This week, The Lion’s Den goes on tour and travels across the pond, thousands of miles away into the city of brotherly love, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. We had the honour of speaking with the awesome, Jordan Panfil, Lead Guitarist of American hard-rock band, Everlit. The main objective behind our conversation was to help visualise the difference of upbringings, thousands of miles apart. We talk tales of high school, transitioning into a Rockstar and the impact of the coronavirus on a band.
What is it like in Philadelphia?
To begin with I asked Jordan about his life in Philadelphia and what it was like growing up there. From the beginning, and throughout, of our conversation, Jordan spoke nothing but pride for his hometown of Philadelphia and happily gave me a more in-depth feel of its surroundings:
“I love Philly. It’s a really, really amazing spot. We’re very friendly and extremely passionate about things but it also has it’s quirks. It can be very fast-paced, and people are impatient. Basically, get to the point. Haha. Very similar in that way to New York. So you do have to be used to that. Overall though, the people are really nice, everything around here is awesome.”
Jordan also provided me with his take on the captivating seasons and visual beauty that hit his residence within the United States.
“You get all four seasons, which is cool. Sometimes I wish that I lived out in LA where it’s beautiful all year round, seventy degrees or whatever, but it’s nice to see some snow, and actually get fall, and spring - Those seasons are amazing. They’re visually awesome, like when you see the trees changing, and everything else. Yeah, I love it around here.”
The seasons that surround the area of Pennsylvania appear to be very stable compared to the ever-changing conditions of the United Kingdom. We were even compared to Seattle, Washington, as they have a reputation for having dreary weather, all year-round.
High School experience:
I wanted to understand the high school experience from someone who has attended such institutions. By comparing our encounters with separate educational systems, I was able to understand the similarities of the time Jordan spent in school, even though there was a decade and a three-and-a-half-thousand-mile difference.
“High school was fun. Ninth and tenth grade weren’t as fun as eleventh and twelfth once we kinda grew up and matured a little bit for the last two years, they were a lot of fun. For the most part our scene was skateboarding and hanging out with those kids. For me the music I grew up on was really Nu Metal. Bands like Korn, Slipknot, Incubus, all that kind of music. There was also emo stuff going on, but yeah, that was the scene we were in; skateboarding and listening to hard rock, metal, punk. All of those kids hanging out together.” – Jordan Panfil on his subculture.
As Jordan matured, he expanded his friendship circle more and more to create a more well-rounded feel to his personality. Hanging around with a more diverse range of adolescent cultures and just basically being friends with anybody that he could without condensing themselves into a single “Crew”.
“I think everyone gets bullied…”.
Quick to answer my follow-up question on bullying within his subculture, Jordan reflexed my question by confirming he has experienced bullying because of his alternative labels.
“I think everyone gets bullied at some point in life; unless maybe if you’re always the bully. There was some bullying, some mean people in high school. Again, it was more towards the beginning when we were the young kids in high school and trying to get our roots. We were, you know, kinda our own little group. Towards the end, when we were a little more outgoing, it was a little easier, you know? We weren’t getting bullied. I never did any of the bullying. I was always trying to be nice to everybody that I could be. I’d take in the kids that were feeling left out. I was always trying to be nice when I could.”
A testament to the kind-nature of the band and to the music genres that usually creates such welcoming subcultures such as goth, emo, and its alternatives. With being surrounded by similar personalities, our upbringings remained equivalent to one another. Being a friend to every spectrum from jocks to nerds was a credit to our successful combination of sporty and geeky characteristics of our younger selves.
“Yeah, it sucks, man. I don’t really get it. Like once you grasp the idea of what bullying is and how badly it can affect someone’s life, I just don’t understand why you would continue bullying? A lot of people are probably peer-pressured into bullying by other bully kids, and it’s kinda like that cycle. I just don’t get what feels good about making other people feel bad. It’s very weird, and sad.” – Jordan Panfil’s perspective of bullying
Along with brother and Lead Singer, Ryan Panfil, and Drummer, Jacob Castro, Jordan attended the local high school where he formed musical alliances with his fellow Everlit bandmates. Following their shared love of music, the band began taking music seriously around 1999 after discovering grunge-rock legends, Nirvana. It was in the ninth and tenth grade they began their maturity into the world of rock by listening to bands such as Metallica, Korn, and Slipknot, that really shaped who they were as people.
“The main, as far as an influence band goes, I would say the main one that took it’s largest hold on who we are would be the Deftones.”
Leading behind his brother, Ryan, Jordan set his sights on learning to play bass guitar for their previous band, Willpowerless, which would then transition into Everlit where Jordan also started out as the bass player before stepping-up as their lead guitarist. Whilst recording their first few tracks, they realised that the music they were producing needed two guitar players even though they were only a four-piece band at that point.
“Guitar is more fun than bass, in my opinion. That’s when I switched. Probably about five years ago, after our first EP, I moved over to guitar. Since then we’ve parted ways with our other guitarist, so I’m the only guitar player right now. We’re back to a four-piece, ha-ha.”
Jordan has always enjoyed writing music and has carried along dreams of being a professional musician but, as he matured, he finds more fun in just creating music and enjoying the split-life of a musician. Growing up, the dream of touring life of musicians was a constant goal but the shift into reality of the percentage of bands that are able to make a living within the challenging industry. Jordan and Ryan run a graphic design group and design many, if not all, of the bands artwork.
