Dishing out a witty, lo-fi fusion of surf, garage rock, and punk, Tijuana Panthers are a trio from Long Beach, California who take reverb-soaked guitar lines, attach them to stripped-down rock & roll melodies, and approach the results with a playful attitude and playfully surreal lyrics.
The band's scrappy fidelity-challenged beginnings (as documented on 2014's Wayne Interest) gave way to a more polished studio approach and a greater instrumental cohesion on 2015's Poster, and they stretched their melodic ambitions on 2019's Carpet Denim.
The members of Tijuana Panthers -- Chad Wachtel on guitar, Daniel Michicoff on bass, and Phil Shaheen on drums -- first met when they attended the same church camp during their days in junior high; they shared an interest in surfing and skateboarding, and grew to be close friends. Sharing a passion for rock & roll, Wachtel and Shaheen played in a two-man band called the Pencils for a while, and Shaheen and Michicoff were bandmates in a group called the Fancy Lads before the three teamed up for Tijuana Panthers. The band made its recorded debut in 2009 with a 7" single, "Girls Gone Wild" b/w "Creature," and both songs would later appear on the band's debut album, 2010's Max Baker (named for one of Shaheen's neighbors, whose exploits in Mexico also inspired the band's moniker). In the fall of 2012, Innovative Leisure Records released another Tijuana Panthers 7", "Tony's Song" b/w "One Way Ticket" (the latter a cover of a track by power pop icons the Nerves), which was a preview of the band's second album, Semi-Sweet, which arrived in stores in November 2012.
The band toured extensively in support of Semi-Sweet, sharing stages with Thee Oh Sees, Ty Segal, the Reverend Horton Heat, and Jello Biafra, while also appearing at the annual Coachella Festival. In June 2014, Tijuana Panthers dropped album number three, Wayne Interest, via Innovative Leisure, and a little over a year later the band was back with its fourth full-length, Poster. A six-song cassette EP, Ghost Food, was released in 2016, and Innovative Leisure brought out a new edition of Max Baker in 2018. With 2019's Carpet Denim, the group explored less dated and more ambitious melodic frameworks without abandoning their passion for vintage sounds. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi