The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world

The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world

michael demay

OF bang tango redux

speaks to MARK ROCKPIT

 

photos by Mark Rockpit

 

I spoke with Michael Demay shortly before the second Bang Tango Redux show at Paladinos, which sits out in the Valley in L.A. We just talked music and had a few beers at the bar in between my chats with Mark Knight (Guitars) and Tigg Ketler (Drums). It was a great afternoon and even better night and Michael was a cool guy.

 

With no new dates announced so far and feedback still coming in on the whole project and whether it gets taken any further; let’s hear what the man in the shoes that some fans obviously wish Joe Leste could be standing in has to say…

 


Mark: How do you know the boys from Bang Tango? I heard you were in a band way back in the day before Bang Tango existed?

 

MD: I played with Kyle Kyle in The Lovers which was like a glam band meets Dio! That was very interesting, but at some point the band started to dissolve a little bit, and I talked to Mark Knight, and John and those guys from Nicky Knight. I was in a band with them for a while, and that’s how I know them all. After that band fell apart, I left and went to New York, and played with a really good, original group called ‘Detroit’: we were managed by Mike Apell, who used to manage Bruce Springsteen. We were all lined up for a record deal, but that all fell through, because the record label shifted and a number of people who were behind us left. That was around the late 90’s, and after that, I took a break and raised a family, and I’m still in New York after 22 years! I play in a great cover band out there called ‘Crush’, and we do everything from Journey to AC/DC, we do everything! So I’m still doing that, and then I got a call from Mark, who said let’s do the Tango thing, and I said “Great!’, and here I am.

 

Mark: So, it’s just the two dates so far?

 

MD: Yes, for now, but we have some other things cooking, some Mid West dates and some European dates are maybe on the cards.

 

Mark: The Mid West stuff should go down really well. We were in Oklahoma City a couple of weeks ago, and I was talking to some guys over there, and you would go down great! Bang Tango played in Tulsa earlier in the year, with Joe, and they packed out the club they were in, about 250 people. People still love that sort of music out there.

 

MD: Yeah, I mean we are still doing the stuff that Bang Tango fans would know, but we are going more in the direction of the ‘Love After Death’ album, which was never released in the U.S. so a lot of people haven’t heard it, and when they do, it’s like, wow! This is heavy!

 

Mark: I was saying earlier to Mark that one of my favourite albums is ‘Love After Death’

 

MD: Where did you hear it?

 

Mark: In the UK when it was released, it came out on the Music for Nations label there, even before it was released in Japan.

 

MD: Yeah, UK, Japan and then got shelved in the United States, so no one has heard it here, which is kind of cool, so it’s almost like going out with Bang Tango, all original members and a new singer, and still doing some hits, and we got some ‘new’ stuff to throw out too.

 

Mark: How many songs are you doing tonight off that album?

 

MD: About 4 or 5: ‘Feeling Nothing’; ‘Living on the Moon’ and ‘My Favourite Nine’ for sure. I’m really looking forward to it; it’s going to be great! It’s like coming home and seeing friends.

 

Michael onstage with the Redux band at Paladinos in August 2010

 

Mark: How would you describe your voice?

 

MD: Well, I’m a big Paul Rogers fan, there’s a lot of singers I like, at the moment there’s a European singer that not a lot of people have been turned on to called Jorn Lande. He’s one of my favourites, he combines David Coverdale, Ronnie James Dio and Paul Rogers, if they had a love child that’s who would be spawned, he’s brilliant!

 

Mark: He’s great. He’s just released a Dio cover album. I got a copy on the I-pod and I love it.

 

MD: Yeah, he’s great, he’s very melodic and he’s got power, and he’s got soul.

 

Mark: Paul Rogers is my favourite singer of all time, and for me there’s no one even close to him!

