Johnny Panic


e-mail interview with Rob, June 2005

Sometimes you'd think that the Manic Street Preachers were the only band ever to have had an intelligent thought. Bands with little in common with them musically, such as Kinesis and Rancid, along with R*E*P*E*A*T's very own Miss Black America and The Virgin Suicides, have been accused (with varying degrees of accuracy) of wanting to be 'the new Manics', for daring to want to write about more than their skateboards, their girl friends or their ganga.

While this is a great compliment to the fatty Welsh ones, it is hardly helpful in describing new bands.

One such band to suffer this double edged compliment are Johnny Panic for infusing their raw, guitar powered melodies with a social consciousness - "everyone of our songs is trying to get something across." Teenage suicide, drug destruction, a determination to question everything and an all consuming fear of, in the word's of Sylvia Plath, 'the death of the imagination', mark out the stance of this fast emerging four piece.

This band is just what a music scene grown bloated and boring needs. Energy, adrenaline, excitement and yes ideas combine to produce a sound which will have you putting it on repeat play on your stereo and then leaping around the room and perhaps half believing (again) that rock'n'roll can change your life and indeed change the world.

If only for 3 minutes.

Hearing that Johnny Panic were to return to Cambridge to play a free Church of Noise gig with Towers of London on 13th June, Rosey e-mailed vocalist / guitarist Rob to find out how it feels to be (yawn) 'the new Manics'...


1. Johnny Panic - who what and why?
Matt- guitar, nash- bass, rob- vocals/guitar, jonny- drums Why?
Because we have to.

2. The Sylvia Plath name firmly locates you as a certain sort of band.Do you worry about getting pigeon holed?
I never anticpated that the name would pigeon hole us. We just read the story and thought it appropriate to who we are and what we were trying to achieve. It's become a name to polarise, some love it, others hate it. We love it.

3. Heroes- musical and political?
We really love people who strive to make a difference for the better. They may fail but it's the trying we admire.
Many of our heroes we love for periods, as other periods they sometimes undo what they've achieved e.g. Mao.
Musical- The clash, pistols, specials, the beat, sam & dave, mc5, chic, dizyy raskal, the beatles, the who, jam, SOD, Jimmy Eat World, Weezer, smashing pumpkins, guns n roses, biffy cyro, muse, manics, razorlight, cheap trick, public enemy, hanoi rocks.
Political- Arthur Scargill, `Mao, Kier Hardie, Napoleon, Lenin's
historian, Marx, Plato, j.j.rousseau, Bernie grant, red wedge.

4.What about heroes that have let you down?
All the above.

5. In an age in which bands taking the piss out of genres are king, isn't ittime that someone came along with something more interesting and exciting to say?
I think there are are plenty of bands with great things to say. The media/radio just don't cover them. They cover the bravery or the subways, bands that in time history will tell us were crap.
I think there needs to be a balance between music for enjoyment and music with meaning. Anyone who knows me know I'm not a funny person, but that doesn't mean were against it. We just want to create an option, a change, a discovery, a hope.

6.Do you find it annoying that for daring to sing about more than ganga, skateboards and girlfriends you get tagged with the new Manics kiss of death?
The manics were a great band, but our influences and desire to 'talk' stem from other acts like fugazi, ledbelly, crass, mc5, nwa, dead kennedy's, specials and most importantly the clash. I think we have the potential to go much further than the manics and we definately do things in a different style, our lyrics are much more laymen and were based in whats real rather than the metaphysical language the manics spoke in.

The thing that makes me sad is when people accuse us of being out of date. When we ran the campaign to raise awareness for male suicide during the 'burn your youth' single, we were accused of this. When we researched the statement 'the biggest killer of 16-24 year old males in the UK is themselves', we were looking at information up to 2003. If it were to be done today it would be the biggest killer of males aged 16-26. It's getting bigger, it's more relevant and now more than ever we need to raise the profile of the situation and remove many of the
taboos and stigmas associated with suicide. This is more than music, people are dying and feeling the need to die.

7. William Blake said originality is worthless, would you agree?
I think originality ended when the 1st note was played as everything takes influence from something. I think the key is to be fresh. We'd go further than Blake and say it doesn't exist.

8. What can the good people of Cambridge expect of your live show?
Something violent and dazzling.

9. Who or what would you like to burn instead of your youth?
Bands that think the most they can contribute to society is joining the make povery history campaign. Let's make them history, then forget they ever existed.

10.What do you listen to when hoovering?
The soundtrack of today is system of a down mezmorize.

11.Anything else you'd like to say?
Too much. The problem is get me started and i'll take up your entire magazine. So i'll leave you in the capable hands of sylvia - 'The poverty of a life without dreams is too horrible to imagine.'

12.What's next for Johnny Panic?
Were going to be a band that prove's who we are and how good we are. Our debut album 'the violent dazzling' is a future classic, we just have to prove it.

13. Chips or cream buns?
Chips. Always need our carbohydrates.

Johnny Panic's debut album is now available to buy in all good record stores and here

Thanks to Rob for his time and to Myles the manager for sorting things out.

Details of the free Towers of London / Johnny Panic / Tsar gig on June 13th are available from here

Pix used are by Alessia from The White Queen website, which has lots of original and stunning pix of the likes The Darkness, Franz Ferdinand, Towers of London and too many more to type.

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