What they do as a band - to be able to almost turn rock into jazz without sounding jazzy and take these beautiful music adventures – is brilliant.

-Terry Manning on Widespread Panic

Photo by Lynn Goldsmith

AT: Did the band share any goals with you coming into the project?

Domingo 'Sunny' Ortiz at Compass Point
By Lynn Goldsmith
TM: It's a funny story. Normally when I work with a band, you fly to them or they fly to you and you meet somewhere. You see if you're simpatico in some way. You do it to see if you can get along and work together or if it just won't work. And then you go into pre-production. You set up a rehearsal and go through the songs, refining them and rearranging them, and then you go into the studio to record. Sometimes there's an A&R person there from the label watching you work, holding a pad and a pen in their hands, and telling you that you can do this and you can't do that.

This wasn't like that at all. I knew Dave, and we knew we got along quite well, so we knew we could work together. But that's only one-sixth of the band, and this is a very democratic band. Everyone has their own input, as they should, especially when they're all worthy of it. In this case, I didn't even meet anyone else in the band until they came down here to record.

It's always somewhat nerve-wracking, but from knowing Dave and the kind of human being that he is, not just a musician, I knew that he wouldn't be working with a bunch of goofballs or assholes. I had that assurance, and that's a pretty big thing. But I was still a bit nervous. Our first meeting was the day before we were supposed to start recording, so I wanted to make sure it went well. (Laughs) Do we meet at the studio and then I just start rolling? I actually went out to the house where they were all staying and just sat around and talked with them.

George McConnell at Compass Point
By Lynn Goldsmith
I did have most of the songs that we recorded beforehand. JB sent me a CD of almost all of the songs in either a live or demo setting by regular mail to the Bahamas right before Christmas. Two things here: the Bahamian postal service, which is very reliable but works on island time, and the holidays, which really slow down the service. I started sweating it a bit right around New Year's when I hadn't gotten it and called to see about maybe FedExing another one, but it got here with a few days to spare. I immersed myself in it immediately. I lived them 16 hours a day and thought about how I'd like to look at each song. When we met the day before we started recording, we were able to sit down at a nice, calm breakfast and talk through the songs and about our general philosophies. I told them my philosophy in general in a perfect world was to work with the group and to get the best the group can do - not to come in and be dogmatic and order people around. I like working sympathetically to try and achieve the best that everyone can do.

I explained that and they told me their viewpoint on how they were approaching it, and we all seemed to be on the same wavelength. We got along on a personal level right away. Once I demeaned them a time or two and they figured out that I wasn't going to bow down to them, we were good. (Laughs) We made fun of each other a time or two, and everyone was ready to go.

AT: Was there anything new that you learned about the band during the sessions that you didn't know before?

Dave Schools at Compass Point
By Lynn Goldsmith
TM: That's a hard question. The only answer I can really give is that as good as I thought everyone was coming in, I was underestimating them. That's across the board. There was more there than I thought there was, and I saw a lot. It's a rare rock band to have this much chops.

AT: One of the criticisms of Panic's previous studio albums is that they all sound very similar. As a producer, where do you draw the line between the Panic signature sound and trying to shake things up or try something different?

TM: Ahhhhhh... Slippery slope question.

AT: I'm not asking this question to elicit a criticism of any of their previous producers' work. I just want to know where you're coming from.

TM: Yeah, I know. First off, I highly admire and respect the work that's been done before. In fact, Til the Medicine Takes is in my car right now. It's one of the few albums that I listen to for pleasure. I love that record. "Bears Gone Fishin" is one of my favorite rock songs. I love it. I love that track. I certainly didn't want to get away from something I loved. But it's a different day, a different year, and a slightly different group in many ways. I wanted to pay tribute to what's been done but through our own vision and to put our stamp on it. That's a tough one...

AT: Now that you've reached the end of the sessions, do you feel that the goals that you and the band set out to accomplish with this record were met?