 

MD: If anyone asked me which rockstar I’d like to meet it would be Paul Rogers, I would love to have ten minutes of his time: he’s just brilliant. He’s like a fine wine, he’s aged perfectly. When he was with Queen, everyone was like what the hell is Paul Rogers gonna do in Queen? But, he got up there and he was amazing.

 

Mark: If you sound anything like Paul Rogers, I’ll be very happy! As much as I love Bang Tango and I love Joe, and I saw them again last year, his voice has never been one of my favourites but it does fit the music perfectly.

 

MD: It’s much more different live than it is in the studio. If we record, I want to be one of those singers who does it live like he does it in the studio, I never want to have a bunch of shit on there. I just do what I do, and Joe does what he does.

 

Mark: So, is there any chance of you guys recording something?

 

MD: We are taking baby steps, to see where everybody’s head’s at, and to make it work. Mark and I are really on the same page; Tigg’s on board, and the rest of the guys I think would follow. Mark and I are like, there’s something here, man! Especially when we did the first songs in rehearsals out in Burbank. It sounds good, it sounds bluesy and I don’t want to go outside the norm of what Bang Tango does. I don’t want to be one of those guys who comes up and does his own thing.

 

Mark: To me the interesting thing about Bang Tango is the first couple of albums I really loved, they had the heavy bass and drums, and it was perfect because it made them stand out from the rest. But then when you hear the album ’Love After Death’ it’s a whole other level.

 

MD: We are trying to capture that, so we still do all the older classics that people know and I try to sing them spot on, and not sing them different, but the love after death stuff, I tweak a little bit, a lot of people won’t have heard that.

 

onstage with Kyle Kyle and Mark Knight

 

Mark: The interesting thing tonight for me is last time I saw Joe’s band play songs from ‘Love After Death’, they did “My Favourite Nine”, and “New Generation”, and so I’ll get to hear the comparison. To me when we saw Joe, they made it more metal but it had lost some of its soul.

 

MD: We don’t because we still have Tigg and Kyle and they still rock in, it’s like magic. I think that the response that we get is, I’m a very low key guy, I don’t try to take in a lot of the stuff, the fan stuff because they are always going to love the band and they’re going to be there for you. But I try to take in what we do as a performance, and do the best job I can, and then kick some ass!! It will definitely be different for you here.

 

Mark: Even though the media has opened up with Myspace and Facebook, it’s almost like there is too much choice, so even though you can get everything out there, how do you get people who may be a little curious to come see the show?

 

MD: I think technology helps in so many ways. When we were playing The Brixton, it’s all over the internet; it’s like a completely different realm to when they were out on tour back in the day.

 

Mark: So it’s good to be back with the guys?

 

MD: Yeah I mean they could have contacted other guys to do things, vocally, but I’ve played with Kyle and Mark before, so there was almost like an epiphany that happens. Mark and I wrote all the Nicky Knight stuff, so it’s like going home and seeing an old buddy and going do you want to do this stuff again?

 

Mark: That sounds great, and for me it’s so cool to see everyone again. The first time I saw Bang Tango was back in 1992, and the thing I liked then on that European tour was the soul and heavy funk that was even more pronounced with the addition of some female backing singers, that was kind of cool and set them apart.

 

MD: When you hear the band now you’ll hear all that funk stuff and that groove, and that soul, but there’s that edge to it. There’s a real growl, not metal, it’s like walking that fine line, somewhere between, it’s cool.

 

Mark: I saw the YouTube stuff from The Brixton and it looked great, the video was good but the audio was a bit garbled, it’s usually the other way around, but I have a bit of an idea of what you sound like.

 

MD: I think you’ll like it, if the fans who are out there, still love that stuff, love the band and still like to see them play, there’s always going to be that scepticism with somebody new. I’m not trying to replace Joe; I’m just trying to do my own thing.

 

Mark: I think that’s what has come out already in the press. When Mark did the interview with Sleaze Roxx, and Joe did his, I could see both points of view. I could see why Joe feels like he does.

