Pandercakes embrace all that is good about pop – the inventive, the melodic and the downright infectious. Their new Paint by Numbers EP may only be four songs long, yet it’s packing more imagination than many a longplayer. We sent some questions over to the Columbia popsters – members Joel B. Floyd and Logan Goldstein replied.
Bowlegs: How did the group come into existence? Was there an audition process?
JBF: I guess forming a band is similar to the way most people approach dating – you start out playing music with random people, make some connections, figure out what you want out of it, and eventually find musicians who not only can play well, but seem to have a similar artistic sensibility. That’s how Logan and I started playing music together, through friends of friends who also played music, and that’s how Phil eventually joined. Desirée was an anomaly, though; Phil put out a Craigslist ad for a female singer, and she was the only one that replied. So yeah, exactly like dating. Except that Desirée actually worked out extremely well.
Bowlegs: We’re loving the EP – why give it away for free? Isn’t it hard enough to make a dollar in music?
LG: We’re trying to get our music heard by as many people as possible. I can understand an established band with a record contract charging money for their albums. But we’re a new group and if we made people pay for our EP then people who might like our music would be less inclined to give it a chance. At this point we’re excited that our music is being listened to outside of Columbia, SC.
Bowlegs: We’d probably describe the sound as a quirky form of pop – how do the songs grow from an idea into a finished composition?
JBF: Being pop music, the songs always tend to grow from a vocal melody and a general chord progression, as opposed to a riff or beat or conceptual approach, things that characterize other genres like metal or industrial or jazz. But the songs we’ve currently recorded were introduced to the group at various stages of gestation – Fogwalk grew from two notes and a story about the beach, while Gimme Vice was pretty much completely written when we started playing it. But it always becomes a collaborative process. Most of what makes our songs distinctively our own lies in the execution of the details, the minutiae of the recording process.
Bowlegs: Gimme Vice has a 60s vibe running through it – who would you say influences the group as a whole? Do you have musical debates within the group?
JBF: I could give my influences, but they’re definitely different for each member. We do have debates, which are ultimately helpful if the people arguing have a mutual respect as musicians. What makes the songs work, to me, is the conversation that comes with trying to make the ideas as good and interesting as they can possibly be, regardless of the influence. That way, one person can’t cite an influence as justification for an idea and immediately win everyone over; the idea has to stand on its own merits. Sort of a game of one-upmanship that serves a common objective, and the final product is something we can all stand behind.
Bowlegs: Okay, tell us about the band name? What is a Pandercake?
JBF: The name was initially just a surreal image that sprang from Logan’s obsession with pancakes, but I immediately latched on to the dichotomy of cute and demoralizing that the name embodied. It reminded me of those 50s ads with beatific housewives praising a new oven cleaner – the underlying sickness and desperation suggested by that sort of aggressive cheeriness. It’s a vein that seems to run throughout pop music as well.
Bowlegs: We see you thank Chaz Bundick on your Bandcamp page?
LG: Chaz Bundick is an inspiration for me. He’s a musician from Columbia, SC, who gained worldwide success based on his home recordings. All of the Pandercakes songs are home recorded. When we posted Paint By Numbers to our Facebook page, enough people in Columbia started talking about it to get the attention of Mat Cothran of Coma Cinema and Chaz Bundick. Both Mat and Chaz liked the song enough to post it on their tumblrs. It’s because of their exposure that we are answering your questions today.
Bowlegs: So now the EP is out there, what happens next? Is it hard getting the music heard? Are you planning a tour?
JBF: We’re sort of geographically separated right now, exchanging outlines and sound files via email. We’re focused on developing these ideas and recording singles, which means by the time we are all in the same country again, we’ll have plenty of material and enough name recognition to start bringing our songs to a live setting. We are definitely patient people. We want to make sure that anything we present fully embodies the aesthetic we’ve worked to cultivate. I hesitate to speak for everyone in the group, but I’d like to start doing some live shows around September of this year.
Bowlegs: Finally what albums have you been digging this year?
LG: So far my favourite 2012 albums are:
JBF: Grizzly Bear’s Veckatimest and The Bird and the Bee’s Ray Guns Are Not Just the Future are older albums, I know, but I’m constantly looking to those two in particular during the recording process. Very layered, rich pop music that always maintains its accessibility.