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Banditos: Bringing Southern Roots Across The US

Nicole Mago

Banditos released the album Visonland to wide acclaim in 2017 via Chicago's esteemed Bloodshot Records. The band formed in Birmingham, Alabama in 2010, and then relocated to Nashville sometime after. The sextet performs at Barleycorn's Wednesday, May 9.

Interview Highlights

Jedd Beaudoin: I wanted to start with the notion of the music that Banditos plays. I'm not so much concerned about the genre but I do detect that there's a lot of influence from the south, with the gospel influences and the country influences and so on. Do you feel that way, that it's a reflection of where you're from?

Corey Parsons: Most of what we listen to is based in the south. Most roots music comes from the blues, comes from the south. Basically anything we listen to is derivative of the south. We're kind of all over the place. We do dig southern music, that's for sure. I don't think we could help having twang in our music if we tried.

What was it that led to the move from Birmingham to Nashville? Was it a matter that Birmingham didn't have much of a scene?

No, the scene in Birmingham was cool and it's gotten a lot better since we've left. I think we were just getting a little stale there. We all grew up there. It's easy to get distracted when you're in your hometown. We just wanted new surroundings, being centrally located for touring as well. Being in Nashville you've got to practice, there's a lot of good musicians up there.

At what point did you start going out on the road as a band and were there places that immediately caught on or was it a slow build where you had to visit places two or three times before people latched on?

There are some cities that we've been to a few times where we never know how the show's going to be. There are other cities where the first time playing there we had great crowds and continue to have great crowds. We toured just regionally for a year or two after we'd been a band, just in the Southeast, and starting heading up to Mobile, Alabama, Atlanta, Huntsville, going up to Nashville too. Those are pretty good crowds for us.

Having an album out, did that start to change where people were picking up on the band? Did you start seeing people pick up immediately or did that take some time?

I think we definitely noticed a bigger following after we had an album that was easily accessible to a larger crowd because before that we just had homemade EPs that we'd sell at shows.

We toured for a year-and-a-half to two years before we signed to Bloodshot. We'd already been pretty much all over America by then. Just having them release our album to a larger crowd, we could really see a difference for sure.

I guess that's one of the benefits of a label. Obviously, anyone can release their own records through Bandcamp and get things onto Spotify, they don't necessarily need a label, but having a label there that has those established contacts and can put you in touch with press outlets, that does make a difference at a certain point.

For sure. We didn't know the first thing about reaching out to any media outlets or anything like that. We were self-managed at the time too so we were just kind of swinging in the dark.

You have a larger lineup are there challenges to putting that many people in a van or that many people on the stage on nightly basis?

It's much harder for us. Six people as opposed to three or four people, so it's harder for us to make a living, obviously. But we all know each other better than we know ourselves, so I can't really imagine being on the road with anybody else.


Jedd Beaudoin is the host of Strange Currency. Follow him on Twitter @JeddBeaudoin.

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