INTERVIEW: Step-Panther

STEPPING UP

“We get talked about as a lo-fi band but it isn’t what we are trying to do,” says Step-Panther’s Stevesie as he takes Chris Familton through the recording of their debut album.

For any new band the biggest step after writing a batch of songs and establishing your live show must be the recording of the debut album. Many have built a career from that first release that can often capture the essence, innocence and creative blossoming of a group. On the flip-side it can also be a document of a band struggling to find their feet, their sound still in its germinal phase. Sydney’s Step-Panther have started off on the right foot with their self-titled debut, a record that harnesses the slacker vibe and caustic guitar noise of their live shows and added a polish and sheen that highlights some concise songwriting.

Singer/guitarist/songwriter Stevesie (the trio go by their first names) didn’t want to mess with the simplicity of the band’s approach to their music so when they entered the studio with producer Simon Berkfinger (of Philadelphia Grand Jury) they worked fast and stuck to the basics.

“He was keen to do it and it was kind of a time thing, we only had three days so we decided to just hammer it and make the best of what we could. We did it over three days [at Berkfinger’s Enmore studio] and then did we did some overdubs at my house. The reason it was so rushed was that he had to move to Berlin in a week so we just had to do it. We went back and forth with mixes and I did take a trip over there to visit him while he was doing the mixes which was cool. We finalised things there because it was hard to explain what you want from a distance and I was traveling at the time so I only had an iPhone and speakers on my laptop to judge it.  The way we recorded the album was tracking it live, tracking it live and using a lot of the guitar, bass and drum tracks of us just playing through the song with minimal overdubs, that’s always been our style.  We tried to record it in a lo-fi way and then mix it in a way that would bring it out and make things sound as nice as possible when we mixed it. We get talked about as a lo-fi band but it isn’t what we are trying to do.”

The necessary evil of releasing a record is its promotion and marketing. Step-Panther take the approach of letting the music doing the talking with only minimal interest in social networking hype game and looking for additional revenue streams via merchandising.

“We have a twitter but I don’t really feel like I have much to say. We have a manager who tweets about shows and things. Any more than that would be overkill for us. We just don’t have enough money to print any t-shirts. We did some last year but I did them myself and they turned out funny, the skull was kind of askew. A few people bought them out of pity I think.”

As he heads off to prepare for the evening’s gig, Stevesie reflects on the the journey his songs have taken from the bedroom to stage to the recorded versions and how he is aiming even higher for Step-Panther’s new songs.

“In my mind I dream up the most ridiculous and over the top things like real Springsteen style stadium rock and then because of the limited instruments at our disposal it gets reduced down but still with some of that attitude. You have to imagine the sax solo and strings. The newer ones have a more dramatic feel with more in them. We thought “oh it would be nice to do a bridge,” he laughs.

this interview was first published in The Drum Media.

Step-Panther is out now via Speak n Spell

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