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Music: A Band of Brothers

Cincinnati Metal band Banderas prepares for the release of its first album

By Ryan Mclendon · April 2nd, 2008 · Music
Ryan Thomas


Jonathan Rhys Meyers is a beautiful man whose career is largely ignored. This is due in part to the fact that he performs admirably in movies that are often less than admirable and often difficult to watch, such as the m/lange of soccer, Hindu culture and Keira Knightly, Bend it Like Beckham.

Meyers, however, starred in one of the most remarkable and ridiculous Rock Operas ever, 1998's Velvet Goldmine, the cinematic exploration of the birth, death and incestuous nature of Glam Rock that also capitalizes on David Bowie's alleged romantic outings with Iggy Pop. Goldmine at its core is a standard three-part drama fraught with gays, glitter and a stellar soundtrack. It was the impetus behind the closeted Glam revival of 1998 (which really only consisted of Goldmine and Marilyn Manson's homage to David Bowie, Mechanical Animals).

What is significant, however, is that Meyers' character manages to summarize the essence of Rock in one tongue-in-cheek phrase while dressed as Aladdin Sane's doppelganger Rock n' Roll is a prostitute, one that craves to be performed.

Cincinnati Metal quintet Banderas understands what it means to pimp out their music and they do it in the quasi-glammiest fashion possible. The band was forged in 2004 by two pairs of biological brothers Donkey and Jesse James Ramsey; Perm Constantinople and Cu Silvio and one honorary brother, T.R. McHenry. This haphazard musical family has performed with national acts like Rev. Horton Heat and Nashville Pussy, headlined local festivals and won the "Best Hard Rock/ Metal" award at the 2007 Cincinnati Entertainment Awards.

"(Rock & Roll has) got to be trussed up, brought out and then drug through the mud and dropped off at home," lead singer Perm Constantinople says.

Like any sensible Rock band, Banderas has adopted a sense of raw showmanship that hasn't been seen since The Stooges. On stage they are beasts and possibly the only working band today that seems to understand the notion of manipulating a sound and an image like a serf and then flagrantly flaunting it at every performance.

"For 40 minutes, as long as I have a mic in my hand and there's music behind me, I can pretty much do anything I actually feel like in public," says Constantinople.

Part of Banderas' success is achieved by combining familiar and arcane Rock & Roll posturing with a few post-modern twists. The band has all the pomp and swagger of the Rolling Stones with a teaspoon Mike Ness, often sounding swampy, sleazy and sexy like in "Click. Crash. Boom," essentially the soundtrack of a revved-up Rockabilly church picnic.

But on tracks like "Disgraceland," where a heavy balance rests on a monotonous beat of a keyboard (reminiscent of Afghan Whigs' 1965), the listener gets a substantial taste of the band's versatility.

The band doesn't just play live they perform, maximizing the Rock-prostitute angle with crooning, dancing and potential sexual misconduct. Constantinople's stage presence is liquid sex. He manages to cultivate a languid and sleazy hybridization of Mick Jagger and Placebo's Brian Molko, capturing the audience with struts and thrusts. Constantinople has been seen straddling and tea-bagging audience members while the other band members hammer out powerful, vicious melodies and rock their asses sufficiently off.

Banderas is also notorious for including the audience in their fun. By the end of their performance at the 2007 Northside Rock & Roll Carnival, most of the audience was on stage dancing along with the band at its insistence.

"I try and do what I imagine I would really want to see another band do," Constantinople says.

Banderas began recording their first album, Beast Sounds and Parlor Tricks, in 2007 at Candyland Recording Studio in Cincinnati under the guidance of owner Jim Turner. The album is a mix of songs from the band's live performances and a few new studio tracks.

"You know how you pay to ride the go-carts around the Family Fun Center "; that's kind of what we were doing in the studio," says keyboardist/ bassist McHenry.

The experience has been invaluable for the band; not only have they successfully recorded its first album, but the members surmounted the psychological hurdle that the studio can be intimidating.

"For the most part it really wasn't even, like, work," said guitarist Silvio.

Much of the recording process came easily to Banderas as a result of their Boy-Scout verve and preparedness.

"More than half the reason (the new album) turned out as well as it has is because we have been so fucking prepared," guitarist Jesse James says. "We demo-ed the shit out of everything multiple times."

The other Banderas recordings, including all the tracks on their MySpace page, had been done in-house, literally: Four band members live in the same Clifton house where much of their music is produced.

The album is slated for release in May and will be accompanied by a CD release party at the Poison Room. For the band, this is not only a dream finally actualized, but also an obstacle overcome. And perhaps it's because they recognize the nature of the whore in the score.

"The whole thing has been like painting or drawing or building something," Constantinople says. "At the end of the day you sit back and say, Wow. I did that. That's awesome.' " ©

BANDERAS (myspace.com/banderas) releases its debut album May 23 at the Poison Room. Buy Tickets, check out performance times and find nearby bars and restaurants here.



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