Bang Camaro takes everything that works about melodic, anthemic hard rock and reduces it to its essence--twin-guitar leads, hammer-ons, galloping "Barracuda" riffs, the gutter-choir of shouted lead vocals and, sometimes, more cowbell.
Guitarists Bryn Bennett and Alex Necochea, both veterans of Boston-area alternative/indie rock bands, founded Bang Camaro a few years ago in homage to their favorite hair-metal bands, melding the sounds of such chart-topping '80s acts as Ratt, Dokken and Skid Row with the prototypical glam and metal acts that inspired them.
The secret ingredient in Bang Camaro is its infectious group vocals that call to mind the spunky rock choruses pioneered by such acts as Bon Jovi and Def Leppard. When the band records and performs, it recruits between four to 20 lead vocalists (usually friends from other indie bands) to sing the back-to-basic lyrics that on many songs consist simply of a few oft-repeated and totally rad lines.
For instance, the lyrics on "Push Push (Lady Lightning)," the leadoff track on the 2007 debut album Bang Camaro, are just these: "Ooh, c'mon I wanna take you higher / Ooh c'mon, let's make electric fire / Push push Lady Lightning / Push, push."
Well, that and the frequent interjections of "whoa whoa, whoa-oh-whoa-oh-oh-whoa-oh."
"When we were talking about making the band, we said we wanted to take all the best parts of the genre that we genuinely love and distill it down," said Bennett during a recent interview on his cell phone as he piloted the band's van somewhere through the Midwest. "So we got rid of all verses that people never really cared about, and just made it all about the anthems and the guitar solos. It's not theatrical or anything. We don't show up in costumes or have big stage shows or anything. We usually play in the same T-shirts we're wearing right now."
Bennett also said the rock-choir vocals of Bang Camaro are an attempt to re-create the spacious, multi-tracked vocals of confectionary-rock productions by Robert John "Mutt" Lange (most famous for his work with Def Leppard, AC/DC and Foreigner), only without the digital enhancement.
When Bang Camaro plays in Tucson, its chorus will be an economic, road-capable size--only six vocalists will perform with two guitarists, a drummer and bass player.
Although many fans will flash back on 1980s Headbangers' Ball clichés when listening to Bang Camaro, their music is rawer and less polished than the pop-metal acts of that era. Dare it be said, but it sounds more like the '70s than the '80s.
"Well, yeah, that's true in a way," Bennett confessed. "Our other guitar player, Alex, is actually sitting right next to me, but I'll talk for him anyway. His biggest hard-rock influence is and always will be Def Leppard, which brought the 1970s into the '80s. When were recording songs on that first album, we made a conscious effort to get that fat '70s sound, rather than the 1980s."
Bennett said Bang Camaro feels comfortable creating and playing original tunes in hard-rock styles ranging from early Led Zeppelin to Guns N' Roses. "We are in an interesting position where we can jump genres, because there are basically so many styles within that range of hard-rock guitar rock," he said.
Bang Camaro is hard at work on a follow-up to last year's debut album. And it's sharing the new songs with fans every two weeks via MP3 releases available on its Web site, its MySpace page and through iTunes. It calls the tradition "Camaro Thursdays," because the songs are released, well, every other Thursday.
So far this year, this process has made public the tracks "Night Lies," "You Can't Stop the Night," "She's Gone (Critical)" and, on Sept. 25, "Miss Illusion."
One can't help but wonder if the guys in Bang Camaro like to make light of pop-metal as much they profess to love it. You must have a sense of humor to write and perform songs with titles such as "The Ballad," "You Know I Like My Band," "Nightlife Commando" and the self-tribute "Bang Camaro."
"There's definitely a little bit of (humor) in it, sure," Bennett said. "But we're 100 percent serious about what we're doing. We were listening to a lot of the '80s music, and we were laughing because some of the stuff was so over the top. But to us, that shows just how little they cared about making something important. They just wanted to make it sound huge, and that's what we try to do."
The results are huge enough that games such as Guitar Hero II and Rock Band have included songs by Bang Camaro. These days, it's hard to come by a more convincing endorsement for a hard-rock band.