Reel World focuses on tape culture in an attempt to better understand the growing comeback of analog hiss.
You might not have heard of the hard-working New Jersey tape label Panther People, but they’re keen to change all that. And so are we. Run by the founders of garage punk band Ba Babes, the label specializes in highlighting some of the grungiest rock’n'roll in the tri-state area. With releases from Thee Holy Ghosts, Greg Cee, Roy Orbitron, and others under their belt the label has shown their penchant for curating hard-hitting garage and punk rock. I recently gave label head Mike Walsh the Reel World treatment over Facebook chat, so read on to check it out.
The birth of Panther People seemed to coincide with the Ba Babes coming back from the dead. Was that intended? Did you have a sudden rush of creativity that led to launching both?
Panther People was pretty much born after Ba Babes broke up, because I kind of had nothing else to do. The first release was supposed to be back in 2011 with the Ba Babes full length, but half way through dubbing all of the tapes, we ended up scrapping it. I pretty much sat on the idea of the label for almost two years after that. I ended up putting two other tapes out (the Rockin’ with Greg Cee compilation tape and the Thee Holy Ghosts EP) before the return of Ba Babes and the Back From The Shred cassette came out, but those three releases really got me going after that.
So is Ba Babes still going at it?
Yeah man, we’re working on either another tape or a 7″. Knowing us, it will probably be a tape. We’re feeling wild too, so it will have bass on it and hopefully a sax solo or two.
Sax is coming back in a big way.
I‘m all about it. There are so many great bands with saxophone in it and I’m from New Jersey, so I’ve been listening to Clarence blow sax solos all my life.
Back when you guys first started the label you mentioned possibly taking it to the point where you could sponsor some skateboarders. Is that still the plan?
Yeah! That’s still the plan, but it will probably just turn into making t shirts and giving them to all of our friends who skate and calling it a sponsorship. Everyone loves free shirts.
I love free shirts. You can take that as a hint or not.
Consider yourself sponsored.
Ha! Now you guys also talked about circulating a secret handshake among your customers/listeners along the lines of a Germs burn. I realize that it was somewhat of a joke, but did that ever come to fruition?
Haha I totally forgot all about that. I must’ve just been rambling on that day, but that’s a pretty great idea if you ask me. I’m going to get started on that right away.
With all of the artists you work with you seem to have a really good, close relationship. How do you go about selecting what releases to put out?
I’m really just into releasing my friend’s bands and luckily, I have a lot of friends in great bands, so it’s pretty easy for me to find things to put out. The only tape that I’ve done that wasn’t with someone that I knew was Thee Holy Ghosts, but since then we’ve had them up in NJ and became buds with those dudes and even did a second press of their tape, so I definitely think that shit is important. Being buds with who you’re working with makes it a hundred times easier.
Are you looking to keep it sort of in the family? Or are you guys looking to expand Panther People out of your circle?
I have a few more releases lined up to put out that are in the family, but I’m definitely not opposed to expanding out of the tri-state area. There are so many good bands out there and I’m pretty bad with keeping up with any of them, but if someone sends me something that I like, I’ll definitely try and put it out. Especially if it’s got saxophone on it.
Care to tell us a bit about what you have lined up?
Up next is Huge Pupils‘ Dreamcatcher Chord EP. They’re a bass (sometimes guitar) / drums duo from North Jersey. Easily one of the loudest bands I’ve ever seen. After that is Brothers of the Head debut “C’mom Now.” It’s pure rock n’ roll. Heavy as all hell. Solos for days and nights from Ewing, NJ. Finally, a Wreaths cassette sometime this summer. They’re a droned out, kind of psych rock n’ roll band from Asbury Park. They’re also way older than I am, but they’ve been the coolest dudes to me over the past two years that I’ve known them.
Alright, well I think that about covers it. Thanks, Mike!
Dude, thank you!