Interview: Bandit


Earlier this month I caught up with Bandit after their show in Atlanta. In between obnoxiously loud car engines and jokes about killing each other, we talked about their latest LP Siege of Self, their lastest tour with Chepang and Decultivate, what it was like to work with Colin Marston, and why Denny’s might actually be hell on earth.

Read the (lightly edited) transcript below or listen at the bottom.

Eenzy: Hey guys, Eenzaamheid – Eenzy – here, I’m outside 529 in Atlanta, which is a venue, hanging in the parking lot where I came to piss earlier tonight – Bandit is the band I’m with. Do you guys wanna introduce yourselves?

Gene: Yeah I’m Gene Meyer, I’m the vocalist

Gobi: I’m Gobi, drummer for Bandit

Jack: I’m Jack, I play guitar, and is it a coincidence that every place that’s good for an interview is also good for a piss and a murder?

*Eenzy laughs*

Eenzy: You ruined the end of this interview for me, so thank you!

Eenzy: Siege of Self, your full-length came out earlier this year. Me and a lot of other reviewers heard a lot of Pig Destroyer in the sound, was that intentional or just our lack of imagination as reviewers? Also, generally what are you main influences specifically on that album?

Jack: I would say it was intentional but we already got one Cease and Desist so I’m just gonna say no comment – I’m just kidding. I’ve listened to Phantom Limb and Terrifyer more than any other albums in my entire life. They have absolutely a massive amount of influence [on me]. The guitar you saw me use tonight I actually got from Scott Hull. In terms of other influences, I listen to a lot of Discordance Axis, Agents of Abhorrence from Australia – super incredible band – a lot of Chepang both new and old. I’m really big into the latest Car Bomb LP, which had a big influence on the grooves on the record, and you know like Rock ‘n Roll – AC/DC, Lou Reed, stuff like that.

Eenzy: I actually got to see Chepang also tonight cause they’re on tour with these guys, so it was quite the show.

Eenzy: For me, when I listened to Warsaw, I felt like there was an underlying theme. A lot of the songs are named after cities that had concentration camps in WW2 – would you say there’s an underlying theme to [Siege of Self], and is there a connection to the record Warsaw? The reason I ask is because the last line in “End of the Rainbow” says “bury me in Czestawova” [Gene corrects my terrible pronunciation]. Are they connected, do they both have general themes, what’s up?

Gene: Warsaw is about inter-generational trauma. Both sides of my family – my dad went through a very painful divorce as a child and my mom, her parents survived WW2 labor camps and all that shit. Siege of Self is more about my own struggles. A lot of it focuses on failed relationships, depression – I was diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder while we were recording – so a lot of it plays into that. But one thing we always try to do is reference older material in the new material. In that last song not only do I reference Czestawova but I reference the parking lot which is a reference from Self-Inflicted and throughout the album there are a few lines that are repeated like “a little bit of violence never hurt anyone” and stuff like that.

Eenzy: Your music seems intensely personal to me; is playing a cathartic experience? And do you ever struggle with how much you’re willing to share with your audience?

Gene: It is intensely personal, I don’t think we’d have it any other way. Playing is also intensely cathartic, I also don’t think we’d have it any other way. On this tour, there have been some shows where we have just given our all and the audience stares at us like we’re a bunch of penguins at the zoo, but tonight was a good example of the crowd really reciprocating our energy. We know that if we’re gonna be a band that gives 110% every time, sometimes people just aren’t gonna be ready for it and that’s ok.

Eenzy: What’s your take on the national mental health crisis and what roles does extreme music play in it?

Gene: I think the crisis we’re seeing really started during the pandemic. I think the pandemic forced a lot of people to get honest about their mental health. Prior to that, especially in men, there’s a lot of urge to downplay or ignore or pretend it’s not there. I think it’s actually moving forward, it’s progressing, people are talking about it more openly. I’m seeing like athletes, and celebrities, and all that…

Eenzy: Yeah there was like a gymnast right? Who dropped out of the olympics?

Gene: Yeah! I mean last year Mike Patton cancelled a tour for mental health. It’s becoming more and more of a widely accepted thing. And I do think extreme music is such a good outlet for people struggling with that shit, cause at its core it’s about dealing with unpleasant emotions and really processing them with peers.

