Interview with Duane Okun and Lou Panico from Socratic: Trials And Tribulations

Former Drive-Thru Records artist Socratic have been quiet since their 2008 release, Lunch For The Sky, until now. After two years of writing and recording new tunes, the New Jersey band is releasing their first album in five years independently. Socratic will be available on Jan. 11 and the album’s release show will be on Jan. 14 at Maxwell’s. Supporting the veterans will be The Ugly Club and another band that has been missing in action for a few years, A Day At The Fair.

Despite lineup changes and leaving Drive-Thru, Socratic is joining the ranks to prove that one doesn’t need a label to put out quality music that comes from the heart. There is no better way to kick start the New Year other than with some new music.

In the following e-interview, guitarist/vocalist Duane Okun and bassist/vocalist Lou Panico discussed the new album, some of their biggest challenges in self-releasing a disc, a future music video (complete with spoilers!) and the 2012 apocalypse, all of which are great topics to discuss after a holiday.

What can fans expect at the show on Jan. 14?

Lou Panico: A collection of new tunes that we’ve worked hard on over the past two years as well as some of our favorite older tunes off past releases. It’s going to be a very meaningful show for us, and we are excited to share it with everyone in celebration of the new record.

Speaking of the new record and its release, where do you think it’ll take the band in 2012 and what do you hope it will bring?

Duane Okun: It’s hard to say, exactly. Getting back on the road is a huge thing for me. We were used to traveling a lot before recording this record, and being home for so long was not a normal thing. Hopefully it will bring some old fans back to us and some new ones as well.

Where in particular would you like to go once you guys get back on the road?

DO: Europe, back to Australia, as well

Any reasons why?

DO: My grandma is from England, so I would love to visit. Plus British music has shaped so much.

What bands in particular?

DO: Oh, you know… the real indie ones, like The Beatles.

LP: I fell in love with Mumford & Sons when they hit. I also grew up on The Who, and played Tommy in my high school musical. They hooked me up to a harness and flew me around stage. It ruled.

Your self-titled album comes out soon. What are you guys feeling right now?

LP: Excited and anxious to see how everyone is going to react to it. It’s been quite a bit since our last release with Mark Hoppus and I feel we’ve developed so much as songwriters since then. The fact that we did everything ourselves leaves me relieved and pumped that the release is finally here! I can’t wait.

What would you say the biggest problem in recording and releasing your self-titled album independently was?

LP: Second-guessing it. We tend to go a bit nuts in the studio when there’s nobody there to keep us in line. It was an amazing experience and we had a ton of fun, but without a third party to tell us when to stop it tends to spiral out of control once in a while. I’m sure we spent days on things that could have taken mere minutes if someone was there to tell us, “This sounds good, now let’s move on.” It’s comical to think back on the cynical bickering over the smallest details. You gotta love it! It almost felt like an episode of Behind The Music mixed in with a spice of The Real World.

How did you guys get yourself back in line without someone there to calm the waves?

DO: We’d go crazy for a bit. But eventually we would come to our senses about things. Usually it was about some stupid chord or one word in a verse, which no one would ever realize but us. You have to take yourself out of it sometimes.

Since the release of It’s Getting Late, what has been the biggest change in the band?

DO: One would be the piano; Vincent [D’Amico] joining the band was the biggest change. We were thinking in one way, then when he joined, he gave us something else to think about. Different chords and feelings. Hearing something played on the guitar and then having someone play it on piano is mind blowing to me. We were young, so our minds were blown often.

If Vincent never joined the band, what do you think would have happened?

DO: Who knows. Maybe we wouldn’t have gotten signed. Maybe we never would have written Lunch For The Sky. Maybe we would have been sucked into the sea!

Since we last spoke during the Project Greenroom interview, there was talk of a music video. Has that progressed? And when can fans expect to catch a glimpse of it?

LP: Indeed! We are touching up final edits as we speak. It’s going to be out for you guys Jan. 10, along with the record. You’ll be able to check it out at Spoiler alert: I think you’re going to get to see Duane in his underwear!

Other than Duane in his underwear, are there any more spoilers you can leak?

DO: The video takes place within the artwork of the record.

What song off of Socratic do you think relates the most to the direction of the band? What song off of the release would you say is your personal favorite or anthem?

DO: My personal favorite is “The Critics.” It’s heavy and has a nice point to it. Plus it’s the opening track and calls out the critics. Critique that!

LP: I’d have to say that “Curtain Call” would be my choice. It’s simple, heartfelt and timeless. As soon as I heard Duane play it I was hooked. “It’s a wonderful life after all.”

Are there any plans for another release in the future?

LP: Guess that will all depend on how 2012 pans out with the whole ending of the world apocalypse thing everyone’s talking about.

DO: Yeah, if the Antarctican Aliens don’t attack the United States.

Well, hopefully that won’t happen, but you could gain a few new fans off of the aliens I bet.

DO: They have no ears

That’s a bummer. So what can be expected on this release compared to the rest of your catalog?

DO: It’s the most eclectic of all our releases. Loud and soft.

LP: I feel that our past releases have all been pressed for time. This one was not. We really took our time experimenting with different instruments and different sounds that you haven’t heard from our previous records.

So you really stepped out of the box for this one?

LP: We had a few guest players on the record. Our buddy Taylor from a band called The Ugly Club played some horns on a tune called “Charlie Parker.” Our buddy Mike from The Embracers and Ryan Mcnulty played on some drum and percussion tracks when Tom was rippin’ on the guitar. We dove pretty deep into some orchestra and synth sounds as well, which we’ve never really had the opportunity to do before.

How would you describe Socratic as it relates to you and your life?

DO: To me it has to do with change. Don’t always look at things in one way. It does a good job of letting you know what we have been going through the last couple of years.

LP: I believe that the record is a true testament to how crazy and all over the place we truly are. The songs off this record were written in many different places over a strange period of time for us. We’ve certainly been through our share of trials and tribulations. The record is a strange mix of youth, sarcasm, harsh reality and the future. We touch on a bit of everything.

It’s going to be the type of record that you’re going to have to listen through a few times to truly grasp everything that’s happening. There are too many emotions and memories to count. But if it wasn’t for those around us who have continually supported us and our faith in music, then we certainly would not have a record at all.


Socratic will perform at Maxwell’s on Jan. 14. For more information, go to or