Flesh Panthers interview with Ryan Zombotron, Mark and Dan

July 15, 2013

Flesh Panthers interview with Ryan Zombotron, Mark and Dan

If you’ve read many of my interviews you’ve
probably noticed that I have a deep love for music from certain geographical
locations.  It doesn’t so much have to do
with a certain genre of music I’m looking for, but rather some sort of
prevailing spirit and ignored sense of talent that rises through the sounds to
greet me.  Chicago has been pumping out
some of the best bands in the world for decades now but the underground scene
there is exploding all of a sudden, genre shattering, mind numbing talent
seeping and oozing from every pore of the cities seedy-underbelly!  And while there might be more and more talent
a lot of people aren’t getting their dues, or the respect and attention, they
deserve.  There aren’t a lot of bands out
there that are genuinely fun to listen to but the Flesh Panthers are without a
doubt an electrifying listen.  They make
sure they take you along with them to the party, no dickhead high school
buddies ditching you here!  It’s just an
extended play slab of a night out on the town with your pals.  So get ready for a long night of drinking and
partying, smoking until your incoherent and jumping around until your legs are
numb.  Or you can just put on the cassette
tape and feel like you’re tagging along, because while a lot of bands claim they
play punk-rock, most of them wouldn’t know good rock and roll if it but them
square in the ass.  Flesh Panthers draw
inspiration from some of the purest and most interesting psychedelic
rock’n’roll out there.  With heavy psych
rock running head first into a wall of distortion, fuzz, feedback and some
serious punk attitude The Flesh Panthers are just out and out fun!  So if you missed the party or are just
another one of the curious and uninitiated read on and learn everything you
needed to know about the band, so long as you’re a human and not “another one
of those Flesh Panthers” that is!

