Katy Perry and ass tattoos — what do these two seemingly disparate things have in common? Well, they’re both beloved by together PANGEA bassist Danny Bengston, whose new record, Badillac, is slated to drop on Perry’s label — and whose erectile dysfunction-referencing lyrics recently popped up on some dude’s arse.
Although together PANGEA (formerly known as PANGEA) only recently signed to Harvest Records, a label of Capitol Music Group, the L.A. band has spent the last five years or so building up their fanbase — hence the dude out there with their song “Too Drunk To Come” emblazoned across his cheeks. The guys have played shows with the likes of Wavves, FIDLAR, Black Lips and Ty Segall since their inception in 2008.
A few indie releases under their belts, the band has just started dropping their brand of mosh-worthy garage rock via Harvest, first with their Snakedog 7-inch on August 20, featuring ripper “Snake Dog” and the more subdued, haunting “Offer.”
As fast and driving as their buddies FIDLAR, PANGEA also has a more melodic, exacting quality — putting them somewhere between the West Coast punks and more poppy acts like King Tuff and NoBunny. Lead singer William Keegan’s voice, in part, distinguishes the band from the rest of the garage and punk bands rising to prominence at the end of 2013 — there’s a Kurt Cobain quality pulsating there, a throat-ripping growl that’s loud as it needs to be when it’s loud, and lilts along roughly when things get quiet (as they rarely do).
Hive spoke with Danny Bengston after the Burgerama tour wrapped up about their new record, fan tattoos and, naturally, erectile dysfunction:
Hey Danny, how are you?
I’m good. Hungover from Halloween.
Did you do anything exciting?
I went to a house show thing and yeah, it was fun.
Did you dress up?
I dressed up. William was Minnie Mouse. I had a really last-minute costume. I was a trauma victim. I just, like, wore a blanket. [laughs]
A reflective blanket?
You know, like a normal blanket. Whenever someone gets into an accident or some bad shit happens the police and the fire department give them blankets.
So you were like Linus in “Peanuts,” basically.
Yeah, pretty much.
So how was the Burgerama tour?
It was great. A lot of unexpected, crazy stuff. Like in Philly there was this a kid who had, like, a Pangea tattoo on his butt. It was pretty cool. It was really good. Just like a cool group of friends on the road. It’s cool.
Did the guy have a “together PANGEA” tattoo or just a “Pangea” tattoo? I know you all changed your name.
There’s a song on our first LP [Living Dummy] called “Too Drunk To Cum.” He had that written on his butt with a heart around it.
Oh man. Did he say what it’s like to hook with girls with that on his ass?
No, he had just gotten it and he was really stoked on it. But he was like, “Dude, I got this like two days ago because you guys were coming to town.” At first I thought he wanted to beat me up because we were parked in an alley in Philadelphia and there was like a trolley mob of kids walking towards me and it turned out they wanted to give us weed brownies and show me his tattoo.
You’ve toured with some pretty fun guys — FIDLAR, NoBunny, all those. Must have had some crazy times?
That tour with FIDLAR was really fun. Those guys have been our buddies — we kind of started out at the same time in L.A. FIDLAR was one of the first bands in the same neighborhood as ours that we started broing down with and hanging out together. Touring with them was really cool. We’ve been talking about doing another tour together.
It’s really cool when you get to tour with your friends. We’ve done tours before where we don’t know the band and you just see each other at the show backstage and it’s more like a formal thing. When you tour with your friends it’s a lot more fun and you end up doing stupid shit together.
Michael Stipe was at the Bowery show that you played the other day. Did you get a chance to say “hi”?
Yeah, I met him backstage. I was introduced to him and Liv Tyler at the same time.
Liv Tyler was there, too?
They both came to our Cake Shop show, too, which was cool.
Michael Stipe is always at good shows.
Yeah, he seems nice. It was one of those times where you meet somebody and it’s very like, “Oh this is Danny,” “Oh, this is Mike,” “Nice to meet you.” Liv was cool as well…. Almost every tour we watch the extended versions of “Lord Of The Rings” while we’re driving. Just ’cause each of them is like four hours long. We all love “Lord Of The Rings.”
