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Together Pangea, Lala Lala at The Ritz

In Music
GET IT TOGETHER: Danny Bengston, left, had to take a break from the road back in 2015. Now he’s back, two years sober and looking forward to making music.

GET IT TOGETHER: Danny Bengston, left, had to take a break from the road back in 2015. Now he’s back, two years sober and looking forward to making music.

Back in 2015, L.A. psych rockers Together Pangea almost played San Jose. That October, they were booked to headline a night of C2SV at then-recently-opened Cafe Stritch. Up until the last second, that was the plan. Then something more important happened.

“I ended up going to rehab. That canceled the show,” says bassist Danny Bengston over the phone.

At the time, the band was starting to move up in the world. They had just recorded an EP with Tommy Stinson, the bassist of legendary indie rock group The Replacements, and it was set to be their biggest release yet. They would have come to San Jose as promotion for the record.

But things in those days were tumultuous. Bengston describes the time as “pretty intense,” saying he went through a series of bad experiences due to drug and alcohol. His friends started taking note. There was an intervention. Then rehab.

Now on the other side of it, things are going well for Bengston and the band. Shortly after his rehab stint, Together Pangea began seeing their tunes featured on TV and in film, including a promo video for the HBO series Animals. Despite the high profile feature, Bengston is modest.

“We’ve been lucky enough to have some fortune in the publishing world,” he says.

Last year, the band released Bulls and Roosters, their lushest, and most fully realized record to date. Over the course of 13 tracks, Together Pangea carves out a space between Ty Segall and Fidlar, crafting acid-fried melodicism like the former, and combining it with the stylistic sensibility of the latter.

Album-opener “Sippy Cup” is an immediate standout, with its tightly coiled verse and catchy guitar lead. “If the world’s on fire, how come I feel so at ease?” singer William Keegan asks in the song’s chorus. This apocalyptic shrug sets the tone for the rest of the LP.

Though things have been going well for them lately, there’s a sense that things are still a bit in flux for the band.

When we speak, Bengston is in Mexico, where he’s gone on a trip to buy medicine. It’s an experience many musicians and freelancers can relate to, the result of America’s preference for the word “industry” in the phrase “health care industry.”

“I’ve been coming to Mexico for a long time anyway,” Bengston says, adding that the band would regularly skip San Diego on tour to play Tijuana, a city they’ve enjoyed returning to over the years.

And as a band, Together Pangea are in their own kind of border state: a period of creative flux brought on by a set of recent studio experiments—demos that may be the start of a full-length, or perhaps an EP. Bengston isn’t sure.

“It’s completely different from anything we’ve done before,” Bengston says. “There’s a lot of new instruments on there. There’s a lot of like glockenspiel and marimba, keyboards and synths and saxophone. We all feel pretty excited about this thing. It came out better than any of us could have hoped.”

Those recordings were completed earlier this month and mark not just a stylistic change for the group, but a fundamental one for a live band.

“I don’t even know how we’re going to do a lot of these new songs,” he says. “There’s a lot of planning and instrumentation we’re going to have to figure out.”

For now, they’re still playing the material people know. But it’s clear that the new songs have lit a fuse under the band.

As he prepares to drive back across the border, Bengston, now two years sober, reflects on what will be his band’s first San Jose gig. “We’re just really stoked to be able to be fortunate enough to keep touring and play shows for people,” he says.

Together Pangea
Mar 17, 8pm, $13+
The Ritz, San Jose
theritzsj.com

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