Part two in a five-part EP series
New Jersey Industrial act PANIC LIFT return to release the second installment in their five-part EP series titled Pieces; the follow up to this past summer’s Split. Pieces showcases two new songs. „Disease Of Kings“ and „Failure Principle“ are both introspective and melancholy tracks with themes that revolve around stress, addiction, and self-image.
„Disease Of Kings“ is an industrial rock sludgefest that incorporates symphonic keyboard melodies and a wall of guitars. The second track, a futurepop inspired dance floor smasher, „Failure Principle“ features a thick synth bassline accompanied by soaring keyboard leads.
Also featured with the release is a limited-edition PANIC LIFT face mask to accompany you on your journeys through the current post-apocalyptic landscape.
For this release, PANIC LIFT enlisted remixers genCAB, Assemblage 23, and KALCYFR who each lend their talents to the two tracks.
PANIC LIFT began in 2006 and has released music and toured consistently for the last 15 years. PANIC LIFT has released four full length albums on METROPOLIS RECORDS, and countless EPs, Remixes, and collaborations. JAMES FRANCIS is accompanied by his longtime live band which consists of DAN PLATT (KEYBOARDS) BEN TOURKANTONIS (DRUMS) CRISTIAN CARVER (DRUMS) and KENZI BURKE (BASS)
Hello. We appreciate your time with Kainklangmusik today. We are based in Germany. Obviously Germany is well known for its electronic music scene. Is that where your greatest response has been from perhaps?
Hi and thank you so much! It’s great to have this opportunity. In the beginning of my career, Germany was definitely where we had our best response. Panic Lift’s first album “Witness To Our Collapse” was released on Noitekk Records, and that year we were invited to play “Wave Gothik Treffen” We certainly were overwhelmed with the positive response there, but unfortunately soon after that Label folded. When it was time for our second album “Is This Goodbye?” we signed to Metropolis Records in the USA, and I believe since then our fanbase has been based here, as we don’t have the visibility in Germany that we once had.
Can you talk about the latest releases, “Split” and “Pieces” and the themed series that it’s a part of? Are the others to be released after the same lengths of time? Why a cassette?
Yes! I began writing this material last spring during the first COVID19 “Lockdown” and each song was so different from another I really felt that it would be unfair to have to change the tracks to fit them all into one album, you can really hear it in the difference between tracks like “Tribute” and “Disease Of Kings”. I also felt that right now, it is smarter to release shorter releases over a longer period in order to engage your audience more.
The idea is that each release will be a different format. For this, I chose cassette because it’s the only form a media I didn’t have a Panic Lift release on yet. But also, each physical component wont necessary be media. It could be anything, a T-shirt, Wristband. It’s an opportunity to make something one of a kind, and fun for the collectors.
Speaking of cassettes, why do you think that vinyl and cassettes have made such a resurgence?
I think physical media has become a collector’s market. I don’t think anyone is taking the “Split” cassette and putting it into a tape player to listen to. I believe it’s a novelty item that you can put in a display. I don’t feel this is the same for Vinyl, I believe people enjoy the less compressed sound of a record more so than a digital recording. However, I do believe a Vinyl sleeve is a work of art and can also be displayed. I think both formats have a style that looks interesting. CD’s have just become so tired looking. I don’t think they excite people much anymore.
We’d imagine that after playing this music a lot, you probably enjoy other types. Do you have any non electro/goth/industrial artists that somehow influence your work?
Absolutely! I love all types of music, and that certainly dictates some of the direction the music goes. I can think of one time in specific when I bought “The Endless River” by Pink Floyd, not so long after I wrote the song “Skeleton Key” and listening back to that track I think there is a huge Pink Floyd influence to it. I was listening to a lot of Crosses (The Deftones side project) when I wrote “A Ghost Story” so I think listening outside of the genre of music you produce helps keeps things fresh and interesting for the listener.
Has the creative process changed at all during your time with Panic Lift?
I think I have got better at working through creative blocks over the years, other than that I think the process has been more or less the same. I have tried intentionally to change things up which is usually a lot of fun. My newest release “Disease of Kings” features drums written by my drummer Ben Tourkantonis. Ben supplied some drum stems and I used them as a jumping off point to write melodies, and a collaboration that way certainly gave the song a personality different from some of the other ones I have done. I hope to do more fun experiments like that in the future.
Are you involved with any other projects? Are you involved as a remixer or in another related service?
I keep busy, but aside from my downtempo EP I released under my own name (James Francis Thomas) called “Beyond The Hill” I don’t really have many side projects. I have an alternative hip hop project called “Keep The Change” that was able to release one EP, and I hope to do more with that in the future but getting us all together in a room has been tough to organize, especially now with the Pandemic. Other than that, I have a large catalog of remixes and tracks I’ve produced so I’m constantly staying busy!
“Split” and “Pieces” comes after a three year hiatus. Why so long?
I think after I got off tour in 2018 I needed to take some time to live life without constantly playing shows or working on tunes. I had just got Married, and the idea of going back on the road did not appeal to me at all. Truth be told, I lose a lot of money every time I go on tour and now with household responsibilities and a Wife to care for I cant justify sinking that much money into endeavors like that anymore. Panic Lift was kind of on the back burner until the first Lockdown. I was stuck home, and I think I needed an outlet to occupy my time and I just started writing again. It’s a great feeling to be back but it’s certainly not the world I remember.
Has there been any change in your use of digital analog instruments over the years?
For Panic Lift, not really. When I started Panic Lift the idea was always “less is more” so I made every record using synths entirely ‘in the box’. This was much different than my approach with my older bands, where everything was hardware, as someone who grew up not having software synths as an option I personally don’t know why anyone would want to go through the hassle of routing giant hardware synthesizers together to compose a song, once I learned how to use VST’s I told myself I was never going back to that!
What’s next for you in 2022 and 2023? What do you hope to accomplish?
With “Split” and “Pieces” both out this year, I hope to have the next 3 EP’s out in 2022, and 2023 to wrap up this release cycle. I am playing one show next year, Dark Side Of The Con Festival in New Jersey and it will be great to get in front of a large crowd again. Other than that, I’m sure I will still keep recording and releasing tunes.
Thanks for your time. The last words are yours.
Thank you for your time, and thanks everyone for supporting me over the last 15 years. It is appreciated more than you will ever know!
written by W.Z.