Corey Parsons’s girlfriend captured it all in six words.
“You’ve got a really weird life,” she told the guitarist of Alabama’s Banditos, and if Parsons was a civilian, he would likely agree, but as a touring musician who has spent more time on the road than at home, it’s just part of the gig.
“It doesn’t seem that weird to me anymore,” he told his lady, and when recalling that conversation, he laughs. “We’ve been working our asses off for three years, we’ve been a band for a little over four, and I’ve seen a lot of wild s**t in my life, especially in the last three years. Even on this last tour, one night we ended up staying with a cult out in the Pacific Northwest in Oregon, and it was just another day. So nothing really shocks me anymore. I’m not jaded, and I’m totally appreciative of everything that’s coming to us, but I think I might be ready for whatever’s presented.”
On the plate at the moment is a tour that hits Brooklyn’s Knitting Factory tomorrow night and then hits Europe through mid-September after four more U.S. dates. Following that run, it’s back to the States and so on and so on, with the Banditos likely playing wherever someone will have them. And that’s just fine with a band who may be getting critical and popular acclaim for their self-titled debut album, but that doesn’t forget what they do best – and that’s play live. So while this is their first record, New York is a familiar destination.
“We’ve been touring pretty hard for about three years now, so we’ve been up the east coast a good bit,” said Parsons, who estimates that the group has been in Brooklyn four or five times already. “It (the NYC reaction) has been great so far. We’ve been pretty well received. The first couple shows up there we didn’t really know what we were doing. (Laughs) We were booking all our own tours, so a couple of ‘em were kinda weird.”
All weird goes out the window once the amps are on though, and the Banditos are one of the rare groups that you look at, hear, and say, ‘yeah, that’s a good name for them.’ It’s like the sextet is more of a gang than a band, yet when it’s time to play, everything comes together perfectly. Yes, they’re from Alabama, and they will often be lumped in the country genre, but this isn’t anything you will hear on modern country radio.
“We don’t have any songs about pickup trucks,” Parsons laughs. “There are enough of those out in the world right now. But I think we kind of blur the lines enough where we’re accepted in different crowds. We’ve definitely played a good bit of country shows and we’ve got some country songs for sure, but we just like playing loud.”
And it’s music that moves you. It can be chaotic, it can groove, it can be rootsy, or singer Mary Beth Richardson – who has been positively compared to Janis Joplin – can just steal the show with a voice that’s a cross between someone who has had her heart ripped out and someone who’s about to do the ripping. But genre? The Banditos throw that out the window.
“When we started off, we weren’t really trying to be any specific kind of band,” Parsons said. “It started off with me and Steve (Pierce), our banjo player, just writing songs, and we’re from Alabama, so everything’s gonna come out with some twang in it for sure. (Laughs) But we grew up playing in punk bands and metal and rock and roll bands, so it’s hard to keep quiet and it’s hard to limit ourselves to one genre. We’d get bored if we did that. So we just go in there and we try to write good music. I think people put too much weight into titles and genres nowadays.”
Especially in Nashville, which has been tagged with the corporate label for a while now. After living in Birmingham together for a year, the band lived in the same house in Nashville for two, but they stayed true to their music and attitude.
“There’s a lot of that (corporate music) in Nashville, but there’s also a counterculture, as there is in any city, and in east Nashville there’s a good rock and roll scene and a good original country scene too,” he said. “It’s not just what you hear pumped out on the radio nowadays. If you look hard enough, you can find some really great stuff.”
The world is about to find the Banditos, or more accurately, the Banditos are about to find you.
The Banditos play the Knitting Factory in Brooklyn on Wednesday, August 12. For tickets, click here.