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Interview: Genuine Panama

Birmingham-based ensemble Genuine Panama hit the ground running with their debut single No Good – combining funky guitar licks with soulful brass arrangements to brighten up the slog of everyday living.

Inspired by the likes of Hippo Campus and James Brown, the band are livening up the indie scene one dance floor at a time.

I had a chat to brothers Mike and Martin to find out more about their writing process, plans for world-domination and how their father’s love for hats inspired their band name…

Hey guys! Can you introduce yourselves to our readers?

We’re Genuine Panama – a Birmingham-based indie band with a love for brass and funkiness.

A few of us got together in 2016 to aggravate the neighbours. They didn’t complain too much and more so-called musicians fancied a piece of the action, so there was only one way forward… now here we are, addicted to gigging anywhere they let us in.

We think we make a unique sound when we do our thing; all of us have a dance and a satisfied face on. We also reckon local patrons secretly prefer watching us bump into each other on tiny stages than watching DJ decks… so we just want to keep doing that as much as we can.

What’s the story behind the name Genuine Panama?

Our dad (Mike and Martin’s) loves a genuine panama hat. Rain or shine, inside or outside, he’s wearing one. We still don’t know what makes a genuine panama hat ‘genuine’, nor understand his love for them, nor know what the top of our father’s head looks like. These uncertainties combined made Genuine Panama an obvious choice of band name.

I love your new single No Good. Can you tell me about the writing / recording process?

Glad you like it!

I guess No Good captures what Genuine Panama is all about – injecting a bit of funk and soul into the indie scene, encouraging people to feel the filth and dance around.

The song is full of convulsions, eccentricity, and bids to do things differently; it’s essentially about the slog of behaving normally, in the mechanical manner life unremittingly expects of you. If that sounds a bit overripe for you, to tell you the truth I was hungover and in a foul mood, so I sacked off work and spent the day writing it in the windowless bowels of the Synagogue where I used to live in Birmingham.

What’s been your favourite musical experience as a band so far?

Recording and completing our debut EP has been brilliant. We’ve played the tunes live for a long time, so to finally turn them into something that people can take away was so much fun.

We recorded everything in Studio340, a community creative arts venue based in Cheltenham. There was plenty of moving duvet sheets around the room to get the right drum sound, dramatic producer departures, late nights, loving and then suddenly hating every note of every song – all the melodrama you’d hope for. Now we just sit around holding the hard copy and grinning like clueless, exhausted parents.

If you could perform anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?

Panama City, Panama. Obvious reasons.  

What’s coming up next? Any live shows we can put in the diary?

We’re launching our Itchy Teeth EP on June 28th at The Frog and Fiddle in Cheltenham. We’re also headlining The Victoria, Birmingham on July 27th. We’ve got good followings in both towns, so can’t wait for two bigguns.

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