Exclusive Interview: Bang Camaro
The music genre in video games has absolutely exploded over the past few years, and innovative developers like Harmonix have led the way. Thanks to the likes of Guitar Hero and Rock Band, not only are musicians able to cater to a wider audience, but millions of gamers everywhere are quickly turning into hardcore music fanatics. In this way, it's a very positive phenomenon from the standpoint of both the artist and consumer.
On top of it all, music has become more crucial than ever in the video game world, so the benefits of this entertainment industry fusion are far-reaching. We touch on this, along with several other subjects, in our chat with the two founders of the band, Bang Camaro. An indie rock band out of Boston that has enjoyed a rapid rise in popularity, partly thanks to one of their songs appearing in Rock Band 2, Bang Camaro has already performed on The Late Show with Conan O'Brien and are quickly turning heads. Many hard rock and metal fans have certainly heard of the Troubadour, which has been another stop on the band's path to mainstream popularity.
If you've taken a gander at the preceding video (and you should), you will notice that Bang Camaro is quite unique. They've just recently signed on with EA Artwerk - EA's new studio constructed to deal with music in upcoming video games - and they've got a very bright future ahead of them (perhaps in both music and games). The following are PSXE's questions and the combined replies of founders Bryn Bennett and Alex Necochea.
PSXE: How many total members are in the group, and how do you keep everyone on the same page?
"It varies when we play live; I think it's between 20 and 25. We have our own message board that acts as intercommunications for the band. We also split the band up into 2 different camps - the instrumentalists and vocalists - that kind of rehearse separately sometimes. Like, Bryn and myself and just the drummer and bass player will start, then we’ll schedule another round with the vocals and then hammer out all the different harmonies later. Getting from Point A to Point B is a completely different animal.
As far as keeping everyone together: we’ll be on the road for 6 weeks hanging out as a band and the day we get back, we call each other up to figure out what we’re going to do for the day. So we'll hang out together all the time, and we’ve just lucked out with good friends."
PSXE: You’ve cited Elvis Presley and Buddy Holly as influences in addition to hard rock/heavy metal bands like Skid Row, Iron Maiden, and Dokken. That’s quite the combination...talk a little about your unique style.
"That influences list started as a way to name-drop; you know, tell everyone about the bands that we listened to when we were younger. But the list has been fleshed out since then, due to the large number of people in the band. We run the gamut of the history of rock and roll, so you’ll find all sorts of different fans in the band; yeah, we’re all huge music fans and we’ve all done our research on the history of rock and roll. Because we have so many people, that list gets pretty long.
When we started out, everyone was playing in different indie rock bands in Boston, then we came up with this idea for Bang Camaro. We said, 'how awesome would it be to start this huge rock band?' See, there's a postmodern touch to this, and there's actually an Art Professor in Savannah who teaches a course on postmodern art, and he actually singles out Bang Camaro as the epitome of "postmodern!" This all comes back around to me and sometimes I just say, how did we get here?"
We at PSXE are big fans of old-school metal, and we’re noticing a resurgence in that genre these days. Would you agree that the hard rock/metal scene is on the rise, or is it more of a struggle?
"I don’t think it’s on the rise; I just think there are two decades of nostalgia kicking in. But still, you don’t see bands playing the type of music that we’re playing that are our age. When we're out on the road, promoters willl decide they need a hard rock band to open for us, and we're like, 'no, we want a cool indie band.'" Instead, we sometimes end up playing with 45-year-old guys who butcher Kiss covers. Finally, after a while, the promoters understand that what we're doing is a different take [on music]."
How did you get into doing music for video games? How did that opportunity come about?
"Right situation, right time. When we were putting the band together, Harmonix was developing Rock Band 2 at the time and Harmonix is staffed in Massachusetts where we’re from. So a lot of the programmers there are local musicians and luckily, the Boston indie scene isn’t that big. At that point, when they were in the process of developing the game, we were playing around a lot. We're just really fortunate they asked us to submit a song.
Then, we had only been a band for like two or three shows but somehow, things took off really fast in Boston; we were playing to like 700 people at our shows! The video game angle wasn’t something we had planned on, but as soon as we heard we’d be in Rock Band 2, we just went crazy. We knew how many people would see our song. And then we thought, if everything goes well, we have to go on tour. Just the exposure alone from those games has been tremendous; as soon as those games took off, it allowed us the notoriety to get on the road and we could travel. We went on to play at the Troubadour and other sold-out crowds."
Continued on Page 2...
1/28/2009 Ben Dutka