Interview: Sancho Panzer

Picking up a project after a long absence can be a tricky task, especially when you’ve not touched it in nine years. However that is what Exeter post-punks Sancho Panzer have done with their debut album – ‘Your Own Accord.’

The albums origins lay in 2007. The Sancho Panzer’s name had been growing following praise for their ‘A Current Archetypal’ EP but the subsequent departure of vocalist Al Tickle left the now trio in an awkward position. Neverthless the three-piece Adam (vocals/guitar), Jules (drums) and Jon (bass) persevered and gradually pieced together what would become ‘Your Own Accord.’ However with everyday life getting in the way, the album and the band itself disappeared until now.

‘Your Own Accord’ sees Sancho Panzer shred thier former post-hardcore skin in favour of politcally and socially charged post-punk as the trio take on diverse topics such as impending fatherhood, the MP’s expenses scandal, The Daily Mail’s regressive campaigns and a tongue-in cheek take on straight-edge living (see ‘Shaolin Punk’).

To learn more about the album, the bands absence, and their future plans, Already Heard recently caught up with Adam and Jules from Sancho Panzer.

AH: After nine years wait ‘Your Own Accord’ is finally released this month. For those who don’t know the back story behind Sancho Panzer, bring them up to speed?

Adam: We formed back in 2004, played lots of shows with lots of great bands and released a record at the end of 2006. In 2007 we entered and won a Rock Sound-sponsored battle of the bands and shortly after that our original singer quit the band. We tried to find a replacement but no one really worked out so we carried on as a three-piece and started recording a few new tracks. A few tracks led to a few more and we would find ourselves re-visiting the studio whenever we could afford it, but it all took a long time. Eventually we had 10 tracks that needed mixing and mastering sitting around doing nothing. The wasted time and effort weighed heavily on my mind so I called up the other guys and suggested we finish off what we’d recorded, do a couple more tracks, contact our old label and get the album released.

AH: Looking back it seems the band had plenty of momentum and support into the making of ‘Your Own Accord.’ Has it been difficult to regain that momentum or do you consider this a fresh start for Sancho Panzer?

Adam: I guess we did have some momentum at the time but it’s all a matter of perspective. Even at the time it was bittersweet. When I was a kid I thought that any band mentioned in Kerrang were full time musicians living a comfortable life. I’d soon come to realise this wasn’t the case but it was still an eye opener how little our momentum actually meant. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t regret any of it and that period of the band is something I’m very proud of. Also, I’m not really talking about making money. You’d have to be an idiot to play our kind of music in the hopes of getting rich. I just thought that things would start to get easier with a little exposure but it didn’t really feel like much changed. I can’t deny that this release would have been a bigger deal if it came out a couple of years after the last record, but it doesn’t really feel like a fresh start on a personal level.

AH: When you decided to revisit the recordings of ‘Your Own Accord.’ What was your initial reaction?
Adam: I was pleased. ‘Your Own Accord’ is very different from out first release and I was excited about finally doing it justice. I still love ‘Jonny Don’t Do Buses’ and ‘Superman Comes To The Supermarket’ which were originally written back in 2007!

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Jules: I was worried at first that the music might not be as relevant today as it was a few years ago and might not be picked up because of that; trends and influences change all the time. But I checked my head on that – why should our music not be relevant just because it was recorded a few years ago? I still like the songs a lot. So if we’re happy with them and the music is relevant to us, as a band or as a group of mates playing music together then that’s all that counts really.

AH: Looking back on those recordings, is there anything you would’ve changed?

Adam: I would love to go back and do it again. I think the convenience of the studio we used for some of the songs was actually detrimental. We’d pop in for the odd weekend or after work whenever we had the money which was great in some ways but it also meant the whole thing dragged on. If we’d just written the whole album then booked out all the time at once we would have been ready a lot sooner.

AH: The album takes on a range of political and historical topics. Is there a consistent theme we can expect from the album?

Adam: Having a consistent theme would be great but no, all the tracks have their own individual inspirations. To be fair it would have been pretty difficult to keep an over-arching narrative going for nine years! You’re right, there are political topics covered but some of it is coming from a personal perspective. The opening track ‘The Ballad of Billy McGee’ is about an experience I had doing agency work in a high street phone store and ‘Shaolin Punk’ is an affectionate tongue-in-cheek take on straight edge. My point is it isn’t all fight the power, Rage Against The Machine style political lyricism.

AH: Ahead of the album release you shared a track called ‘It Can Only Be So Good’ which comes as one of the albums more straightforward tracks. Do you think it serves as a good introduction to Sancho Panzer?
Adam: There are a lot of typical Sancho Panzer elements to the track, such as the gang vocal chorus, so yes I think it serves as a pretty good introduction. It is straightforward and almost poppy in its arrangement but it’s balanced by the subject matter (I’m singing about a Daily Mail news campaign) and our naturally abrasive sound.

AH: With ‘Your Own Accord’ being released, do you have plans to play shows or record new material?
Adam: At the moment I’m just focused on getting the album released properly. Once that is done, we’ll sit down and chat about what we want to do. I’d certainly like to tour the album and maybe play a festival or two. If we have the funds then I’ll get back in the studio at the first available opportunity!

Jules: I’d love to go back into the studio as well. Recording is a lot of fun, I really like the process of writing, preparing to record and then getting into the studio. Whether we’d record in one block in the studio or whether we’d do it over time, I’m not sure. Musically, I guess that would influence the sound. I listen back to older albums and there are things I’d have changed with hindsight. Recording in chunks allows you the head space to listen back over months and go back to make changes as you want to. But that approach doesn’t have the same energy as being a studio for a week or month though and I miss that.

‘Your Own Accord’ by Sancho Panzer is released on March 18th on Casket Records.

Sancho Panzer links: Facebook|Bandcamp|Twitter

Words by Sêan Reid (@SeanReid86)

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