by Eric Toennis
First of all, list all of your names, what instrument each of you play, and what your favorite movie franchise is.
Scott Merenz, Vocals/Guitar. Keaton-era Batman.
Chrys Kirkwood, Drums/Sampler. Mad Max.
Andrew Cornell, Bass. Planet of the Apes.
Connor Smith, Guitar/Backing Vocals. Evil Dead
You all have been a band since 2011. That’s an impressive amount of time to still be making music together. What keeps the Panther Car engine rolling? How do you stay creative and fresh after so many years?
2011 was when Scott and Connor initially got together with our friends Colter and Shane for the first incarnation of Panther Car. The current line-up with Andrew and Chrys has been together since 2014? So, still a hefty chunk of time. We’re all just great friends, which the music probably cultivated, or at least was one of the reasons that we jibed so well from the beginning. We love spending time together, and having Panther Car as a focal point for our creative energy is a way to center our relationship. We’ve made many different sounds through the years in the context of a rock band, and are all influenced by many different things. The bedrock of this band is the intention to never write ourselves into a corner, to always be open to new musical ideas and styles. So it’s always been hard to identify as any particular sub-genre of rock music and we generally try to define ourselves by negation… which just ends up being obtuse and unrelatable… but that’s also kind of who we are.
What about the future of the Bozeman music scene excites you the most?
Bozeman feels pretty exciting right now! Chrys started a production pop-up, Lotus Eaters Productions, that’s added a tighter framework to individually booked shows from different DIY promoters around town. After Whistle Pig began hosting all-ages punk shows it opened a door to us, and we realized the need to take the initiative and create open, safe spaces for creativity in non-traditional venues. We’ve thrown shows in many an unsuspecting local business - taco shops, coffee houses, people’s basements, and our homebase is a labor union hall downtown. There seems to be a lot of collaboration between artists in the underground scene, and homes for all sorts of weird goodness! It’s been cool to see younger bands making original music emerge and more traveling musicians deciding that Bozeman is worth it to stop in.
Who is your favorite Bozeman based artist to collaborate or play shows with?
We play a lot of shows with the sweet boys in Chairea, and have done a little bit of rocking with Zenitram too. Also whenever we have the chance to work with Ernav K it is transcendent because he makes a stage look like your head was turned inside out, spooled out of your nostrils and funneled through a prism made of your nocturnal emissions.
Where is your guys’ favorite local bar or restaurant to wind down at after a show?
The Haufbrau is the place. If you have never been to Bozeman, start there. And grab some Taco Montes too, duh.
How does the band bond outside of playing music? What are some non-music related activities that you guys participate in together?
We spend a lot of time together, watching films, eating food, going to pawn shops, camping, doing house projects, goofing off, psychiatric care, peer pressuring, criticizing, clinging to our symbiotic souls as we rattle through the universe.
Describe your sound using the words asteroid, conundrum, and charbroiled.
Describing our sound can be hard and makes me feel like my brain is charbroiled. Classifying arbitrarily can really be quite the conundrum. If you were hit by an asteroid tomorrow wouldn’t you regret not listening to Panther Car?
What is each of the band member’s astrological sign? Define each of your roles in the band based on this.
Don’t know too much about astrology... But Scott is an Aquarius which is a water sign and I guess he spits a lot. Chrys is a Sagittarius so that obviously makes him the herbologist, a veritable pokedex of plants, and can read fortunes from an acorn skin. Andrew is a Pisces who is equal parts our stoic mast-head and jangly loper. Connor is a Cancer and he is just the big un-fun crab of the bunch.
If you could create the panther-shaped car of your dreams, who would you have manufacture it? Describe what it would look like. What would its name be?
Bic Pencils would manufacture our ride and it would be neither car, nor panther, more of an interstellar rocket that draws shapes all over the cosmos. I guess we’d call it Laura.
Being that you are festival alums, what is your guys’ favorite Dreyfest memory? Also, what or who are you most excited about seeing at this year’s festival?
Shoot. A lot of good Dreyfest memories. Walking into Smiling Dog and instantly being covered from head to toe in sweat comes to mind. Every show there felt really special. Taking a much needed dip in the public pool during the BBQ. Getting the chance to hang out with all of our friends from around the state during such a special event. This year we are very much looking forward to seeing Idaho Green and FUULS’ sets, they never let us down. Cannot wait for Dreyfest