PHOTO CREDIT: Ben Bentley
Bang Bang Romeo
ONE of the first things I wanted to discuss with Bang Bang Romeo…
PHOTO CREDIT: Ben Bentley
is how they came to work with Ralph Ineson in the video for Chemical – their awesome and much-lauded new track. It seems the trio have a great eye for visuals and filmic aspects. I probe them (Anastasia fields most of the questions) about the new track and the inspiration that goes into it. With festivals still ahead; I was curious to know where the guys were heading; how they all came together in the first place; what the origin of that unique name (‘Bang Bang Romeo’) is.
Bang Bang Romeo choose the albums that mean most to them; the new artists that have made an impact on their minds – and how, when they get the chance, they unwind away from music…
Hi, guys how are you? How have your weeks been?
We're great, thanks!
Had a mental summer so far; so we've got a couple days’ breather!
I'm saying that, but we're back in the studio this week putting the finishing touches to our debut album.
For those new to your work, can you introduce yourselves, please?
We're a three-piece from Doncaster called Bang Bang Romeo: made up of Anastasia Walker, Ross Cameron and Richard Gartland.
PHOTO CREDIT: Ben Bentley
Can you just explain the origins of the band name – I have omitted research because I had my own idea. Is there a Shakespeare link or is that a rather simplistic deduction?!
We were in a tapas bar in Sheffield at the time, a little bit intoxicated...
We wanted the band name to encapsulate the lyrics and the vibe of our music. The 'Bang Bang' signifies the music: hard-hitting and a little dramatic!
And, yes, you got the Shakespeare link with 'Romeo' just right. Our lyrics tend to be about love, death; life and hate - so that's the connection there.
Chemical is the new song. What is the track about and how easily did it come together for you?
Ross wrote Chemical when he was seventeen-years-old!
The song is about love being the most powerful thing of all - more than just a chemical reaction. It's actually the first song we ever worked on together - so it holds a special place in all our hearts!
You filmed the video in Rossington Hall. Considering it is an epic and, at times, messy video; how much freedom did they give you to do what you needed?
We wrote the script, chose the actors; chose the venue and the theme, so, in terms of 'control', we really had our stamp on all of it. David Dutton (the Director) brought our dreams to life.
We'd been conjuring up ideas for the shoot for a long time - and for us to finally see on screen, what had been taking over our dreams/nightmares for so long, was a very special moment for us. David is an artist and we can't wait to work with him again. Watch this space.
Rossington Hall is local to us and was the 'go-to' place in our minds when writing the script. The staff and the team there were brilliant and we can't thank them enough for letting us use their beautiful, and very haunting, building!
PHOTO CREDIT: Ben Bentley
Of course; one cannot help notice the presence of Ralph Ineson. How did you connect with him and what was he like in person?
Ralph has been a supporter of ours for a number of years now.
He's been attending our shows since day one and has never stopped the support. Again, when dreaming up the video, his was the only face we saw as the Evil Lord of the Manor character. We're still pinching ourselves now that he actually said 'YES!'.
Watching him work was so special. We all had goosebumps the whole time. Thank you, sir.
It seems Bang Bang Romeo has an eye for visuals and theatrics. Is video-making a side of the industry you all enjoy?
Films and visuals are so important for us.
Even in our writing process, we don't tend to think of a song, as just a song - more of a soundtrack for a film - with a proper script or storyline. We'll be in the studio and one of us will end up saying: "This song feels like Bond" - or a Tarantino picture, Spielberg: anything like that.
We like our songs to paint a picture and a landscape. I think after putting out a couple of albums we'll (maybe) get together and write a film.
Haha. We'll see.
You’ve just put an isolated vocal (of Anastasia’s) online. It is a clip, I presume, from your upcoming debut album. What can you tell us about the themes and songs that will appear? Can you reveal any titles yet?
Yes, it is a clip from a track that will feature on the debut called Unstoppable.
I think the key is to expect the unexpected. We've thrown our hearts into making this! Don't be surprised if you open the packaging and there's blood, sweat and tears on the record. Haha.
We don't hold back and this album is our best and biggest creation yet. The front cover is designed, by us; the name has been chosen - it's all there; but we're not revealing it yet, haha.
Ideas for album-two are already underway, too - purely inspired by what we've already been doing in the studio.
When the vibe is as good as it is, it's best to just keep working. If a thirty-track album was logical, we'd go with it.
PHOTO CREDIT: Ellen Offredy
I am interested in how you all got together? Did you all arrive from different backgrounds or did you have mutual friends? What was it about one another that formed that attraction?
