Genuine Panama – No Good
State your history.
In early 2017, brothers Michael and Martin Whittemore took a few song ideas to old schoolmate and drumming virtuoso Laurence Clutson.
In Laurence’s mum’s living room in Cheltenham, Genuine Panama’s sound started to come together.
When bass player Tom Roderick joined the fold, gigging ensued on an ‘any gig’s a gig’ philosophy.
Gigs in art galleries, cramped cafes, and car park rooftops eventually gave way to headline slots at venues such as 02 Academy 3, Birmingham and The Louisiana, Bristol.
Having acquired as many fans as is possible as an exclusively live act, the band’s debut EP release marks the start of a new chapter for Genuine Panama.
Describe yourself as an artist.
We are a group of friends with an eccentric, organic sound and a tight live repertoire.
Tell us the genre of your music.
We make what people have started to call ‘soulified indie’. We grew up on Bombay Bicycle Club and Little Comets but play with a brass section and love old funk and soul records. We basically don’t have a clue what’s going on. But it sounds nice.
Tell us the story behind your song.
Martin (writer): Regarding the single – No Good, I think it captures what Genuine Panama is all about – injecting some funk into the indie scene, encouraging people to feel the filth and dance around. The song is full of convulsions, eccentricity, and bids to do things differently; it’s essentially about sanity and the slog of behaving normally, in the mechanical manner life unremittingly expects of you. If that sounds a bit overripe for you, to tell you the truth I was hungover and in a foul mood, so I sacked off work and spent the day writing it in the windowless bowels of the Synagogue where I used to live in Birmingham.
Tell us the problems you are facing as a musician.
Time is probably the biggest one. With rent to pay and nine-to-fives to sit through, we don’t have as much time as we’d like to simply be together as a band, writing music, making records, and playing shows. Hopefully, as we manage to snatch more hours at the musical grindstone, we can start to take bigger steps forward.
Discuss the recording and production of the song.
We recorded everything in Studio340, a community creative arts venue based in Cheltenham. There was plenty of moving duvet sheets around the room to get the right drum sound, dramatic producer departures, late nights, loving and then suddenly hating every note of every song, all the melodrama you’d hope for.
List the names of blogs, radio, or television stations that have supported you so far.
BBC Introducing West Midlands
Turtle Tempo – Independent Music Discovery
Elaborate on your music career, experience, and future goals.
Our career so far has been defined by our experiences playing local pubs and clubs, and the unconditional commitment of mates who want an excuse to go out on a weeknight. Whilst we wouldn’t give that up for the world, it’d be fun to share our music with audiences further afield.
Having learned a lot from the recording of our first EP, we’re keen to strap in and do the next one. All the songs have been written, it’s just about putting the hours in now.
Brief us what inspires you to write, compose and sing.
The people-watching normally generate some decent writing. People tend to do and say a healthy range of stupid/loving/ wacky things, so there are a million ideas and stories waiting to be dramatized and put to music.
Tell the piece of advice you would give to an upcoming artist.
Gig relentlessly. It’s the best way to get to know who you are as an artist and a person. Do that before you think too hard about recording and producing. That way you can really understand your songs and determine which direction they need to go in. Making lots of mistakes and gaining confidence on stage is invaluable.
Tell us how you write your lyrics, compose, sing and record in the studio.
Normally, Michael or Martin will do some writing, and then bring it to the rhythm section to have a crack at. We play the songs live a lot before they get recorded, and they change and improve during that time.
Trying to record effectively in the studio mainly revolves around pretending you’re playing to an audience. We think – simulate the live experience, have fun, and hopefully capture some of the energy that makes us Genuine Panama.
Name your favorite artists for collaboration.
Tell us how you will spend a million dollars.
Start a live music venue somewhere weird.
Discuss music promotion and how you are boosting your fan base.
We’re trying to gig as much as possible. Going to gigs is the way we and our group of friends tend to discover new music, so it seems like a fun, foolproof strategy. Connecting with artists on stage is what makes people fans for life.
We’re also big on artwork; with the help of our resident visual artists, we’re creating T-shirts and prints that we’re sure people will love regardless of the Genuine Panama association.
Tell us how you manage other activities with your music career.
It’s tough. Some of us have full-time jobs; others are students with part-time jobs. We just recognize that we’re lucky to be energetic and young, so embrace the late nights and rushing around while we can.
State your artist’s name and elaborate on it.
Genuine Panama: Our dad (Mike and Martin’s) loves a genuine Panama hat. Rain or shine, inside or outside, he’s wearing one. We still don’t know what makes a genuine Panama hat ‘genuine’, nor understand his love for them, nor know what the top of our father’s head looks like. These uncertainties combined made Genuine Panama an obvious choice of a band name.
State the title of the songs and the meaning.
No Good – a requiem for sanity.
Itchy Teeth – on discontent with all sorts of things, often indistinguishable from each other in the grey, smoggy stew of urban austerity, homelessness, ‘bullsh*t job’ creation, and the misattribution of ‘value’ in social discourse. Really though, it’s about the peripheral glimmers of hope in that stew.
Elephant Carpets – on the ubiquity of Instagram influencers, consumer behavior data, tinder preferences, and other obstacles to real life.
Hermitage – kitchen sink love song on the perks of being alone.
State the title of the album and the reason for choosing the title.
Itchy Teeth: The discomfort in the term ‘Itchy Teeth’ just managed to capture something of the fidgety, erratic quality of this EP. I think it nicely reflects our first-record-eagerness to create something and get ourselves heard.