Edward Everett, Amy Miller, and Adam Smith make up Panic Years, a talented trio opening for Switchfoot at Radio 104.5’s Summer Block Party. Enticed by the prominent music scene in Philadelphia, they brought their talent here in 2008 and have been gaining popularity and praises ever since. The band spoke with That Mag’s Emily Meenan about their upcoming album, what they think about Philly, and how they feel about playing their second Block Party. Following this year’s Block Party June 2nd at the Piazza, The Panic Years will be back in town June 16th at Ruba Hall.
EM: Your first full length album is being released on June 12, this summer. What are your plans after the album release?
AM: We’ll be having a big album release party on June 16. We wanted to do something a little different this time so we booked a space behind Silk City called Ruba Hall. We’ll have one opening band (This Way To The Egress) and we’ll have some special guests on stage with us that night, including members of the Philly drum group Unidos da Filadelfia. Then we’re going to bring in a DJ and have a big dance party for the rest of the night. We also have plans for a big summer tour and we’re making a music video for one of our songs, which should be done by mid-July.
EM: This album, The Month’s Mind, is a narrative album that’s going to be a lot different than your two previous EP’s. What made you decide to change things up? Can you tell us a little bit about the narrative aspect of the album?
EE: I experienced some personal loss a few years ago. The album reflects the process of dealing with grief and pondering mortality. The title is a reference to a remembrance and celebration held one month after a person’s death. The days leading up to the Month’s Mind are called “minding days”; days of not only recalling fond memories of the deceased, but also of introspection on one’s own life. I tried to use the idea of the Month’s Mind to frame the album’s narrative. I envisioned each track as a minding day. Each song has its own story to tell, but when woven together presents a greater theme.
EM: What is your favorite thing that you did differently with this album? Was anything extra tough this time around?
AS: We recorded most of the album (besides drums) down in Ed’s basement. It allowed for a more relaxed and experimental atmosphere which was great. We all have pretty varied influences and I think this is the first record to capture that with the more diverse sounds and instruments we pulled into the mix. On the other hand, I think it became a bit claustrophobic at times, especially for Ed who couldn’t really escape and get away from the process.
EM: You guys drew a lot of inspiration for this album from literature, like Hermann Hesse’s Steppenwolf. What other things inspired you as you worked on the album?
EE: While working on this album, we wanted to open ourselves up to using new, different, and bigger sounds for us. While imagining some of these pieces, I think I was inspired by modern bands like Stars, The Frames, and Arcade Fire that tend to have big, orchestrated pieces that have interesting arrangements and utilize a plethora of auxiliary instruments. Because we had the great opportunity to record at home, we were able to spend a lot of time making sure that the sounds we were imagining in our heads found their way onto the record.
EM: Many other bands, like Neutral Milk Hotel and The Cure, have also drawn inspiration from literature. Who else do you guys identify yourselves with, inspiration wise?
EE: Musically, I think all of us are inspired by different artists. We all have very different tastes. The three of us, generally, don’t really talk about music we like with one another. It may seem odd for a band not to rally around the same inspirations, but for us it seems to be what works. We come together during the writing process and like the music we write.
EM: What’s your plan for a tour?
AM: We’ll be promoting the new album and playing tons of shows. We’ll be heading out on our first national tour, which is really exciting for us. The album has already received a good amount of airplay at college radio across the country, so we’re looking forward to getting into some of those markets and playing.
EM: When you guys were first starting up, you decided that Philadelphia was the place you wanted to be to get your band going. What made you choose the City of Brotherly Love?
AM: The band originally formed in Virginia and where we were living, the music scene was pretty much non-existent. Not only did we want to move to a city that had a lot of clubs to play and a strong local scene, but we also wanted the opportunity to do some regional touring. Philly is the perfect location for that because it’s within driving distance of New York, DC, Baltimore, Boston. We were immediately embraced by the Philly music community when we moved here and it proved to us how much people care about music in this city. It’s not an overstatement to say Philly has one of the best scenes in the country right now.
EM: Last year, you played a 104.5 Block Party with The Airborne Toxic Event and The Naked and Famous. What was that experience like?
AS: It was pretty incredible. We were opening up the show and you never know what to expect when you’re in that role, but the place was packed even when we were just arriving to load in gear. By the time we played, it was a pretty great sight to look out onto and everyone was really receptive to us.
EM: You’re playing the next Summer Block Party show on June 2nd. How do you guys feel about coming back again this year, and opening for Switchfoot? Do you feel like it will be any different than last year’s show?
AS: We feel extremely lucky the way Radio 104.5 has really embraced us since the beginning and given us such great opportunities. These free outdoor shows with national acts are just about the ideal way to get our music out to new folks who might not have heard us otherwise. Plus we could all probably use a little sun after spending the last few months in Ed’s basement. So there’s that.
Written by: Emily Meenan