About an hour before their show, I had the chance to sit down and talk with Bang Tango backstage at the Hair Nation Festival. The current lineup of Bang Tango is Joe Lesté (vocals), Lance Eric (bass), Rowan Robertson (guitar), Timmy Russell (drums), and Drew Fortier (guitar). Drew wasn’t there for the Festival, but he (or at least the mention of him) ended up playing a big part in this interview nonetheless.
You’re about to take the stage in just a little while for your set here at the Hair Nation Festival, how’s everything going today?
Lance: We’re doing well. We were here last year, and it’s good to be back again.
Joe: It’s awesome, it’s great to be back here again and this place rocks, everybody’s rockin’. You know, I think everybody in this kind of music, it’s all about love and peace and having a good time and rockin’…Because we’re all at that age where we don’t really have a choice. (laughs) It ain’t like it used to be. But anyway, I’m going to pass it on to Rowan Robertson from Dio.
Rowan: It’s great, it’s really good to see all our friends, and we get to play in front of a killer audience, it’s just a load of fun. We’re happy to be here again for another year.
Timmy: You know what, the rest of the guys all said everything I was going to say, so it worked out, you know?
(laughs) All right. Whenever you guys play a Bang Tango show, is there any one song that you always look forward to bringing to the stage?
Lance: Yeah, for me it’d be “My Favorite 9”, I like that. That song was on an album that didn’t get released in America, but it did really well in Europe, Love After Death. But I really look forward to playing that song, I like the groove of it. Then actually, the song we open up with is really good. So yeah, that’s my favorite. Here’s Tim Russell!
Timmy: Not Tim Russert! You know, I think every song we play is something, that’s why it’s in the setlist. There’s a whole catalog of songs we could play, but we narrowed it down to the ones we like to play live. To me, everything that’s in the set is a favorite and that’s why it’s in the set and I think I’ll say that for everybody. What do you think there, Rowan?
Rowan: Yeah, I like playing them all. One that comes to mind is “Attack of Life”, I love playing that, that’s got a killer Zeppelin-y kind of riff.
And speaking of “Attack of Life”, something I definitely want to ask you about is the Bang Tango movie, “Attack of Life”. How did the idea to make a documentary of the band even come up in the first place?
Lance: A good friend of ours, Drew, actually he’s our rhythm guitarist, he’s not with us today, but…he was a fan of the band and he wanted to start filming us, he filmed it for about four years and he kind of just wanted to document everything. It was in Chicago, a lot of it was recording the Pistol Whipped In The Bible Belt album, and he just got a lot of candid stuff, put together this movie, and we watched it a couple times, got some editing done with it. I don’t even know if it’s really out, it’s kind of just on YouTube now, so…check it out, I mean, it’s fun, it is what it is.
Timmy: Yeah, pretty much what Lance said, it’s on YouTube, and whether or not it’s going to be released…I think it’s still a work in progress.
Got it, so there might be more additions to it, or…?
Timmy: I think there might be some added, new stuff, but you never know. Like I said, it’s a work in progress, I think.
Yeah, so Drew was the one behind it, and he also did the music videos for the last Bang Tango album, right?
Lance: Yeah, there was some footage from that actual movie, he kind of compiled it. We were in the studio in Chicago for about three weeks and he was there every single day. He would bring a couple cases of Stella and a bottle of Jaeger and get us drunk then sit there and film us. (laughs) He followed us around Chicago for about three weeks and got a lot of that crazy footage, but yeah, he did all those videos.
That must have been interesting to have someone who once shot your music videos to then become a member of the band.
Lance: He grew on us. We couldn’t get rid of him.
Rowan: He’s a fun guy.
Lance: He actually is a saxophonist, and we had to teach him how to play guitar because that’s the only position we had to fill…I’m really kidding. But yeah, he grew on us, and we kept him in the band. Unfortunately not with us today, but…he’ll be back.
Joe: All I’m thinking is, we’ve never let some guy we don’t even know talk for our band before.
Timmy: Right? (laughs)
Joe: (to Lance) You! (laughs) He’s just answering stuff, going on like, (mockingly) “You know, then he played saxophone…” (laughs) No, we love Drew, he’s cool, man. He’s a great kid. To be honest with you, it was straight up – he’s such a big fan, and he said he was in a Led Zeppelin cover band, and I went “What do you do?” and he goes “Oh, I’m the guitar player”. And so, we’re fortunate to have him, he’s just not here for these next couple of shows…he’s having a baby.
(jokingly) He personally is?
Joe (seriously): He personally is.
Timmy: It’s an experimental surgery.
Joe: It’s experimental. We said the only way our band could become big is if one of us got pregnant, and Drew stood right up and Lance jumped up first, so…
You’d get a hell of a lot of publicity out of that.
Joe: Well, I don’t know, but…three of us left the room and now Drew’s pregnant. (bursts out singing “You’re Having My Baby”)
(laughs) Oh man. So, Lance, I also want to ask you to talk a bit about your other band, Color of Chaos.
Lance: It’s just an original band back where I live, back home in Phoenix. We’re just having fun writing, guys I’ve known for about twenty years, we’re just having fun playing in Phoenix is all it is. Just regular rock ‘n’ roll.
And another band I want to bring up is Beautiful Creatures, anything going on with that lately?
Lance: This one’s for you, Timmy.
Timmy: Oh boy, I got to answer the Beautiful Creatures questions? You know, we haven’t done anything with Creatures in many years, so…there’s really not much to talk about. Joe, you want to elaborate on that at all? It was something we did and…how long’s it been, now?
Joe: Oh, it’s been years. We don’t have any plans for that at the moment, because we’re currently writing a new [Bang Tango] record that we’re really happy with, and Rowan and I and the rest of the guys said, “Let’s go with more of a Beautiful Creatures vibe on this one”. And it’s still me singing either way, but this one has more of an edge to it, and I think it sounds badass. We don’t have anything to play for anybody, but I just know that’s the direction I can give you, that vibe for now. (mock announcer voice as he hands microphone to Lance) And back to you, Bob.
Actually, Rowan, I wanted to ask you a question too – of course, you’re in Bang Tango now but you used to be in Dio –
— I was just wondering if you’d heard anything about the Ronnie James Dio hologram, and I’d like to get some of your thoughts on that.
Rowan: Oh, well, I saw it on YouTube and I think it went great. I’ve heard a lot of positive things about it, it looked like it was a big success to me. Yeah, I think it’s a great idea.
And coming back to today since we’re here at the Festival, are there any other bands, any of your friends that you guys were really looking forward to seeing today?
Rowan: I wanted to see Yngwie, ‘cause I’m a guitar nerd.
Rowan: But I don’t think we’ll be able to since we’re doing an interview around then. I wanted to see Loudness, I think they were playing – weren’t they playing?
They were playing but something happened – I don’t know what – and they’re not on the lineup now.
Rowan: Aww, yeah.
But Enuff Z’Nuff is taking their place.
Rowan: Oh! Okay.
Timmy: That’s fantastic!
Joe: Hell yeah.
Rowan: But yeah, anyway, we know loads of these guys so it’s all like one big reunion.
There you go. Well, that’s about all I’ve got for you guys, so thank you all for taking the time to sit down with me for this interview.
[The interview came to a close here, with assorted “thank you’s” from the band.]
Check out my review of the Hair Nation Festival here.