Chicago’s Flesh Panthers may be tossed into the DIY garage punk salad, in fact they themselves simply describe their music as “party punk”. I guess their first couple of releases could be characterized that way, but after repeat listens to their new full-length NGC 2632, these guys have more going on; there’s a lot of meat on the Flesh Panther plate.
Or maybe I’m just over thinking it? What is a Flesh Panther anyway?
Sure they fly the freaky garage rock flag of The Strange Boys or The Cynics or Coachwhips, but they layer it with the pop genius of Smith Westerns and a 70s Dead Boys glam swagger. It wouldn’t be far-fetched to hear a giant horn section on the lead track “Elevator Girls“, and that sure sounds like a theremin at the beginning of “Voo-Doo Shang-A-Lang“. There’s even some awesome spacey synths and a big KISS-like rock and roll chorus on “47 Eyeballs” and some real scrubby garage blues on “AxeFall Blues No. 237“.
The asskicker for me is “Teethe“, a slow burning King Khan fuzzfest with sha-la-la-la-las and ooh-ahs. It’s on my summer mixed tape for sure.
Whatever you call it, this is really just a killer rock and roll record, all 12 inches of it. So when someone asks what a Flesh Panther is, you can just say “it’s a rock and roll animal“.
We hooked up with guitarist/vocalist Ryan Zombotron to learn some more.
Ryan on vox and rhythm guit, Nick on lead guit Lucas on bass guit and Michael on drums
People say we sound like….
Some people have said we sound like The Dead Boys or The Replacements. I don’t think that’s accurate but I think we do lean towards late 70’s early 80’s punk. Razorcake once said we sounded like Fidlar. LOL
How did you become Flesh Panthers and what’s with the name?
I got the name out of a drunken dream, someone in the dream asked me I was “human or Flesh Panther? ” And that was right around the time when we were starting to play so I was like” lets just use this shitty name”
We are originally from…..
We are all from the Chicago Land area. I was born in a strip mall in Crystal lake Illinois. Crystal Lake is the city where they used to get ice for Chicago’s meat-packing industry because it was “crystal clear”. Al Capone had a house on the lake as it was also were a lot of rich Chicagoans had summer homes. But eventually through the 70s and 80s it just became a boring bed room town, the last stop on the metros northwest line. Later on around 2006 the gay Olympics were being held in Chicago and wanted to have their rowing competition on the lake. All of the white trash bible thumping alcoholics of Crystal Lake were in an uproar. They did eventually have it but the towns people came out with big signs that said NO AIDS IN OUR LAKE KIDS SWIM HERE after that I knew I had to get the fuck out of there so I ran away Chicago to become a blues man. Lucas and Mike both went to Chicago high schools and Nick is from the western burbs.
What music has had an influence on your sound?
Lots of punk stuff and lots of old stuff. I like a lot of doo wop and blues. That first Specials album is great and I love the Misfits Earth AD album. Meat Puppets 1 might be the perfect punk album to listen to on acid. Last time we went to Detroit we took mushrooms and went to the Motown museum. I cried, it was beautiful. I fucking love Motown.
Tell us about your live show…
Tell us about the debut record…
I really wanted to create an alternate world. A flesh panthers world, like the one inside my head. So I was thinking of Sgt Peppers and Let It Be ( the Phil Spector version ) by the Beatles, Plastic surgery Disasters by Dead Kennedys. Those records you can climb inside and go for a walk. Walk down to the bank and throw a cinder block though the window. That’s what we tried to do with this one. Did we succeed. I don’t really know. We’re already working on our next one.
What’s the most difficult part of being in a band?
Right now I think the time it takes for a record to be made is very tough on bands. I know some bands and labels still waiting on stuff they had planned to release for record store day. Bands have to tour on a record they don’t have yet.
What do you make of the music industry right now?
I don’t know. Yer gonna see more streaming services trying to get a piece of the pie. There are more women in the spot light than ever which is great. You might see a huge shift and see more girls rocking than guys. That might just save rock n roll from the toilet.
What influences the band lyrically?
So, for the first ep I was thinking of Bo Diddly style shit where u talk about how ruff you get. ” i sniff fat lines cuz i like the taste” that’s me ripping off Bo Diddly. The 7″ were written from a women perspective. and for the debut LP I was thinking of Darby Crash and The exploding hearts. This record I was trying to find that place in my head. I want to make a world like how the Haitians have their voodoo where the world is alive and unseen forces play a part in your everyday life. For the song “Teethe” on the lp I wrote that on hungover on the toilet. I never revised it …whoops ….but that’s punk right?
Our most memorable gig ever was….
At the DIY space Young Camelot in Humboldt Park They have a great space they made out of an old church and we had 200 kids there going nuts stage diving and crowd surfing it was like a scene outta the movie Suburbia except maybe not as scary and violent. Like Vibes-core or something.
If you could pick any time to travel back to for music, where would you go and what year would it be….
The 80’s cuz then if you were punk u could put out one 8 song album and talk about it for the next 30 yrs.
Growing up, at home we listened to…..
We didn’t have much music at home. My mother had a Beatles CD and a John Lee Hooker CD (by accident I persuaded her to buy it forGeorge Thorogood’s cover of “One bourbon, one scotch, one beer” but this ended up being a great mistake cuz that was my introduction to the blues) and that was it.
What tunes are currently on heavy rotation for you…
Always have best of Motown on hand for impromptu dance party or just for doing the dishes. I’ve been listening to the first Violent Femmes album a ton lately.
If you could open for any band right now who would that be and why?
Miley Cyrus because I think we should collaborate. I thinks she’s a secret genius.
If you could only bring ONE record (you can all answer if you like) in the tour van what would it be?
When you’re not playing and have some time off, where could we find you…
The one thing we want you to remember while you’re listening to our music….
Fight the powers that be
What’s up for 2015/2016?
We have a three-week tour coming up in June/July
We’re still booking some of the dates so if anyone can help hit us up though our fb page!
6/19 Grand Rapids @ TBD
6/20 motown @ Elijahs w/ Fire Retarded, Fake Surfers & characteristics
6/21 Pittsburgh @ Rock Room
6/23 Boston @ Out of the Blue Gallery w/ Gymshorts
6/24 NYC @ palisades.bk.lounge w/ dollahslices
6/25 nyc @ don pedro’s backyard
6/26 Philly (help)
6/27 dc dischord (help)
6/28 Richmond @ en su boca ALL AGES
6/29 Greensboro, NC — house party ?!
6/30 savannah,GA @ w/ WET SOCKS
7/1 Atlanta (help)
7/2 Nashville @ Elberta Mansion
7/3 cArbondale,il @ MO WALLACE BBQ!!! (afterparty at skiihause)
7/4 cincy– 4th of july blast carnival