Eenzy: So this is for all three of you guys: What was your first exposure to grindcore? And what got you into this very abrasive, caustic form of music that my parents did not like when I was a kid?

Gene: It’s a long story but the first CD I ever owned was Rage Against the Machine‘s self-titled and that really just sent me down the path. But the first grindcore album I ever heard was Prowler in the Yard, which I stole from FYE! Which makes me sound like a 58 year old man…

Eenzy: That’s like the most punk way to get that album.

Gene: Yeah, I remember putting that in my mom’s van and really just being blown away by it and being hooked every since.

Gobi: For me, I moved to the US in 2011. Back in Nepal, there wasn’t a big grindcore scene. The first big band that ever came to Nepal was Napalm Death. So that was the only grind band that I saw or listened to. Once I moved to the US, on the East coast I met a lot of friends that were playing in the grindcore and metal scene so there was a lot of exposure to local bands like Triac, and it was more kind of like a closed circle [of bands] and friends that exposed me to more of the grindcore scene, and that’s how I started playing in it too.

Jack: When I was 15, my best friend, our original drummer Michael Thomas, downloaded This Comp Kills Fascists, Scott Hull’s first Relapse comp, and he was like “You need to check out this band A.S.R.A” and the first song I ever heard was “Cancer” by A.S.R.A. And that shit totally blew my mind, but the most influential band to me on the comp was Chainsaw to the Face, the New Jersey band – they were this incredibly arrhythmic, psychotic, brutal grindcore band. I had never heard anything like it, and when I found out they were a straight-edge band, that was why I became straight-edge and am still straight-edge to this day.

Eenzy: That’s a great name for a band – Chainsaw to the Face!

Jack: Best name of any band, all time!

Eenzy: Your last album was produced, engineered, and recorded by Colin Marston, who is a bit of a legend on our stupid site. We love him way too much, in a creepy way. What was it like working so closely with him?

Gobi: Working with Colin is really organic and natural. Previously I’ve recorded drums with Chepang – we’ve recorded a couple albums with Colin – and his studio is called Thousand Caves and as soon as you walk in, in the middle of Queens, there are trees all around and there’s a big hallway with a big piano and that’s a live room. For drums especially he also puts a mic a little bit far [away] in the hallway too, and when you’re playing it’s super organic and loud. It’s one of the most comfortable places to play an instrument. And it’s super easy to work with him because you’re already super comfortable.

Jack: One thing I’d like to add is – one thing Colin is famous for, and in some ways infamous for, is he really likes to capture a performance as it is. He wants to capture the way that a band actually sounds. Which, if you’re really good, is awesome, but if you need to practice, can be very stressful. I swear to god I have never been as good at guitar as I was when we recorded this record because I had to do everything precisely right for it to be on the record the way that it was. There were even a few performances I was unhappy with but Colin thought were so great, and I respected him so much that I was fine leaving them in there. I really think that adds so much character to the records he does, especially records that are super technical like ours or like an Artificial Brain-type band that can easily end up sound overproduced and robotic. He is just like “We’re gonna get an organic sound that is like the band playing in the room with you” and it’s incredibly rock and roll and beautiful.

Eenzy: So you guys are nearing the end of your tour. What was your favorite city or show you played so far?

Gene: I think the real surprise of the tour for me was Davenport, Iowa. I had never heard of Davenport, it was a Tuesday, I thought there were gonna be like three people there, and there was like 80 people there and it was totally fucking rocking. We went up and crushed it on stage and the crowd just went wild for us.

Gobi: For me I think it was St. Louis. There was a crowd that wasn’t as big as the Ohio crowd, but there was a different energy where everyone went all-out, so by the end of the show we were drained but it was totally worth it. There was a different energy there that we could relay back to the floor; they had a really good energy there.

Jack: St. Louis and Davenport were the biggest surprises of the tour and I had a lot of fun at those shows, especially at St. Louis. But I have to say Memphis was an incredible experience and my favorite show of the tour. And a big thank you to Josh from Wise Grind Records for setting it up and Corroded for playing the show with us. It was so much fun, such good energy – the entire crowd seemed to love every band. We really just had a great time hanging out and goofing around with our friends, which is all you can really ask for at a show.

