ANDREW COOPER

Almost two years after their debut release, local psychedelic pop-rockers Pandas in Japan are set to drop their live EP Suburban Desert – Inner City Oasis in May 2014.

The EP will be available on audio cassette with digital copies accompanying every purchase. Additionally, Pandas in Japan will be releasing a studio album on vinyl in autumn. Both releases are being made available through The Sound & Silence Collective.

It isn’t just the Pandas that have made the move towards vintage implements. Many bands — musicians that grew up during the advent of digitization through avenues like Myspace — have been releasing music on vinyl and audio  cassette as well.

“It’s an addiction,” said Maxwell Raeburn, the drummer for Pandas in Japan. “The amount of money I spend personally on vinyl is obscene. I probably spend more on vinyl than anything else.”

Vinyl is far from obsolete in a technological world and tape cassettes still resonate with nostalgia for anyone old enough to remember when George Stroumboulopoulos hosted The Punk Show on Much Music.

Pandas in Japan represents the modern day garage band, releasing music intended for listening to while driving and throwing you back to a time when dirty surf-rock meant no more than your car, your girl or your guy, a party and some rock-and-roll.

“We play what we want to play,” said Dylan Cardenes, the bassist and lead singer of the band. “We just don’t really care anymore what people are wanting to hear.”

Other band members of Pandas agree with this sentiment, noting that music should be about what the artist enjoys creating.

“I don’t necessarily make music for other people. I want them to listen to it, but I make it for myself. I just want to make something that I want to listen to,” said guitarist Jonathan Walker.

These motivations are present in every song the Pandas play. In their song “Witch Hunt” you can almost hear the heat vibrations of a lazy summer jam with the garage door open, amps close to blowing, neighbours complaining and crowds moving.

The Pandas’ former EP was definitely a defining moment when the band got really serious about playing their music.

The EP “was self-released and we had a little bit of success with it,” Raeburn said. “Then after we went on tour, we realized ‘Holy shit. If we want to do this as a band, we have to take this seriously and we have to work really hard.’”

“It doesn’t pay very much,” Raeburn said. “But we love it. It’s our thing — in a way it’s almost the only thing we know how to do.”

The Pandas take their lead from many local bands who have pushed for recognition outside of Saskatchewan. As far as they’re concerned, now is the time to expand.

“I think there is a lot of focus on Saskatchewan right now, definitely,” Cardenes said. “There’s a big boom for Saskatchewan music right now. A lot of popular artists are coming out in Saskatchewan, and people are starting to pay attention to the cool bands. It seems like people are starting to pick up on Saskatchewan’s music quicker.”

Walker feels that the band has matured in the scope of the music scene, which the Pandas attribute to the support of their label The Sound & Silence Collective.

For those who have never heard the melodic dissonance of Pandas in Japan, they describe themselves as sounding like “lemon twister hunch,” a phrase created by word association from each member of the trio. Spontaneous, infectious definitions are what you can expect from the upcoming new EP of Pandas in Japan.

For more information on tour dates and release shows, check out the Pandas in Japan Facebook page or visit pandasinjapanmusic.bandcamp.com.