So it was really surreal to see her without the elf ears?
Yeah [laughs]. I think we’d finished hour two of the third one right before we got to New York and saw her backstage and we were like, “Oh my gosh! Arwen!” We’re going on a tour soon for our next record and I think our plan for that one is we’re going to watch all the “Harry Potter”s.
Speaking of your record — I know what a “badillac” is from looking it up on the Internet, but why did you choose that as the title?
What does the Internet say?
Isn’t it some kind of tricked-out Cadillac?
I don’t know. It’s just like a made-up word. I don’t think that we like wrote the song with any intention of referencing a tricked-out Cadillac. It doesn’t mean anything to us, at least. It’s just a word that sounds good and works.
What about the song, in general? What’s the story there?
William was — we were hanging out and we live together and we were just like… he came downstairs with an acoustic guitar and just started like strumming some stuff and I played that little lead guitar thing that happens and strung words together that sounded good. It’s about having trust issues and getting away from — trying to escape having to deal with your feelings and stuff like that.
A lot of the songs are just us putting words together that mean something in that moment, you know?
It seems like kind of a downer, the record. Not that it’s not fun to listen to, but, you know, content-wise.
Living Dummy, our last LP — all of us were in relationships. At least William and I were both in long-term relationships and we were happy and stuff. And then I got out of a breakup — a six-year-long relationship. William had trouble with his relationship. I’m sure that sort of influenced where we were as far as the aesthetic of the album goes. It’s no fun to write the same album over and over again. So we’re always playing with ways that we can change shit up.
So do you think you write better music when things are shitty?
When you’re not content you definitely probably write better music. It’s like a therapeutic outlet. I had a hard time writing when I was in that long relationship…. It was a lot easier to write when it was going bad [laughs]. William writes all the songs for PANGEA and he is in a relationship right now. And there’s been no new songs. We already have seven or eight songs for the next record, though.
Are you ever going to release that cover you do? “Gates of Heaven” by The Dad Horse Experience?
The one we close our set to? Yeah! I think so. I think the people on our record label are like trying to make sure that we can do it legally. That dude’s pretty obscure and I doubt he has publishing rights or whatever. It’s just a German dude with a banjo playing some songs. We’re planning on recording it.
So bringing this whole thing back to the tattoo — it seems like you guys talk about erectile dysfunction a lot. What’s up with that? There’s a song on this record called “Sick Shit”…
Yeah, we’re all young guys.
But people don’t really usually sing about that. Unless you’re, like, Art Brut.
I don’t know. Sometimes you get drunk and shit doesn’t work out. I don’t know. [laughs] It’s not, like, a constant thing…. “Sick Shit” is talking about vitality. [The lyric "my dick is soft"] is a mental metaphor for not being stoked on something or not being attracted to something. Whereas “Too Drunk To Cum” is pretty straightforward…. People react to that shit. They listen to Top 40 radio — it’s all sex. It’s a good realm to be working in.
No naked wrecking balls, just limp appendages.
No naked wrecking balls in our immediate future!
Are you guys Miley fans?
I don’t know if we’re Miley fans. I would not say that we’re Miley fans, but that song is pretty tight. I speak for myself on that one, though. I know that I like it. I can’t speak for William. He’s shaking his head right now.
Do you have the most embarrassing taste in music?
Me and Erik [Jimenez] are both big Katy Perry fans, which is tight because when we signed with Harvest Capital, she’s on Capitol, too. We went to the Capitol building the other day to a meeting and they gave us her new record. We got Prism! We got the deluxe edition! It comes with a seed paper thing and you like plant it and it grows wild flowers.
Are you going to plant them?
We haven’t planted them yet. We don’t really have a yard or a backyard. We have a sidewalk in front of our house.
You could have a window box on your van.
Oh yeah, we should totally do that. That would be great!