Perhaps best known as the bassist with 2 tone and ska legends The Specials, Horace Panter has also garnered a reputation in creating pop art. He discusses the confluence of the two in his life.
Your interest in Fine Art proceeded your involvement with The Specials. And you’re still involved in both. Is there a natural balance between the two and how do they inform each other?
I’ve always believed that pop art was to the art world what punk rock was to the music world so in a lot of ways I really relate the creativity of art and music very closely together.
If you take the abstract impressions and the deep secrets of philosophical thought that swept the nation and then recognise how anarchy just blew everything out the water, it’s easy to see how the two go hand in hand. It’s a tenuous but conceptual link I think.
The way that I deal with my art especially in terms of marketing its very similar to music in a way.
If you have a great band you don’t keep them hidden away in practicing in a studio do you? No, you unleash them on the world. I feel similarly practical and pragmatic about art. Many people believe that to make money from art is impure and that you should wile away your days starving in a garret – I don’t. I love the work that I do and how others receive it
You’re bringing your artist friends, Morgan Howell and Chris Barton, along to this exhibition also. In what capacity?
Cassette vs Vinyl is an equal partnership, a complete collaboration.
Morgan does the giant facsimiles of vinyl, Chris creates supersized cassettes and I paint. It works well as we don’t step on each others toes but it all fits together well because each of us are taking the premise of Music as nostalgia and treating in a different way. As a result, the whole is greater than the sum of the total parts and it just works brilliantly
The fears and manifestations of Ghost Town is still evident in Brexit Britain in some respects. Does this surprise you after all these years?
Injustice has always been timeless though I do find it odd that the lyrical content is still prescient today. I think good songs always stand the test of time when the subject matter remains so relevant
Who are you currently listening to?
I’m fascinated with Country Music at the moment and I’m unusual in the way that a lot of what I read informs the music that I listen to rather than the other way around. I’ve been listening to Nashville singer Margo Price an awful lot lately and her album MidWest Farmers Daughter
It’s books like The Flatlanders by John T. David that influence me heavily and make me want to write songs even though I’m not a lyricist
What’s your desert island song/album?
Song: Roadrunner – Junior Walker and the All Stars
Album: Exile on Main St – The Rolling Stones
Last gig you went to?
I went to see Alejandro Escovedo, a Mexican American rock musician and the Godfather of Americano in Nottingham recently. He was spectacular.
Do you collect art? If so, by whom? One piece you wish you owned?
My life’s obsession is to collect art and amongst my most prized pieces are a print by Peter Blake and a print screen by Bridget Riley. I also have a bespoke illustration by Eric Keyes, an illustrator of The Simpsons of my wife and myself sitting amongst the Simpsons on that famous couch. It’s not worth anything but it tickles me, I love it.
If I could own any piece it would be Richard Dadd’s The Fairy Feller’s Master Stroke. It was of huge influence to Peter Blake and every time I’m in the Tate I stand in front of it for at least a half and hour at a time and marvel at its intricacies.
Cassettes versus Vinyl?
Vinyl – I think any child of the 60s who listened to pirate stations as I did would choose the same. It’s impossible not to have a deep visceral connection with circular black plastic!
Words: Michael McDermott