Arc and Panther don’t have a mind-blowing sound, nor do they boast a mind-blowing story. Speaking to drummer-vocalist Shane Starrak and guitarist John Johnson about the Melbourne-based trio initially yields details that do very little to carve out a distinct identity for the band. They’ve all known each other for years, so they feel comfortable working together. They spend a lot of time developing and refining their music – six months for an eight-minute EP self-released last December. Their music is straightforward, and they keep their songs short to match their short attention spans. When asked about idiosyncratic elements of their music, nothing even jumps out to them.
“I don’t think we’re necessarily so much original, I guess,” Johnson says, while Starrak offers, “I don’t know if there’s anything too terribly special.” Seeing as how the band was formed in late 2010 (bassist Nate Chase was the final piece of the puzzle) and public information about Arc and Panther is pretty limited, now is a good time to craft a narrative about the group – something that will, in some small way, separate them from everyone else. But Johnson says, “There’s not much biography to be had yet.” While it certainly makes for lackluster storytelling, that may not be a bad thing.
Arc and Panther exemplify the idea of guys who are just making music because they like the music, opting not to carefully cultivate any image or think about things too much. Being “all about the music” is one of the great bullshit clichés, but these guys kind of feel authentic.
“When [heavy music] is done right, I feel it can be really gritty and honest and open,” says Starrak, who has been in various bands for 16 years. Arc and Panther use big, crunchy guitars and emphatic drum work to wreak respectable carnage of the hardcore and metal varieties, sounding a lot like Coliseum in the process. Their work isn’t revelatory, but if blasted out of sturdy amps, it provides a solid stand-in-place headbang session.
“We’re not really super-fast, we’re not sludgy, so it’s pretty moderate rock,” Johnson says. “We want it to be heavy but we’re not trying to be fast, we’re not trying to be doomy and slow, we’re just playing heavy, moderate rock.” Starrak characterizes their sound as “a big Florida melting pot of music,” with its “heavy grooves” and occasional melodic qualities channeling the likes of Reversal of Man and Assück.
“Weekend warriors” tends to be a pejorative in any circle, and it’s a particularly loaded term in the music scene. But as Arc and Panther discuss their work in easygoing terms, they indicate contentment with the idea of music as a pastime and little more.
“Who knows what might happen, but [the band will] break up eventually and we’ll do something else and it’ll continue that way,” Starrak admits. His bandmate is similarly casual: “We’re just three dudes that live in Melbourne, Florida, that play music. Some of us go to school, some of us have real jobs,” Johnson says. “With this band, I don’t think we’re necessarily trying to get any type of point across or anything. We just want to have fun and play music.”
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