We are not a retro band – we are an evolution

We are not a retro band, insists guitarist Bryn Bennett after Bang Camaros third show on a short east coast tour, we are an evolution.

You see, agrees guitarist and co-founder Alex Necochea, we took the important parts of pop metal and distilled it. We came up with a purer type of music in the end. Lets be honest, no one cared what the lead singer of those bands had to say. They were either comparing their genitalia to some type of weapon that they were going to attack groupies with or they rhymed fire and desire. The fans never cared about that stuff. They wanted to scream along with the huge choruses or they wanted to air guitar to the solos. Thats what we bring.

Its hard to disagree with this novel approach when youre at a Bang Camaro show. The band consists of three guitar players, a bass player, a drummer, and anywhere from ten to twenty singers. The songs remind the listener of arena rock from the mid to late 80s, but with a strange twist. This band has no lead vocals, only guitar solos and choruses sung by the band and the mob of extras. There was no other way to bring that gang vocal sound to our live show without relying on samples like a lot of the bands in the 80s did, explains Bryn and thats not rock n roll at all.

Tonight the band is playing at The Bug Jar, a small club in Rochester, NY. Due to the small stage, many of the vocalists form a line in front of the stage before the band kicks in to their first song entitled Riot School. At first the crowd, who are obviously there to see the local favorites The Black Arrows, dont know what to make of the spectacle. Alex and Bryn launch into a dueling lead intro that brings to mind the best of Iron Maiden or even, gasp, Night Ranger at their peak. The 12 singers of the night add gang Hey and Yeah! hits to the verse as the band builds to their first chorus. The crescendo of the bridge climaxes to a 5 part harmony reminiscent of Queens layered vocal approach on their recordings. The Rochester crowd is won over and they quickly begin pumping their fists and singing along.

Were just another indie band says Alex in their tour bus after the show. Its not like there is huge money in hard rock anymore. Were playing this type of music because we grew up with it and love it. Bryn and Alex, the two founders of the band, had been playing around Boston in different bands before deciding to start Bang Camaro. Bryn spent two years in a band called The Model Sons and started a Boston music event called The Boston Rising. Alex spent a number of years in The Good North, a brit-pop outfit who became quite popular in their hometown before joining Columbia recording artist Bleu. We met when our bands started playing together at different clubs around Boston says Bryn. We started talking about our influences and quickly realized that we were both closet metal fans. Well, were out of the closet now.

Can it be true? Can indie musicians really be playing 80s metal now? Believe it. These guys arent wearing wigs with studded leather bracelets. Tonight Bryn is wearing a Pilot to Gunner t-shirt and Alex wont stop talking about his love for Sparklehorse. There doesnt seem to be anything ironic about the way they carry themselves on-stage or the way they talk about their love for a type of music that most people consider a mistake from 20 years ago. We play Gibsons, not Jacksons. It took quite a while, but weve learned that Jimi Hendrix is the only person that should have ever touched a whammy bar says Bryn with while downing his eighth stoli and soda. And maybe Dick Dale Alex slurs. It looks like their rock n roll lifestyle is beginning to have an effect on them. All 16 of them retire to a cheap hotel room (a single hotel room!) at about 5:30 AM.

There may not be rows of groupies waiting for them when they climbed off the stage tonight in Rochester, just a bunch of people who love what they are doing. Isnt that what rock n roll is about? Isnt that what people forgot in the 80s?

-Heather Simone