The dim glow of neon lights, burgundy brick walls that are covered in graffiti and faint candlelight all come together in order to create a unique atmosphere that is known in downtown Lansing, Michigan only as the Loft. Last week, Bananaconda took to the stage to play their own distinctive sound and show off their intricate musical style. Bananaconda consists of Rob Porte, lead vocals and guitar; Ryan Spletzer, bass; John Coyle, drums; and Phil Keller, guitar.
There was a time before auto tuned musical creations. There was a time when pop songs on the radio did not sound exactly the same. There used to be a time when kids would just gather together in a garage or basement and create band. These kids had no desires of becoming rich, these kids just wanted to play music and have a good time doing so. Bananaconda brings back that type of garage band, punk rock influence. This style seems so far removed from the music scene today but Bananaconda’s sound is a welcomed change from the static auto tuned scene today. Bananaconda has clear passion and a relaxed style to their music. Most of all the band has fun on stage and brings the audience into their performances effortlessly. The intimate venue the Loft provided showcased the bands musicality and high energy.
Rob Porte is impressive with his punk rock style vocals. Porte’s vocal style is similar to that of Alexander Gaskart or Ty Vaughn. John Coyle is a stand out on drums with his intricate rhythms and insane energy. Each member of Bananaconda has interesting qualities, but what is so unique about this band, is how everyone comes together to put on show that is all about performing and having fun. It is easy to see when people are living their dream and playing music, Bananaconda is doing just that.
I sat down with Rob, the lead singer of Bananaconda and got to know the band a little better and understand the bands one of a kind style.
Chelsea: Describe how the band came together and how you came up with the name…
Rob: I started this band in July of 2011 with just a two song 7″ with hopes of it just being a fun project to pass the time, then when the songs came out I got a lot of really positive feedback from friends, family and blogs and that really made me want to turn it into a real band. The guys in my band and I all grew up together in a small town in Northeast, Michigan. We’ve all been in bands together in the past and they’re all really good friends of mine, it makes this band that much more special for me.
The name came from a trip Phil (guitar) and I took visiting a friend. We had a really long crazy weekend at this friend’s cabin in the middle of nowhere in the middle of winter. We were filling out Austin Powers 3 mad libs the morning before heading home and I used Bananaconda for a noun and the name stuck. I ended up using it as my recording name for bedroom demos over the past year or two as nothing more than a joke. When it came time for the band to have an actual name, everyone was getting really defensive about me changing it, so I just went with it. It does seem to fit.
C: If you had to explain your musical sound/style how would you explain it?
R: We’re a punk band – that’s the short answer. I write songs that come natural to me and that doesn’t mean that I’m some big punk rocker or that I’m writing songs about hating the government or something. I’m trying to work around parameters, limitations, that means two single channel guitars, bass and drums. That also means writing lyrics and vocals that describe what I’ve been thinking about and telling stories about certain people. In most cases I’m barely involved in the songs themselves, either telling a story or describing a feeling. I haven’t been a singer very long and it’s very interesting to develop songs with a certain idea in mind then to see how other people interpret songs differently, I don’t think anyone’s ever hit the nail on the head exactly with what any given song is about, but that’s okay, whatever the listener connects to is the right answer.
C: Who is your biggest musical inspiration?
R: 1977. It was the best year for music. Most of my favorite records came out that year – Lust For Life, Rocket To Russia, The Clash Self Titled, Low, Running on Empty, Rumours.
C: What does music mean to you?
R: I don’t think there’s a way to not sound a little cliche answering this; music is a response to something that happened to the author and their personal take on whatever subject they choose to write about – Whether it’s about something no one has ever experienced before or something as simple as breaking up with your girlfriend, a subject there are literally thousands of songs about; you can always take that feeling and make it personal.
For more information on Bananaconda check out their Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/bananacondamusic