The Panic Channel Make Official Debut for 103.1 Christmas Show

Independent radio station FM 103.1 celebrated its first anniversary with a bang on Thursday, holding an early Christmas Party in aid of the homeless at Key Club. With a stellar audio setup, great lighting and a large stage, the club continues to be a great venue for live music. Entrance cost only $1.03 with a can of food to help feed the homeless for the holidays, as fans flocked to see an all-star line up of rock stars and, as tends to be the vogue these days, a couple of new "super-bands" - The Panic Channel and Doheny - built from remnants of the big-time groups of yesteryear.

The Tints' Harley

But first on the bill were Malibu's The Tints, an all-girl power-trio who count Flea's daughter, Clara, as their drummer. Their style was bright, hard and melodic - clinical drumming blending with a solid, raw guitar sound (Harley) and keyboard riffs (Alex) that alternate catchy synth runs with hammered-out triads. Father Flea nodded along beamingly, while speaking to another Tints' fan in attendance, the famed Japanese recording star and currently extremely hirsute, Mr. Vincent Gallo. Despite happy acquaintances, The Tints could be a group to look out for in their own right - provided they spread their dominating middle sound into a fuller low end, and their songwriting progresses over time.

Veteran Axeman Billy Morrison, of Doheny

The hard rocking Doheny were next up, lead by Cult's former bassist, Billy Morrison, on guitar. Kick-starting the evening with a bolt of energy, Morrison's dynamic and energetic guitar playing fuelled a relentless set of heaviness. Fellow Englishman and frontman Jon "J.S." Clayden, also lead singer of England's beloved Pitchshifter, held vocal duties, and together, Morrison and Clayden forged a tangible presence at stage left. Unfortunately, Doheny's other members seemed out of kilter with the duo, and prevented a more realized, unified sound and image.

Navarro Dives on his Whammy Bar

Nonetheless, the band was tight and clearly well rehearsed. Soon a reliable formula repeated itself: a rhythm suggestive of Rage Against the Machine, set against sustained and gritty, Scott Weiland-inspired crooning - most evident in "So Right". With the Bonjovi-like acoustic ballad, "Dust", the band proved their musicianship and versatility, but their second number, "Drive Me", represented them best, and remains their highest chance for a single. Overall, Doheny entertained well through an added multimedia experience, Morrison's guitar antics, and Clayden's dry voice and drier English wit ("did anybody bring food for charity?…Good, we're gonna eat it all") and presently teeter on that critical cusp for achieving larger success.

Chaney and Isaaks of The Panic Channel

After loud yearning, finally the audience got their headliners: The Panic Channel, the newest Camp Freddy / Velvet Revolver / Audioslave on the block, consisting of three-fourths of Jane's Addiction (guitarist Dave Navarro, drummer Stephen Perkins, and bassist Chris Chaney) and fronted by ex-MTV VJ and one-time "Tommy" actor, Steve Isaacs. Other than a couple of gigs at the Dragonfly, little fuss has been made over Navarro's most recent project, with the band recording at their own pace and mostly for themselves, aiming to tour around springtime. For these old-hand rock stars, this collaborative project seems less about commerciality, image and groundbreaking, than each member contributing to playing music they enjoy.

Guitarist Dave Navarro

Tattoo-ridden and nipple ring galore, rock veteran Dave Navarro entered greeting the crowd with an eminently raised horn-fist, that symbolic gesture familiar to rock fans the world over. As they played into their first official performance, The Panic Channel seemed remarkably close knit. The band opened with "Go On", a riveting, explosive song full of the kind of heavy riffage and intricate lead work fans have come to expect from Dave Navarro. The guitarist tirelessly ran around stage inciting his band mates, one moment playing next to Perkins, elevated on his drum throne, the next, leaning back-to-back with Chaney; his movement alone forced the audience to follow the sound's bigger picture. With the slower, sit-down piece, "Outsider", followed by the embodiment of hard rock in "Bloody", The Panic Channel closed with a lengthy, complex finale entitled "Night One". A particularly challenging structure for the rhythm section due to multiple changes, the band played through it admirably, forming a lasting impression on the attendees that evening.

Doheny Frontman, J.S. Clayden

Though rightfully weary as many might be of debut performances, the night seemed an exception because of the years these musicians have played together on the scene. And yet, for all their individual accolades and tightness on the night, the addition of Isaacs must necessitate the search for a completely different identity. Though technique and comfort grow over a musician's career, they typically come at the expense of musical naiveté, risk-taking, inventiveness and the blind enthusiasm of youth. The Panic Channel must continue to evolve and be newly transformed if they strive to be more than just the polished performers of a "super-group", and endlessly be compared to their superior first skins - Jane's Addiction, or, for those other popular bands of today - Cult, Guns 'n' Roses, Stone Temple Pilots, Soundgarden, Rage Against the Machine…

Perhaps the brightest future lies with The Tints?

The Panic Channel - Will They Improve?

For more information on the bands, please see their respective websites:,,


© All photographs by Paul J. Kowalski

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