Today on Journey of a Frontman, I give to you my interview with the revolutionary guitarist for Township and Bang Camaro, Alex Necochea!
What inspired the “dude choir” gimmick for Bang Camaro and what does it mean to you?
We wanted the big vocal sound we heard on records by Def Leppard, Motley Crue, and Skid Row but we weren’t exactly sure how those groups got that sound on record. So, we faked it by inviting a bunch of friends to a recording studio and simply crowded them around a single microphone and coached them to sing together in unison. Then, later, in harmony. Eventually, we started performing our music live in front of audiences and the only way we knew how to recreate the sound of our records was to have the same group of guys get on stage and sing along. With that many people on stage at the same time we became a natural rock’n roll spectacle. It was difficult to deny the uniqueness of what were doing at the time and, really, the shows were about throwing a fist in the air, having a few beers, and banging your head. The choir embodied the rock’n roll spirit we grew up on and it connected with an audience almost instantly.
How has having had your music featured on Guitar Hero and Rock Band impacted the band’s career?
Having our music distributed in those games was well-timed. Rock Band came out at a time when guitar driven music was experiencing a mild rebirth in the mainstream. We were in the right place at the right time and because of those games we were able to tour the US and play for new audiences without the benefit of record label support and wide distribution of our albums. They afforded us a lifeline to fulfill our creative desires without having to sell our music and merchandise rights to any third party.
On the Bang Camaro website, there is an offer to try out for the dude choir for aspiring singers who would like to tour and play shows with the band, how has that worked out?
Taking people on the road is an expensive proposition for any regular 4 or 5-piece band. A 20 piece band will lose money on the road every time. In our case, Bang Camaro needed an army of singers to pull off the complex vocal harmonies we had written into our songs but we couldn’t afford to bring all 20 guys out on the road with us so we put out a call to have fans join us on stage to help fill out our numbers. This worked pretty well. We were able to tour successfully while keeping our overhead as low as possible. Plus, having fans perform with us went a great distance to knocking down the divide between band and audience; which is something that wasn’t so prevalent in the days of arena rock and was more in line with some of the hardcore and indie-rock circles that we came from… the familial attitude between band and fan is something we always take seriously.
Have you talked to anyone who was so inspired by Bang Camaro, that they wanted to form the same type of band?
There was a short-lived female version of Bang Camaro in the Boston-area called Bang Chicks. I’m not sure if they were so much inspired by us as having fun at our expense. Either way it seemed a noble undertaking and I was flattered by the attention. For anyone else, I wouldn’t recommend starting a rock band with 20 of your closest drinking buddies but hindsight is always 20/20.
What is your opinion of fellow singer, Dick Valentine’s, other band, Electric Six?
I wasn’t aware that Dick was moonlighting in another band! I guess that’s why he hasn’t shown up to rehearsal for over 3 years.
Tell me what it was like for you to play on late night TV, on shows such as Conan and Jimmy Kimmel.
You get to the studio early, setup, soundcheck, run through your material for camera blocking, and then you sit around and wait for a long time. Performing on television is very different than a typical rock show. At a Bang Camaro show you have time to ease comfortably into your performance after a number of songs, but on TV … when that red light goes on you have to jump right into your performance. You have only one chance to get it right so you better make sure your hair is combed, your shoes are tied, and you’re not too drunk to do your job.
What is your opinion of the Boston/Cambridge music scene? I’ve seen shows at Middle East, have you ever been to/played there?
Yes, I have performed at the Middle East on many occasions and it still remains one of my favorite local clubs. I haven’t been out to see too much music over the years but Boston and Cambridge are home to many great local groups and artists. I’m proud to live here and to have contributed to the collective of original music and art that has taken root here.
What are your plans for 2013?
I’m currently working on another full-length album with my band, Township. If all goes well we’ll be releasing a few singles this year and doing some shows to promote them.
What are your passions outside of playing to and listening to music?
Slam Poetry. When I’m not rocking I’m slamming. I also like cowboy boots and bad ironic jokes.
What do you feel is your greatest music-related accomplishment in life?
Getting tossed out of a Nashville club with Mark Slaughter after the house band refused to let us get up on stage and perform “Crazy Train.” That…and having the opportunity to perform at Lollapalooza in 2008 with Bloc Party, Gogol Bordello, Steve Malkmus, and Radiohead. Doesn’t get much better than that.