Alright everyone! I have the answers back from The Banana Convention.
Here's the complete interview and I think some of the answers are really cool :D
For added ease on the eyes, i've added a shark wiff teef!
So for starters, i'm sure for everyone reading this, the first question is going to be how you came up with the name "The Banana Convention"?"The Banana Convention" was the name of one of the many bands Greg Brady joined on The Brady Bunch. Yes, we stole our name from The Brady Bunch. It was either "The Banana Convention" or "The Silver Platters"
How long has the band been around the area?We have roots going all the way back to 1993, actually, but as a "real, full time band", we've been around for coming up on 7 years now. During that time, we've gone through many, many changes - musically as well as through many different band members. Our current lineup - consisting of Shar, Monte, Jake, Sean, and Chris - has been together for 2 years now, and is the most solid lineup we've had, we think. If anybody really wants to know the full, long, detailed story of our past, you can check out www.TheBananaConvention.com/history.html. Be forewarned, though, it's really LONG
Have you guys done any out of state tours/shows?Plenty. Just last summer, we embarked on a 10 day, 11 show Mid-West/East Coast tour, hitting up cities like Cleveland, Boston, Philadelphia, New York, Washington DC and more. We regularly travel down to Cincinnati and Dayton, and southern Ohio is quickly becoming our home away from home. We've also been hitting up Chicago quite a bit, recently, too. We try to play out of the area as much as possible to try and build and expand our fan base. The more people we get to play in front of, the better!
Where do you guys draw most of your influence? (each member can answer)JAKE: I'm all over the place, but certainly have a strong love for all things Motown. So many great musicians pumped classic songs and licks out of Detroit. The Funk Brothers, who collectively served as the studio band for tons of albums, Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder. Of course, being a guitar player, some of my 6 string heroes would have to be Carlos Santana, Eric Clapton, any of the Parliament Funkadelic guitarists (really the entire P-Funk conglomerate is brilliant) and of course my guitar teacher Darin Scott. Hip-Hop strangely enough also plays a huge role in influencing me as a musician. The Jazz Liberatorz, Wu-Tang Clan, The Pharcyde, A Tribe Called Quest all great stuff.
SEAN: I listen to all kinds of music from the New Wave stylings of the Cure to Portuguese folk of Arto Lindsey. For me I try to make my instrument, the bass, be the flow to all of our songs. I never want to step on toes with it, but I want it to be a counter melody as much as possible. I guess a lot of that would come from The Cure and Simon Gallup's bass style.
CHRIS: The first bands that really influenced me as a musician were Ned's Atomic Dustbin, DESCENDENTS, and Bad Religion. There was a common thread to me in Punk and the old Motown stuff that the music on the radio didn't seem to have anymore.
MONTE: I like fun, quirky music like The Presidents of the USA, They Might Be Giants, and Ween. Music that's fun just for the sake of being fun. Not every song has to change the world or have deep significant meaning behind it. That's the kind of stuff I like to listen to and that I like to write.
CHRIS: I guess the one thing we can say as a band is that we are all influenced by genuine music. It doesn't have to be serious in topic or tone, but you have to believe it was created with the idea that it will affect you.
SHAR: Yeah, I think its fair to say we all have musical preferences that draw a great deal of inluence into our own personal styles. I personally am mostly influenced by the people around me. Whenever i feel the urge to write i usually turn to my band.
I'm sure you have been through a lot of past members as most bands with your years of history, any member change in particular that had a big impact/you miss having around?SHAR: Well, since I have joined the band there have been many members. Josh and Mel were definitly a huge portion of the puzzle for a period of time and their departure caused the band to change and evolve completely. But one member that has come and gone and returned again is Chris/Fletch Bohanski. He always seemed like the backbone of the band and many things fell apart when he would take off. I miss all of the past members but luckily Fletch remains.
MONTE: If you count all of our various incarnations starting back in the early 90s, we've gone through 40 total band members. The biggest change came when Josh and Mel left the band in early 2007, mainly because we then were lucky enough to have brought Ray Torres on board. He changed up this band so much, challenging and pushing everybody to think outside their own comfort zone. When we started doing that, we stopped being the "joke/gimmick band" that we used to be and started becoming a much more solid unit, and even began taking ourselves much more seriously.
SEAN: He had a really unique way of planing out songs and would work with all of us on parts and ideas. Ray had a really great way of leading and pushing you, without you ever knowing it.
