Giant Panda’s Guerilla Drummer: Chris O’Brien gets down to the nitty gritty | August 2011
As their summer tour continues to keep Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad busy, playing everything from festivals to weddings, and with new addition, guitarist Dan Keller, the Rochester, NY reggae rockers have been performing an increasing number of new tunes, many of which come from their forthcoming release, although as drummer Chris O’Brian explains, with no set release date. The new album comes with heavy anticipation, as the group’s first release, Slow Down, came out five years ago. Chris loves his cigarettes, and as he stands around in the Boston harbor with his mom next to him, he lights up, swearing he’ll give me the nitty gritty secrets of G.P.G.D.S, saying, “Let’s rock n’ roll, dude.”
You were going to tell me the nitty-gritty.
Well, it’s going to have to slide out.
Tell me how recording the new album’s going.
We’re done recording. We just have to mix it and master it and make it.
Damn, though. You guys are closer than you ever have been.
Yes, we are, and we’re going to finish this project, as opposed many, which we have abandoned. There are a lot of different mixing opportunities/options, and there’s some options of what to do with the record once it’s done. Our manager, Seth [Herman], demands that he have the record three months before it comes out. So, it’ll at least be five months before the album comes out because it will take another month or so to mix it. The hardest part of the process is over, in my opinion.
Why does Seth want the record for three months?
Well, once it’s done he wants three months to promote it, the news, send it to radio stations...
You still aren’t on a label, right?
It will not come out on a major record label, but there’s the possibility of a smaller label helping us put out the record.
Tell me about a night when nothing went right for you.
A really memorable, terrible night on the road was in Plattsburgh, New York, in probably 2005 or 2006. We had this yellow school bus, and it froze solid, like an ice cube. Diesel fuel on older diesel vehicles, you have to plug it in or it freezes and won’t start. And it did just that (Laughs). It was so cold out. The cops wouldn’t help us. It was like negative 10. We went into the club. It was 3:30 in the morning, the owner’s like, “You guys got to get out of here.” I had actually quit smoking cigarettes, and hadn’t smoked for eight months. I went in that bar and there was an American Spirit sitting on that bar, staring at me, and I started smoking cigarettes again, right then and there. I went out and bought some the next day.