Banditas from Boston in the US of A were another treasure of a find—sweet harmonies and fuzzy distortion. Their songs are inspired by “notorious women, murder ballads, cowboy daddies, boys and summers.” They recently played a show with Australia’s own Lanie Lane while she was overseas, they also performed at this year’s SXSW. Here’s my interview with Banditas vocalist-guitarist Hayley Thompson-King:
How did you first come to playing music? Is it something that came naturally to you?
I’ve always played music or at least made up songs…I actually use to work professionally as an opera singer and got to the point where I just couldn’t handle being told to get my bangs out of my face or that my outfit was too slutty… I started my first band in 2008. I was living in New York and two things happened: I heard Mr. Airplane Man – until then it didn’t really occur to me that girls could be in bands without boys – and I realized that my boyfriend was a completely worthless human being, ha! It was like the universe aligned and someone turned on a smoke machine and a giant fan…. I dumped the dude and wrote some songs I really love. I was playing with this woman who had an incredibly strong personality and, well, it kind of fell apart. I moved to Boston the next year and met Molly while we were both working at the Middle East in Cambridge, MA. We got together and she immediately spit out these gorgeous harmonies, it’s really her natural gift and definitely the foundation of the band.
What do you wear on stage?
Hmmm…well, not much! Haha! Molly is a little rag-a-muffin, a child of grunge…often in cowboy boots and mismatched earrings and she wears her long ass hair in her face all the time. I usually opt for one of 3 bikini tops: an American flag from Venice Beach, an old Playboy brand leopard print, or neon pink and black flames which I stole from a stripper. And, high waisted jeans…currently I’m rocking my new Frye black harness boots with EVERYTHING….Christine is our bass player and is just a total punk, tons of tattoos and usually in an old joy division or Metallica t shirt and our drummer Candace is a little sweetheart in a cute little dress and bike shorts.
How important is your stage outfit to you?
For me, stage outfits are a HUGE part of the fun. It’s really my other creative outlet. I sell vintage and have been collecting for my entire life…waiting for the moment when I can totally dictate what I wear…where anything goes…
Who are your style icons?
I guess you could say my style icons are those girls drawn on the back of mud flaps on semi-trucks. This is beauty for me because it’s really showing fearlessly what’s inside me.
What is ‘beauty’ to you?
Beauty is being a human so I guess it’s really different on every person. I just think that humanity is really, really beautiful especially the raw and weird parts of humanity. Like a stutter or something. And when someone really embraces that thing in themselves I just melt.
What makes your musical style different?
Well, I try really hard not to be swayed by other bands and musical fads….though sometimes it’s really hard and I get super insecure about what I’m writing. I mean, of course we have our influences, but we’re not trying to have a Nirvana cover band. The music we make is not contrived and I think that’s really special.
How do you deal with haters? And, have you ever experienced sexism in the music industry?
I don’t come up against haters and sexism too often or at least am not overly aware of it but, the way I deal with it is…TURN UP! If my amp’s on 3, I turn it up to 5, which is really loud on a Fender! I never turn down, literally or figuratively.
Tell me about your latest projects.
Next up for Banditas is recording our full length record…we’re going into the studio the week after Thanksgiving…It’s totally a DIY operation right now so we’re saving our nickels and dimes and gonna have something totally awesome out around the first of the year.
Banditas at Girls Rock Camp Boston:
*Photo credits: 1 /2 / 3