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A Dirty Dozen with TED FELICETTI from DON’T PANIC – September 2021

| 3 September 2021 | Reply

According to a recent press release: “Pennsylvania’s rising pop-punk rockers DON’T PANIC are gearing up to release their second full-length album, Dark Horse, on September 3rd. Today, the band reveals the record’s third single, “Ramona,” which is available for streaming everywhere. Formed in 2019 and named after the Douglas Adams’ favorite novel of founding vocalist/guitarist Ted Felicetti, DON’T PANIC began as an endeavor where making genuine, fun rock and roll music came first and everything else second. Joining Ted were Keith Slader (bass), AJ Larsen (guitar), and Anthony Paesano (drums). Based out of the Poconos in Northeast Pennsylvania the band quickly began recording their debut full length album See Through it All which was self-released on Nov 27th, 2020 and was followed by tour dates supporting bands like Bowling for Soup, Face to Face, and Bigwig. After a year of the world being locked at home DON’T PANIC is now releasing their follow up and second full length album, Dark Horse on Sept 3rd, 2021 which draws heavily on the bands combined influences including Foo Fighters, Bayside, Lit, White Reaper, Motion City Soundtrack, Millencolin, Face to Face and many others.” We get singer / guitarist Ted to discuss new music, influences, and more…

1. Tell us a little about Dark Horse.  What might a fan or listener not grab the first or second time they listen through?  Are there any hidden nuggets you put in the material or that only diehard fans might find?

Hmmm, that’s an interesting question. Dark Horse is certainly an interesting album for us. Being our second and all, there is always a bit of pressure put on to at the very least match your first album. I think we have far exceeded that however. I don’t think there is anything too hidden in the music itself. We try and really put everything we have out there. I think if anything, after enough listens through you will really start to hear my writing influences stand out a bit, especially because its such an amalgam of things i love from The Beatles and ELO to my punk rock roots like Face to Face and Millencolin.

2. What got you into music, and can you tell us about the moment you realized you wanted to be a musician?

When I was young my dad used to do the cover gig thing at local bars and I would go and watch him when I could. I knew I wanted to play guitar and had an aptitude for singing. It’s actually kind of funny because I realized I wanted to be a musician the first time I saw Back to the Future. The scene at the Under the Sea dance where Marty plays “Johnny B Goode.” I was like.. I wanna do that. It was the first song I actually tried to learn how to play. Over 20 years later and I still can’t play it right. A few years later in the late 90s I saw my first punk rock show at a local firehall. The band Bigwig was headlining and my friends band at the time was opening. After the night I knew all I wanted to do was tour and play in a punk rock band.

3. Building on that, is there a specific song, album, performer, or live show that guided your musical taste?

Not a single one. But there are definitely a few of each. The Beatles started it all for me. I think specifically their Abbey Road album. The B side medley is still one of the best pieces of music I have ever heard in my life. Jeff Lynne and Electric Light Orchestra are another big one for me, although they were basically a continuation of the Beatles in the 70’s. Foo Fighters Colour and the Shape, Lit A Place in the Sun and Face to Face’s self titled album basically have guided almost all of my modern musical taste outside of that stuff.

4. If you could call in any one collaborator to do a song with, who would it be, and why?

Dave Grohl. Even though I honestly haven’t been over the moon with the last few Foo Fighters releases he is just my musical idol. The first 2/3rds of the guys personal catalog are some of my favorite songs and records of all time. I mean have you heard the singles off Nothing Left to Lose and Wasting Light? And then obviously if we were working on a song together I’d have the opportunity to put a bug in his ear to have us open for them.

5. What is your favorite activity when out of the studio and/or not on tour?  What do you like to do to unwind?

I work a lot (when there isn’t a global pandemic) and that def takes up a good chunk of my time. But I really do enjoy hanging out with my gf Sara watching Red Letter Media’s Youtube channel a lot. One of my other hobbies that has taken up a lot of my free time is playing Magic: The Gathering. Yes, that nerdy card game. I used to play it in person more and at tournaments, but now it’s mostly relegated to playing online. I also really love board games. Especially strategy ones like Axis and Allies. I should probably find some more stuff to do outdoors. I do really enjoy swimming in pools with some BBQ and a beer though. I’d love to play some baseball… but I just don’t know 17 other people.

