Ex-Salt Laker Carrie Murphy’s Panda & Angel will not be playing near you. Sorry.
Do you know that we have had to cancel the Salt Lake show?” asks Panda & Angels’ Carrie Murphy. [Nope.] “We had to cancel the last week of our tour because our bass player was unable to continue with us.” What the hell—even if they’re not playing the Urban Lounge, might as well see what Murphy’s been up to with this band of hers; she’s a former Salt Laker and a member of one of our burg’s better local bands, Fumamos.
Well, Fumamos was one of Murphy’s Salt Lake City bands. Another was The Jenni Jensens, which ran in the same circle as—and shared members with—Office Party and The Messy Breakups. That little pocket of characteristic SLC local-band incest broke up when Murphy left for Seattle.
Surprisingly, it wasn’t for the usual reasons local bands load up the van and setting out for the great Pacific Northwest. While she does lament the incestuous nature of the Salt Lake City music scene, the fact that you usually see the same people in the same bands at the same clubs, Murphy says she loved it here and her reasons for leaving can be summed up neatly: change of scenery, please and thanks.
“I moved up with someone who was going to school up there,” she says. “And I’d always loved the bands coming out of Seattle. It was just a good excuse to live in a new place and experience a new environment.”
New and drastically different. We all think of Seattle as this rock & roll Mecca where Death Cabs and Sub Pops and Peter Bucks roam wild and music is key if not crucial to (if not responsible for) the city’s economic viability. Consequently, every musician is working and solvent and respected. Right?
Put down the pipe and the dream. The reality is many of Seattle’s successful musicians—if success is to be defined as signed/touring/reviewed or profiled in national music magazines, are tending bar, shampooing and styling, tearing tickets, frothing milk and folding burritos for their fans. Murphy was surprised to see that in this respect, Seattle is a lot like Salt Lake City. The difference is that seeing members of Band of Horses, Visqueen, 764-HERO, and Carissa’s Weird working day jobs just like members of SLC bands only reinforces the idea that success is nebulous, even dubious.
“I never saw success for myself musically,” Murphy says. “I just saw it as something I would do.”
So when she arrived in Seattle, Murphy hooked up with Richard Visick, a friend and former SLC bandmate to form Touchdown Eagle. Over four years, the band played around and made a few waves, not to mention fast, flirty friends with Salt Lake City’s Chubby Bunny (“I love Chubby Bunny,” Murphy effuses. “We have a crush on them”) before Murphy got busy with another band—Panda & Angel.
Initially a quintet, the band signed to esteemed indie label Jade Tree and released their self-titled EP last year. The shoegazy, electronic indie rock has earned them a cool 2600-plus MySpace friends (admittedly, another hazy quantification of achievement) and co-bills or tours with The Elected, Wolf Parade, Crystal Skulls, Maria Taylor (Azure Ray) and Band of Horses—plus a slot on the Jade Tree South by Southwest showcase in Austin this year. That’s all great, but Murphy says Panda & Angel is occupied with more immediate concerns.
First, they must get the band back up to full strength. The bass player was only temporarily lost, but they’ve already had to replace a drummer (with Murphy’s sister and Touchdown Eagle bandmate Kellie) and now must find a new keyboardist to fill the vacancy left by Kara Kikuchi (another former Salt Laker). Murphy and P&A partner Josh Wackerly will play the last five dates of the tour as a duo, then quickly deal with the personnel issues so they can complete and release their debut full-length by fall. Music may just be something Murphy does, but suddenly it’s a priority hobby.
“We don’t wanna sit on [the record] for any longer than we have to.”