Trail Mix – Banditos

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Corey Parsons (third from left) chats about Banditos’ hometown of Birmingham, Alabama.

Though Nashville is now home base, for Banditos, Birmingham, Alabama, will always be home.

The Birmingham sextet cut their alt-country teeth in bars and hangouts throughout Birmingham before taking their tunes on the road for 600+ shows in the last three years.

Banditos is looking forward to May 12th, the release date of the self-titled debut record on Bloodshot Records. Honed by the band’s road warrior approach to touring, Banditos is an impressive initial offering. It is alt-country with a punk rock attitude. It’s Carter Family meets The Doors meets 1950s greaser rock. It’s Dick Dale and Chet Atkins riffs and the big, big voice of Mary Beth Richardson, who calls to mind both Janis Joplin and Brittany Howard of Alabama Shakes.

While such sonic hopscotching would be unconventional for many bands, for Banditos, it works. For proof, and a taste of how these tunes sound live, check out their recent set from Audiotree. It’s one of my favorite sessions of the year.

I recently caught up with Corey Parsons, guitarist and singer for Banditos, to chat about the band’s hometown.

BRO – Your favorite place to see a show?

CP – This question comes at a funny time, because just a week ago our favorite venue closed down. The Bottletree Cafe was, hands down, the best mid-sized room in the U.S. We had the great fortune of growing up as a band in that room and we played there more than anywhere else in Birmingham. I’m 100% sure we would not be where we are without having that place to hone our craft. I’m really dreading driving by that little green building the next time I’m in Birmingham and seeing it empty. Fortunately, Birmingham is full of hard working and creative individuals who will not let the music and art scene languish. There’s still some great venues and I hear there’s more on the way.

BRO – Your favorite local band?

CP – Zach & Cheyloe, The Great American Breakdown, and GT are some of our best friends and some of the most talented folks in Birmingham. Check ’em out!

BRO – Your favorite place to grab a beer?

CP – In Birmingham, you don’t just grab a beer. I can’t count the number of times while living there when I told myself, “I’m just gonna have a quick beer and call it in early,” and then I’d end up getting back to my house around noon the next day. This is most likely due to a lovely little septic tank called The Upside Down Plaza. Some bars in Birmingham don’t close until they feel like it. The Plaza is a black hole. It’s easy to get trapped for hours, considering it’s underground, has no windows, and the only clock is the tobacco stained, unnumbered, plastic one from the seventies that you can’t read when you’re drunk, and half the time it isn’t right anyways. I’ve spent more time in that place than some of the employees, and I’ve actually written songs on our album on napkins at the bar. I am also 100% sure we would not be where we are without The Plaza. We’d probably be a lot better off.

BRO – Best cheeseburger in town?

CP –  Some of our close friends recently purchased and renovated one Birmingham’s longest standing bars – Marty’s PM – and saved it from closing after the original owner passed away. They did a hell of a job classing the place up, but they fortunately forgot to clean the grill. That grill holds the secret to the best patty melt on God’s green Earth and I will sing its praises from the mountaintops for all to hear. Amen.

BRO – I often tell my kids to watch out for banditos while we are out cruising in the minivan. If my kids and I came across you and the band on some windswept, dusty highway outside of Birmingham, how might things shake out?

CP – I imagine we’d all head to The Plaza for a drink or twelve. It doesn’t matter if your kids are underage. I’ve been going there since I was a teenager. Drinks will be on me. My tab has been open since I was seventeen.

You can actually catch Banditos this weekend in their hometown of Birmingham, Alabama, at the legendary Sloss Furnaces. The band can be found throughout Georgia and Florida through the rest of April.

Head here for more tour dates and information about the band, and point your browser this way if you are looking to pre-order the new record. And be sure to check out “Cry Baby Cry” on this month’s Trail Mix.


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