TM: I think so. The things that I wanted to do when I heard the demos have been done for the most part. You're never a hundred percent in meeting your goal. After all, you are dealing with music that philosophically is based on improvisation, so when things happen, you don't want to scream "Cut!" 'cause it's not in the plan. That's not the way this band works. Certainly things came up in the course of recording that led us in different directions, but I think the philosophical view that I had is there. As far as I can tell, and they may tell you differently, we all got along very well and had very similar tastes as far as what we wanted to do and what needed to be left out. I'm pleased with the way it came out. In fact, I think it's their best album ever.

For more of Andy Tennille's Widespread Panic adventure in the Bahamas please check out his Harp Magazine feature.

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[Published on: 5/25/06]

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PanicSC Thu 5/25/2006 11:37PM
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viva le Panic

Passquach starstarstarstarstar Fri 5/26/2006 06:09AM
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Thanks for a great story Andy!
Can't wait for this album!

cocheese starstarstarstarstar Fri 5/26/2006 06:13AM
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Great interview! I am anxiously awaiting this album, sounds like it could be a great one. Of course I like all of Panic's albums. I loved how he described JoJo. "Till the Medicine Takes" is one of my favs too, but "Everyday" is my favorite hands down. Bring on the PANIC!

minutes Fri 5/26/2006 06:43AM
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Compass Point Studios must have been the coolest place ever to track an album. Cant wait to hear it! BALL was tasty as hell and im not even halfway a panic fan. Nice words and photos.

wumpus252 starstarstarstarstar Fri 5/26/2006 08:53AM
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What a great article. It's good to see Todd FINALLY getting some recognition for being the 'Solid Rock' and leader that he is. Terry has confirmed what we all already know, this is one of the greatest rock bands of all time. See you all at Red Rocks!

aburtch starstarstarstarstar Fri 5/26/2006 11:31AM
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Great article and awesome photos! It's very interesting to hear a producer's perspective becuase they work with so many artists. I'm really looking forward to hearing this album.

Summer starstarstarstarstar Fri 5/26/2006 12:29PM
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It's great to see someone outside the band that really knows music talking about the boys, you get to see what they're really like. Also, right on about Todd and the Zepplin Reference!!!

threef starstarstarstarstar Fri 5/26/2006 01:06PM
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So nice to hear the Panic with a new producer. I can't wait to hear it. Nice one!

radioioJAM starstarstarstar Fri 5/26/2006 03:45PM
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the new earth to america is sick. for some advanced listening tune in to to hear select tracks in high rotation.

Arturo starstarstarstarstar Fri 5/26/2006 06:19PM
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You got up in there. Nice piece, Randy.

funkyriddims starstarstarstar Fri 5/26/2006 09:59PM
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Let there be no doubt PANIC IS THE REAL DEAL. This scene that we all love so much sprang out of the Grateful Dead and since there "passing", has gone through many evolutions. The whole "jam band" thing has left us with bands that are about nothing but "the Jam". Fun, interesting, make you want to shake your ass, but not the stuff that makes you want to quit your job sell your house and go on tour.What really makes a great band is those pinnacles of music wrapped around solid lyrics sang with such emotion that make you raise your hands in the air and yell and feel like you're part of something beyond description. Panic continues to deliver that intense, emotional, crazy vibe that leaves you wanting more. I for one will continue to drive as far as necessary to see these guys, I have yet to catch a "bad" show and am always blown away by their setlists and sick jams. Viva La Panic!

All Loving Liberal White Guy Sat 5/27/2006 03:01PM
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All Loving Liberal White Guy

awesome article. coulda done without the mention and photo of lenny kravitz (i heard he's still cool. nothing beats an artist from a gap commericial) but good write-up nonetheless.

dannymo starstarstarstarstar Wed 5/31/2006 01:08AM
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pay close attention to the quote on top of page 4. That's WSP in a nut shell....fuckin' brilliant!! Nice piece Andy

RedHotPapa6 starstarstarstarstar Wed 5/31/2006 07:37AM
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I can't believe the buzz surrounding a studio album from a band that is far better live. But, after hearing all of the songs already, and even offset versions of them, I too am fired up. Props to all the guys in the band for there hard work and just for keeping us happy.

KipKale starstarstarstarstar Tue 6/20/2006 11:44AM
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Terry Manning is the COOOLEST!!!