Oh, I’m calling on my teenage self for this one. Upon my search through the bands of CMW, there was one that I was so pleased to find, it had my inner teen screaming and my adult-self planning my evening around the show. For nine years, Hot Panda has been making their way through the indie rock scene with their special blend of garage-rock with influences of indie-pop coupled with skilled guitar and finished with, lead singer, Chris Connelly’s raspy voice, that no matter what mood can get you all riled up.
Their raw energy is transferred into their music and is a pleasure to see live.–I think I was around fifteen when I first heard, Hot Panda. It was summer and Start Making Sense, off their sophomore album, How Come I’m Dead, was pretty much my anthem. With their following album, Go Outside, and the sound on their debut album, Volcano…Bloody Volcano, the band’s changing sound was always prominently in their music and part of the dynamic that made them fascinating. For that reason, they were always something I always came back to. With a new album on the way, and a performance at Rivoli on May 8th for CMW, Connelly took a moment to spill some secrets about the fourth upcoming album.
Q: What will the pace of the new album be?
Connelly: The new album, which is now finished, is definitely heavier. I also think it’s the strongest batch of songs we’ve recorded. We went from a 4 piece to a 3 and I think that made us have to really focus on the songs.
Q: What will be different about this album compared to the three previous?
Connelly: It’s [the new album] the most refined/ direct album we’ve ever done. It’s trashy, punky and energetic. I’m happy with it lyrically and musically and I can’t wait for people to hear it!
It had been a while since I had last checked in on their latest status. When the search came up, a new track began to play. It was clear the song has a different feel than anything the band has done before; it’s definitely darker and more cultivating, but still filled with the band’s blended sound and vigour. The teaser track is a meshing of different styles and feels: a dark melodic tone with a more psychedelic sound than anything else. However, the maturity in the sound hasn’t flawed the consistent expectations of the band.
Q: You’ve released Sun as a pre-production, why was that the first track the band decided to share?
Connelly: We started playing Sun while touring “Go Outside”. We decided to put it up so that people might recognize it when we played live. The final version of that song (that will be on the new record) is actually a live recording. We did a crazy version of it with Ali (from Mother, Mother) and Pat (From “The Odds”) both drumming along with Aaron.
Q: The new track takes on something much different than anything previous, where did that inspiration and/or influence come from?
Connelly: I was originally calling that song “Koh Phangan”, which is an island in Thailand that has these full moon parties. It’s basically a bunch of Aussies taking drugs and dancing to dub step on the beach (Probably not Dub Step anymore, whatever the new name is that kids are calling dance music), but the experience is sold as having this pseudo spiritual kind of vibe; because instead of getting wasted in some ravine in Brisbane, they’re doing it in Thailand. From the lyrics down to the loose-jammy- quasi-electronic vibe, Sun, is about going to one of those parties as a man in his thirties.
Q: When the new music was underway what was the sound decided upon?
Connelly: We have never really decided on a “sound” per se. I do think though that we’ve started writing songs that are fun to play live.
Q: The more albums that you release the overall sound seems to be taking a more refined darker turn, where did that inspiration come from?
Connelly: Interesting observation! It’s funny, I think I’m getting less dark in my real life so I guess all that repressed darkness has to come out somewhere.
Q: How do you think being submerged in Vancouver’s music scene has influenced you and why?
Connelly: You’re exposed to more art here. It’s a tour stop for most groups so you get the opportunity to see shows that you couldn’t see in Edmonton and I feel like I’m at my most inspired after seeing an amazing act. There’s also more diversity in the genres of groups that come through town.
Q: With the bands changing sound, how do you guys develop your music while continuing to stay true to your early work?
Connelly: I try to not think about that very much. I guess I always try and write honestly. In way that is true to who[m] I am at any given time. I don’t identify with a lot of the stuff on Volcano…Bloody Volcano anymore, but that’s okay because it came from a different time.
Q: From Camels to naked men, you always have eye-catching album covers. What can fans expect in regards to the upcoming album artwork?
Connelly: Good question! That’s actually what we’re in the process of figuring out right now! Stay tuned!
Q: What can fans expect to hear at your set this week at CMW?
Connelly: Our CMW set will have a lot of new stuff in it! Catherine will play the trumpet and bass at the same time! I’ll use a robot effect at some point. We might throw a cover in there. We’re even working on a stoner rock version of Mindlessnesslessness. It’ll kick your ass and you’ll love it.