When we phoned up the boys of together PANGEA last week, they were a little, um, distracted. “We just found a kitten like 10 minutes ago,” said bassist Danny Bengston. “A cat came over to our friend’s house last night when there was a blackout, and we woke up this morning to this kitten.” Gathered around the phone at Bengston’s house in Echo Park, the guys volleyed our questions in between a whole lot of giggling and cooing, creating the kind of hilarious mental image that only gets funnier when you factor in the music. Formed in 2009 around frontman William Keegan’s solo project (then called simply “Pangea”), the trio shreds the kind of spontaneous, raw, party-hard punk rock that benefits from a good volume crank. Onstage, it’s an equally crazy scene, where sweat flies, heads bang, and, given the opportunity, at least one person will swing from the rafters. This Sunday, August 24, the band returns to S.B. to the unfortunately high-ceilinged confines of Velvet Jones for a show in support of their Harvest Records debut, Badillac. Below, we talk to the dudes about dark songs, an increasingly bright Los Angeles music scene, and their newly acquired furry friend.
First thing’s first: How did you settle on calling the band Pangea?
William Keegan: I was using it when it was just me at home recording on a four-track. I think I just called it Pangea because I needed a name. But I was also kind of hippied out in high school. [Laughs.] I thought the concept was really cool, but not a whole lot of thought went into it. It was more like, okay, that word works.
I want to talk a bit about the new album. It’s really fun and loud, but if you get into the lyrics, it’s also kind of a downer.
WK: Yeah, for sure, and the last album, too, Living Dummy. The songs are fast, but the lyrical content is kind of harsh. It’s kind of a general theme throughout Pangea, though — there’s always something depressing lyrically. We’ve got a pretty pessimistic worldview, and that’s consistent regardless of whether or not the song is poppy or fast or slow and moody. But I also don’t really think about it like that.
Do you think it’s easier to write when you’re upset?
WK: Yeah, I guess so. It’s usually after, though. Like maybe you’re in a relationship and you break up and the songs come after you sort of figure it out. Sometimes when you’re in the middle of something, you can’t really see it for what it is. Later, when you realize what it was is when the songs come out.
Lots of people are saying L.A. is going through a bit of a musical renaissance. Do you feel like the scene down there is getting stronger?
Danny Bengston: Yeah. Honestly, when we’re home I feel like we don’t go out as much as we used to. It’s like the trucker’s vacation — after you’re on tour for a long time, you just want to come home and play FIFA and get drunk on your couch. But the music scene is doing great. Pretty much everyone we know in San Francisco has moved down to L.A.— Ty [Segall] moved down, Mikal Cronin moved down, John Dwyer. The rent is cheapish. The house I live in is a super affordable four-bedroom, and we rehearse there. I think Burger Records has had a huge part in it, too, especially for rock ’n’ roll music. It’s cool.
So, what are you going to name the cat?
DB: FIFA Cthulhu. We’ve been playing a lot of FIFA ’14 lately.
Club Mercy presents together PANGEA at Velvet Jones (423 State St.) on Sunday, August 24, at 8 p.m. with Meat Market and Guantanamo Baywatch. Call (805) 965-8676 or visit velvet-jones.com for tickets and info.