By Kristi Kates
Paul Shaffers band on the David Letterman show has often been referred to as The Worlds Most Dangerous Band. But Saginaw/Bay City pop-rockers The Banana Convention, it seems, are in the running to be dubbed The Worlds Busiest Band.
We asked percussionist/vocalist Monte Nothelfer what the bands been up to lately. His answer would even make the uber-peppy Richard Simmons tired.
Well, weve self-recorded several albums of original music,and have gone on the road many times, hitting up major cities across the country like Detroit, Denver, New York, Washington DC, and Los Angeles, Nothelfer says. Weve played the Warped Tour three years in a row, and opened for the band All Time Low at the Chicago House of Blues.
We were also the runner-ups in the Rock Your Way To The Top Battle of the Bands competition that was held at Turtle Creek and Leelenau Sands casinos this past spring, he continues. As a part of the runner-up prize, we got to head to the Radius Recording Studio to work with producer Joey Callahan and record four songs. Within the next year, we will be releasing our fifth album and hopefully hitting the road to tour and promote that new album.
Whew. Nap, anyone?
Nothelfer, along with bandmates Chris Howard (drums/vocals), Jake Voisine (guitar), Sean Drysdale (bass), and Shar Molina on lead vocals, explains that the bands DIY attitude and focused, constantly-working approach evolved in part from the difficulty they initially had establishing their current lineup.
The band was founded many years ago, Nothelfer explains, but we really started in 2004 with a very different lineup and sound than what we have now. Over the years, we began to take our music more seriously, and after what seemed like a revolving door of various band members, we ended up with our current lineup, which has been together for two years and is more solid than weve ever been.
Currently unsigned, the band is chasing after that elusive record contract with simple hard work and performing as many shows as possible.
As of right now, we are 100% do-it-yourself, Nothelfer says. We want to get signed to a label or find management that believes in what were doing enough to put us out on the road, so we can all quit our day jobs and just play our music full time.
Although the bands name might conjure up thoughts of Andy Warhol, old 70s Saturday morning TV puppet shows, or grocery gatherings (it was actually stolen, as Nothelfer puts it, from an episode of The Brady Bunch in which Greg Brady joins a band of the same name), the quintets sound is actually very pop - catchy tunes, often wacky lyrics, and a stage presence that balances their musicianship with showmanship.
Our short elevator pitch about the band is that we sound like if The B-52s were in a steel cage battle with No Doubt, and Weezer were the referee, Nothelfer laughs. While we are a fun and energetic band, we still maintain that slight edge. Were not just all silly antics and games, though - we do cover a lot of ground musically, from pop to rock, funk to punk, and our songs cover all sorts of topics. The band definitely has a 50/50 approach going to their setlist; for every serious song about life or relationships, theres a more frivolous, viral tune about Han Solo or the Cool Bus.
But in everything we do, fun is the main ingredient, so no matter the topic, youll still have a good time listening, Nothelfer says.
Nothelfer also mentions what a great time the band had taking advantage of their Battle of the Bands prize, working at Radius Recording Studio.
Joey (Callahan) is a pro all the way, Nothelfer enthuses, and the Radius Recording Studio is the nicest place weve ever been lucky enough to record. We chose to record three of our original songs, as well as our cover version of the Gnarls Barkley song, Crazy. We still hae a little more work to do on the recordings, and we wont have a final product ready for a few more weeks, but based on even the very rough-cut versions of the songs we have right now, its going to sound great. We cant wait to get it out there for everybody to hear.
The Banana Convention already has a pretty good local following, so their upcoming show in Traverse City should be a fun one for the ambitious band. Nothelfer recommends reinforcing your shoes before you attend their set, as plenty of dancing is sure to be had.
We have several new songs, originals and covers, that well be playing, he says, but even if you dont like every single song we play, youre sure to get sucked in by the performance aspect of the whole thing. Youll leave knowing you just saw one heck of a live show.
The Banana Convention will be live in concert at the Level 3 Lounge in the Turtle Creek Casino (www.turtlecreekcasino.com) in Williamsburg on November 12 and 13. For more info on the band, visit www.thebananaconvention.com.