California’s together Pangea opened for White Lies at Showbox at the Market in the spring. I never know for sure whether I will be into an opening band, as I’m usually there, and really anxious, to see the headliner. I just want them to get on with the show. And though I still wanted to see White Lies, obviously, together Pangea charmed me with their tight, melodic, aggressive sounds. Other audience members appeared to be into it, too. And I wanted to find out more about this band of young guys who put on such a galvanizing show.
Formed in Santa Clarita in 2009, the band came about via William Keegan and Danny Bengston, who would become guitarist/singer and bassist, respectively, of together Pangea. The two had been friends for ages and would later add Erik Jimenez on drums. Then they proceeded to become a true hope for punk rock garage. The group is one of those real deals you yearn for in music.
Now onto their third album, Badillac, together Pangea slaps asses with their music. They spank your music loving hearts. They seem to enjoy making out with each other (as in the video for “Offer,”) they made a press release video while eating spaghetti in a full bath tub, and it’s not that they demand a following, rather, they know it’s just going to happen.
In my pursuit of together Pangea, I got to talk with bassist, Danny Bengston. A Cal Arts graduate, Bengston told me the band had been to Seattle several times, and toured Europe and the United Kingdom for the first time this year, a tour Bengston says was “beyond what we expected there.” It also turns out singer Keegan is a twin. Unfortunately not an identical twin, which could have lended itself to all kinds of extra stage hijinks.
You’re playing bass in the band. Was that your first instrument?
Danny Bengston: No, my first instrument I ever played was trumpet. I had my first guitar in fifth or sixth grade. I started playing bass because William [Keegan, singer/guitarist of together Pangea] wanted me to play bass. I said sure, why not.
How did you do with the food in Europe?
DB: They don’t really have spicy food so much in Europe. There’s not hot sauce at every table. When we were in Holland we went to a super market and bought Tabasco and Sriracha. They had really good Indian food in the UK.
What’s your favorite food?
DB: I really like raw meats, like raw fish. Raw beef. Things that give you primal energy.
Your video for “Offer” features you in the parking lot of a Del Taco.
We definitely frequent Del Taco as much as we can. We always make sure we hit In-N-Out Burger, like in Arizona or something. I have the In-N-Out Burger app on my phone. Wherever they are, I can find where they are.
How nervous were you to appear on Last Call with Carson Daly?
DB: Not really. We were at SXSW and it was our first night there. We played at like, 2 AM, and that was after playing two other shows that day. So we were all exhausted and pretty drunk. It wasn’t as nerve-wracking as I think it would have been if it were different circumstances. I’m sure we would have been (nervous) had we not had an open bar at every show all day long.
Is it difficult to write such tight, condensed songs?
DB: We have a routine and a formula now because we’ve been doing it for so long. William will come up with a hook, or like a chord progression, and then we’ll jam it as a band. We’re all big fans of pop music, and pop sensibility as far as what structure does. We’re so comfortable working together, and we’ve been doing it for so long that it’s not hard to make something.
So. . . the band’s name. Why?
DB: We were kind of hippied out as teenagers. We really into K Records and folk music. The first batch of recordings were kind of folky. But they really aren’t that different. It’s still the same songwriting, it’s just through a different lense. Back then we were in a romantic, hippy phase.
When the Pangea continent existed, there were still dinosaurs around. What’s your favorite dinosaur?
DB: I would say the velociraptor. Or the megaladon. They were the most intelligent, and worked together.
You were an art school student. Where did you study?
DB: It was at Cal Arts. It’s a prestigious, conceptual art school.
What did you concentrate on?
DB: I came in as a print maker, but I came out putting objects in galleries and making videos. It was a lot of fun. I have a physical batch of work, but all my digital files in my last year at Cal Arts. . . the hard drive died. A lot of the documentation is gone [but] at the same time, the band started picking up, and I wanted to do music more anyway.
Your new album has a song called “Cat Man” on it. Are you cat guys?
DB: I definitely am. . . William is very allergic, but between my house and [drummer] Eric’s, I have a cat and his girlfriend has two cats. . . I would say that we are [but] William thinks they’re little creatures that want to kill him. I have a flame point Siamese (she appears in the new video for “Badillac.”) She’s pretty. I’ve had her since she was a little kitten.