No More "Sweet Home Alabama"

One unfortunate aspect of South Florida's music scene is that there isn't nearly enough room for bands making original music to thrive financially. There are only so many venues left (and the economy isn't helping). Too many bar owners who hire bands are really just looking for a live jukebox to keep their customers happy. It's limiting, to say the least, and the local power-pop trio Panic Disorder knows all about it. The band has been grinding away three nights a week for the past two years, trying to make a name for itself — though the reality is that cover gigs are what pay the bills. Now that it's just released its first full-length album, Figure It Out (a quality, ten-song rocker full of catchy tunes about love gone awry), the band hopes local music lovers recognize that it can do a lot more than play "Blister in the Sun" to drunk patrons night after night.

I recently checked in with Panic Disorder's lead singer, Danny Guerrieri, who talked about the band's new album and the annoyances of playing covers.

New Times: Are you nervous about playing more shows full of originals instead of just working as a cover band?

Guerrieri: No, it excites us more than anything. It's been so long, we're raring to go. Most people just know us as a cover band, and sometimes we play an original and folks are like, uh, that's great, now let's hear "Sweet Home Alabama." I don't let it bother me, but we can do a heck of a lot more than that.

How long did it take you to finish this record, and what's it all about?

It took us about two months from start to finish once we went into the studio. The basic theme of the CD is, during the writing process... both my drummer and I were going through turbulent times in relationships. A lot of it is about trying to get your life and relationships on track... and how you deal with it.

How many songs do you have in your cover repertoire that you pool from each night?

We've got 150 songs that we can play note for note without having to think about it.

What's the most annoying song that people request— the one where you're like, "Fuck! Not that again?"

I'd have to say "Brown-Eyed Girl" by Van Morrison. Unfortunately, it's a great song... I only wish to write a song that popular some day. But if I had to play it again, I'd rather have my head chopped off.

What else is on that list?

"Sweet Home Alabama!" We've thrown in "All Summer Long" from Kid Rock just to spice it up, though. Also "Free Bird," but I refuse to play it. I just say, "Sorry, I'm not fucked up enough to play that song right now."

KEEP NEW TIMES BROWARD-PALM BEACH FREE... Since we started New Times Broward-Palm Beach, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of South Florida, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Jonathan Cunningham