Darkside of The Con III band interview: Panic Lift - Republished

Updated: Jul 2, 2020

Photo by: Epsilon Arts

(This interview was originally published in 2018. Everything has been left as is except the cover photo)

What is the meaning behind the band’s name? There was always some speculation, and at first, I never really wanted to tell people. I thought it was ambiguous enough so people can read into it and make their own meaning. Well, I felt that was until I found out there was a Sega genesis game named “PANIC LIFT” and people assumed that’s where I got the name. Next, I had no idea people in the UK refer to “Elevators” as a “Lift” and then people thought I had some type of phobia of heights or enclosed spaces. Which, I mean I kind of do, but its still way off base for where I got the band name from. So. The band name is taken from a passage in the lyrics of my song “Shelter” from the first album “Witness to Our Collapse”. The lyric is “The victory is the battles won inside, the darkness recedes and the panic lift’s with time” I landed on that because while I was writing music for the first album I did not have a band name yet, so I combed through the lyrics to see what kind of “Themes” popped out, and I really enjoyed the sense of hope that line seemed to evoke.  While I do mark dark music, I feel like it’s important to juxtapose it with a positive message sometimes. Music was a way out of my every day issues with anxiety, and I only hope that others can find whatever outlet they need to find to feel better about themselves and work through their issues.  

When did Panic life officially start?   Can you tell us about your beginnings?

I would have to say, I officially started the project probably around 2006? only because I know it was 2 years before we put out the first album. I've spent a large portion of my life in local bands, mainly Eye Kandy, and Symbiotic both of which had some moderate success in the local scene but for one reason or another never seemed to pan out. I got frustrated because we'd put so much effort into the bands only to see some members quit so I finally told myself I’m going to do my own band, where I’ll write all the music and sing so no one can quit!" and then I got to writing the first few Panic Lift songs.

Tell us about your newest album 'End Process', how did the songwriting process differ from previous releases? First of all, I’ll say I’m so pumped about this album. I'm really happy with it, and I feel like as a songwriter I’ve finally come to a place in my career where I genuinely enjoy writing and producing. "End Process" was actually much different than past releases because it was first album I ever wrote, and recorded in under a year from its predecessor. A lot of that had to do with a different approach I took this time around where I would write and record lyrics first before even starting on the melodies and programming. Also, this time around I was able to collaborate with several of my live band members Ben Tourkantonis, and Aedra Oh. Me and Ben spent a few hours in my studio where I mic'ed up his drums and had him play to random tempos and he just went nuts for about 2 hours playing everything under the sun and I was able to take those sessions, chop them up and use them as drum tracks for new songs. Aedra came in and added some bass guitar and backing vocals to "Too Late For Healing" which really beefed up the track. That song in particular is the closest thing I have on a record to the live band playing on a song together. I hope to do more of this type of collaborating as I begin the next record.  

Your new album "End process" many people think you guys are saying good bye, other fans debate that you aren't. Would you like to set the record straight?

Let me let everyone in on a little secret. I write every single album like it will be my last. this is exactly why the titles and themes shape up the way they do. Honestly, I don’t know when I will hang Panic Lift up, I know I’m getting older and the touring is getting harder to do both physically, and financially so I don’t expect to be touring for very much longer but I don’t think I’ll ever stop creating the music. So, while the focus of the project may change, I think one way or another I’ll still be releasing music for a long time.

How was your last tour? Did you have a favorite venue or place to play? It was amazing, but it was hard. We spent almost a year planning everything and promoting so I was physically and mentally exhausted by the end of it. It was the longest tour we've done since we went out with Aesthetic Perfection in 2014 and while it was so rewarding, I was happy to be back home by the end of it. A big plus for me was taking out bands that I personally love in FIRES, and Street Fever. I was happy to use the little platform I have to put their music on display and hopefully expose them to wider audience. I was also happy because I had some killer music to listen to all night!   It's hard to pick a favorite! What I think a lot of people don’t realize is most bands in the industrial scene are friends with the promoters who put on these shows. I've worked with almost all these promoters in the past and it was great to be able to see them, and play their establishments again. If I had to choose, I feel the highlights for me were Philadelphia, Kansas City, and Austin Texas.  But again, it was so great to play all these cities, and I want to thank all the promoters again for having us, and all the fans who came out to the shows.

What do you like to do for fun?

What’s fun? I have been honestly been feeling like an old man lately and it feels totally OK. I look at pictures back from when I used to go out every week and I don’t know how we all had the energy! I stay home a lot to write & record music, and spend time with my wife. When I do go out its usually to support my friend's shows or events. I try to dedicate some time to the gym when I can and I’m always pushing myself to learn new hobbies to be a more well-rounded person.

Are you guys excited to play Darkside of the con III?

Oh, hell yes. We can’t wait to return and put on the "End Process" tour production for the first time in New Jersey. The last time we played dark side of the con was the first show we've done with the new lineup we have now, and it was a bit raw and unpolished, but after 2 years and a national tour we are a fine-tuned machine ready to give the crowd an amazing night. Jet has really outdone himself with the lineup this year and it is comparable to any of the other industrial festivals going on right now, so it’s going to be amazing as an artist and a fan!

Do you have a favorite quote?

I have several, but one that has been sticking out in my head lately, and was actually the inspiration for the song "Paper Mask" was from my favorite author Kurt Vonnegut from his book "Mother Night" it is - “We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be.”  I feel like it’s very timely especially with regards to the scene and some of the drama that has surrounded certain artists and individuals the past few years.

Anything you would like to leave with us? I just want to thank Jet again for the years and years of support. He was one of the first promoters to take a chance on Panic Lift when we started out, and also really helped push some of my older projects as well. I really owe a lot to him as well as the other promoters in the tri-state area at the time. I don’t think I would have got some of the national attention I’ve got without them putting me on killer bills and promoting the music I make, and I’ll always appreciate that!

Interview by Morticia & Jet

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