A Split/Look Inside: Interview with Brite Lines/Pocket Panda

Brite Lines-Pocket Panda Split 7

How did Brite Lines and Pocket Panda meet up to do the split 7″?

(Brite Lines)
I (Zach) played out as a solo singer/songwriter for a long while. I have tons of musical friends and was surrounded by incredible talent, but a band never materialized for me here in Seattle. Eventually, I decided to start booking shows as BRITE LINES and playing them with whomever could join me, whether that was a 5-piece rock band (like the lineup of our ‘first show’ at the High Dive) or guitar/drums duo (just me and my brother) or guitar/fiddle or solo.

I played a very early solo ‘BRITE LINES’ show in Nov. 2011 at the Josephine in Ballard (Concert Bill) with a band called Ghost Honey (my introduction to BRITE LINES’ current multi-instrumentalist, Travis!) AND the band Pocket Panda (our first time meeting.) We stayed in contact and played a big show 6 months later at the Tractor and have since become buddies. We have an overlapping fanbase, are on a similar musical trajectory, and play complementary sorts of tunes. I think we have mutual appreciation for one another’s music and loved the idea of having vinyl, so when we each had singles we were looking to release, it seemed like a natural solution!

(Pocket Panda)

Eric from Pocket Panda and Travis from BRITE LINES spent a summer teaching kids how to perform in rock bands at the EMP. Along with the friendship that formed was the notion that the two bands should play a show together. After a great experience playing together at the Tractor Travis brought up the notion of a split 7” and we jumped on the idea.

What’s the local support been like as a Seattle start-up band?

(Brite Lines)
Seattle is an incredible town to make music in. It’s quite easy to sound totally cliché and goofy when describing it to outsiders, but this music community is wonderfully supportive and incredibly incestuous. A good percentage of every audience we play for here in town are musicians themselves.

Simultaneously, it’s also the case that Seattle is a very musically-saturated town and it’s somewhat difficult to ‘break in’ to the kind of wider acknowledgment that select artists enjoy. I have a long list of friends here that are so supremely talented that it is mind-boggling to me that they aren’t filling rooms monthly.

(Pocket Panda)
The great thing about Seattle is the sheer size and will of the local music community. At the same time, this can make a band feel like a needle in a haystack. For us, the key support has been the fans at shows. Getting the impression that people are feeling an impact and connecting with what we are doing is the main reward. The venues have been supportive, though starting out in a prolific music scene like Seattle’s can make finding a venue when starting out really tough.

We’ve been presently surprised by the End Local Music Showcase and a couple of the DJs on KEXP who have played us a few times. People like Megan Seling at the Stranger who dedicate a keen eye to the local scene and support their discoveries add so much value to the local music scene. There is so much good music here that falls under the radar. The Stranger was kind enough to recommend our last two shows and Seattle Weekly is great about reviewing new local releases. We’ve been getting some nice attention lately, but it has taken us a couple years to reach that point.

How would you describe the band’s sound?

(Brite Lines)
We used to call our music ‘indie-folk’ or ‘indie rock with acoustic instruments,’ but as a relatively young band, we’re still trying a lot of new things out and cementing our ‘sound.’ Lately, I’ve taken to describing our music as eclectic ‘Electro-Americana,’ which, I’d say, is fairly reflective of the folky base of the songwriting and our recent experimentation with guitar feedback and fuzz.

(Pocket Panda)
This is tricky, since our sound has evolved over the past couple years and we also purposely aim to create emotional and musical diversity amongst our songs. Some of us have settled on the term “orchestral indie grass”, though we’re not all convinced. Overall, we like indie music, folk music and classical, but also other genres find their way into our music (e.g. funk and reggae).

Band Names?…does “brite” have any significance over “bright”…and what’s behind the Pocket Panda paradox?

(Brite Lines)
In law, a ‘bright line’ is an objective and clear rule, leaving no gray area or room for interpretation. Our music is not like that. In fact, I might even describe the majority of our songs as exploring the inner-workings of that bittersweet gray area.

There were two immediate reasons for choosing Brite over Bright: 1) I really like how words look in a purely visual way. BRITE and LINES (especially when entirely capitalized and placed on two lines) just look good together. The two words are the same number of characters, have the repeating vowels (I and E) and the remaining consonants measure about the same em-width, so they line up pleasingly. And 2) ‘Brite Lines’ is far more Google-able than ‘Bright Lines.’

(Pocket Panda)
Pocket Panda was chosen for several reasons. Partially, if you try to come up with a band name right now, you realize it isn’t easy. We like Pocket Panda because it sounds endearing, but it also represents an animal that could be on their way to extinction due to human actions. The notion of Pocket relates to the growing trend of carrying devices in our pockets that provide for many of the engaging moments that consume our day. The overall perspective being that these devices are creating a surrogate for caring about the actual real world.

What venue in the area holds the most sentiment to the band?

(Brite Lines)
You know, we’ve been treated so well in so many local venues, but I’d say the Columbia City Theater (where this release is happening) has probably been the most important to us. With this show, it’ll cement it’s status as the venue we’ve played most often (followed closely by the Tractor). Kevin Sur (the old booker) and Ryan Devlin (the new guy) plus all of the other staff there (Jake Rohr, even Mark Jones…) have been so supportive of Brite Lines, no matter the stage of our development as a band. We played with and met The Mountain Goats there! Plus, stepping onto that stage, where Duke Ellington and Ella Fitzgerald once played, is purely magical.

(Pocket Panda)
It’s hard to say. We appreciate any place that will let us make noise on a stage while our friends and fans drink and watch. That being said, I think we’d all agree that we’ve had some of our best experiences at the Columbia City Theater, the Tractor Tavern, and the High Dive. At these places, the sound, the atmosphere, and of course, the larger stage sizes are important to us – we take up a lot of space.


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