The Poconos region in Pennsylvania is better known for heart-shaped tubs at honeymoon resorts, relaxing vacations and skiing than producing raucous punk bands. But pop-punk quartet Don’t Panic are addressing the balance with a catchy power pop punk sound that they describe as making them “your favourite band you’ve never heard of.”
The quartet of Ted Felicetti (vocals and guitar), Keith Slader (bass), AJ Larsen (guitar) and Anthony Paesano (drums) originally started out in 2009 and toured with The Ataris when a short break in 2011 ended up turning into a eight-year hiatus. That was until Ted was convinced back into the music scene by a rather famous friend.
As he tells us: “Two years ago my friend Jaret from the band Bowling for Soup heard our music and convinced me to start the band back up, so we did… right about the time the pandemic started!”
Regardless, the band set about recording their first full length See Through It All and released it in November, then immediately started work on their second album.
Our first taster from this is new single Woe I, which was released earlier this month. It opens up with a cool little riff and driving drums, which drop into verse of engaging vocals over stabbing guitars. That flows into a faster chorus of “Don’t blame me it’s my addictive personality, You can’t see it’s not what I want but what I need, I, Woe I,” which ends with a blast of punky guitars.
Second time around, the chorus extends and develops into a more melodic, laid-back section, which drops into a couple of choruses then repeats of “Woe I” over lively guitars bring the track to a close.
On the track, Ted tells us: “It’s been awesome! People really seem to love the song which is super exciting because its really just a preview of the new album. Expect awesome harmonizing Thin Lizzy style guitars with a pretty fun chorus melody. Think Millencolin meets White Reaper meets Lit.” Check it out in the video here:
Woe I comes from the band’s upcoming second album Dark Horse, which will be out on 3 September and on which Ted tells us: “Honestly that’s a bit harder to answer. Expect a really amazing full length album! It sounds super cohesive yet no two songs are really the same. We feel like this album really showcases exactly who our band is. It has an eclectic mix of songs that all still feel like they gel really well together. And then expect to have your face melted off.”
Until then, you can enjoy Don’t Panic’s debut album, which is packed with catchy pop-punk goodness like the deliciously anthemic Fall of ’99. It dives straight into backing vocals over lively guitars, which drop into a verse that increases in intensity and feeds into a big singalong chorus “We were rock and roll sinners, a hand-me-down sprinter with a twenty four of Blue Ribbon beers, All the drive-thru dinners, Blowin’ out the speakers to The Vandals, NOFX and The Queers, We only knew four chords and we knew for sure we’d be the famous by the end of the year, We didn’t notice, We didn’t see it at the time, No we didn’t know it, But we had it all back in the fall of ’99.”
A second chorus gives way to stabbing guitars and a fun guitar solo, which feed into a final blast of the chorus. Check it out in the entertaining talent show video here:
We also particularly like the sound of the rockier The Fix, which features intense vocals and funky guitar sections, and the lively Life of the Funeral, as well as Regret Is A Terrible Roommate, which you can check out below:
Don’t Panic’s music is heavily influenced by fellow punk bands like Bayside, White Reaper, Foo Fighters, Motion City Soundtrack and Lit. But Ted tells us his musical adventure started with the likes of The Beatles, The Eagles, Tom Petty, ELO before expanding to Green Day, Nirvana and then discovering punk bands like Face to Face, Bad Religion, Millencolin and Unwritten Law.
And on what inspires them to write music, Ted explains: “Life. Some people draw or paint or go drinking at the bar. This is how I cope with life and just get out anything I might be feeling inside. It’s much more therapeutic than screaming into a pillow.
“I honestly will write about anything that I feel like at the time. There are songs about feelings of inadequacies and not belonging, there are nostalgic songs about my youth, songs about people i used to care about and ones about people i care about now. Hell on the new album there’s even a song about Twin Peaks.”
There’s plenty to come from Don’t Panic, starting with two more singles in July and August ahead of their second album being released on 3 September. And you can pre-order the album on their merch store. They’ll have a hometown record release show in The Poconos on 28 August, which will be streamed on Veeps, then they’re off on tour supporting The Queers. They’ll then be opening up for Bowling For Soup on a tour of the northeast US, then play The Fest in Gainesville, Florida. And… there’s a rumour of a UK tour with an aforementioned band Ted has a friend in, which we definitely can’t talk about yet.
Photo credit: Tom Bonomo