 

MD: Yeah, the rest of the band dissolved and Joe kept the vision, he kept Bang Tango going and God bless him! He’s out there doing it and he didn’t have those guys to play, I would have probably done the same thing. But, there’s the other side of me too that, and after being out in New York for 20 years, there’s an old saying live and let live!! We are doing our thing and yes, we’re playing the same songs, but we’re doing it with a little twist. I’m not trying to get up there and emulate Joe, I don’t want to be Joe Leste, and I’m sure Joe Leste doesn’t want to be Michael Demay! I’m just doing my own thing, that’s all!

 

 

Mark: To me, as a fan of music, it doesn’t matter! I would go and see both bands tomorrow!!

 

MD: Right, I’m going to see him play just up the road from me at a place called The Chance, a big venue on August 19th. I know the owner of the club, so I’m hoping to go back stage, and say hello, I don’t want any bad vibes.

 

Mark: It’s a win, win situation. I saw Skid Row, and two weeks later I saw Sebastian Bach, and half their sets are exactly the same. They are classic songs and it doesn’t matter! I think the only hard thing when some bands do split is that you always associate the singer with the band.

 

MD: Yeah, it’s like David Lee Roth with Van Halen, it’s that whole thing, and like I say I’m not trying to reinvent the wheel!

 

Mark: So, the person with the most pressure on is you!!

 

MD: Yes it’s me, but I have a lot of confidence in myself. I’m proud of the band and I love what they do, and I’ve got all the pressure to deliver, and I’m basically doing a cover gig right now! But, I’ve been doing that for the last 10 years, and I can sing Journey, Aerosmith and Chumba Wumba!!

 

Mark: You don’t do Chumba Wumba!!

 

MD: Oh, yes we do! And it works!!

 

Mark: The main thing for me is the songs are timeless, and I’d go and see a cover band with no original members, if they played good songs, and you speak to people in the Mid West, for example, the feeling is the same.

 

MD: It’s all about loving the music.

 

Mark: I think real fans would love to see the whole band back together.

 

MD: Yes, I don’t care who’s playing with Joe, I’d go just to see Joe! Because he is 50% of Bang Tango! And the other 50% I’m playing with. Life’s too short! Music is music and I’m going to sing regardless of whether I’m in this band or not, and right now I’m going to do my thing with these guys.

 

Mark: It’s a win - win!

 

MD: Absolutely!


EPILOGUE:

 

So what does the future hold for the band? I spoke to Dean Hagen a few weeks after the Paladinos show. Dean is a friend of the band who got to attend the rehearsals and saw both the Brixton and the Paladinos shows. He’s also a pretty cool guy. Rather than comment myself here is what he had to say word for word…

 

As a friend of the band and a long time fan I was invited to attend the rehearsals. When I walked into the studio I couldn’t believe my ears. Here was the “real” Bang Tango in all it’s glory playing the classics- “Shotgun Man” “Attack of Life” “Someone” Everything was perfect- note for note. It was as if they hadn’t taken a 15 year hiatus. Everyone was on full throttle!

 

The crowds at both So Cal shows appeared to be at capacity. I personally enjoyed the Brixton show in Redondo the best. By the time Bang Tango Redux hit the stage the crowd was well warmed up from Little Caesar. From the opening notes of “Sweet Little Razor” the audience ate up everything Bang Tango Redux was serving. You could tell from the determination and attitudes that these guys meant business. One classic after another, the band was at peak form and the energy was unbelievable. It was a truly magical night!

 

The word on the street was that most people had a “wait and see” attitude. Could they regain the magic they once had? How would it go over with a new singer? Well Bang Tango Redux certainly delivered. Everyone I talked to thoroughly enjoyed the shows and the question on everyone’s lips was when will we see them again? Apparently the rest of the world is waiting as well with the band getting offers all around the country as well as abroad. Let’s hope they carry on!

 

 

Mark Rockpit

August 2010

additional words by Dean Hagen