6. How would you describe your music to someone who’d never listened to you before? What is the one comparison a reviewer or fan has made that made you cringe or you disagreed with?

I usually describe our music to people as a solid mix of Bayside meets Millencolin with some Foo Fighters sprinkled in. Whenever I’m explaining it to someone over 50 or who only listens to top 40 music though; I usually just say we sound like Green Day haha. We don’t even, but how do you explain our sound otherwise? I had someone one time tell me we were a ‘punk rock’ Boston because of our harmonizing guitars and vocals… and I freaking loved that. No comparisons that I can recall that really made me cringe or be genuinely confused though.

7. When your band is hanging out together, who cooks, who gets the drinks in, and who is first to crack out the acoustic guitars for a singalong?

This is easy. Keith cooks. He’s worked in restaurants all his life and he is an excellent cook. It’s usually me or Keith as the first person to crack a beer and get that going. As far as the acoustic singalong… you’d be surprised but it would actually be our drummer Anthony. He loves to play guitar and sing.

8. When was the last time you were starstruck and who was it?

So in 2018 we flew down to Florida for my grandma’s 90th birthday. We were late boarding the plane and just made it in time. Literally the last people in line. As I was standing there at the plane door, Sara sneakily signals for me to turn around. Someone had gotten in line to board right behind me. He had first class tickets on the flight. I turned around and looked up. It was the one and only Hulk Hogan. 8 year old Ted got so excited that 34 year old Ted didn’t know what to say. So I put out my fist and said ‘Have a good flight man’ and he bumped it and said ‘Have a good flight brother.’

9. What is the best part of being a musician? If you could no longer be a musician for whatever reason, what would be your dream job?

I’d say one of the best parts is the joy you get from seeing people you don’t even know connecting with something that you created and made. You are putting yourself out there, completely exposed and hoping that someone can relate or feel what you feel when you do it. There really is nothing more rewarding then playing a show and having a crowd singing the lyrics back to you. I think I’d try and be a director. For music videos or maybe even movies. I really enjoy doing that and think I have a bit of a knack for it.

10. What is one question you have always wanted an interviewer to ask – and what is the answer? Conversely, what question are you tired of answering?

Well this is a lazy one! haha. Something different like “What are your favorite places to eat on tour?” to which I would probably answer “Any BBQ place in Texas.” Ummm I dunno honestly. I’m not tired of any of the questions in particular but you know you always get the standard stuff. Who are your influences? What’s this song about? What’s next for the band? I think the ones I really dislike are the ones that there’s obviously no thought put into and feel copy pasted from the other interviews they do. So far you are doing a great job!

11. Looking back over your career, is there a single moment or situation you feel was a misstep or you would like to have a “do over,” even if it didn’t change your current situation?

I think my biggest regret (and I’ve literally written a song about this) is that after we originally started the band we went on tour for an entire year and released an EP. Right after that in 2011 we decided to take a little break. That wound up turning into 8 years of not touring or writing or playing music. I wish I could have that time back… and have kept it going. But I think that the break we took made my drive to succeed what it is right now.

12. If you could magically go back in time and be a part of the recording sessions for any one record in history, which would you choose – and what does that record mean to you?

I’d wanna go be a part of the recording of Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. It’s not even my favorite Beatles record, but holy hell the song writing and ingenuity on it is off the charts. I wouldn’t even wanna intervene. Just watch them figure it all out and come up with the crazy ideas they had right there on the spot. I’m not 100% into some of the trippy stuff they added in there, but that album sure does have some of the greatest pop songs of all time in it.





Category: Interviews

About the Author ()

ToddStar - that's me... just a rocking accountant who had dreams of being a rock star. I get to do the next best thing to rocking the globe - I get to take pictures of the lucky ones that do. I love to shoot all genres of music and different types of performers. If it is related to music, I love to photograph it. I get to shoot and hang with not only some of my friends and idols, but some of the coolest people around today.

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