BANDITS rebrand and talk to us about their history and their horizon.
One night over whiskey and records, we came up with a cool idea: we wanted to sit down with musicians, listen to music, and just talk about how they got to where they are. For our first interview, we jumped on Boulder’s own BANDITS. John and Lulu Demitro walked into the Gingerbread house and the first thing they both said to us was: “Nice- Rubber Soul is on.” That’s when we knew it was going to be a good evening, with The White Stripes and The Greenhornes to follow.
The BANDITS are a Boulder band through and through. Though they don’t play here often due to Boulder’s lack of hard rock venues, their family started here, with their grandfather being one of the first Colorado University students to attend school for bass guitar. He even owned a music shop, located where The Riverside is today. So the Demitros grew up here and still love it. John embarked on his first band (Baseline) when he was 17 and started out on bass guitar. Baseline began as a four piece, fresh out of high school; a rock band playing 21+ shows for pennies and no tab because they ‘couldn’t’ drink. John has always been influenced by the heavy hitters of rock and roll, like Zeppelin and Sabbath. Trying to fill out the sound of the band, he looked to his sister Lulu to play keys. Lulu started playing piano as a toddler and taught herself how to read music by playing Beatles songs over and over. But with John being the older brother, it took some convincing for her to even come to a practice. Eventually, she joined the band.
Baseline played some gigs to empty basements but nothing too serious. Together, the group’s first gig under the moniker Branded Bandits was opening a show at The Fox Theatre for West Water Outlaws, and with guns blazing the Branded Bandits kept playing. When the guitar player left the band, John told Lulu, “You will have to learn bass and I am going to learn the guitar parts.” And so they did. Non-stop practicing made their shows go smoothly from there, but what really came from the change was that they liked their new three piece outfit. Compressing the band changed the sound, and all they wanted was a badass rock band.
“The thing about rock and roll [is] there are no rules, you can do anything you want.” -John
Finding new influences like Queens of the Stone Age, The Kills, and Black Rebel Motorcycle Club showed Bandits that they really didn’t need a lot to sound heavy. Working on finding their own sound made drummers come and go, but finding current drummer Andrew Oakley (formerly of West Water Outlaws) was a sign that they were moving in the direction they wanted. They felt more at home with Andrew on the kit. They were trimming off the extra and creating BANDITS.
“[Andrew] is a pocket drummer and we needed that; he’s all about the song and the collective.” said John.
Added Lulu, “With Andrew we were falling into our sound.”
The unbranded BANDITS quickly started working on new songs and hopped on the road. A touring rock and roll band in their early 20’s brings debauchery, and they have stories to tell. They stayed on the road as much as possible and then jumped into the studio to record. For the first time ever, they got to record like their idols. They taped and pressed a 7-inch.
“It was the first time we got to see how recording a tape worked.” they told us.
Which brings us to now, with BANDITS opening up the Heart show tonight. BANDITS were contacted a few months back about the show, but didn’t hear much until two weeks ago when they got a call that said, “You’re in.”
“They are the female Led Zeppelin, such a unique, powerful, and original sound,” Lulu smiled, “Two leading ladies: one plays guitar and they write their own tunes. [When it comes to our set] we are going to do what we are going to do and have a good time doing it.”
Spoken like a true rock and roll band. If you are seeing Heart tonight, make sure you get to the show early to see this fantastic three piece. Or you can catch them around Colorado- they play the Snake River Saloon this Saturday. Keep up with their performances here.
Listen to a Bandits track here:
-David and Zach on the record
All photos, videos, and embedded tracks per the artists featured and those credited. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.