By Keith Sharp
Life is a challenge when you decide to launch your own pop group, especially when you happen to be just 12 years old at the time! Winnipeg’s Braedon Basseo can attest to those trials and tribulations. Now a nine-year veteran of guiding his Panicland band to prominence in the midwest, Basseo, still only 21 years old, his 17-year old brother, Riley (guitar/backing vocals), high school friend Ian Wilmer (bass) and new drummer Travis Hunnie have just released the band’s second single “Bad Word” totally written and produced by Basseo.
“We’ve had our roadblocks along the way,” laughed Basseo on the phone from Winnipeg. “Because of our age, there were limitations on where we could play so we did the usual battle of the bands events, shopping malls, anywhere we could find an audience.
Formed by Basseo and two East Kildonan high school friends plus one associate from a rival high school, his younger brother Riley finally replaced the original guitarist when he was 16 and the existing lineup was completed with the arrival of current drummer Travis Hunnie.
A product of the social media universe who have cultivated a fanatically loyal local following built on twitter, face book, snap chat, instagram and other internet devices, Panicland realized early in their formative years that they would have to compensate for not being nationally known outside of their Winnipeg base.
“We built our fan base from scratch,” allowed Basseo. “When we put on a performance, we want everyone to have fun. We realize that our audience don’t come to be dazzled by our musicianship, they just want to feel good and be entertained. We’ve had so many people tell us they’ve loved our show and asked when are we coming back to play in Winnipeg again. They don’t realize we are from Winnipeg”.
It was Glen Willows, former guitarist for CBS recording band, Harlequin who discovered the band and initially offered to tutor them. “He gave us our first big break. His advice to me was write,write,write and record demos, just keep writing and recording,” Basseo offered. “Then he introduced us to key industry personnel like Gavin Brown (The Trews, Billy Talent), Johnny Mack and Keith Harris (Black Eyed Peas) who are working with me on the writing process. Even If I don’t end up using their songs, it is a great writing experience for me.”
As much as Basseo likes the idea of writing and recording full albums, he is very much aware that in the current social climate, it’s all about releasing singles. So it is no surprise that Panicland have so far just released two singles; “Runaway”and “Bad Word”.
[styled_box title=”Panicland – Bad Word” color=”black”][/styled_box]
“Especially with the kids, they have an attention span so short, they only care about a single and then they want the next one next month,” he allows. “So it is important for us to get exposure for our singles by doing the radio tours, then that will allow us to expand our reach and do some proper concert tours.”
Having fully embraced social media, Basseo promotes the effectiveness of what he calls `The Heard Principle’. “If you hear a song and like it and you go on twitter and find out that thousands of other people also like it, then it just makes you like it more. It’s a principle we try to apply to our own singles.”
Although Panicland have only released two singles at the present time, Basseo claims to have written more than 2,000 songs and the majority of the band’s set list comprises of originals although they like to infuse some covers, especially classic Motown tracks.
With Willows (who also represents Remy Shand, Ash Koley and Inward Eye) managing Panicland, and Willows’ former Harlequin bassist partner, Ralph James, head of the group’s United booking agency, these Winnipeg youngsters should soon be spreading their net nationally. They already boast over 27,000 Twitter follows and hundreds of thousands of Youtube followers throughout Canada.
“We want to get out there and play colleges or high schools but I think any touring will be a lot better if we have a single on the charts, “Basseo concluded. “ I think the biggest mistake we could make is to try to expand too soon.”