JAKE: I am still trying to fill the role of Ray, who left an indelible mark on the band. The guy is a genius - his guitar playing is immaculate, but I think his overall command as a musician might supercede his skills on the guitar. He's an incredible writer, leader, and he can follow as well as he leads. A super musician. He left the band to pursue some other interests and I guess I've been mediocre enough to stay with TBC in the meantime (haha). I think my goal has been to not try and be Ray, he has his own style - his own sound.
SEAN: I think having Jake now as our guitar player has done a lot. Jake has gone to school for music and studied it in ways not a single one of us had. That alone has changed how we approach every note and idea as a band. I miss Ray for the fun times on the road and the conversation I personally had with him, but also I love Jake's ability to break things down and work on a song till it is done!
JAKE: I just have to do my own thing and serve the songs, and credit to the band for letting me develop and giving me some freedom to have my own style. They've displayed some great patience!
What got you started in playing in the band? (each member)CHRIS: My dad gave me his old drums when I was 9. I didn't actually start playing them until I was around 14, and at 15 I joined my first punk band
MONTE: As mentioned, The Banana Convention was originally conceived in 1993, when I was 15 years old. My oldest brother, Matt (who now serves as sort of mentor and producer for the band, including shooting, directing, and editing our awesome music video for "New Day") started the band with friend Bil Barrett. Being the little brother that I was, I tagged along and ended up being handed the tambourine. I think it was just to keep me quiet. Here we are now, many years later, and I'm still doing the same thing. Kind of sad, now that I think of it like that. Chris joined on in 1995 and, along with myself, is the only "original" member still around.
SHAR: I actually knew Mel from my first job at Big Boy and I met Josh at a telemarketing job years later. Shortly after high school, I met up with them again and they told me about some "production" they were involved in. They wanted me to sing. I, of course, jumped at the opportunity and the rest is history
SEAN: I was a fan of the band before I joined. I want to all the shows and when they needed a bass player, I stepped up and they let me in.
I've heard you guys live and know of the amazing show, but the last show featured music you don't plan on playing live anymore, is there anyway we will ever see it live again?MONTE: Absolutely. We are not fully retiring anything. However, there are some songs we've been playing for the full 7 years we've been together. Others are 3, 4, or 5 years old. It's just time to cycle some of those songs out and bring in some new stuff, which we're really excited about.
SHAR: We really spent too much time with some of those tunes and I'm looking forward to getting the new ones out.
CHRIS: I'm sure we will dust off some of these old tunes for people who really want to hear them. I hate it when bands refuse to play the old songs so we would never flat out "Kill" them, they just are not the priority anymore.
SEAN: Those songs will never go away. They will always have a home and for our fans that love them I would not be fair to get ride of them. As we continue to grow I believe the new material will be just as loved. When we are home playing for our die hard fans, we will give them new with all of the favorites they know and love
What are your plans for the following year?SEAN: New New New! New songs, new look, new live show
MONTE: We are in the middle of writing brand new material, and what we have so far I think is some of the best stuff we've ever written. We've been taking some time off while doing this, so the next time you see us again in the Tri-Cities area, we're going to have at LEAST 10 new songs for you.
SHAR: In the next year i would like to see the band play new venues in new cities in new states. I would like to concentrate on gaining a larger fan base and WRITING NEW MATERIAL!
CHRIS: I have a pile of songs that I plan to demo out and see which ones the band wants. I'm also looking at an album of songs that I'll just do on my own to get it out. I have hundreds of songs and every year I say I'm going to record them and every year I break off a few demos and never flesh them out. I think this will be my new years resolution. I'll probably just give it away. Who would buy "Fletch Bohanski SINGS!" HA!
When is the expected release of these songs and any plans as to how you are going to do it?SEAN: We hope to have a new EP out by years end and then by spring a full length something or even an other EP.
MONTE: Yeah. We just recorded a 4 track EP at Radius Recording Studio in Traverse City. We'll be putting the finishing touches on it next month, and hopefully it will be fully mixed and mastered and ready for release just in time for Christmas
SEAN: Our new stuff is a very bright poppy set of songs, so maybe a darker more serious one later on would be kind of interesting. We could call it "Dark side of the Banana....."
MONTE: We've also been kicking around the idea of a Christmas Album, but I don't know if we'll have the time to get to that. Who knows, though. Now that I've put that out there, we might HAVE to do it!
