Pussy Cats

Written by Adam Wisnieski on . Posted in Posts.


"Can you write Vagina Panther and then go: Snatch. Pussy. Cunt. Twat?” asks drummer Trent Good. I told him I would. So there it is. This is a highlight of a slightly insane and scattered conversation at the Palace Cafe in Greenpoint, a dark bar with loud music and cheap beer.

We talk about people being afraid of words, the struggle of being taken seriously with a band name like Vagina Panther, Fu Manchu, Ohio’s shitty sports teams and alien monsters. We drink $8 pitchers of Budweiser and laugh at girls getting hit in the face with moving obstacles on Wipeout.

“So somehow this influences our music,” said Johnathan Swafford, bassist, as a girl is clotheslined by a moving wall and falls into a muddy lake.

“No one ever makes it,” says guitarist John McGill.

This is when I decide this band is the real deal. I’m suspicious of bands with outrageous names—they can’t be trusted. Most times it’s a few jerkoffs with a funny name and no real sense of humor, who can’t play their instruments yet somehow manage to try too hard. I forget about ’em in a few minutes. With Vagina Panther, it’s different. I’m genuinely psyched about this band. Vagina Panther is a good, dirty rock ‘n’ roll band.

“There’s a bazillion bands out there. How do you remember half of these bands? They all sound the same. They all look the same. They’re all from the same place. They’ve all got weird, ethereal names. You’ve got to stand out a little bit, I guess,” says Good.

The name Vagina Panther has positive and negative effects on being noticed, the group agrees. Lots of people assume it’s a joke band because of the name, but the group is obsessed with how it sounds (the bassist has four pedals), its artwork (three of the bandmembers are graphic designers) and music videos, which are over-the-top but professional. McGill says if someone’s not immediately psyched about the band name, he’s learned to immediately follow up with, “Oh, but there’s a girl in the band.”

Swafford, Good and guitarist Dirt wave started playing together in 2007 for fun. They were all friends and it was nothing serious. As they started to accumulate a set of songs, they began to recruit friends, getting John McGill to join on second guitar and June Sung on vocals. Dirt wave left the band to concentrate on art, so Sung decided to take on guitar duties in addition to being frontwoman. Even though she never played guitar that much, in a few months Sung learned all of the songs and the band was set. The group built a practice studio out of a loft space in Greenpoint, named it the Fuck Box and Vagina Panther was born.

The band has one album that it selfreleased last year. The 11-track debut is a serious effort, even if the album cover is a tit with a drop of milk coming out of the nipple and the CD art is, you guessed it, a vagina. The record is full of catchy riffs, short and simple guitar solos and songs with topics ranging from hating the country outside new york (“I Hate Grass”) to Jack and the Beanstalk (“Dave, You are Killing Me”) to looking like a badass rocker in front of your dog (“Eye of Inez”). There’s AC/DC chanting, sound effects of cars and even the Hot 97 wah wah waaaaaaaah siren. It’s fun as hell. But the band is more interested in being great live.

“I think that’s what gets us off more. It’s not necessarily the type of music. It’s if you go and see a show and that band is freakin’ out and goin’ crazy,” says Swafford. “We like to move around a little too much.”

Vagina Panther plays all over the city from “shit bars” to nicer places like the Mercury Lounge. This weekend, the group is joining a long line of killer opening bands for Fu Manchu, which in the past has included the likes of Valient Thorr, Artimus Pyledriver and Turbonegro. Like those bands, Vagina Panther puts on a brilliant live show. and the band’s working on a new album, which the members promise will be heavier than the first.

“Some people have offered to pay for the next record,” Swafford says, “if we change our band name.”

>> Vagina Panther Sept. 4, Santos Party House, 96 Lafayette St. (betw. White & Walker Sts.), 212-584-5492; 6, $15.

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