PANTARA-84 – Pantara-84 (2021) *EXCLUSIVE*
More and more of you have been asking for female-fronted melodic rock / hard / AOR music, especially from the ’80s. Today we bring you in exclusive the mid-Eighties recorded material from American all-girl melodic hard rock act PANTARA-84, unreleased until now.
Re-baptized PANTARA-84, this is the current name for a hard rock girl band from 1984-1987 that played to huge crowds in the NY / NJ club scene under the name of PANTARA (there’s a male band using that name now).
These songs were recorded and mixed at Electric Lady Studios in New York in the ’80s, and recently some were featured in the roller derby documentary “Live Free Skate Hard” released in 2021. This prompted to finally release these tracks now, and at 0dayrox we added some live tapes from our archives.
Pantara formed in 1984. In order to avoid trademark infringement with a guy band from Texas, they now go by Pantara-84, highlighting the year the four of them officially got together.
They are re-releasing some songs from that era because of its recent use in the Roller Derby documentary “LIVE FREE. SKATE HARD.”
And a reunion tour is in the works.
Bassist Sabrina Lauren remembered the early days of the band when she and drummer Barbara Sehr, a childhood friend, used to spend time at Sam Ash on Route 4 in Bergen County New Jersey, “We just liked to hang out and try all the guitars and drums.” One day, one of the guys who worked there approached Barbara and Sabrina to say he knew of a girl singer that was looking for a band.
Before long, Barbara, Sabrina and Leyna (Elena PM) got together to jam. It was 1982 and they were all around 16 years old. They brought in another friend, Dawn Stephans, to play bass.
At that point, Barbara was the only one with stage experience from playing in a band called Minimum Wage in 1980. But they practiced hard learning some covers and writing a couple originals.
In the beginning, Leyna and Barbara thought of the name Pantera, when they were stuck on the Garden State Parkway and a Pantera drove by – this was long before anyone knew who the guy metal band from Texas was.
Their first gig was at the Circus-Circus nightclub in Bergenfield NJ. They played “Can’t Get You Out of My Heart” by drummer Barbara Sehr, and “Black Champagne” by Sabrina Lauren, plus one or two others. They worked hard, practiced more tunes and managed to get a gig up in Albany.
They all realized they needed a lead guitar player to complete the band. Eventually, Sabrina would switch to bass and Dawn was let go. Dawn continued to assist Pantara’s Fan Club and was the MC of all their shows.
The girls placed ads in the Aquarian Music Paper and hung signs looking for a female guitar player. It was a sign in My Generation, a rock and punk clothing store in Rutherford, NJ, that caught Gina’s eye. Gina Grace Lugiano, a guitar player fresh out of Berklee College of Music. She was a serious lead player who could write songs, sing backups and play solos that rivaled many of the guys on the NY rock scene. When she came for the first rehearsal, the girls knew they were in for something good when she lugged in her half-stack Fender amp and black Stratocaster.
Magic happened that night – they all knew it. It was the summer of 1984 and they were going to take on the NY/NJ hard rock scene.
The band practiced three times a week, built a 13-song set of originals, and recorded a rehearsal in Barbara’s basement. They had a friend take a few band shots and the press kit was ready, so they set out to look for a gig.
The first place they performed was the infamous Traxx on 72nd Street in the upper west side of Manhattan. It was Labor Day Weekend – 1984. Traxx later hired the band for monthly Friday and Saturday night performances.
They were always working on their music – rehearsing, writing, spending hundreds of hours in recording studios such as Homegrown Recording Studios in NJ (where they recorded Torn Away from the Ladykillers album and other songs for their original demo); Broccoli Rabe Studio in NJ and finally Electric Lady Studios in NY where they mixed and mastered their final demo.
During the late 1980’s, most bands consisted of guys or guy bands with a female singer. The members of Pantara were concerned that no one would take a female band seriously. Sabrina recalled, “we wondered if we should dress like a guy band. Little did we know we were emerging with other female bands nationwide.” New York City rock clubs embraced them right from the start.
However, many of the guy bands weren’t so happy to be playing with a bunch of girls. When the girls played a gig at L’Amours in Brooklyn, the guy band became irate when they learned that they were actually opening for Pantara.
The girls played in booths at the 1987 NAMM show in Los Angeles, CA, jamming at both the Hartke booth and the DiMarzio booth with the likes of Jim Chapin and Miles Davis’ percussion section.
Press articles in numerous magazines included Guitar World, Metal Mania, Kerrang! and Rock Scene followed. They recorded two music videos, one at the Showplace in Dover, NY, and another two-camera video from a live show at the Paramount Theater in Peekskill NY.
Anybody know where that footage ended up?
They were never short of getting big audiences, many of whom were filled with the likes of Ace Frehley from Kiss, Bruce Kulick (Kiss), Anton Fig (Kiss), Billy Squire and his band, Billy Gibbons and Dusty Hill from ZZTop, and Joan Jett. Record company showcases soon followed at SIR and Top Hat Studios.
Finally, by the end of 1987, suggestions by record companies and individuals in the music business who were interested in the band at the time caused so much friction within the band that the girls just couldn’t move forward and decided to call it quits, with all four members moving onto different projects.
Now 35 years later, Pantara-84 is happy to release some of their music – recorded in 1987. A reunion tour in 2022 and possible album deal are in the works.
01 – Temper Temper
02 – Learn to Love
03 – Are You Ready?
04 – Stay Sane
05 – Blind Faith (Live)
06 – Living In Rhyme (Live)
07 – Nightmare (Live)
08 – No Place To Land (Live)
Elena PM (vocals)
Gina Grace Biver (guitars, backing vocals)
Sabrina Lauren (bass, backing vocals)
Barbara Sehr (drums)