LO PAN “Big Riffage In Little China” 

By the Great Sun Jester

Lo Pan has returned with a new EP release entitled In Tensions and the same mix of power, intelligence, and chops characterizing their earlier releases are fully represented on their new offering. This is one of the pre-eminent hard rock/metal bands working today and well-tested road warriors who continue to build one of the most impressive discographies in modern rock music. Wormwood Chronicles recently scored an opportunity to discuss the new release with drummer Jesse Bartz and the conversation provides any fan with a clear insight into why Lo Pan is continuing to satisfy longtime fans and building steam with each new release. 

WORMWOOD CHRONICLES :Lo Pan’s songwriting has always carried a touch of the personal lacking in many of your peers. Without expecting you to delve too deeply, how does personal experience inform the songwriting on In Tensions?

JESSE BARTZ :Jeff our singer writes a lot of lyric content based around personal experiences and mental growth. He would probably be able to answer this question better. I assume most of the "In Tensions" subject matter falls into the same categories and reflect the different accomplishments and struggles we went through at the time of writing that material.   

WC: Why an EP at this point? How should "In Tensions" be viewed in the context of what has come before?

JB: This material was written with our former guitarist Adrian. It is the only stuff we recorded during the year and half he was with us. 

WC: Any personal favorites off the EP?

JB: I like them all for different reasons. "Go West", "Sink or Swim", and "Pathfinder" are stand outs to me.

WC: Some songwriters rarely listen to their studio work again after its finished and released. Do you ever find yourself listening and reflecting on previous releases and what might have been improved?

JB: I am the drummer so I usually listen to a ridiculous amount of pre production demoing and practice recordings. By the time its finished I usually listen to it once or twice and never again really.  

WC: A lot of people spend their time bitching and moaning about the state of the music industry and modern music in general – often with good reason. Let’s turn that around, however – what does modern music and the industry still get right? Has anything improved since Lo Pan first began?

JB: We started in 2006 so social media and internet streaming have all made huge advances since then. I think there are big pluses and minuses to being more connected. From a band perspective it makes it very easy for people all over the world to instantly hear and check out what your band is doing. When something is good it takes a lot less time for a much larger community to connect and digest it. On the other hand it has made us as a society much more ADD and always desiring "Instant Gratification". It has now become the standard.

WC: Have lineup changes brought Lo Pan closer to realizing the band’s musical vision or is that something you consider long established and new members have been chosen based on their ability to complement that?

JB: I think it has actually molded our perception or vision. It has definitely made us stand stronger in our opinions and beliefs in what we want to create. The lineup we have now really seems to fit the most natural. We are all on the same page writing wise and really enjoy playing music together in this combination. I think going through the experiences we have had in the past with others has given us a good perspective on appreciating what we have now and how well we work together. 

WC: Looking back on the band’s history so far, where do you see or want the band’s musical future to go? Any new directions? Or is it simply a matter of being songwriters and players still chasing after that ideal musical moment?

JB: I think any creative person is always setting new goals. We tend to shy away from pre determining or pre fabricating things. We will be writing more new music, touring, and recording again. 

WC: For someone who has never experienced a Lo Pan show, what can they expect on the band’s forthcoming dates? Will you be playing selections from "In Tensions" or looking to perform the EP in its entirety?

 JB:We are playing some material from "In Tensions" every night. We are also going to be playing some of the new material we are currently writing.

WC: A new or old album you recently heard for the first time that blew you away?

JB: Currently I have all the Candiria albums on repeat. I think "300 Percent Density" is my favorite. If you're a drummer and you have not heard Ken Schalk (original drummer) you are missing out.

WC: Anything, in closing, you might want to say to longtime Lo Pan fans or possible new converts?

JB: Thank you for the continued support and we hope to see you out on the road in May. Stop by the merch booth!