Bang Bang Romeo are set for big things with a fantastic array of tracks under their belt, they have been making waves on the festival scene this summer. The Sheffield based band provide a eccentric variation on rock n roll with inspiring live sets attracting vast crowds wherever they go.
Lead singer Anastasia Walker (lead singer), Ross Cameron (guitar) and Richard Gartland (drums) sat down for me to give me the low down on the in’s and out’s of Bang Bang Romeo:
How did you all meet?
STARS: Ross and I were performing at the same festival in Doncaster and we got introduced to each other by a mutual friend.
ROSS: Yeah, I’ve written songs for as long as I can remember and have been in a few bands, but as soon as I met Stars I couldn’t wait to get her singing my work and to start writing together.
STARS: We then went through a few line ups over a few years as we tried to get the right band together and when Rich was recommended to us we got in touch and invited him down.
RICH: Yeah I had to go through that awkward audition process around 4 years ago, I’d just left a band I’d been with for a few years, but I was looking for a serious project and I was ridiculously impressed with the songwriting and vocal talent in the band.
STARS: And that’s the line up we have today!
And what a line up it is! Where did the name “Bang Bang Romeo” come from?
STARS: It actually came about in a Tapas bar, we were clearly a bit under the influence of alcohol, too many tequilas haha, but we just bounced around some words that summed up the themes of our writing.
ROSS: We eventually settled on BBR, the “Bang Bang” reflecting the themes of hate/violence and the “Romeo” is a nod to the love themes in Shakespeare and the lyrical content of our songs.
When did your love for music start?
STARS: I think I can speak for all of us when I say that music has been a part of us all our lives, growing up in families that were big music lovers but my Dad summed it up the best when he told me I came out of the womb singing. Great bit of imagery there!
ROSS: Yeah, I remember the days as a youngster sitting looking up to my dad playing Magical Mystery Tour on vinyl on a Sunday afternoon. I don’t think there was a moment where I started to love music, it just has always been.
RICH: I’ve always loved music, my Dad brought me up on Billy Idol/Adam Ant/Queen all of the big performers of the 80’s etc but it was when I was encouraged to pick up drums and put down my chess set in lower school that I really developed a passion for music and performing live. I got big into Led Zeppelin and Jimi Hendrix, Ginger Baker, Mitch Mitchell, John Bonham were all massive influences on my early playing.
An incredible mix of great music there. What type of music do you all listen to? Who are your favourite artists?
ROSS: We all listen to varied stuff, from Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds to Sigur Ros & David Bowie to Oasis. I’m a big Elbow fan, and we’re definitely partial to the odd movie soundtrack too, Tarantino movies are a shared love that we can all say play a big part in the band. We love the theatrics and imagery, the Pulp Fiction soundtrack is one of the favourites in the van.
STARS: I genuinely listen to everything, my Dad brought me up on The Beatles, Radiohead, Ocean Colour Scene, Little Richard. But from my Grandparents side, Classical music has played a big part too. Nothing makes me cry harder than a bit of Andrea Bocelli haha! My favourite songs range from ABBA to Shirley Bassey. Whatever ignites those goosebumps!
RICH: We all have artists we share love for, I’m another massive Elbow fan, Radiohead, Led Zeppelin, but one of my favourite albums of all time is by an American artist, Big Whiskey and the Gruu Grux King by Dave Matthews Band. Amazing blend of folk and rock music, a proper musicians band. I’m also big into Band of Skulls, Arcade Fire of course, but I also love my sixties funk too, James Brown, Wilson Pickett, The Meters, Sly and the Family Stone.
When it comes to song writing, do you all get involved?
STARS: Ross has such an amazing catalogue of songs he’s written, we all write individually, but usually Ross and I will get together with a lyric idea or melody/chord progression and flesh it out a little acoustically.
ROSS: If a song works acoustically then you know you’re onto something special with more depth than just depending on production.
RICH: Yeah, then we’ll take it into the studio or rehearsal room and develop the structure and arrangement, there’s songs we’ve had for years that have all changed dramatically recently whilst we’ve been in the studio recording our album. Modern technology really gives you unlimited options and we love playing around with different sounds and developing the tracks that way.
What gives you inspiration for great lyrics?
ROSS: Lennon/Mcartney, Guy Garvey, Bob Dylan, Morrissey, Thom Yorke are all massive inspirations for me in terms of lyrics. We tend to write a lot about the real things, love/hate/death etc, there’s a lot of themes of doomed love. It’s something that nearly everyone can resonate with, we try to create some sort of story or picture and we’d prefer for the listener to generate their own thoughts on what we’re talking about. We like to ask questions.
STARS: Lyrics for me are like a diary entry. Whatever is moving me at that particular moment whether it be personal or something that happens in the world. That’s what inspires me. Something that’s niggling away and just needs to be expressed!
Who do you play your songs to first to gauge a reaction?
ROSS: Our families and partners are the biggest judge on new material, my Mum is possibly our biggest fan and she runs the rule over new songs. In fact in the early days she was hearing songs well before the band were haha.
STARS: Yeah, ultimately we love just seeing what the crowd says though, the best gauge of a song is the fans, and if we’re happy and they like it then it’s mission accomplished.
RICH: The three of us are also our biggest critics, we’re all perfectionists and have such a good relationship with each other that we’re able to constructively critique each other’s writing. It means we get the best out of each other.
You have just released the video for your new single “Chemical”, what has the reaction been like so far?
