|The Usual Bandidos, Carlos & The Bandidos
Part Records PART-CD 655.001
In November 1995, a motley bunch of musicians gathered together to listen to Carlos Mejuto's idea for a new band. Being of Spanish descent, Carlos had an idea to adopt a Mexican musical image. With himself on vocals and maraccas, guitar wizard Malcolm Chapman provides the blistering licks, Ricky Cooper plays rhythm with his tonsils providing the backup vocal harmony, the driving backbeat is provided by Neil Scott who slaps the double bass and finally Roger Van Niekirk pounds the skins (he's also been known to down a bottle or three ofTequila!).
From this idea, an image developed and Carlos & The Bandidos then adopted a style that played on an area of music that other rocking bands had never touched upon - songs of death and the dark side of life. "The Gallows" and "Stone killer" are prime examples. "When my baby kisses me" is about dying of a heroin overdose. That's not their full repertoire, but it highlights perfectly Malcolm's songwriting skills. He composes the bulk of the material on the "Kiss you goodnight" CD. The songs were written and an interesting array of covers picked by Carlos to fit in with his front man visual image, hence the Trini Lopez and Conway Twitty songs they perform.
Next came the question of how to get noticed and to quote Malcolm "There are a lot of rockabilly bands chasing the same dollar". The debut of the band's image took place in Amsterdam's famed Cruise Inn. The band thought it would be a laugh to dress like Mexicans, who would expect a band to appear on stage looking like total idiots!?!? It helped them to win over to the audience and they sensed that the band were there to play, party and have fun! The visual concept stuck and Carlos & The Bandidos had arrived on the rocking scene!
The boys had been together for six months when they recorded the "Kiss You Goodnight" LP (it was at this point that the boys fully adopted the Mexican fashion) which is featured on the LP sleeve. The record sported several club hits, most notably "Develine", but they ran into an unexpected problem. Some people were offended by the cover picture of a hanged man, and distributors were reluctant to stock it, as they thought that people would find it offensive! It was not the boys' idea to offend people and they quickly realized that there was a problem with the design. They remedied this by recording some more songs and stuck most of the LP on the CD "For A Few Dollars Less" (Noose Records).
The band is established on the rocking club circuit and they have played all over the world. For some months they may only play one gig, other months it can be four or five gigs which have to be fitted around the boys' proper full-time employment, which naturally makes touring a problem. They get around this by performing at one-off gigs, where they fly in, play and fly out again. The largest crowd that they have appeared in front of was at Viva Las Vegas in 1999, where approximately 1800 people attended the festival.
Just to keep their feet on the ground, they played at a Mexican restaurant in Bamet (a suburb of London), where if it had not been for a few friends, they would have been entertaining the bar staff only! This year they have undertaken and finished a tour of the West Coast of America and they will also be in Spain, Switzerland, and Germany for the Whitsun Festival, and of course their home country England. They are hoping for a Scandinavian tour. Today only Carlos wears the Mexican clothing on stage, the band now wearing their own Western jackets instead of the old smelly Ponchos (joke!) plus it cuts down on luggage when touring. Their next CD release was titled "A Fist Full Of Carlos", also on Noose Records.
If you're out for a ball then I can heartily recommend this band to liven up your local club or festival. They inject humour and enthusiasm into their performance by not attempting to recreate the hard authentic image that some bands strictly adhere to. After all, fun and enjoyment is what the rocking life is about, so open up a bottle of Tequila, and let out a yell and dig these crazy cats.
The latest Carlos & The Bandidos release is titled "The Usual Bandidos" on the German label Part Records. Another superb album with 15 new recordings, about half of 'em being self-penned originals. There's no doubt about it, Carlos & The Bandidos are a force to reckon with.
Carlos & The Bandidos are:
Courtesy of Part Records, 2004