Photo of Panic by Casey Flanigan
I feel like we are just clicking on all cylinders live. We knew it would be a long process becoming a band, not just Jimmy Herring taking over but really becoming a band. This couldn't have worked out better. It is a band now and that is all we ever wanted. We just wanted to be six people as part of one unit being a band. Jimmy has come through in the biggest way.
-JoJo on Widespread Panic
The band started to get this fresh energy with old songs being brought back into the rotation and then George McConnell was no longer a member of the band. Why did George and Panic go separate ways?
That is a good question. That is one I really don't have an answer to. It is so long ago it is just hard to be objective about it. You know, I love George. He is like a brother and I always will. It is definitely not the outcome that anybody wanted, but Jimmy has just been phenomenal. We've been with Jimmy I think two years now and it has just really taken off onstage. We're happy right now.
|Herring & Hermann by Casey Flanigan|
I think especially for you it was probably a difficult time.
It was a difficult time. I tell you for a long time not a day went by when I just didn't think about it all the time. I obviously have very strong feelings about it, but I keep those to myself. I just keep them to myself. It was just a weird time.
Now you guys are in a pretty exciting phase. What has Jimmy done for Panic?
Jimmy has kind of been a sacred brother from a long time ago, back in the ARU [Aquarium Rescue Unit] days when we did the HORDE tour. I sit ten feet behind his amps and every night just kind of pinch myself and say, "Wow, I'm a pretty lucky keyboard player to be sitting behind Jimmy." But not just Jimmy, I feel so fortunate to be on the stage with these five individuals. I feel like we are just clicking on all cylinders live. We knew it would be a long process becoming a band, not just Jimmy Herring taking over but really becoming a band. This couldn't have worked out better. It is a band now and that is all we ever wanted. We just wanted to be six people as part of one unit being a band. Jimmy has come through in the biggest way.
Some of these songs from the earlier day, how have these changed? Has he done anything for these tunes? What does he bring to the band?
What Jimmy brings to the band is just Jimmy. It is what we all bring to the band. We just bring ourselves. Every night we come to the table and we just bring our food to the table. One night I'll bring a gumbo, one night I'll bring a ham sandwich. We're all eating at the same table. What he brings is Jimmy, and boy, what more can you ask than that? I mean, he is the nicest guy on the fucking planet. He just has so much respect for the music - not only our music, but music in general. He has so much respect for it. He knows exactly where to go at any given time. It is just weird. The thing about Panic - or any band - you reach a point where you know each other's lines and you can communicate with each other telepathically. You don't have to sit in the dressing room and map things out. Now with Jimmy we can do that. Everybody is just communicating by pure instruments and the music.
|JoJo Hermann by Keith Berson|
What new musical developments are on Panic's horizon?
We've been bringing in new songs and new riffs over the last tour, and slowly but surely these new jams we've been bringing in will turn into songs. We've been writing a lot of new riffs. We'll get together in the summer, turn them more into songs, then break them out in the fall and record next year.
How was your experience with the latest album?
The last album [Free Somehow - 2008] was a blast. It was kind of a rush job. I wish we had a little more time in the studio as a band. It was a different kind of approach, but I enjoyed it. Recording in the Bahamas, you can just go for a walk on the beach. It was a blast, a great experience, but I'm not sure we can do that anymore. I'm hoping we do the next one in Athens.
Why in Athens?
Staying close to home. I spend a lot of time away from my family and when you record abroad, it is not like you get to go home and spend time with your family.
Does Panic have the desire to keep going for another decade?
Absolutely. We'll do this until someone drops dead onstage. I'll do this until I collapse onstage. There is just no place you would rather be than on that stage, right now. We're just having such a good time. I'm at that stage where I look forward to every day and every show, and where I wake up and I just feel so lucky to have hooked up with this band and organization. I just savor each day with it.
Is that a change from fifteen years ago?
It is. I'm a lot nicer and more laid-back. We have a chance to step back. When you're on the road 250 days a year and you're young, you are trying to reach a certain place, with records and shows. Not so much musically, that hasn't changed. You're still trying to reach a place musically, but I think we take the other stuff much more in stride. We tour a lot less. It is really a perfect balance of family and band right now.
JoJo is currently on tour with his Mardi Gras Band with shows through the weekend; dates available here. Panic's only current dates are six shows in April and some summer festivals; dates available here.
12/31/08 "Chilly Water"
And one old school vid just for good measure...
JamBase | Sitting Pretty
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