A Chat With: Together Pangea
LA-based band Together Pangea has been crafting catchy garage rock since 2009, delivering four full-length albums and a handful of EPs that each explore different sounds and offer a little something for everyone. Over their years together, the band has also become known for their infectiously energetic live presence—no Together Pangea show is ever quite complete without a mosh pit or some crowd surfing. In the past, Together Pangea has shared the stage with acts like Alkaline Trio, Ty Segall, and The Black Lips, just to name a few.
Most recently, the group just wrapped up a headlining West Coast tour run in celebration of their EP Dispassionate, and they are now gearing up to embark on the East Coast run, which kicks off here in Chicago. Ahead of the kick-off show at Lincoln Hall, I spoke with Danny Bengston of the band, discussing their recording process of the latest EPs, their music video for “Dispassionate,” and how they plan to spend their time in Chicago. Tune into our chat with Together Pangea below!
Your new EP Dispassionate just came out about a month ago now, which was a quick follow up from the Non Stop Paranoia EP released last year. When working on the two EPs, which have been described as opposites of each other, did you already have that theme in mind and write them in tandem? Or was Dispassionate more of a reflection after the fact?
We went into the studio and we recorded nine songs, plus some acoustic songs that we put out before the EPs. So I guess in total we did about fourteen songs all at once. When we went in to do it, we weren’t sure what it was gonna end up being because we had enough songs technically to do a full length, if we wanted to. But it just sort of happened that once we got into it and started getting mixes back and seeing how things were shaping up, there were four songs that made sense together and five songs that made sense together. So that’s how that happened.
Totally, so they just ended up as two halves of a whole piece.
Yeah, there was no intention going in to make two separate EPs that had separate vibes, we just had a group of songs that happened to have two distinct sounds so we split it up that way.
Nice, then the four songs on Dispassionate are definitely more laid-back compared to some earlier material and sort of have that 50’s, 60’s vibes. What were some factors that influenced that shift?
We made the decision specifically to sort of go ahead and put out songs that we felt really good about, not necessarily songs that were reflective of our previous catalog so much. I think with Non Stop Paranoia there’s definitely a little bit more recognizable aesthetic sounds that are in the vein of Badillac or some of the older stuff, but all in all I think it was more of a choice that we made this batch of songs that we felt really good about. I think that was it! Even if it sounded different than before, it’s still us. We felt they were solid songs.
Were there any influences you can pinpoint? Maybe other art forms, like films, or other music you were listening to around that time?
I know that the song “Moonlight Lately” specifically I wrote that one, I was listening to a lot of 60’s girl groups like The Shangri-Las or The Crystals…The Ronnettes. I was listening to The Crystals a lot when I wrote that song, and I wanted to make a song that sounded like one of those old girl group classic songs. So that’s why that song sounds that way. We also had just never really done anything like that where we just sort of went for it that hard. Like chose a sort of genre or style and just went for it. It started out just guitar, drums, and bass and then we ended up having more time and resources. I was just like fuck it, we called Max Kuehn, he’s the drummer for Fidlar, and he came in and played. We had two drum kits in the studio and he and Erik played together. Our friend Killian from the band No Parents did a bunch of hand percussion. The percussion take is two drums and also a lot of hand percussion. I told Danny, the producer, what I was going for specifically and we just went for it. Somebody at our record label knew somebody who played saxophone, so the saxophone was on it and I was like I want to add some piano…some glockenspiel, you know. It just spiraled out of control.
Yeah, that sounds like a fun recording session with lots of guest appearances.
Yeah it was a lot of fun. It was the first time we’ve ever done anything like it, where we got two drum kits in the studio at once.
I also really liked the video for “Dispassionate,” the EP’s title track. And speaking of No Parents, I laughed at the part with their t-shirt in the video. So as far as this music video concept, did you all work together to come up with the idea, or did you work with a specific director who had this concept in mind?
For the music video that was our friend Derek Perlman, he’s a photographer based in Los Angeles. It was his idea and he’s actually a really close friend of mine, we hang out fairly often when I’m back home. I know that he had sort of dipped his feet in the idea of wanting to make more music videos, and he had started this music video for this friend, but it never came out for other reasons. We were just looking for someone to do a video, and we were like why don’t we see if Derek is interested in trying it? And he totally killed it.
Wow so this was his first official music video?
Yeah! It’s technically his second, but the first one wasn’t 100% finished and never came out.
Wow that’s still impressive though! Shifting gears to your live shows, I know you’re in the middle of a huge cross country tour at the moment. What have been some highlights of it so far, or some favorite places? Maybe some places you’re looking forward to hitting soon?
I’m still pretty excited that Chicago is the kick off of the east coast run. That’ll be great. This first half of the tour has been pretty amazing, like every show. There hasn’t been a bad show...LA is always good because it’s our hometown. Yesterday we played Sacramento, which was very fun, aside from it being no air conditioning and being extremely hot. Denver is an amazing place for us...another tour highlight. We’re definitely looking forward to Chicago, that’s the first one of the second leg.
So as far as Chicago, is there anything you guys have plans to do outside of the show? Anything on your Chicago list?
Well we toured with Twin Peaks a couple years ago and we’re still very good friends with those guys. I was talking to Cadien about hopefully going to swim in the lake. He was saying it might not be warm enough. We’re also on tour with another Chicago band, Dehd. I’m just excited cause we have a lot of friends out there like Twin Peaks, Dehd and Lala Lala. If it’s warm enough we’ll go swim in the lake!
Yeah I think that might work out now! It’s been like 80 degrees this week, although yesterday it hailed a bunch, but it was sunny about ten minutes later. So hopefully the lake plans will follow through.
Yeah I’ve always wanted to do that.
Are there any new bands or any albums that have been on heavy rotation while you’re on tour at the moment?
The No Parents record, which isn’t out yet, that’ll be out in September. Been listening to that a bunch. Lala Lala...Dehd. There’s always a lot of really good Chicago stuff. The new White Reaper song is really good.
Nice, lots of good stuff! Anything else you guys are looking forward to this year besides the tour and new EP? Anything else coming soon, like videos or potentially even more new material?
Probably! As of now we just have these tours to wrap up and then we go to Europe…and maybe some more touring throughout the year. We’ll probably get to recording at some point in the next year, I’d imagine. I have a feeling we’ll be hitting Chicago at least twice this year though.