Eenzy: A question from another writer: So when you’re on tour, in my experience at least, you generally eat a lot of shitty food. The last band I interviewed actually ate amazing food their whole tour cause they planned it out that way I guess. What’s the best and/or worst tour food you guys have stomached down?

Gene: I don’t wanna say the worst because I don’t wanna put negativity out into the world. The best was in Chicago we went to a Himalayan restaurant and it was soooo good. Also in Milwaukee we went to an Afghan restaurant, which when you hear that you’re like “what???”, but we went and it was absolutely amazing.

Gobi: Yeah I think those were the top I’d say. The spiciest food we had was in Memphis – we went there and had some super spicy hot Thai, and then each of us – everyone on the tour, us, Chepang, and Decultivate – took a shit like three times right before playing. So that was the most memorable thing I think *laughs*

Jack: It was rough for Dark Matter in Nashville, so thanks guys, we’re sorry, won’t happen again – we’ll be fasting next time we come to Nashville. The worst food that I had was – I’m vegan and a couple of the Decultivate guys are vegetarians, so we went to a Denny’s and there’s absolutely nothing for you to eat there. Even what I did get, like potatoes, it’s all cooked in butter so after that my stomach was absolutely annihilated. And it was absolutely the most hilarious way to welcome our European brothers to the culinary mastermind that is the United States.

Gobi: Yeah they had bacon on an ice cream shake.

Eenzy: They really have that there?

Gobi: Yeah they really did. I think Denny’s was the worst after we ate it but when we had it on the table it was the best thing. But then we had it and after one hour everyone is like “never again!”

Eenzy: I guess all I have to say to that is, what the fuck is up Denny’s? But like with your food though.

Eenzy:  Ok last question, what are some of your favorite releases so far this year and some other bands that fans of your band should check out?

Jack: I’m not just saying this because I have to, but I do, the new Chepang LP Swatta is one of the most creative and one of the most transcendental grindcore records that has ever been made. The A side and the B side of the first LP – that’s right it’s a double LP of grindcore – are just some of the most angular, intense bursts of extreme music that have ever been recorded. Then you think “how could these guys go more into uncharted territory?” and side A of the second LP was recorded by a lot of our friends who are drummers recorded sort-of random drum tracks – some of them are jazz drummers, some are rock drummers.  Dirk Verbeuren from Megadeth is on the record – there’s a super wide net of personnel. And friends of ours who are guitarists wrote things on top of those drum [tracks], like I did a song with with George from Ona Snop. There’s some really unbelievable stuff on side A of the second LP, and then side B of the LP is AI-generated grindcore!  I don’t think anything’s gonna top that for me this year, but the new Shitstorm LP is fuckin sick.

Gobi: For me personally, I don’t listen to a lot of music, so I’m not super aware of what’s been released. But most of the bands I always listen to, and like recently over and over, are like you know are Ona Snop from UK, Gride from Czech Republic, Cognizant and Trucido from Dallas, Tx, and Triac from DC.

Gene: So I write for Decibel Some Lame Metal magazine, and I’m just looking at my past articles. Suffering Quote, Endless Swarm, Warfuck, Chepang, Shitstorm, and a band we played with in Nashville, Corroded, released a really fucking [good album]. It kinda reminded me of Ground, like early Ground cause they have some beatdown parts, but then they really lock in for the blast beats. And also Thin from Brooklyn, they released a really cool album that is very artsy but blistering I would say.

Eenzy: are they like avant-garde…

Gene: It’s like mathcore… mathgrind?

Gobi: Mathcore is important.

Gene: Yeah mathcore is very important.

Eenzy: Careful where you say that. Ok so that’s all I had, anything you guys wanna shout out?

Jack: Shout out to Shatiz from Chepang and GCBT Records for putting out our records along with Holy Goats, our friend Ralph from Germany, who not only put out our record but put up with us for two weeks last summer when he drove us around Europe for our European tour around Obscene Extreme. What an incredibly charitable man. And shoutout Mold Dominion who put out our CD, JR [Hayes], and Chirby, thank you Chirby for everything, you’re the man!

You can catch Bandit on IG and Spoofy. Peep their music video for “Juanita” and spend all of your money on their LP Siege of Self via BC below.

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