Bang Camaro is on the fast track to success

by Beacon Staff • February 28, 2007

The '80s-metal-throwback band was named best live band and best new band by Boston rock magazine The Noise.

The song "Push Push (Lady Lightning)" was featured in Guitar Hero II.

A documentary filmmaker follows the band members around.,Bang Camaro is the biggest band in Boston right now.

The '80s-metal-throwback band was named best live band and best new band by Boston rock magazine The Noise.

The song "Push Push (Lady Lightning)" was featured in Guitar Hero II.

A documentary filmmaker follows the band members around.

Every gig the band has ever played has sold out, including a show at the Paradise last Saturday. Local audiences are reveling in the live shows of this 20-member band.

That's correct, 20 members.

Bang Camaro has no lead vocalist; instead, a group of anywhere from 12 to 15 singers, known as "the Choir," provides the band's vocals. Songs don't really have verses-it's mostly just huge choruses and high-flying guitar heroics on the band's debut album, Bang Camaro, released on its own imprint, Black Sword Records.

Despite the accolades and adulations, the band members have their feet planted solely on the ground.

"I never thought people would like this," said guitarist and founder Bryn Bennett in an interview with The Beacon. "It's been crazy. It's unexpected, but fun."

A few hours later, Bennett and fellow founder/guitarist Alex Necochea would be standing back-to-back on stage at the Middle East Upstairs, shredding guitar solos while a dozen singers chant behind them at the band's record release party.

First, though, they eat falafel wraps and shake hands with well-wishers. Other band members mill about, playing air-guitar to Iron Maiden's "The Number of the Beast."

Success came quickly, but the men of Bang Camaro are just affable dudes having fun.

"We'd have the best time when we were playing guitar solos in practice. One day, we were messing around, kind of drunk, and we were like, 'we should try making a band that sounds like Def Leppard did, but be able to pull it off live; how do we do that?'" Bennett said. "Well, we've got a lot of friends that sing, we got them all into a studio one night and it was the best time we've ever had and we just took it from there."

Bennett and Necochea, who both admit to being closet metalheads, got together in 2006 after their previous two indie-rock bands broke up.

From there, the group escalated to include Dave Riley on bass, Maclaine Diemer on guitars and keyboards, Andrew Dole on drums, and the choir, who come from local rock bands like The Vershok and Noble Rot.

On stage, the band is a force to be reckoned with.

Despite '80s hair-metal influences like Motley Crue and Def Leppard, Bang Camaro's live show doesn't include any spandex, Aqua Net or pyrotechnics.

Bennett and Necochea lean back to back to solo from time to time, but that's the only ironic indulgence they make. What the audience is left with is hair metal with indie attitude: 20 men jumping, singing, soloing, clutching microphones and having the time of their lives.

"We spent years in our bands over-thinking things, and it only got us so far," said Necochea, who used to play guitar in The Good North. "We figured, what the hell? Might as well have some fun."

Songs like "Push Push (Lady Lightning)" and "Gates of Love" capture the band's beer-fueled, fun-loving ethos with guitar licks that would make Randy Rhoads proud.

"The Ballad" is an aptly titled, slow-moving number with the tongue-in-cheek couplet, "Hey man, it's alright/just gonna take your girl home tonight."

With the quick rise to local success, detractors undoubtedly emerge, and Bang Camaro's distinction of having 20 indie-rock guys playing metal has led some to label it all a gimmick.

"I think a lot of the people who call it a 'gimmick' haven't seen the show," Bennett said. "I've definitely seen people post about that on message boards and stuff. I think if you talk to any of the guys in this band about their general love of hard rock, you'll find that people are really into what we're doing."

Not all of the songs are straight up fun, though.

"Swallow the Razor" is a straight-ahead metal number that could fit into Metallica's '80s canon with a head-banging riff set against thunderous drums.

The soaring guitars and chanted vocals get a little stale over the course of the album's dozen tracks, but Bang Camaro have to be seen live to be appreciated. Sweat pours down the heads and faces of the choir members, who swill beer between numbers.

After a short five-song performance at the Middle East party, Necochea passed his guitar into the crowd and watched it surf over their outstretched hands. Even at a small party for friends and family in a 194-person capacity room, the members of Bang Camaro exerted everything they have.

With the dedication and talent, Bang Camaro won't be a regional phenomenon for much longer.

Hop on the bandwagon (bandcamaro?) before it's too late.