STARS: IT’S BEEN AMAZING!
ROSS: The entire process in itself was an amazing experience, seeing Ralph work first hand, who is in an incredible actor, and then watching Olivia’s stunning performance was a memory we’ll have forever.
STARS: Yeah, she had me in tears a few times during the day haha.
RICH: I think it was important for us to do everything locally too, all the props/costumes/extras were from Doncaster and even the venue, the beautiful Rossington Hall, is local to us. To have these resources and be able to keep it so close to home was special, and David Dutton the director was able to visualise everything we’d dreamed of.
STARS: Since then, everyone’s reaction has been brilliant, we can’t thank everyone enough for their support, Chemical was a track we’d held onto for a long time and we feel like we were finally able to do it justice.
Chemical Video- https://youtu.be/rq_sDA1EM3Q
I saw you play an incredible set at Isle of Wight Festival, how was that weekend for you?
STARS: We love Isle of Wight, it was where we got our first big break with This Feeling three years ago so it will always have a special place in our hearts.
ROSS: Yeah, John Giddings and Solo, the organisers of the festival saw the reaction we got there and have had us back for the past two years on the Big Top. This year was amazing, and we feel totally at home on a big stage.
RICH: Exactly yeah, we love the space to roam, and I mean you saw it yourself, STARS likes to have her own little adventure during our sets. We never really know where she’ll end up.
STARS: Haha, yeah, the bigger the stage the more space I have to roam. But it’s the whole atmosphere of the festival that we like too, it’s such a community, and the staff treat you so well.
ROSS: The festival has so much heritage and history, we were lucky enough to be asked to play a show to open the exhibit at Tapnell Farm a few weeks before the festival this year, I got to play the Isle of Wight strat from 2015, and it really feels like we’ve been allowed to become part of the festival’s history, which for us is such a privilege.
RICH: So many of our inspirations have played the festival too, we have our fingers crossed that we’ll be invited back again next year.
You have been playing the festival scene with some brilliant bands while involved with This Feeling, are there any in particular who you have become big fans of?
STARS: Sounds like we’re just saying it but ALL the bands at This Feeling are great in their own way, we have our favourites, but Mikey Jonns really curates quality as well as quantity. He has great taste and a history of picking out bands that go on to do amazing things, Catfish and Blossoms are just two bands that have come through the ranks in recent years.
ROSS: Yeah there’s such an amazing atmosphere there, bands watching bands, nobody encapsulates that vibe more than Paves or Breed. At nearly every This Feeling event you’ll see one of the lads.
RICH: Yeah the surge in popularity of Grime music recently has been down to it being a movement the Grime community created, artists supported each other, providing their own promotion and Mikey Jonns is creating a similar movement. The hard work and relentless passion of a man consistently proving that guitar music isn’t dead.
STARS: We have our favourites though, we’ll mention Paves and Breed again haha. Then there’s The Wholls, Blinders, Shimmer Band…
RICH: The Americas, False Heads, Sheafs,
ROSS: Liberty Ship, Blackwaters, White Room
RICH: Strawberries, Heavy Suns, The Cosmics, there’s so many, we could go on forever.
ROSS: Jordan Allen, The Assist haha.
You have played quite a few festivals this summer and still have others in the pipeline including Reading and Leeds Festival end of August, What do you like best about the festival sets?
STARS: It’s all about never knowing what to expect, the tent empties between acts, and there’s always that feeling of what if we clash with a major act, but 9 times out of 10 the tent fills and you end up winning over a bunch of new fans.
ROSS: Yeah we often do it ourselves during festivals, wander into an unknown tent and find your new favourite band. It’s worth the mud, cardboard burgers and sleeping rough haha.
RICH: Yeah, there’s a sense of freedom too, it’s not like a headline set, where people are there to see their favourite songs performed, it means we can experiment with the set and try out new material.
What can we expect of your set at Reading and Leeds Festival?
STARS: Well we recently had our first ever headline set at Y Not cancelled, which was disappointing, so we’ll be bringing it all to our final major festival of the year. Expect a bigger live performance than ever, recent events have meant that the three of us are able to reevaluate the way we do our live show, so many more doors are open, extra instruments on stage etc and the usual over the top drama and extravagance haha.
ROSS: Yeah, with the album being more or less complete we have more songs to dip into too, old ones that people haven’t heard for a while and new ones never played live yet.
RICH: We’re really looking forward to it, the gloves are off, and we’re so excited to hear what people make of it.
What is next for Bang Bang Romeo?
STARS: We’re playing Pride in Doncaster next, we had the pleasure to perform a rearrangement of Somewhere Over the Rainbow as part of the soundtrack to their 50th Anniversary Film, which is such an honour for us.
ROSS: Then we have Reading of course, and a couple of smaller festivals in September. A hometown show to announce FINALLY! It’s been a long time.
RICH: We then have the ALIVE tour in October, our biggest tour to date, touring the country, some amazing venues, 12 dates, with three of our favourite up and coming bands, Shimmer Band, Blinders and Blackwaters.
ROSS: We’re also working on having Hans Zimmer do an orchestral arrangement of our album, but there’s some stumbling blocks at the moment that we have to work through. We want him to perform it in space, and he seems reluctant but, watch this space…..HAHAHA.
STARS: And there’s other exciting…stuff, that we’re not allowed to talk about yet, but all will be revealed I guess. We couldn’t be happier with the way things are going at the moment.