Search for Geek: Pangalacticats
Errol found Pangalacticats in a Facebook group while searching for all the geek bands he could find. They play around Seattle and describe themselves as “Geekabilly rockers irradiated with ska, Celtic rock, and blues.”
Name: The Pangalacticats
Instruments: Vocal/rhythm guitar (Harry Miller), Lead guitar/vocal (Seth McGinnis), Bass (Eric Schmidt), Drum loops (Eliza)
Location: Seattle, WA
Year Formed: 2013
Genre: Geekabilly, nerd rock with Celtic, punk, ska, and blues influences
Favourite Fandom: Dr. Who, Firefly, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Bioshock Infinite, Destiny the video game, Dungeons & Dragons
1. What are your geek origin stories?
[Harry] I was always a sci-fi and fantasy reader, and then in junior high some friends invited me over to play Dungeons & Dragons. I got hooked on role-playing and any kind of immersion into imaginative worlds.
[Seth] I started gaming when a cousin of mine gave my brothers and me an original Nintendo system. Robocop was my favorite game on that one. I had a time limit as a kid so I got to the point where I could beat that whole game in about 45 minutes. Nowadays I like to play stuff like Elder Scrolls, Battlefield and Destiny on the 360.
[Eric] My fascination with sci-fi and fantasy started early: one of my earliest memories is of going to see “Return of the Jedi” in the theatre for my 5th birthday. Later I discovered J.R.R. Tolkien and devoured every one of his works that I could get my hands on. As a teen, I also enjoyed role-playing games (Dungeons & Dragons, Dark Conspiracy) with my buddies.
2. Tell us about your musical background and how you all came to be.
[Harry] I was a school band geek from elementary school through college (trombone performance major). I’ve also played in a bunch of rock bands, doing punk, 50s & 60s covers, 80s New Wave, and Celtic rock, plus many years playing flute in an Irish traditional band. But The Pangalacticats is the best and most fun, and really is what I wanted to do during all that time exploring. If only they’d had a nerd-rock major in college. We had some friends who were starting up a new sci-fi con, so Seth and I said “We’ll start a band and play fun geeky songs at the con!” And they were like “OK!” So we got Eric and started to come up with original songs and we just kept it going since then.
[Seth] I always used to sing and eventually joined a private choir. That was a lot of fun, we got to tour around different places for competitions. The coolest place we went to was Wales for an international competition. Our choir took second place and the Welsh choir took first. Go figure. I started playing guitar when I was 16, mostly as a rebellion against the piano my parents wanted me to learn. I loved rock and blues, but didn’t want to be the piano solo guy. So I basically picked up the guitar and taught myself how to play.
[Eric] I started on the cello in elementary school and then picked up the string bass in middle school. I remained an “orch dork” throughout the rest of high school, eventually branching out into jazz. Also, I grew up in the Seattle area and reached my teen years during the early nineties (the height of grunge rock). I played bass in a couple of alternative rock bands off and on up until college. Since then, I’ve played with some filk musicians (Mark Osier, Luis Garcia from Ookla the Mok). As I looked for another band to jam with, Harry told me about the Pangalacticats and the themes for the music – nerdy but fun, clever but not prurient. I was intrigued.
3. You are from Seattle! I have this sense that it’s Nerd Music Mecca over there. What’s that scene like and do you have any fun stories about other Nerd musician encounters?
[Harry] In the past couple of years the number of geek destinations has skyrocketed – gaming pubs, geek coffee houses, and the like. But music doesn’t seem to be a consistent part of it, maybe because everyone is trying to focus on their board games. But I’m inspired by the interview on Geekbands.ca with Unidentified Funk Object and Dr. G’s Nerd Music Extravaganza to see if we can put together a regular music night like that.
[Eric] PAX Prime occurs here every year, and it’s a great place to meet and to listen to other geek musicians. At this last PAX Prime I spoke with a couple of members from Triforce Quartet, which inspired me to start noodling with some of my own music.
4. You released a new CD! Congratulations! Please tell us more!
Thanks! It’s all original music about stuff we love. The title (Polyhedrals and Police Boxes) refers to dice for table-top gaming, and also to Dr. Who’s TARDIS, of course. We kind of did it to legitimize our asking to play gigs at non-traditional venues like comic shops – we can sell our CD! It’s a lot of fun to record stuff so we’ll probably do it again soon.
5. Do you have a favourite song on the CD?
[Harry] Every one that’s currently playing is my favorite for those three minutes.
[Seth] “My Absinthe Confession” is definitely among my top favorites on the CD. Just the way it was layered with backup vocals for the fifties ballad style we were going for. “Twenty-Rollin’ Baby” is another one. I can’t just listen to that once.
[Eric] It honestly changes as I listen to the CD more. The first couple of times through the CD, I loved “My Absinthe Confession” and “Twenty-Rollin’ Baby.” Right now, my favorites are “So, That’s When They Turned Into Zombies” and “Booker, Catch!” With that said, I never get tired of playing or listening to “Cosplayers Rock the Con.”
6. Do you have a favourite song you like to perform live?
[Harry] Every one we’re currently playing is my favorite for those three minutes.
[Seth] For me it is “Nameless Things.” Of course, I do get to take three long solo breaks during that one so I may be biased.
[Eric] “Come Along Pond” gets my adrenaline going. I seriously want to start moshing as soon as we start playing it.
7. Tell us about your creative process! How do you write songs?
[Harry] Sometimes I’ll find myself thinking about a show or a game, and I’ll want to dive in and explore some aspect of it – why do I like this? What is it that draws me in? And a good way to do that is to write a song about it, because you have to look at various ideas and see which ones hold up all the way through the process of writing a set of lyrics. But really most times I’ll just have an idea I think is funny.
[Eric] Harry and Seth do a lot of the song-writing, but they’re very encouraging of me trying my hand at it too. I have a song about LEGO (and yes, everything IS awesome) that I’ve kicked around for a while, plus an electric version of the “Dragon Quest” theme.
8. Finally, tell us about your upcoming projects or shows and your future plans!
We have a bunch more songs we want to record, and we’d love to perform a lot more live but we’re all too introverted to talk to anyone about playing at their place. So I guess our future plans are either therapy to help us talk to people, or convince an extrovert to join the band. Plus music videos!
Thank you, Pangalacticats! Debs is an introvert too, and she has problems with her extrovert. ^_^ Good luck on your album!
The Pangalacticats released their first album, “Polyhedrals and Police Boxes”, which you can find on their bandcamp but was also embedded above! You can also find them on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and on their webpage!