weird operation, and you find yourself wondering about the strange place that you've arrived at, sitting in a dark room singing songs all day. It feels very strange, if anything I kind of have to respect our persistence and the way that we've kept at it for such a long time. Count ourselves as really curious and ultimately for the great reward of making music.

I've been listening to the album today, it's quite epic almost at times. Would you, would you say that?

Epic in the way that it takes over a lot of space, it's also got a kind of an insular kind of feeling as well, it's strange how looking back on it and looking at all the songs. It's got a certain pensive and some of it feels a little claustrophobic, but that's just in terms of the subject matter. The sound seems like it really opens up and I think we did a good job of finding that space in the songs and letting it breathe as well. The producer was great as well, he did a great job of making everyone stick out when they had to you know?

The video for Majesty was recently released, it sees you going back in time on at least an aesthetic level.

Yeah

Can you talk a bit about that video? How that came to be?

We didn't have a huge amount to do with it, we basically set up in a town hall in a suburb in Melbourne. We thought it'd be good to have a live video to you know, re-introduce the band. Have it for it's own sake. We let other people make the clip, we had an idea for using some archival footage for Majesty, the lyrics and subjects that kind of ducked off in all these directions but of course we had references to different things. Bit of monarchy, religion and strange kind of australian space, it was just an idea of trawling through a lot of stuff at the ABC and the archives and seeing what we could find. Best fun about the clip was seeing some of the old footage people had dug up.

Turned out quite well, and what's next for you guys? You've got yourself into a bit of a round trip with Split Seconds? What's coming up for you guys next? The album comes out next week.

That's right, well we'll finish this lap of the country, hopefully the record gets received nicely. We're at ease at the moment, we're basically playing very well and just filled the rest of the year up with more tours and a whole bunch of things going on to look forward to. So we're just going to enjoy this phase, if we end up with a couple of coins in the pocket, we'll probably go back to England at the end of the year.

Apart from that, it's just a great energy from the band, we've been writing a lot of songs. Any day now I just want to work towards a new album, as soon as I can. It'd be a nice to make a whole bunch really quickly, so that's my little personal goal.

No rest for the wicked.

No. Well rest, it doesn't fit well with the group and we make good things when we keep at it.

I mentioned Split Seconds, you've of course been on the road with them. How did they get involved with the tour?

When it comes to choosing bands, A) we're from Perth and we like to do the best we can to help out other Perth bands to get across the country. We don't necessarily have to but whenever it comes time to do a tour, we think back to our first tours when a lot of the time we were treated badly, told to kind of get on, get off and get out. It's good to have friends around and let them use your gear and have some people out there. In Perth, we have a real respected music community now, it's pretty excessive and it's a place where a lot of people are, it’s nice and we have a lot of proud and looking around to discover as much new music as we can. These guys have just popped up recently

It's good to see you guys supporting them. There's so many great bands out of Perth, they are certainly one of the best up and coming bands, are there any other ones that have been popping their heads up and that has fallen into your radar?

Yeah a little bit, there's a band we are going to be playing with tonight. Called Sam Sisco… They do some hip hop thing and we'll take grace Woodroofe along with us as well. Who's obviously a mega talent. I'm looking forward to maybe kicking around a few days and checking out a few bands while I'm here as well. I mean I don't come back all the time, but that's what I keep re-discovering and thats one of the best things about coming back.

Thanks for taking the time to talk to us today, I know you have a couple more interviews to go, wish you all the best with the album, it should be a big hit.

Thank you and take care. Nice speaking to you,

You too, take care, bye.

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The Panics new album Rain On The Humming Wire is in stores now. The tour dates for the forthcoming tour are below:

WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 14TH: SETTLERS TAVERN, MARGARET RIVER
Tickets available from www.heatseeker.com.au / Oztix: 1300 762 545; www.ozitx.com.au

THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 15TH: PRINCE OF WALES, BUNBURY
Tickets available from www.heatseeker.com.au / Oztix: 1300 762 545; www.ozitx.com.au

FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 16TH: ASTOR THEATRE, PERTH
Tickets available from www.bocsticketing.com.au , 08 9484 1133

SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 17TH: FLY BY NIGHT, FREMANTLE
Tickets available from www.flybynight.org or the venue: (08) 9430 5976

WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 21ST: ANU BAR, CANBERRA
Tickets available from www.ticketek.com.au

THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 22ND: UNI BAR, WOLLONGONG
Tickets available from Venue: 02 4221 8050, Oztix:1300 762 545; www.oztix.com.au or www.bigtix.com.au

FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 23RD: LEVEL ONE, LEAGUES CLUB, NEWCASTLE
Tickets available from Venue: (02) 4929 3067, Oztix:1300 762 545; www.oztix.com.au or www.bigtix.com.au

SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 24TH: METRO THEATRE, SYDNEY
Tickets available from Enmore Theatre Box Office: 02 9550 3666; www.enmoretheatre.com.au; or ticketek.com.au

THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 29TH: SALOON BAR, LAUNCESTON
Tickets available from Venue - 1300 795 257 or http://tixtas.com.au

FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 30TH: WREST POINT SHOWROOM
Tickets available from Venue - 1300 795 257 or http://tixtas.com.au

THURSDAY, OCTOBER 6TH: GREAT NORTHERN HOTEL, BYRON BAY
Tickets available from Oztix: 1300 762 545; www.oztix.com.au

FRIDAY, OCTOBER 7TH: HI FI, BRISBANE
Tickets available from Venue: 1300 THE HIFI (843 4434); www.thehifi.com.au, Moshtix: 1300 GET TIX (438 849); www.moshtix.com.au

SATURDAY, OCTOBER 8TH: COOLANGATTA HOTEL, GOLD COAST
Tickets available from Oztix: 1300 762 545; www.oztix.com.au

WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 12TH : THEATRE ROYAL, CASTLEMAINE
Tickets available from http://www.theatreroyal.info

THURSDAY, OCTOBER 13TH : BENDED ELBOW, GEELONG
Tickets available from Venue: (03) 5229 4477, Oztix: 1300 762 545; www.ozitx.com.au

FRIDAY, OCTOBER 14TH: THE PALACE THEATRE, MELBOURNE
Tickets available from www.ticketmaster.com.au, 136 100

SATURDAY, OCTOBER 15TH: THE GOV, HINDMARSH
Tickets available from Moshtix: 1300 GET TIX (438 849); www.moshtix.com.au, www.venuetix.com.au