Everybody knows at least one shitty dude. That guy with the startling disregard for his own safety, well-being and reputation who always gets invited to the party even though he is guaranteed to offend.
Banderas is comprised of 100 percent shitty dudes.
It's a lifestyle that extends beyond the band and permeates their Clifton home, where most of the members reside with a revolving cast of housemates and squatters. They are living the dream of Rock & Roll excess, even if they don't yet have the fame and fortune to back it up. They do, however, have the pictures, videos, scars, arrest records and a "for sale" sign in the neighbor's yard.
"They said they don't want to raise their kids near a place like this," says guitarist Jesse James of the motivated sellers across the street. "I don't blame 'em."
"Being in the house, sometimes we get a little detached," explains singer Murdoc Rivera. "We'll go back to where we're from, like to the mall, covered in whatever I did at the last show, and people standing next to us have no idea what just happened the night before.
That's where the song 'Alligators in the Palisades' comes from. It's like this scaly beast loose in a nice neighborhood."
Banderas has been on the prowl for about three years now, with the current lineup cemented a year and a half ago. Most of the members go back much further, to previous bands and before. Murdoc and guitarist Cu Silvio are actually brothers. The band's goal for this project was to create something unlike anything they (or anyone) had done before. It's not an easily describable style, but it is distinctive. It's relentlessly heavy, but not Metal or even Hardcore. It's borderline experimental, but closer to the Dead Boys' volatility, sometimes sounding like a dark, sleazy, Stoner version of Rye Coalition.
"Attitude is the only thing that's common in all of our songs," says Jesse. "As long as that's there, we can go in any direction. We don't all listen to the same music, so things come out of left field, but somehow it all goes hand in hand."
The reckless vibe that the band puts off is not one that they've fashioned for themselves, but more one that they've fallen into, much like their stage names.
"We didn't sit around and make up the pseudonyms, they're nicknames earned from various things we've done," explains Murdoc, who also goes by Perm or Deuce Cannon (loose cannon, times two).
So, how does a group of guys with such deeply entrenched instability hold it together long enough to write, record, rehearse and gig so successfully? The answer, apparently, is chain of command.
"We all have different roles, we're like a platoon. Cu is the drill sergeant," begins Murdoc. "I decide where on the map we're going, he gets us there. White Label (keyboards) is kind of our tech guy. Live, he's our straight man. We told him when he joined the band he wasn't allowed to jump around or have a keytar, he just has to sit there and smoke. Dannie (Dainger, drums) is the nihilist. Jesse is our recording guy. Doug (Snowball Jackson, bass) has a lot of great ideas; he arranges things. That's our secret — we have multiple workhorses from other bands. Sometimes we clash, but everybody pulls their weight and gets it done."
Banderas is, indeed, a remarkably self-sufficient unit. Songs are recorded early in the writing process, allowing them to quickly zero in on the sound that they want. Their first homemade demo impressively captured their bombastic sound. They are currently remixing those songs, and have plans to record more in addition to maintaining their steady live pace. This tireless DIY ethos helped secure their spot at this week's Cincypunk Fest V (see Spill It, above).
"We had a great time playing the Cincypunk show last year, and there are even more great bands this time," says Murdoc. "That makes you want to set the bar even higher. We might do something stupid, you can usually count on that."
"Everything's tongue-in-cheek, but if there's one thing we all take seriously, it's that we love to do this," claims Jesse. "It's either this or I'd end up being a bank robber. Which might be OK, too."
BANDERAS (thebanderaslounge.com) plays Cincypunk Fest V at The Poison Room Saturday.