An Interview with Panther

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Rib juice, big hair, and boogaloo with Charlie Salas-Humara and Joe Kelly of Portland act Panther.

XLR8R: What was the original concept for Panther?

Charlie: There was really no concept. I wanted to do something different from my band that I was in, The Planet The. I was just making crappy beats and singing crazily. It was one of those things where I didn't think. It was a guerrilla thing. I would do it around town. It was more like performance art at first, crazy to do. I suckered my friend into putting out a record of mine.

How did you come up with the name of the album, 14kt God?

Joe: When we're on tour for a long time, I have this mind thing that happens to me where I'll see signs and I'll look at the words and they'll say something that's completely different–usually, they have a sexual connotation. We were in the Mission in San Francisco and I saw a pawn shop that said “14kt gold” but I read it as “14kt god” and we both liked it.

What about Charlie’s dancing?

Joe: Charlie’s got specific moves that people are into. We were reading some blog and some kid was making reference to one of Charlie's dance moves as The Waitress. I guess it’s this thing he does that kind of looks like he's carrying a tray.

Tell me about the first tour you went on as Panther.

Charlie: The first time I went on tour was with Yellow Swans. Those kids argued heavily. They are old buddies, almost like old lovers. It was really fun. I basically played noise shows. It felt like I fit more into that scene than anything else because it was more performance art than anything.

What famous duo do you guys most resemble?

Joe: That's going to put me in the position of the sidekick and I’m having my own issues with that these days. I guess Laverne & Shirley. I'm definitely Laverne. I think Shirley was the better-looking one.

What is your favorite song on the album?

Charlie: I still like to play "Puerto Rican Jukebox." I'm really proud of that song. It came out exactly the way I wanted it to come out. It's really fun to play live and it kind of reminds me of the stuff I listened to growing up in my Cuban household.

Joe: Number seven, “Warm Moments.” They really like that one in Japan too for some reason. Different tours elicit different responses to different songs.

What band did you always want to be in when you were young?

Charlie: My favorite song, the first one I remember, is Peaches & Herb's "Reunited." I wanted to be in a band like that. Bad Finger too. I still kind of want to be in Bad Finger, but a couple of those guys died. Maybe I could be in Bad Finger. Joe: I really liked how terrifying bands like Big Black and Jesus Lizard were to me. I don't think there's dangerous people like that in music anymore.

Charlie’s hair is so robust. Does he ever have hair issues?

Joe: He does. He has real nice full hair but he just cut it too short. He got some bug up his ass and thought that he wanted to look like Norman Bates. Now he's real bummed. Before, he had this offset Asian woman bob thing going on.

What is the worst job you ever had?

Charlie:I worked at Old Country Buffet. I got paid $4.15 an hour. I just bussed tables of piles of ribs, and rib juice and saliva would be all over my body all day and then I'd get a paycheck and it would be like $85. It was kind of in the Southside of Chicago. All the people that worked there were Mexican gang members, and they liked it because they got to wear a blue oxford shirt and a red bowtie. The worked there because they loved the blue. They were all 16 and really hilarious and we'd hang out and smoke weed with them. One of the kids didn't show up one day 'cause he got shot.

MP3: "Puerto Rican Jukebox"