Panda Panda Panda: 1, 2, 3, GO!

by Tommy Calderon

Three words: Panda Panda Panda. This Bellingham trio formed about a year ago with the idea of playing as an Offspring cover band at Make.Shift’s Valentine’s Day Cover Show. While discussing the idea over a couple of smokes outside a bar, the three musicians quickly realized they really wanted to write and perform their own music.

Panda Panda Panda is comprised of bassist/vocalist Colleen Ames, guitarist/vocalist Bill Lohse, and drummer Addison Franks. The band’s name comes from Lohse’s desire for a goofy animal band name that was also reminiscent of local bands like Sugar Sugar Sugar.

Their love of playing music and performing has kept the group going strong. They celebrated their one year anniversary in August at the Swillery with the release of their first album.

Their run so far has been fun, they said. Panda Panda Panda’s first show ever was at The Swillery and while Lohse forgot his band outfit, most namely, his bowtie, they felt that playing a show where they first started was a great way to round out the year, they said.

Along with the release of their album, Panda Panda Panda is currently working on a music video for the first track of the record, and hope to release it toward the end of this year.

Lohse describes the whole production to be an “epic cake throwing situation.” They also are hoping to involve other local musicians in the video as well, he said.

The band members all attribute The Pixies as a major influence to their work but have been told their music reminds listeners of Social Distortion as well as other bands from that era.

“We like to think of our sound like the 90s threw up on themselves,” Lohse said.

The band tries to take a minimalist approach to what they do, Lohse said. As a group, they believe that they don’t want to overcomplicate their music, Ames added. As a result they keep their instrument setups simple, their album artwork simple and their music simple, he said.

“Extravagance can kill something if it’s beautiful already,” Franks said.

When it comes to writing music, they want to make sure their songs are approachable and interesting, Lohse said. Everyone writes songs in the band; songwriting is a collaborative effort and each member helps build off ideas that are brought to the table, they said.

Their objective is to not only enjoy what they play but to make sure that their listeners enjoy it too, Ames said.

They’re performance oriented, Lohse said. Panda Panda Panda tries to be as energetic and enthusiastic as they possibly can when they perform.

Franks takes a lot of his personal performing inspiration from Animal of the Muppets, he said.

Looking toward the future, the band hopes to play shows more often, and do a little traveling to expand their audience, Lohse said. Recording isn’t something that is too present in their minds since they just released an album, but they do have material that could potentially make it on their next release, they said.

LIVE SHOW: See Panda Panda Panda at The Shakedown on Oct. 9, during bass player Colleen Ames’ Birthday Show, with Ever So Android and guests. For more about the band, follow their Facebook page or see www.panda-panda-panda.bandcamp.com. 

Published in the October 2015 issue of What’s Up! Magazine