You could say we were one of the lucky ones, starting this band in April of ’98 without a clue as to what we were doing. We were getting tired of the steady punk rock and metal diet and we wanted to try our hand at country songs, or do our best Tom Waits/Pogues impersonation.
The trick there was that we couldn’t really play our instruments! I had never played guitar before and Ben Nichols (lead singer, guitar) had only played bass in other bands. Finding Roy Berry (drummer) and John C. Stubblefield (bassist) solidified the line up and being hidden away in Memphis allowed us to woodshed, experiment with different sounds and create one that was ours alone.
Eventually we got out of town, and playing 250 shows year not only made us tight as a band but as a family as well. We are still one of the few bands out there with the original line up from almost the beginning, and it shows.
Picking up Rick Steff on keys allowed us to expand the sound and grow musically. Being able to play whatever we could think up in our heads and having the music we loved and grew up on motivate and inspire us to try new things and take chances. We realized that if you added some horns to Ben’s lyrics that it took it to the next step, from sad bastard country rock to soul and R&B and we realized we were a Memphis band and came by it honest. We have always brought Memphis with us wherever we went and this just proved it.
We came out screaming on 1372 Overton Park. Big sound, bigger horns - like a kid with a new toy we put them on everything and loved it! This record was a marked departure from the previous sound and announcement of way things we’re gonna be now!
While 1372 Overton Park was written and the horns added after the fact, Women & Work was written with the horns in mind so it was a little less gung ho and was starting to settle in nicely. Women & Work is one of the best modern Southern rock records in my opinion and the song “On My Way Downtown” has almost surpassed “Tears Don’t Matter Much” as the crowd favorite… almost!
This brings us to the new record. All A Man Should Do contains some of the most resonant lyrics Ben Nichols has ever written, lyrics that read like chapters from his life on the duality of relationships, getting older, finding where you want to be in this world, and musically we are broadening our sound. Working with producer Ted Hutt for a third time at the famous Ardent Studios, we felt comfortable enough to take some chances with a palette of new tones that sound understated yet powerful, bringing life to the stories behind the lyrics without overshadowing them.
This album includes a full band version of big star’s “I Fell in Love with a Girl”, and having Jody from Big Star sing back-up vocals makes it that more special and amazing. This is a Memphis record in the greatest sense and a perfect finish to the three-part love letter to a city that brought us up and made us what we are today.
“I was 15 years old in 1989. This record sounds like the record I wanted to make when I was 15. It just took 25 years of mistakes to get it done.” - Ben Nichols
“Having Big Star actually sing on your cover of a Big Star song that you’re recording at Ardent Studios - it doesn’t get much more exciting than that.” – Ben Nichols
Originally from Birmingham, AL, Banditos is a group – more like a gang, actually – of six 20 somethings, nowadays operating out of Nashville, close to, and simultaneously very far away from, the gleaming towers and industry hustle of Lower Broad and Music Row.
With the rugged power of a flashy Super Chief locomotive, the Banditos’s self-titled debut album bodaciously appropriates elements of ’60s blues-fused acid rock, ZZ Top’s jangly boogie, garage punk scuzz a la Burger Records, the Drive-By Truckers’ yawp, the populist choogle of CCR, Slim Harpo’s hip shake baby groove, gut bucket Fat Possum hill country mojo and the Georgia Motherf**king Satellites. From backwoods bluegrass, to slinky nods to Muscle Shoals soul and unexpected bits of doo-wop sweetness, the Banditos recall many, but sound like no one but themselves.
The members of the band first met playing in various punk and rock ‘n’ roll projects around Birmingham at D.I.Y., all-ages venues. In 2010, singer/guitarist Corey Parsons and singer/banjo player Stephen Pierce began busking around town, and were soon asked to perform at their favorite local bar. Without a full band they invited friends Randy Wade (drums), Jeffrey Salter (guitar), and Mary Beth Richardson (vocals) to join them.
Salter and Wade studied together at music school learning classical/jazz techniques, while Richardson’s background was mostly singing in church choirs. After some apprehension from Richardson about taking the stage with an unrehearsed band, a last-minute trip to New Orleans with the group (which resulted in a stolen hotel Bible inscribed with the band’s lyrics) seemed to cure a case of the cold feet. The ensuing performance was raw and electric, and an ecstatic crowd response further cemented the members’ convictions to become a full band. The addition of bassist Danny Vines made the group complete.
The members soon moved into a house together in Birmingham and after repeated tours through Nashville decided to move the band there instead, where the music scene was bigger and more diverse. The sextet has since developed their unique and airtight sound, culminated through several years of enduring friendships and a roaddog touring schedule that has, at their count, numbered over 700 shows in the last three years.
Their selt-titled debut full-length album is layered with as much grime as it is with pinpoint songwriting and feverish technical savvy. Each song wafts new dynamics into a streamlined stylistic roots, punk and rock ‘n’ roll jet stream, the variations heard evidently through the vocal baton passing and wrenching harmonies of Parsons, Richardson, and Pierce. Each vocalist, as with each performer in the band, is given the spotlight during the course of the album’s 12 songs. And at its core, Banditos is a unified coalescence of six bright beams of light, a spiritual collaboration between friends with a singular musical vision.