The Roadside Bandits Project – Wastelands | Landscapes
Cruising their way back from their 2020 self-titled full-length album, London-based psychedelic blues-rock group The Roadside Bandits Project release their latest track Wastelands.
The track presents itself with all the suave and attractive sloppy machismo of being a blues-rock group, replete with the saucy guitar tones, the cigarette-ashen machismo lead vocals and a near-dystopic soundscape. At its most fundamental level, Wastelands offers the fundamentals of blues-rock along but does not remain restricted by it, branching out onto a very surreal lounge rock vibe, very similar to some tracks from albums like Tranquility Base Hotel and Casino. This is observable particularly well with the swinging tremolo arm in its near psychedelic element, making a landscape in the listener’s mind of a lone protagonist lost in a dystopian sci-fi world.
Understandably, the lyricism in the track is a commentary on the social tribulations and turbulences that the musicians observe around them, particularly with lyricism such as — ‘The TV says the brighter days are coming / Is that a flashlight or an empty speeding train / I’m on my knees I’m tired of running’. The little electronic pulsations scattered across the track renders the track Kubrick-y, warping the mind of the listener around a mystical and psychedelic science-fiction landscape.
We had the pleasure of reaching out to The Roadside Bandits Project about their track. Here is how that went:
Congratulations on your new track! How would you describe the track to someone just getting into the discography of the roadside bandits project?
Thank you! – well, I would say it’s a sort of continuation from where I left it with the first album. I always like to use imaginary cinematic landscapes as a frame where to place the music, wastelands is very much so a reflection of the current socio-political landscape, not only as it is currently in the UK but pretty much as it is everywhere in the world today, it also has a very strong blues influence so it inevitably reflects that degree of sadness told from a single individual’s perspective.
We noticed significant mixtures of blues-rock, psychedelia and even lounge rock in the track. Are there any particular eras/artists that spark the musical curiosities of the project?
I think it’s quite difficult to name any in particular, besides the obvious strong blues influence which pretty much covers a whole century and a myriad of styles and artists, I’ve always listened to everything and anything and of course that always opens the door to add electronic and more contemporary elements to the production process that might be quite far away from the traditional idea of the blues. It’s always easy to describe something by putting it into a genre, style or compare it to the works of a particular artist or band but I couldn’t really pinpoint into a single one or even some of them because there are so many that one way or another have had an effect on me and the music I make, sometimes even just a short passage in a song that you heard a few years back can come back to your head and bring a whole idea to life.
How would you say your latest track has carried forward the lessons and tricks learnt from your previous releases? Are there any new discoveries that have manifested themselves into the track?
I think the main lesson learned is to let the musicians and co-writers be themselves creatively speaking, giving them a canvas where they can put a little bit of their own but just enough to be able to keep a cohesive sound throughout. This worked really well with the first album so I decided to continue with that formula for ‘Wastelands’ and I’m very happy with the result so I think it will remain as the main modus operandi for the second album which I am currently working on.
Apart from Nell Bryden and John Sterry, introduce us to the rest of your team who helps put the whole act together (especially the one playing that electric guitar solo towards the outro)!
The team is made of a bunch of musician friends that I’ve known and worked with on other projects during the last decade or so. On the album, I was lucky enough to have onboard some real talent that has been involved with some major acts throughout their careers. I chose each one of them to play on specific tracks because I felt they were the right ones based on their individual styles and ways to approach their instruments, like for instance Thomas McNiece (gang of four) who plays bass on three tracks or Steve Barney (Annie Lenox, Jeff Beck, Hotei) who also played on those same tracks, Matt Johnson from Jamiroquai is on keyboards on ’my own lies’ who incidentally came back to play the piano on ‘wastelands’, and of course my good friend the late andy gill from a gang of four who gave me an invaluable hand with a tricky part of the production.
With regards to the singers, the approach is a bit different, I want them to be as involved as possible with the song so despite being guests singers, I always sit with them to write the lyrics and go over melodies etc, I strongly believe that the song must have something from themselves than just their voices. For ‘wastelands’ i had the pleasure to do the same thing with Julian Casewell, vocalist from a band called ‘The King’s Pistol’, his writing style and voice gives the song something very special that really helps to paint those landscapes I referred to earlier. On bass, we have another great player, Mark Neary (Adele, Noel Gallagher, Sting), who also had contributed to the album with a couple of tracks and on drums I had the great opportunity to work again with daniel Delgado, an old friend with whom I put together my first band back in my high school days, somehow our paths have crossed again in a very nice way. And finally, with regards to the guitars, I’m afraid I’m the guilty one!
With your cover art and multiple album arts, we wonder if the project is inspired by elements of surrealism or surrealist art which makes its way to its music? If so, in what ways?
Yes, there is a strong element of surrealism on not only the covers but also the music itself, particularly from cinema, I have always admired the works of directors David lynch, Buñuel, Fellini and terry Gillian and of course Salvador Dali on pretty much anything else. Surrealism gives you a lot of freedom and lets you patch up together elements that might not necessarily be related to each other but as a whole they can work well together, to me the same applies to music.