“It’s not an easy thing to do. We’re taking the opportunities that are given to us if they make sense. We’re just writing music, releasing it, and just having fun and enjoying it because we’ve gotten through tough times with music. We’ve fallen in love with music because of the way music can make you feel. That’s why we write music, because it makes us feel good. It makes other people feel good, it gives people a way to connect and relate, and it’s just something that we’ll always do regardless. It’s not a goal to be famous, it’s just a goal to write and have fun.”
Passion for the Environment:
Like most interviews, I wanted to know what connections they had when writing music. Many of their songs are deeply inspired pieces about past traumas and current environmental issues which contribute to the emotions of the entire band. Even though Jordan isn’t as influencing to their lyrics as fellow bandmates, Ryan and Jake, Jordan provides us an insight on the thought process of their lyrical construction:
One of the songs I mentioned was ‘The Call of Gaia’, it’s one of the songs that Ryan did the artwork for. It’s a topic that he is really passionate about. It’s about the Earth and what we’re doing to it. How we are completely terrorising and messing up the planet. So the song is about Earth, from Earth’s perspective. What we are doing to it and the pain we are putting it through. It’s an important topic for a different point of view. I think the overall tone for Ryan and Jake is to always have an inspirational message. About trying to keep your head up; stay positive; defeat your demons. That kind of thing. If there is one theme that is kinda consistent throughout our music, it would be that. But we do talk about a lot of different issues.”
Lead vocalist, Ryan Panfil, is also a credited photographer in his spare time, which helps you understand the passion he has behind the environment and the living creatures that inhabit this planet.
Here is a recent photograph of a tiny, white, jumping spider taken by Ryan Panfil and shared to the band’s social media accounts which shows the detailed presence and beauty of the arachnid.
The Impact from the Pandemic:
Aware of the current struggles of smaller bands, they are lucky to have the skillsets outside of musical ability. Jordan and Ryan run a company together, Jake is a known artist under the name, Fidelity, and Kyle runs his own business as well. Most importantly, an artistic vibe throughout the band members seems to have a bond between their work.
Unclear of the post-pandemic procedures, Everlit will continue to release music and try to keep an online presence for their loyal fanbase:
“We’re getting older and need to focus on other aspects of life other than just music. Especially with the pandemic and everything that’s happened, it’s completely annihilated smaller bands and their ability to get out and do things. So, right now we are doing everything virtually, everything social, just trying to keep releasing a new song every few months and just trying to stay relevant. I don’t even know where we would start with trying to tour again. Who knows? Our contacts might not even be around anymore. They may have been affected. I don’t even know where to start when the world goes back to normal or how long it will be before it goes back to normal.”
Finding the motivation to keep creating music has been a simple concept for the band as they’ve had pre-recorded songs before the pandemic from next album , Welcome to the Show. Their latest single, American Psycho, was actually rewritten from a previous album. Everlit knew that the current situations could cause strain on their ability to release a new album and remain relevant for the next few years, so they took the opportunity to dissect their album and release them as singles over the course of that forecasted time period.
“[releasing singles] really worked well because of the pandemic hitting and everything. We had a stockpile of songs that we could slowly release so that we had new music coming out for our fans. We also recorded three new tracks since the pandemic started. We basically go down for a weekend, knock out the songs and then come back. I’ll write the guitars, or the ideas behind the guitar that we want, and we just virtually throw them all around and come to the point to where our home pre-production stuff gives us a good idea of what we want, and then we go down to the studio and produce it a little bit. By the time we write them and record them with the producers, it’s a pretty fast, easy process. We can knock out three songs in two days.”
What’s next for Everlit?
All Everlit band members are aware of their popularity in comparison to larger bands and with that they are unsure on the future of touring opportunities. Previously mentioned, they have spoken with any of their contacts in sometime and are unsure if they’re still within that sector of entertainment.
“…as far as playing live and touring, I have no clue what we are gonna do. I don’t even know when it’s gonna go back to normal, Literally. Even if that works and we can get back out, and it’s worth going on tour, you’re playing venues that only have forty percent capacity. That’s just not gonna work. You need to make some money doing it, you need to play in front of people. It has to be worth it. So, for right now we’re just gonna keep writing music, keep recording, keep releasing it as singles, keep trying to be social and chat with people online. We don’t have a plan in regard to the reality of touring again.”
Everlit are on the brink of releasing their newest single, American Psycho. This track will be their first release of 2021 and is incredibly heavy. This single is very special as it also features Spencer Sotelo of American progressive metal band, Periphery!
“So, Spencer Sotelo of Periphery produced the vocals on basically the whole ‘Welcome to the Show’ album but he also features on American Psycho. He sings the bridge build up which he absolutely destroys. We’re definitely excited to put that out there. It was really cool to work with him. He got that section to do whatever he wanted on and he killed it! It sounds really, really good. - Jordan Panfil on working with Spencer Sotelo of Periphery.
Who else is excited for this track?!
We’d like to thank Jordan Panfil and Everlit for this in-depth experience and we would like to welcome them back into the Lion’s Den later in the year. It has been very exciting to share stories and compare the things we have in common. If you enjoyed this conversation, make sure you like the post and share it far and wide. There is over three-and-a-half-thousand-miles between us, I hope someone enjoys it!
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Twitter: @ITLionsDen / @DjTwitchx98