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  • Writer's pictureEryk The Strange

Interview with Panic Lift!


Q: Tell the readers who you are and what you do.

A: Hi Folks! My name is James, and I write and produce music as PANIC LIFT. I’ve been

making music my entire life but have spent the last 18 years releasing albums and

touring with this project. We’ve worked with many labels and artists over that time and

currently I’m having an amazing time being an independent artist!

Q: Does one show you’ve played stand out as particularly memorable?

A: Many! A lot of the festivals are always memorable because they act as a ‘family

reunions’ of sorts with many people I’ve worked and played with over the years. A few

that stand out were Terminus Festival, Wave Gothik Treffen and Aftermath Festival.

WGT is on a scale that’s hard to explain unless you’ve experienced it in person. I don’t

know if our show in particular was the most memorable part, but certainly the entire

experience was. I always encourage anyone who is a part of this scene to attend

WGT at least once in their lives. We’ve also done a few great headline gigs that I can

remember, playing the voltage lounge in Philadelphia in 2018 on the “End Process”

tour was a great gig, and always playing our home away from home QXT’s in Newark

NJ.

Q: What do you struggle with most as musicians?

A: It’s getting harder to ‘wear all the hats’ these days, as outlets for musicians to promote

themselves multiply. I understand that’s just ‘part of it’ now and I do my best but it’s

hard to create quality content on a schedule that’s equal to the speed of how people

consume it. The worst part is, even if you found someone to handle that aspect of it,

when someone else is running your social media accounts it seems very inauthentic

and unengaging, so it doesn’t even work to pass that stuff off. I’m getting better at it,

but I have stumbled in that regard once or twice.


Q: How do you try to stand out amongst a multitude of electro-industrial bands?

A: I don’t. It’s been almost 2 decades as a band, and many of the fans that are still with me

have followed along for all that time. At this point in my career, expanding my reach isn’t

the goal. That’s a young man’s game. My goal is to just retain the crowd I have and

make music for them. If I can continue doing that, I’ll feel very blessed. I don’t envy the

position new bands are in right now, it’s a lot of work and there are so many bands to

compete with. I’m happy I’m past that point in my career. I don’t need to grind it out, I

only play shows I’m asked to play that I think are fun, and worth my time. I work on

music on the weekends and release it whenever I feel like it.


Q: What inspired the cover art for Again?

A: The art of all 5 of these EP’s came together very randomly. When I first developed the

idea for the EP cycle, I had planned to work with one designer for the entire thing and

present a very coherent package that fit together at the end. But life happens and that’s

not the way it panned out. The funny part is, working with 4 different folks on cover

images fits the ‘theme’ more. For “Again” that actually had 2 covers. The first was just a

photo I took of myself on my phone. I think I had some cold feet when I put it out there

and wasn’t comfortable enough as a visual artist to commit that design to the world. I

released it on a Friday and by that Sunday I had already commissioned another designer

who I had worked with previously to create a proper cover. I think some people still have

the photo of me on the downloads, but it is what it is. I think that goes back to the idea of

‘wearing too many hats’ and stumbling with it. The final cover depicts some surgical

equipment encasing our logo, and I feel when seen along side the other covers for

“Stitched” and “Pieces” that theme of putting back together something that was broken

starts to come across. I love it! I just wish I had used it the first time!


Q: Do people seem to like Again?

A: So far so good! I think at this rate I will sell out of the modest pressing of CD’s I made to

support this entire release and If I do that, I will consider it a success. I do think these last

2 songs are some of the strongest in the entire cycle and I was very excited to get them

out. I think that’s partially the reason I rushed the cover art I wasn’t happy with. I just

wanted people to hear the songs!


Q: Are you working on anything new yet?

A: I’m always working on new music. I’ve taken the last few months away from PANIC LIFT

to work on my side project SYMBIOTIC with my collaborator for that, Gus/Azrael Trigger.

SYMBIOTIC was one of the bands I had previous to Panic Lift and we reactivated it during

the Pandemic. It’s been fun to collaborate again and breathe some new life into our old

songs. I’m hoping I get that out in the springtime. I have at least 14 Panic Lift songs in

various stages of completion. Some of it’s what you’d expect, some of it’s really different. I

hope to dive into that by summer. I am also slowly working on the re-release of “Witness

to Our Collapse” as in a few more years it will turn 20. It’s been tough trying to piece that

record together since I never archived the songs properly when they were written, but I

really want to find a way to celebrate that.


Q: Do you have many shows booked for next year?

A: Yes! One. We are playing Coven in Eason PA on 05/18/24. Coven is a cool party, with a

great vibe and we’re excited to be a part of it.


Q: If you were a salad, what dressing would it have?

A: Keep it simple. Oil and Vinegar


Q: Where can people follow you?

A: I think the most important place to follow us is on Instagram. We are @panic_lift. Also on

Bandcamp. paniclift.bandcamp.com - We also have a website that I try my best to stay on

top of which is paniclift.org. My email is panicliftbooking@gmail.com and of course, you

can find us on Facebook.


Q: What do you want to say to any of your fans who might read this?

A: Thank you all so much for supporting the art I created and allowing me to play a little part in this big machine. I am very grateful to have the ability to continue to create music after 2 decades, and I do not take for granted any second of it. If you keep listening, I’ll keep writing!

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