If you’re seeking creative and/or social success in the Boston rock scene, there are certain faux pas you must avoid at all cost. Don’t appear to be having too much fun at a show. Don’t dance. Keep that facial expression neutral. If you absolutely must rock out, simply nod along to the beat, but never to the point of pedestrian “head-banging.” And never, ever wear the T-shirt of the band you’re going to see. Don’t even dream of wearing the T-shirt of a band you play in.
Maybe this all sounds counter-productive, even self-nullifying, but it’s very necessary. Back when irony was still alive and kicking, the overlords got cocky and lifted the rules for Bang Camaro, and look what happened. This past August, Bang opened up one of the Lollapalooza main stages for an audience of approximately 3000. Meanwhile, your roommate’s cookie-cutter indie-pop project will be lucky if seven people watch his set at P.A.’s this Tuesday. It’s just so unfair . . .
“We remembered watching videos when we were young, where Metallica would always wear their own shirts. We’re like, ‘Fuck it! We’re going to bring that back!’ ” recalls lead guitarist Bryn Bennett while lounging in the restaurant of the Middle East upstairs, the band having just returned from a Halloween performance in Orlando. “We’d walk around with Bang Camaro shirts on and people were like, ‘You guys are assholes.’ “
“We’d show up at the bar and start high-fiving each other,” adds Alejandro “Alex” Necochea, the other guitar lead.
Bennett: “It’s weird how, now that we’ve been playing for a while, people look at us and they’re like, ‘Oh, it’s Bang Camaro. They’ve been in video games. They’re sellouts,’ or whatever. When we first started, we were just being assholes and loving it.”
It would take some balls just to conceptualize Bang Camaro — a glam-metal/’70s-arena-rock throwback with a choir of lead singers numbering six to 20 bros per show. But Bennett and Necochea — formerly of bygone Boston indie acts the Model Sons and the Good North, respectively — were sufficiently enthused to rock, despite their correct assessment of Bang’s inherent ridiculousness and their incorrect assumption that everyone would hate them. Before anyone knew what Guitar Hero was (and, yes, they understand they owe their ability to tour nationally to Harmonix), before “Don’t Stop Believing” was in the finale of The Sopranos, Bang Camaro humbly set out to play songs about the songs that had entranced them before they had quite come of age. Like, before they had time to become self-aware enough to know what snark is. The real irony of Bang Camaro is their lack of irony . . . well, except for the 20 lead singers. That’s way ironic.
“All of a sudden, we had this vehicle to write hard-rock songs, which was awesome,” says Bennett. “We were like little kids in the candy store. Like, ‘I’m going to write a riff like Metallica! And record it! And I want this one to sound like GNR or Dokken!’ And grabbing things like riffs we wrote when we were, like, 14.”
Necochea: “I always loved Ozzy Osbourne’s ‘I Don’t Know.’ It’s got this great riff where the guitar player’s playing in this really hot-rodded neo-classical kind of tone. It created this, for lack of better words, rock imagery that I was in love with as a kid. That’s something we wanted to do with our music.”
This Friday will see the release of Bang Camaro II, which is far less tongue-in-cheek and more fully realized than their first disc. The choir, who were mostly relegated to chanting choruses on the 2007 debut, sing entire songs on II, with occasional multi-harmonies tossed in. It’s still funny that there are so many of them, but they’re being harnessed to be more than an imitation of multiple Joe Elliots singing the chorus of “Pour Some Sugar on Me.” The gimmick is no longer quite so gimmicky.
Much has happened since that fateful day in 2005 when Bang Camaro first posted their homonymous song on MySpace, and it promptly blew up. Says Necochea (during the only part of this interview that could’ve possibly bummed anyone out), “I was really impressed with the response [to the first song], but at the same time I was shocked, thinking, ‘After all this time, playing guitar for however many years, this is going to be it for me. I’m going to be remembered for this ridiculous song with all these guitar solos.’ It took me about three days to come around. All these years later, it’s ridiculous to contemplate that I went through that, because I’ve put everything that I have into this band.”
Courtesy of the Providence Phoenix