What is the band’s lineup?  Is
this your original lineup?
I sing and play guitary type stuff, Lucas really plays the guitar.  Dan plays the drums and Mark does the
bass.  But we will all probably be
playing keyboards soon.
Are any of you in any other bands? 
Have you released any material with other bands?
I’m in Free Drugs.  Everything
we’ve released is free on Bandcamp.
I was in a band for about eight years called Most Genuine Expression, we
put out a couple records on a local label called Cassette Deck records.  Since then I’ve been in and out of projects
but Flesh Panthers is the only band I’m currently in.
Where are you originally from?
Crystal Lake, Illinois.
I am originally from the Northwest burbs (Palatine).  I have since moved to Chicago’s Bucktown
Where is the band currently located at? 
How would you describe the local scene there?
Chicago.  Everybody here just
wants to set up in a living room, crank it to eleven and party till your
friends hate you.  That’s what we
like.  All the bands here know the clubs
are scammers.  We’re all scrabbling to
put out these shitty little tapes ‘cause that’s all we can afford.  There’s a couple bedroom labels putting out
vinyl of the cool Chicago bands but they just can’t keep up with all of
it.  We’re all doing these tapes because
we have something to say, even if it’s just “were fucked up and we need
more beer”.  Either way it’s death
or glory.  Nobody is waiting around for
anybody to pay attention to the Chicago scene. 
We’re just cranking out runs of a hundred noisy tapes like McDoubles at
fucking McDonald’s.
Chicago.  Way better than Los
Logan square area of Chicago.  The
scene is saturated with talented groups of all genres.  Bands are nice to each other.  It’s a friendly competitive environment.  If you pop in to a show on a whim around town
you are most likely going to enjoy yourself.
Are you very involved with the local scene?
Yeah, we’re always going to shows and playing in people’s living rooms
and basements.  We put out our shitty
little tapes, but we buy them too.  We
are genuinely interested in what’s going on around us.
Enough to write, record, release and perform music.
I just try to go to as many local shows as I can.
Has the local scene played a large role in the history, sound or
evolution of Flesh Panthers?
Definitely.  This band has been
very spongy.  Sometimes I think I’ve done
something really great and then I go and listen to somebody else’s band and
it’s just like, fuck!  I really respect
our peers’ tones, if Chicago is known for one thing its good tones.  We’ve covered some of our friends’ bands too,
Pink Torpedo, Wet Heat, The Blast Eats, Gypsy Blood, Modern Day Rippers.
We’ve all been in bands that have played around Chicago so it’s hard to
say that the local scene hasn’t influenced us.
When and how did you meet?  What
led you to start Flesh Panthers?
I met Lucas at a party at his house when he was in The
Hundredaires.  We were jamming on Chuck
Berry and The Sonics while everybody else was getting bored.  That spoke to me at the time.  With Dan, we got fucked before a big show,
Tutu And The Pirates end of the world show. 
Our drummer bailed on us.  Dan
came in and learned all the songs in a week and played them better than before.  We even did a Nirvana cover, which pissed
some people off.  A couple days later it
was New Year’s Eve and the next week we recorded the EP.
I met Dan at a punk house in Normal called The Kitchen and the rest of
the guys through debaucherous activity.
Ryan and Miles started the group and later on Lucas joined the
band.  I met Lucas through partying.  Down the line their original drummer moved
away, I stepped in and haven’t looked back.
What does Flesh Panthers mean or refer to?
I had a dream one night, and in the dream someone asked me “are you
a human or just another one of those flesh panthers”?  At the time we were looking for anything that
sounded fierce and dangerous and I guess that fit well enough.
don’t like to label or classify music, how would you describe Flesh Panthers’
sound to our readers?
We call ourselves party punk, or at least that’s how we see ourselves,
that’s how we feel.  We’re definitely
free; nobody has a hold over us.  We’re
not just doing it for the punks, everybody can join the party and it’s not
exclusive.  Everybody knows life is
bullshit.  That’s what we sing about.
Punk rock.  That’s what it is,
I always say “Party Punk” if people ask, but it’s pretty straight forward
Can you tell us about who some of your personal influences are?  What about as a band rather than just
Okay, The Velvet Underground, The Clash, Jam, Slade, Nirvana, The Young
Rascals, The Spits, Germs, The Kinks, The Beatles, Rolling Stones, Wilson
Picket, Chuck Berry, Black Flag, John Lee Hooker, The Libertines and The
Strokes.  Otis Redding, Patti Smith
Group.  BB King, Howlin’ Wolf, Only Ones,
Oasis, The Meat Puppets, The Minute Men. 
Trex, Void.  The Temps, Four Tops,
The Supremes.  Big Youth.  Eater, Slaughter and The Dogs, David
Bowie.  Small Faces, Graham Parker, Led
Zeppelin and all punk rock.  All of
it.  There’s more but those are the big
The Clash, The Jam, Joe Jackson, Richard Hell.
Drum-wise I grew up listening to NOFX, Rancid, Chocking Victim, Refused,
Propagandhi, Lightning Bolt, Dakota/Dakota, the Lawrence Arms and
Can you talk a little bit about Flesh Panthers’ writing process?  Is there a lot of jamming or does someone
come in with a more finished product to share with the rest of the band?
There’s both going on.  Sometimes
I record my ideas and then bring it to the band, sometimes we jam on a cool
idea and sometimes we just need a break from the set so we play some new
shit.  But we always go with what feels
right or what’s most interesting.  Lately
it’s been democratic and we have been challenging each other, bringing in our
own flavors and trying to think of crazy shit. 
I think it’s made us write better songs. 
Our next tape is gonna be wild as fuck.
Well, first there’s a lot of beer and grass and the practice space
smells a little.  But once we’ve gotten
used to that someone plays something and another joins in.
I’d say Ryan or Lucas come in with something in mind, like the bare
bones version of what the song will become. 
Then we run through it and add or remove parts we think sound good.  It’s definitely a collaborative effort but we
usually start with a solid jumping off point.
Do you enjoy recording?  Some
bands love it and it drives other bands completely insane!
I love it.
I personally love it.  The part
that drives me insane is when you hear the mistakes you made on a record over
and over again.  So you have to make sure
you are tight and not to settle on a garbage take.
I love it when it drives me insane.
You just released a self-titled EP on cassette March 16th; let’s talk
about the album a little bit.  Who
recorded it?  Where was it recorded?  What kind of equipment was used?  Who’s releasing it?
Brian at Two States.  Two States
is a great studio and Brian was really cool. 
I wanted a lot of feedback and noisiness.  We made it raw.  No patching in or anything, we just cranked
it out.  There’s a sitar in there
somewhere.  Exxotic Aquatic Tapes
released it.  They’re the Nonnie Perry
people.  They get the whole DIY noise
What about 10 Cigarettes your track from the Sexy Babies Across America
That was the first thing we recorded, so at first it was like, “wow
we recorded this shitty little song and now it’s on a comp, we are so
awesome!  This is gonna be so
easy”!  Dead wrong.  It took a minute to really add it all up, and
we’re still figuring things out.  I’m
glad those guys put it on their CD.
Are there any plans for a full-length follow up anytime soon?
Our next release will be via Tall Pat records, not sure how many inches
What other music have you released? 
Is any of it currently available?
We released another album on Cold Slice Cassettes, but it’s out of print
and staying that way.
Where’s the best place for our readers to purchase your music?
The World Wide Web.
At shows, most of the records stores in Chicago still have it and
What do you have planned as far as touring goes this year?
It’s always on my mind.  Any time
you can leave your hometown and meet new people, drink beer and play
rock’n’roll songs it’s a good time.  I
always say there are three steps to being in a band: write, record, and play
shows.  The fourth one is profit, but
that never really happens.
A regional tour in the fall.
You guys have played with some of my favorite bands out there right now
including The Hussy who have a super special place in my heart and on my
turntables, who are some of your favorite acts that you’ve a chance to share a
bill with?
Big Clour, Slushy and Pink Torpedo.
Absolutely Not (the band).
I once played with Leftover Crack when I was in high school.  That shit was crazy.
Do you have a funny or interesting story from a live show that you’d
like to share with us?
We were playing the basement of this jazz club with Uh Bones and Rainbow
Gun Show.  It was a pretty crappy set up;
really shitty house equipment.  For some
reason the mic I was using was sending shocks through my broken tooth and
mildly electrocuting me.  I’d go to sing
a lyric and bam!  Shock wave!  It was fucking me up.  I tried to ignore it but there was no
way.  Zap, zap, zap!  So I lost it and smashed my guitar on the
floor.  It was right after that Green Day
guy smashed his guitar, so it was kind of a joke.  The guitar I was playing I had bought for
cheap at a garage sale, it was pink and crappy. 
I never really liked it and had thought of getting rid of it, I wasn’t
planning or anything but it felt right and we all had a laugh over it.
I had just joined the band and Ryan goes ape shit at almost every.  I got to watch him stage dive at the Empty
Bottle and it looked like he wasn’t going to get up, but he did.  It was pretty epic.
Where’s the best place for our readers to keep up on the latest news
from Flesh Panthers like album releases and upcoming shows?
Dan’s diary
Ryan’s diary.
With all of the different mediums for releasing music these days I’m
always curious why artists choose the ones that they do.  Why a cassette release as opposed to CD or
We party.  We are the people’s
musicians.  But mostly were broke.  There is no budget for DIY musicians.  Cassette are the people’s medium.
love having a digital copy of the album to listen to but there is something
irreplaceably magic about having something physical to hold in your hands.  Something about having a picture to look at
and liner notes to read while you listen to an album that makes it a much more
complete experience.  Do you have any
such connection to physical releases?

