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This article was published 7/4/2015 (2258 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Many young musicians yearn to hit the road hard, to follow that runaway dream and chase it to stardom. But few of them actually put in the time, effort, and miles to do it.
But Panicland, a guitar-based pop band based out of East Kildonan, possess a honed pop sensibility and a work ethic that might just help carry them the distance to achieve those dreams.
"We’ve been playing every day but weekends," Braedon Horbacio, vocalist/guitarist and principal songwriter in the group, said from a tour stop in Medicine Hat, Alta., last week.
"We play high school gyms across Canada to about 800 to 1,000 kids per show," Horbacio explained. "It’s a huge learning experience to be on a tour this well thought out. There’s a big stage, there’s a lot you learn playing to big crowds every day rather than playing to clubs."
The tour, organized by LiveDifferent.com, brings positive messaging into high schools. For Panicland, it’s an opportunity not only to see the country, but to hone their chops on a daily basis playing to new audiences every day.
"It’s fun to play for a crowd who has no clue who you are," Horbacio said. "I like the challenge of having to win people over."
Panicland certainly enjoy a challenge. The band had its genesis in 2007 when Horbacio and bassist Ian Willmer met in a band program at Mar-Schell’s Music at 1143 Henderson Hwy. The rigorous program helped the two young musicians hone their chops.
While still students at Miles Macdonell Collegiate, Horbacio and Willmer worked with a number of drummers until they found Kyle Fox in 2012. Fox made the daily drive across town from Linden Woods to East Kildonan to rehearse, and the band started winning fans with their catchy tunes and high energy live performances.
With a couple recent self-produced singles to their credit, Panicland is starting to reap some of the rewards sown over years of hard work. Their most recent single, "Runaway," has received airplay on Virgin 103.1 and seems poised to pick up steam from there.
"It’s been doing really well, getting radio play across Canada," Horbacio said.
The band even shot and edited the video for the tune themselves.
While it is hard to deny the catchy choruses and radio-ready production of "Runaway," and easy to imagine it playing out of car windows aplenty this summer, much of the single’s success at breaking into the mainstream radio market has been Panicland’s savvy use of social media. The band make ready use of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other music-focused social media to engage with fans on a daily basis.
"That’s the nice thing about social media," Horbacio said. "You can send out a Tweet and it’s immediate, it just goes."
The second half of their LiveDifferent tour will see Panicland on the road until mid-June. Before then, the band — which is rounded out by Braedon’s 16-year-old brother Riley on guitar — is looking forward to a homecoming show at the Park Theatre (698 Osborne St.) on April 13.
The band even have a big announcement planned, though Horbacio was reluctant to divulge any of the details. However, he would say that Panicland has "a ton of new music planned" and is really excited to share it with their friends, family, and fans.
"We miss everybody in Winnipeg," Horbacio said. "It’ll be a really fun show. Come hang out with us for a few hours."
Panicland perform April 13 at the Park Theatre, with guests Paisley. Doors open at 6 p.m., show at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $10 in advance, or $15 at the door.
The Herald community journalist
Sheldon Birnie is the reporter/photographer for The Herald. The author of Missing Like Teeth: An Oral History of Winnipeg Underground Rock (1990-2001), his writing has appeared in journals and online platforms across Canada, the U.S. and the U.K. A husband and father of two young children, Sheldon enjoys playing guitar and rec hockey when he can find the time. Email him at email@example.com Call him at 204-697-7112