Photo Cred: Samantha Madnick
Tell us about “You’re Alive”
We [Mike & Jeremy] work on songs together and then one of us will bring the song(s) to the rest of the band. “You’re Alive” was primarily written by Mike and this is what he has to say about it:
“You’re Alive” is the most literal narrative song that I’ve ever written. It’s actually fictional, but draws on personal experiences I’ve had. It’s about going through challenging situations in my life and the experience of finding something deep within yourself that helps you transcend your own painful circumstances. I feel like I have an emotional connection with the characters in the song. I’ve known people in my life that have had serious illnesses that they’ve had to cope with. They’ve been an inspiration to me and that’s where this song came from.”
Why did you name your album Cellspace?
CELLspace was an artist collective and gallery / performance space in the Mission district of San Francisco. Jeremy and Mike started out there and a lot of the songs on the Cellspace album were written there. A bunch of great bands have gotten their start there including, The Glitch Mob, Beats Antique, and Bassnectar, as well as, lots of Burning Man artists. With CELLspace closing in January and due for demolition, it is the end of an era. It’s also a sign of the times as struggling SF artists have one less community center to meet and do art in, whether it’s street art, music, painting, breakdancing, or aztec chanting. We named our album Cellspace to honor the part we had to play there, as well as, the fact that places like this are disappearing from bigger cities all over the country. Communities need places like this in order for people to have creative outlets, discover more about the cultures they come from – or about other people’s cultures, and to have strong opinioned groups of artists in one place who can influence each other. This leads to individual artists finding their own voice.
How was the recording and writing process?
It was incredibly long. It took us a while to mix and master our full album since it originally had 15 songs on it. It’s now been cut back to 11. One important part of our songwriting process is that we [Mike & Jeremy] were gifted 1 year of free studio time at SF Soundworks by our label. This turned out to be a hugely rich learning experience. We would work our normal jobs but head over there afterwards almost every day of the week. We both learned how to use all the vintage synths they had along with mic placement techniques, which mic to use for what, and how to use all the different software instruments available there.
There were some songs that went through an evolution – “Turn Back Into Stars”, “Go GoGo”, “Too Up Close”, and “Glow” were all worked on by Chris Zane at Gigantic Studios and then brought back to SF Soundworks and then, eventually brought to our home studios for finishing touches. “I Can Make It Good” started out as “The Mailman Outro” was composed by neither Jeremy or Mike, but by Joey Hassid, the synth-bass and lead-synth player of the band. Because it started as an outro, some themes were taken and slowed down from “The Mailman” and others were invented as Joey worked. After it was all done, “I Can Make It Good” ended up having the highest track count inside of ProTools out of any song on the album. It took a mind-bending 220 tracks to make that song the sonic experience that it is.
How are you preparing for your upcoming tour stint?
We’re on our Cellspacealbum release tour now. It’s great to be back on the road. We’ve been preparing by ordering new styles of T-shirts, and learning new songs to bring to everybody including a few David Bowie covers. It looks like only 1 of the covers is ready for this short tour, but we’ll have more ready in the coming months. As big Bowie fans, it’s an important thing for us to cover a few of his songs after his passing.
What are you looking forward to the most?
We’re looking forward to getting our album out into the world and seeing everyone’s reaction to it. It’s been such a big part of our lives for the past few years that this moment is a big turning point for all of us. Also, this is our first headlining tour! Since we’ve mainly been in the supporting slot for other shows, it feels like a whole new experience. We’re already beginning work on our 2nd album. We’re excited by what we’ve come up with so far.
What else is happening in Panic Is Perfect land?
We’ve just released our first ever full-length album, Cellspace, so we’ll be promoting that with shows and radio campaigns. We’re also making a video for each song on the album, so you can see each of those as they come out. We’ve finished our first video for our single,“You’re Alive” and it will be out soon. Making so many videos and getting into those different types of creative processes has been really fun for us to explore.