Oh shit yeah.  I don’t feel like
you really own it unless you can hold it in your hands.  It’s all about the collection.  No one cares about your digital music
library.  You gotta be able to display
Everybody loves nostalgia.  Sure,
paper was great.  Now I just use it to
wipe my ass.
Digital music is quickly changing the face of the music industry to say
the least but it’s exposed a lot of people to a great deal of music that they
otherwise wouldn’t have ever heard.  How
do you feel about the rapidly changing face of the industry and music
I feel music will regress.  People
are starting to realize the importance of locally grown foods and beers.  I think music will follow.
I think it’s great.  It’s so easy
these days for a band to be a one-stop shop. 
They can write the music, record the music, and distribute the music all
on their own.  The internet has connected
us all and it has definitely changed the way people hear and share music and I
think that’s great.
you have a music collection?  If so can
you tell us a little bit about it?
Part 70’s Brit LA punk, part 80’s hardcore and power pop.  Part soul glam and 60’s pop with a bunch of
Motown and classic rock.  The rest is
blues and doo wop, CDs, records, tapes, VHS; used to have a sweet Boston
I just bought a Clarence Clemons and the Red Bank Rockers vinyl the
other day.  It’s pretty killer.  My vinyl is mostly the rock‘n’roll I grew up
with and a little new-wave and punk rock in there. My CD collection is mostly punk with some
east-coast hip-hop.  I have a VHS
collection too, wanna hear about that?
I have been really into Death Grips lately; I can’t really stop
listening to their album.  Some new
pop-punk bands have really grabbed my ear as well, like Dear Landlord, The
Menzingers, Hop Along And Glocca Morra. 
I’m still listening to some folk-punk bands like Andrew Jackson Jihad
and Kind Of Like Spitting.  I have been
into T. Rex a lot as well.  Otis Redding,
James brown, Sam Cooke.
ask everyone I talk to this question so please feel free to list as many people
as you’d like, I am always trying to keep up with the flood of amazing music
that is out there.  Who should I be
listening to from your local scene or area that I might not have heard of?
Pink Torpedo and Slushy.
Free Drugs, Bike Cops, Gypsy Blood, Swimsuit Addition and The Night
Brigade if they bring it back one of these days.
The Please & Thank Yous, Pet Symmetry, The Brokedowns, Meat Wave,
Wide Angles and Paper Mice.
What about nationally and internationally?
Slutever, Jsbx.
Is there anything that I missed or you’d like to talk about?
Lucas wants to talk about boners.
Various Artists – Sexy Babies Across The Wasteland – Cold Slice
Cassettes (Flesh Panthers contribute the track Ten Cigarettes)
Flesh Panthers – Quick And Dirty Cassette – Cold Slice Cassettes
(Limited to 100 copies OOP)
Flesh Panthers – Flesh Panthers EP – Cassette Tape – Exxotic Aquatic
Tapes (Limited to 100 copies)
Interview made by Roman Rathert/2013
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