Myself (Stars) and Ross were both playing at a festival in Doncaster, separately, at the time when a mutual friend introduced us. We hit it off straight away!
Ross played me his catalogue of songwriting he'd built up and that was it. I was sucked in and, 'till this day, it's still an honour to sing his songs - they're like presents! He's helped me work on my songwriting too - which has been priceless for me.
We were recommended Rich. He's from Leeds and, twenty mins into our first jam, we just knew we had what we needed - "This is it".
We've been inseparable ever since.
I saw your live video from Pirate Studios. What was that experience like? Are you going to be putting more live videos online in the future?
The Pirate Studios sessions have always been wonderful for us.
We've got two under our belts now: the Sheffield session and the London one. Their live recordings really are second to none. We love playing them and we'll always be up for doing more - the team are great there and really support what we're doing.
We also use Pirate Studios as our rehearsal space, too – so, if you're in a band, go check 'em out!
Doncaster Pride is an upcoming gig of yours. How pumped are you about that one? I guess Reading and Leeds is a huge one, too?
We can't wait for Doncaster Pride!
They've always been so kind to us and we'll never stop supporting them. Growing up in Doncaster, a lesbian myself, it's been wonderful to have a strong community around you that is so accessible and willing to listen. We love 'em.
Reading, of course, is another exciting one for us. We played Leeds Festival last year: so it's only right we go for Reading this year!
Looks like you are busy right through until the end of autumn. Which gigs are you most looking forward to? Is touring and live performances something you all love to do?
The October This Feeling Alive tour - with The Shimmer Band, Black Waters and The Blinders - is going to be pretty fuc*ing crazy. This Feeling are leading the way when it comes to bringing new, up-and-coming guitar music to the people – so, when Mikey Jonns gave us the nod for this tour, we were beside ourselves.
Travelling the country with a bunch of talented, handsome; up-and-coming men? Yes please. (This is 100% Stars, by the way).
PHOTO CREDIT: Ben Bentley
Do you guys get to hang outside of music? How much downtime do you get, realistically? Do you have any hobbies or perfect ways to relax?
At the moment, we're living in each other’s pockets!
We have an awesome place we stay near Birmingham when we're recording. It's kind of like a log cabin in the middle of nowhere - with a swimming pool and a pool table surrounded by bats and pheasants. Haha
So, when we're not in the van or on stage or in the studio, we're there. Down-time we spend with our family and friends - as it comes far-and-few-between. In saying that, me and Rich went to a pub quiz last night and got totally robbed. Bastards.
We all enjoy art; whether it be drawing, painting or graphics. Ross also owns a designer menswear store in Doncaster calls Revolver - so he proper fashionable and that.
Who are new acts you recommend we check out?
If you're looking for fresh, inspiring, new guitar music; you don't really have to look any further than the This Feeling catalogue.
The list goes on!
PHOTO CREDIT: Tarquin Clark
If you each had to select the album that means most to you; which would they be and why?
For me, it's Radiohead's OK Computer. It gives me happiness and nightmares, all in one. My dad brought me up on it. It was the first album to really make me want to create music myself.
Thom Yorke is a genius.
Ross: Ok Computer is my fave too, but, because you chose that, I'll go with The White Album. It's so varied. There's classic Beatles songwriting like While My Guitar Gently Weeps and Happiness Is a Warm Gun - but then there's plenty of humour, fun and weirdness on there, too.
Cry Baby Cry is on there too - and it's an absolute masterpiece!
Rich: Yeah, I was going to go OK Computer too, but maybe something a bit more obscure…
Big Whiskey & the GrooGrux King by Dave Matthews Band: amazing songwriting - and I was going through a tough time when it was released. It was the first time I sat and learned an album from back to front. Carter Beauford is a massive inspiration on my playing. He's ambidextrous too - I'm sure you were wondering. Haha.
Suffice to say: many hours were spent pouring over the album in a rehearsal room on my own.
What advice would you give to artists coming through right now?
Don't succumb to the pressures of modern-day music: don't try and make yourself into something you're not. The whole ‘we need to be edgy’, ‘weird’ or ‘cool’ questions may pop up from time to time - and take away the focus from what's important…but fu*k all that. Stay totally true to yourselves and work hard.
Respect each other and don't forget why you picked up your instrument. You're all on the same team!
Finally, and for being good sports, you can each name a song and I’ll play it here (not one of yours as I’ll do that).
I'll go for The Shimmer Bands’ What Is Mine (please, Mr. D.J., sir)
Ross: Baby - Paves
Rich: Brave New World - The Blinders (top new tune from our Doncaster brothers)
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