The music video shoot for "New Day" went really well! Any plans on doing another music video in the future?MONTE: We're always coming up with and throwing new ideas out there for possible music videos, but finding the time and people to put that together is always a heck of a task. We do hope to have another music video for one of the songs we just recorded in Traverse City to go along with the EP release, but again, it comes down to being able to find the time to get that done
What was your favorite moment peforming in the band?
CHRIS: It's all a blur. The crowd we had a the Warped Tour this year was probably my favorite, because it was a total surprise. Going into a lot of shows you have no idea who is going to show up. To get a crowd that size comprised almost entirely of strangers is the best because it validates what you are doing.
JAKE: There have been a lot of great ones. I'd say the 2009 East Coast rampage of 11 shows in 10 days, the Rock Your Way to the Top contest, and this years Warped Tour are all especially memorable in their own way. The East Coast venture was a real learning experience, playing that frequently you get real tight, you stop having those off moments - plus 10 days in a van with your best friends is pretty cool (well actually it was quite hot and smelly by the end.) RYWTTT was great in that it was a fairly large contest and we were able to not only mobilize a large group of people to come support us, but we also impressed a group of distinguished music judges enough to place as runner-up - narrowly missing 1st place. Then Warped Tour this year was really special. We surprisngly had a giant crowd at about 1 in the afternoon on the Kevin Says Stage - we were crisp and it was fun. I had my first Warped Tour experience in Detroit last year, but I was so excited and anxious to play I think I didn't enjoy it as much. This year I was more prepared for it, and I had a few moments while playing that I just though to myself, "Damn, what if this was my full-time job?"
SHAR: Going on our east coast tour last summer was probably the best experience in music I have ever had. Playing the Warped Tour as a kickoff show was incredible. I didnt have to work and I was able to travel, play music everyday, and create life long bonds and memories with my band. For 10 days, it seemed as though my life made sense
MONTE: I'll agree with everybody and say Warped Tour this year was absolutely amazing. We had a great crowd and played really well that day. The Rock Your Way To The Top contest was also amazing. A HUGE crowd that were totally in to everything we did, a sea of yellow TBC T-Shirts, and we went on right after Mini-KISS. Does it get any better than that?
SEAN: Warped Tour this year WAS pretty amazing. For me I think performing in general is my favorite moment. I get away from my day job, problems, and the crap that drives me crazy.
MONTE: We can't forget playing at the Chicago House of Blues this past Spring, either. In the 6+ years as a band, I've never felt more like a rock star than that entire experience. We got to play there via a contest we won through Slurpee/7-11, and they treated us first class all the way; going so far as to actually FLYING us down to Chicago and putting us up in a super fancy hotel. Of course, getting to play on the amazing House of Blues stage in front of over 1100 people isn't anything to sneeze at, either.
SHAR: Oh, and that one time Monte said he thought he shit himself during a show at White's but kept going. true dedication.
When can we catch you guys around live next and where at?MONTE: As mentioned, we are taking time off while we work on writing brand new stuff, so we won't be playing in the area again until we think that material is ready for the masses. Our 7 Year Anniversary is in February, and I think we're shooting for that as a goal to have enough new material and be ready to perform again in Mid-Michigan.
SHAR: I personally dont want to have an expected date. I think songs need time to grow when in the writing process, and we risk a song feeling incomplete when we are rushed.
MONTE: Outside of the local scene, though, we're still all over the place. We will still be hitting up other areas of Michigan in the next few weeks, as well as going on the road down to Ohio and out to Chicago as much as we can. You can always check out www.TheBananaConvention.com for all up to date show information.
Any other comments or advice you have for bands around the area?SHAR: Work together and support eachother. No one is anyone without love and support
MONTE: Just have fun. The day your band becomes more of a job than it is fun is the day you should quit. Having fun and playing music with good friends in front of even more good friends is the best feeling there is. Don't ever forget the reason you started a band in the first place. Yes, it's going to be a lot of work - very HARD work - but ultimately it needs to retain that element of fun.
SEAN: Never try to be bigger than your britches. Be cool with everyone as best you can. Remember you are all in it for the same reason YOU LOVE MUSIC, whether you like the same kind or not it doesn't matter. Love what you do, share that love and cross your fingers!
CHRIS: Practice what you do on your own. Don't break up and don't quit and eventually you will find an audience that believes in what you are doing.
JAKE: Never stop learning, never stop studying. The human mind is an amazing thing. If you allow yourself to stretch and learn, and challenge yourself, you will keep progressing. When you decide you've learned enough you will stop progressing - its that simple.