Panic is Perfect is a high-energy band hailing from San Francisco that blends infectious rhythms with a keen sense of melody to create a memorable musical experience. The band consists of a five piece setup with Jeremy Belzer and Mike Hoffman covering vocals and multiple instruments each, David Monzon locking it in on guitar, Joey Hassid on synths, and Ty Parker holding down the beat on drums.
Following a spirited show at The Knitting Factory as part of the Northside Festival in Brooklyn, NY, I had the chance to sit down and talk with with the gentlemen that are Panic Is Perfect.
After chatting about the ins and outs of living in San Francisco, the disappearance of hackerspaces in the city, and where the best taqueria is (still open to debate), we got to talking shop.
A well traveled band, with the founders Mike and Jeremy pulling stints in places as diverse as Ghana, Kansas City, Portland, Los Angeles, Thailand, Korea and China, Mike elaborated a bit on how these travels have informed the creation and performance of their music.
Mike, a drummer since the age of ten, studied traditional African drumming in Ghana. He talked about the differences in African drumming and Western percussion, noting in particular that:
“Over there drumming is like a language… all these different variations and parts, they all have meanings, it’s super complex, it is literally like a language, and people learn it like a language from a very young age…” he added, “People who are drummers over there… you don’t choose to a drummer, you start, like, as soon as you can walk.”
This proclivity for multi-layered and complex rhythmic arrangements really shows in their live performance set-up, with Mike out front on the stage dancing and beating on a floor tom (playing a “lead” drum part), while also playing guitar and sharing vocal duties with Jeremy.
Many of band members are multi-instrumentalists, and their unique approach to composition is really defined in their 2015 EP Behind Your Eyelids. The first track on the album “Go Go Go” starts out with a clever “false start” in French and dives into an infectious anthemic piece with soaring vocal melodies, rolling deep drum lines, and string embellishments.
The rest of the well-composed album utilizes a skilled balance of sparse guitar riffs contrasted against tight melodies and large instrumental swells and climaxes. The final two tracks “Mailman” and “Bobby Black” really show the bands diversity as they dive into a much deeper, darker, and groove oriented sound filled with darker vocal mixes and deep percussion.
As the discussion continued, some odd synchronicities appeared that were a surprise to both me and the band.
In asking about the band’s formation and the origins of the name, the band cited one song in particular, a song that Jeremy had written years ago, that had played a major role in many aspects of creating Panic Is Perfect.
Reflecting on it they filled in the pieces realizing that “A lot of things came from that song.” “The name of our EP, the name of the band, and the name of another song.” “We, like, harvested the lyrics of that song…” said Mike.
It turns out that Jeremy had written that song in Mike’s studio years before the formation or even idea of the band existed and had gotten Mike to drum the track.
When asked where this song is now, Jeremy said that it was not on their set, or on any of their recorded material. “I’m going to make it someday. I’m gonna to finish it.” he added
I certainly hope they do. On that note, I can’t wait to hear what these guys lay down for the years ahead. As they so eloquently put it, Go Go Go!