Rock Star 101

Panic in Detroit learned to play before they learned to party

Still more annoying was the review on, which tried to be complimentary, with appalling results. "Allmusic said we sounded like a less commercial Good Charlotte," recalls Chavez disgustedly. "Which made me want to throw my computer screen across the room."

But how, you may wonder, did they go over in Detroit?

"We thought we were gonna get heckled, but it didn't happen," says Lonchambon.

Yes, the Motor City loves Panic in Detroit: They sold 
more merch there than anywhere else.
Yes, the Motor City loves Panic in Detroit: They sold more merch there than anywhere else.

"It was the best night we ever had," Chavez says. "We sold more merch there than anywhere else."

Chavez is the only holdover from Panic in Detroit's original lineup, which also included former Lucky Motors bandmate Ben Murphy (guitar) and drummer David Hobizal. Since then, Murphy and Hobizal have been replaced by drummer Jason Morris (formerly of Airliner and Guns of August) and guitarist Ramzi Beshara. After moving back to Houston following the EP's release last February, Lonchambon -- also a former Lucky Motor, and the younger sister of Phyneas Gauge's guitarist -- solidified the bass position.

Being the only woman in the band, and often the only woman on tours, doesn't faze Lonchambon. "It's fun," she says, but she admits it isn't always. People assume things. "A lot of people kind of go, 'Oh, you're a girl bass player. Whatever.' And a lot of people think I play bass because of Kim Deal, and she's awesome, but honestly Geddy Lee is the person who made me play bass." (Lonchambon picked up the Rush bug from her brother.)

"I've played in bands since I was 15," she continues. "Every once in a while it annoys me, like someone will say, 'Are you the merch girl?' "

"Exactly," Chavez says. "Every now and then we'll be setting up, and someone will come over to her and say, 'The merch goes over there' and she'll say, 'Good. Are you gonna take it there or something? I'll be setting up my rig, dude.' "

Back in the Lucky Motors days, Chavez had an interesting day job. He arranged the free ticket allotments for the Astros players. "I would go into the clubhouse every day and fill out the ticket requests that they needed for their wives or--"


"I was about to say. It wasn't an unlikely occurrence that I would get a guy 20 tickets, and he would say, 'Make sure my wife isn't sitting with my mistress.' Not in so many words…I don't think any of those guys are still with the team."

Chavez also grew up alongside the José Cruz family, which brings us back to music. Panic in Detroit was executive-produced by José Cruz Jr. ("Cheito" Cruz is thanked first in the liner notes.) Cruz caught Lucky Motors at their last show (at which they opened for Superchunk), and Chavez gave him a Panic in Detroit demo. A few months later, Cruz called back and told Chavez he loved the record and wanted to be a part of it. "I asked him what he wanted to do, and he said, 'Do you need an executive producer?' " Chavez remembers. "And I said to myself, 'What's an executive producer?' So I called some of my friends in the business and asked them what an executive producer was, and they told me it was basically a guy with a lot of money."

"An angel investor," clarifies Lonchambon.

"Yeah, one with a baseball glove on his hand," Chavez says. "I don't really throw out that name, you know, like, 'Hey, guess who we know.' But then, I just told a reporter that, so there it is on tape."

The national pastime also played a role in getting them the deal with Silverthree. A couple of years back, Burning Airlines had a day off in Houston and Chavez took them all out to the ballpark. Like Cruz, Mike Harbin was taken with the demo. "He said, 'I'm doing a record label and I want to put this out.' And I said okay," Chavez says.

"And it didn't hurt that we were huge fans of them, too," adds Lonchambon.

"Exactly," Chavez says. "Not only are J. Robbins and Mike Harbin some people that we have listened to in the past, but Mike Harbin's also somebody that we could look up to in a business sense -- he's proven that he knows what he's doing in bands before, so if he's got advice, we take it. Same goes for J. Robbins. Not only does he have all this great stuff in his back catalog, but if he has a suggestion for us in the studio, we take it."

And we at the Press have some advice for you: Go see Panic in Detroit this Saturday.

Panic in Detroit appears Saturday, January 17, at Fat Cat's, 4216 Washington Avenue. The John Sparrow, the Kimonos, Kiss Kiss Kill Kill and Danseparc are also on the bill. All-ages show. For information, call 713-869-5263.

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