I’m not saying that the music of Alabama’s Banditos isn’t universal, but it did bring a smile to my face when hearing how big the six-piece from Birmingham are in Scandinavia, where they played a month-long tour before returning to the States for more touring that includes a Sunday gig at Mercury Lounge in NYC.
“Man, they love it,” said singer / guitarist Corey Parsons. “We went over there and it was crazy. It was nice. It surprised me. We were treated like royalty over there. We didn’t have to do anything but play music. All our hotels, food and drinks were covered, all the shows were packed, even in the smaller towns. It was such a receptive audience, and generally just really happy people. It was cool.”
It was a reminder that good music is good music, and that any cultural or geographic barriers can be cut in half by a killer riff or some high-energy songs. For Parsons, the Scandinavian tour was certainly a career highlight.
“That was the coolest s**t that’s ever happened to me,” he said. “If you would have told me when I was 13 years old, playing in my mom’s garage, that I’d be flying overseas to play music to people who want to hear it, and getting paid for it as well, it’s mindblowing.”
That kind of response can only amp a band up to keep going and getting better, and as they continue to tour behind their self-titled debut, they’re not slowing down anytime soon.
“We’ve been hitting it pretty hard for the past four years,” Parsons said. “It’s our fourth year of touring non-stop. But it’s been a steady incline. We haven’t hit the slope yet. It feels pretty good. Knock on wood.”
And while they may attempt to test this notion, you can’t tour forever, and Parsons and singer / banjo player Stephen Pierce realize this, so they recently took a week – yes, a whole week – off to work on songs for Banditos’ second album.
“We’re about halfway done with the material for the album,” Parsons said. “We spent a week down in the country in Opelika, Alabama, just secluded ourselves and worked like we did for the first album. It’s been a while since him and I have done that, and I think we came up with some pretty cool stuff. Slowly but surely we’re getting it together. It’s sounding really great.”
Listeners will get a first listen to a new tune when the band releases a 7” in a few months, and those at Mercury Lounge will get a taste of the new stuff this weekend as well.
“We gotta try it out and see if it floats,” he laughs.
That shouldn’t be an issue, especially considering that Parsons and Pierce went old school for the writing process and didn’t have to deal with the sophomore jinx that requires many bands to write their second album on a tour bus or van.
“There’s no formula to it, but that definitely helped,” Parsons said. “In my case you can’t really force creativity. We went down there for a week with nothing else to do. We had to figure something out.”
Sounds like they did, so get ready for the second salvo from a band that’s big in Scandinavia and on their way to the same status at home.
“Our main focus is writing the best album we can,” he said. “We’re being a little bit more methodical and tweaking our songs in a way that we didn’t on our first album, and that’s our main focus. We really want to put out a great album that we’re proud of. And it’s coming along great. I’m really excited about it.”
Banditos play Mercury Lounge in NYC on Sunday, April 24. For tickets, click here