If you’re under fifty years old and you’re reading this then you probably have little knowledge of what arena rock is. Even though it was popular in the mid 1970s with bands like Boston, Foreigner and Journey, the group Bang Camaro is currently attempting to resurrect the genre. The band consists of an unset number of members that changes from tour to tour, but a conservative estimate would be that Bang Camaro is a rock band consisting of fifteen members. The band was founded by guitarists Bryn Bennett and Alex Necochea when they came up with an idea to form an anthem rock band a few years ago. Most of the members are from various indie rock bands around the Boston area and they have released two studio albums, the most recent being last fall’s Bang Camaro II. We recently had the chance to speak to one of the band’s masterminds, the aforementioned Alex Necochea, about all things Bang Camaro. If you’re looking for something new and unconventional then definitely check this band out.
You’re currently out on tour in the United States right now. How has the tour been going so far? Are you pleased with the crowd reactions?
Alex: Being on tour with Bang Camaro is always a good time. We played a couple showcases in Austin for South By Southwest that went very well. Since then we have done a few headlining dates with great bands like Leslie from Charleston, SC and our friends The Everyday Visuals from Boston. The crowds have been fantastic. Meeting fans, new and old, every night is one of the best parts of being in this band.
Bang Camaro has been active for a few years now. How did this very cool and original idea for a band come up?
Alex: It kind of happened by accident. Bryn Bennett and I met 5 years ago when we were both playing in local bands in Boston. Our bands would often play bills together and Bryn and I would find ourselves chatting about our favourite Ozzy and Metallica records. As luck would have it, later both of our bands had broken up so Bryn and I would get together, drink beer, and rip ridiculous guitar solos. We wrote a song called “Bang Camaro” that featured big power chords and solos. We asked a bunch of friends to come down to the studio and help us create a wall of vocals ala Skid Row, Def Leppard, and Motley Crue. We did it for fun and put the result on MySpace. To my surprise the song was downloaded close to 5000 times within a month. Soon local booking agents were calling to put on bills with Death From Above 1979 and The Misfits. The problem was we didn’t really have a band or other songs. So we quickly recruited the same friends who sang on “Bang Camaro,” put microphones in front of everyone and wrote a bunch of new songs in our rehearsal space – many of which eventually landed on our first record. Since then the phone hasn’t stopped ringing and we’ve been able to take our rock ’n roll circus all around the country. I am constantly amazed at the opportunities that come our way.
The sound of Bang Camaro is of course nothing quite like anything out in mainstream rock and roll. Can Bang Camaro be interpreted as a sort of statement against all of the relatively similar rock and roll that’s popular right now?
Alex: I suppose it could but we never set out to make a statement. We started this band as an excuse to make ourselves t-shirts that said “Bang Camaro” on them and hang out with our friends. If anything, we set about to right the wrongs of the music of the 70’s and 80’s that we love so much. There were a lot of great pop hooks and strong song writing back in those days. So much of that was overshadowed by really bad lyrics, poor wardrobe choices, and teased hair.
A great way to get music out these days is through video games and you’re doing just that with the song “Revolution” which will be featured in the upcoming Sims 3. How did you end up getting this song included in on the game?
Alex: You’re totally right. Having our music in video games has been a great way to get our music out there. Steve Schnur and his team at EA Games signed us to a publishing deal early this year. EA and their publishing entity, Artwerk, have been incredibly supportive of Bang Camaro. The plan is to feature more of our songs in upcoming game releases this year.
Now not only do you have “Revolution” appearing in Sims 3, but you’ve also contributed a few songs to both Guitar Hero and Rock Band. With the record industry continuing to struggle, do you think video games can be a saving grace for getting rock and roll out to the kids?
Alex: I think video games are a major part of the story. When I was a kid I discovered new music by listening to the radio, watching MTV, and reading Hit Parader magazine. There weren’t that many outlets for discovering new music. It was easy to find something good and stick with it. These days there are so many ways for kids to discover new music. It’s no wonder we live in an ADD culture. Now with video games, everyone can discover music, new and old, and interact with their favourite bands and songs in a meaningful way. If that translates to sales for artists, then that’s a good thing. I am very lucky to be a part of this new tradition. I’m excited to see where it will go.
What is the writing and recording process like in Bang Camaro? Who are the principal songwriters/contributors?
Alex: There is no formula for how we write material. Sometimes me, Bryn, Pete, or Doz will bring a guitar riff to the rehearsal space and we’ll all dive into it together. Other times songs are inspired by something funny or interesting someone may say in the van; essentially, we’ll kick things off with an inside joke. Or, at times, me, Bryn, and Pete have brought fully realized songs to the band.
Your latest record Bang Camaro II just came out this past year. How do you feel about the record? Are you pleased with how it turned out and the reaction it’s received?
Alex: I am happy with the new record. I put in a lot of sweat and tears getting that record finished. We didn’t give ourselves that much time to write and record. Essentially, we agreed that we would write and record the entire album in a matter of 2 months and that is exactly what we did. There is a raw urgency in the sound of the album that was dictated by the time restrictions we placed on ourselves. The reaction so far has been great. We gave our fans a lot of guitar solos and choruses they can headbang and fistpump to… while also allowing us to grow a bit and stretch the concept of the choir a little. That’s why there are more lyrics and harmonies this time around.
How do you think Bang Camaro II compares with the band’s debut album? What do you think is the main difference between the two records?
Alex: I feel Bang Camaro II holds up very well as a follow up. The first record was completed over a period of a year with a lot of different vocalists and instrumental contributors. We didn’t set out to make a record the first time around rather we managed to amass enough material in the first two years the band was together to justify releasing a collection. The second record was written and recorded by a band that had been on the road for 2 years. We had all the same guys who toured with us write and perform on this record. Bang Camaro II documents the band as a full 14 person ensemble rather than the recording project/beer fest that was our first album.
I saw an advertisement on your official website looking for people to join the choir portion of the band. Do you always enlist a new team each new tour or are there any permanent choir members?
Alex: The economic reality of touring a band with many lead singers is grim. The truth is we don’t generate the revenue required to allow everyone involved in the band to quit their day jobs and be in the band full time. To get around this issue a number of our vocalists rotate in and out during tours. In order to supplement the band we have called on new blood to travel with us. Case in point, on our current tour we have two guys from Philadelphia that answered the call. Andre Coles and Sean Barry wrote to us as fans and we immediately replied “can you tour with us next month?!” And boom. They’re right here in the van with me now. To answer your second question, yes we have had a dedicated crew of permanent choir members pretty much since the beginning. Those are the sexy guys in our publicity photos.
What’s next for Bang Camaro? What does the band have planned for the rest of 2009?
Alex: Touring. We just released Bang Camaro II nationally last January through 8th Impression; a distribution label out of Chicago. So the plan is to stay on the road as long as possible or at least for as long as it makes financial sense for the band. Upcoming highlights so far include an opening slot on tour with Electric 6, a showcase at The Viper Room in April, a slot on Jimmy Kimmel’s show on April 24th, and hopefully a few appearances on this summer’s US festival circuit. Good times. [ END ]