Panther is an 80’s Hard Rock group that was created in Los Angeles, California when lead guitarist Michael Barasch recruited drummer Scott Taylor, bass player Glen Davis and finally Jeff Scott Soto on vocals. They began like every other band — in the garage of someone’s house. The group was a part of an era where you had to work your way up the L.A. music circuit, playing 5 to 10-minute sets on a Monday night (or on the weekend) opening up for the main act.
It was also an era right before the term “pay to play” came into the picture. They could not pay promoters to be opening acts; that business strategy would present itself later on in the 1980s and is now widespread globally.
The band would go on to make their self-titled debut album. Sometime after the success of that debut album, the group would decide to change their style to try to capitalize on the commercialization of Hard Rock, and it ended up backfiring on them. It ultimately caused the group to disperse and go their separate ways.
RESPECT. recently had the opportunity to speak with Barasch about the re-release of Panther and him reuniting with Taylor.
RESPECT.: Panther recently signed a new deal to re-release your original project via CD and iTunes. How does it feel that you are going give to this album the exposure it deserves?
It’s amazing! Everyone that has ever heard this project always questioned why we were not more known worldwide. So, for the album represented to the public thirty years later is undesirable and we are hoping it revamps some more interest. It brings a tremendous sense of pride, and it reunited a friendship between my original drummer and me.
RESPECT.: What is your favorite song that you wrote on the project and why?
I would have to say [the title track]. I had the opportunity to write the entire song, the lyrics, arrangement, and some of the production. So, it is probably my favorite single from the album in regards to writing.
RESPECT.: Has anyone ever approached you about ghostwriting on a project?
No, and I do not know if that is something that I would want to do because to me it is uniquely personal. People are always telling me that I should sell my music because I am still writing new material, but it is funny I could sell the song itself. The lead guitar work is another story; I would like to keep that to myself. I have an R&B background, and I have taken modern day Hip-Hop and R&B and put in Hard Rock with the base added on top of it. The one thing I do not like about transition music, there is no soul, and it is all sampled music.
RESPECT.: Will you be going on tour with any of the original band members besides yourself?
I would not say a full tour, but we plan on doing a reunion show here in Los Angeles at one of the local rock venues.
RESPECT.: Being that Panther was a band that had to work their way up the music circuit, what advantages do you feel your group had compared to the artists that now are a part of the pay to play scenario in the music business?
It funny that you bring that up — this is an excellent question — because we came up just before the pay to play era. In my opinion the advantage we are more seasoned, polished, and more professional. By the time you worked your way up the ladder and become a headlining act in Los Angeles, you are considered a seasoned act. If you started performing on a Monday in the 5 to 10-minute slot and went through not being able to sell out the venue to become an act that brings a crowd in every night. You are playing 30 to 50 shows a week, you are going to be a very polished act in comparison to some that are just paying to be on stage. They are not seasoned, and they’re not flawless performing on stage. Unless you are extraordinarily gifted and are able only to blow the crowd away. For me, I have been working towards it my whole life. In fact, the first time I performed on-stage I actually, fell off the stage. So, it is a considerable advantage on how to work a crowd building your way up the circuit. In comparison to just shelling out money to perform on stage in a showcase type of setting.
RESPECT.: Why did the band decide to get away from their roots and try to change its identity?
Another excellent question as well, I think we decided to go in another direction because the music was changing. It was during a time where there was a lot of hard rock, melodic heavy metal and when we initially released the album. We were competing against what I like to call glam rock when we were working on a deal for the second album. It is more a commercial type of rock music, but still has a hard edge to it. So, we thought it was similar enough to our style and tried to take advantage of the look and the feel. We were looking at it to be more popular and successful and the way you worded the question correctly as we were moving away from our roots. The concept just did not work and did not feel the same. When the band came together, it was my drummer and me; we worked on a lot of the material in a rehearsal studio. The group was looking for a bass player to join us, and it seemed like we were playing together forever. It became the same feeling when we added the vocalist, and the type of music that we were playing is the same style we gravitated towards as a whole. Transiting into another form of music was detrimental to the band and nearly break us up because some of the band members did not want to play that type of music. It led him to quit and move on to something else away from the band. The energy was not the same, and we tried to add more members, but the chemistry was not the same. I was talking to my drummer, and no one would have known how big we could have been if we decided to stick together. After the release of the first album.
RESPECT.: Are there any of your fellow musicians you would like to work in the future?
I have always been open to working with anyone, and if individuals begin to realize that we are still making music, it will present its opportunities. There are a variety of musicians that I would like to collaborate with, but by name, I have never really thought about having to work with someone based on their name. As a musician, it is all about how things come together through the creation process. If something were present to me, I would like to be a part it, but I have not thought about it from that perspective.