5 Questions: Musician Mark Panick

Mark_J_Panick_Photo_by_Ren_Picco_Freeman Mark J Panick | Photo by Ren Picco Freeman

Mark Panick co-founded Bonemen of Barumba with Tom Jonusaitis in 1981. The band went on to release two EPs. The 1981 self titled Bonemen of Barumba EP was described by Steve Albini as “Barbeque music from hell”. In 1983 the group released Driving the Bats Thru Jerusalem. This was described as “ballsy and primitive” by Trouser Press In 1985 the band released an LP entitled Icons, on the Chicago/Philadelphia imprint Fever, which was distributed by the larger independent label Enigma Records.

The Bonemen of Barumba track Thick Promise  from Driving the Bats Thru Jerusalem appeared on the 1982 cassette compilation Sub Pop 7 and the tracks Barumba Intro and Government Money received airplay on BBC Radio One’s The John Peel Show on March 3, 1982. The band also received favorable press in the Los Angeles Reader, The Chicago Sun-Times amongst many others.
While fronting Bonemen of Barumba, Panick was in a short-lived group called Minority of One with Jeff Pezzati, the vocalist for Naked Raygun.

In 1987, Panick launched another musical project, Chac Mool, with house music/video wunderkinds Dave Anderson and Dean Anderson. The short-lived group, which featured members of the Revolting Cocks, KMFDM and Sister Machine Gun, recorded a single entitled Sex Sells, which was released under the moniker Xipetotec by Trax Records in 2011.

In 1990, Panick formed the band Razorhouse. They released 3 EPs, 2013’s Codex Jun and 2015’s Codex Du and 2018’s Codex Tres Lingua Mark Panick co-wrote the song King of the Hill with Nicholas Tremulis and has been affiliated with the bands Marrow Thieves, The Judas Horse, Black Friar’s Social Club and the Tom Waits tribute act Divine Prophets of Vaudeville. 

You can keep track of Mark on his Facebook page, the Razorhouse website, and the Lord Barumba YouTube channel.

1.What’s been keeping you up at night?

The rising thrum of nationalism and open racism & bigotry. It’s like having a huge angry wasp in my chest.

2. What’s the coolest thing you’ve seen or heard lately?

In terms of music, the past year two stellar stand out artists that I’ve seen recently were The Sadies and The Eels. I absolutely adore the Sadies and their storied past as the backing band for artists ranging from Neko Case to Jon Langford to Kurt Vile, those gentlemen can play… damn. Another artist I’m into now is Mr E from the Eels. I was very late to the party on them but I arrived and have been consuming Mark E Everetts songs — I can get a little obsessed.

On the visual art end I am still excited about Mike Egan’s artwork. It has a street art quality to it and sometimes feels like death propaganda posters. (I love that) Mike is or was a mortician. I licensed some of his art work for the first two Razorhouse EP’s, “Codex Jun” and “Codex Du”.

Wishing Us The Best Of Luck | © Mike Egan

Then on the personal-is-political side of things, through our all-volunteer group Refugee Community Connection we recently hit the number 50! We’ve now assisted over 50 refugee in their resettlement needs here. That, and a friend who received a clean bill of health after struggling for a bit. Two things that fall perfectly into my “good things” column. These days I try and hang on any happy or good news, its hard under this rising tone of ignorance.

3. What’s the most exciting thing you’re working on right now?

Art-wise I have three different recording projects active: Razorhouse, Black Friars Social Club, and Marrow Thieves. I’m writing and working on the fourth Razorhouse release to follow the recent success of Codex Tres Lingua. We really want to get this stuff out a little quicker. I also have been collaborating with my bandmates on basic song tracking for a Black Friars Social Club record. That band style is more singer-songwriter and lean toward darker 60’s and 70’s tones, wrapped around and weaved through contemporary stories. The recording closest to completion is Marrow Thieves, which is kinda out there in a Portishead-meets-smarmy-vegas electrovibe. It features the fantastic local artist (vocalist from Kinky Love) Miss Xoe Wise. She warbles and weaves a groovy vocal path under mine in two songs on the EP. Really looking forward to all these releases.

Secondly, and truly more important, is my family’s reaction to our current government. Right after the election my wife, my son, and myself started a grassroots refugee assistance organization focused on helping SIV refugees. SIV stands for Special Immigrant Visa; the SIVs are mostly folks who acted as interpreters embedded with our troops in war zones and happen to be from predominantly Muslim countries. We get alerted when a new family arrives and we help plug in the gaps where the refugee resettlement agencies and government agencies fail them. We have a whole community of amazing friends and volunteers that have all put their shoulders to the wheel to help. It’s really been inspiring, but especially my wife Nan. She is tireless with a heart to match. Without her there wouldn’t be a Refugee Community Connection. We are doing a refugee awareness benefit in Chicago at Gman Tavern (next to Metro) on Aug 2, we’re accepting donations of diapers and backpacks. Black Friars Social Club is playing, as well as Jennifer Westwood & the Handsome Devils, and Ramblin Deano. It’s gonna be both a hoot and a holler.

4. If you could add anyone, alive or dead to your team, who would it be?

Leonard Cohen and Glenn Campbell.

5. When the movie of your life is made, what will it be called.

Lost in Barumba,
The secret life of Harry Shunt,
Mostly apples.