Photo by Erik Phillips
Richmond indie rock trio Lance Bangs had a lot stacked against them after the release of their 2016 debut, Lance Mountain, whether in lineup shifts or more serious setbacks with personal issues and addiction. But they’ve grown in the four years since, and you can hear the difference in their latest EP, Whammy. Building on their already-quirky post-punk foundation, they’ve gotten more arcane and in-the-groove of their own style with cleaner guitar lines and steadier beats–and Colin Thibodeau’s chirpy vocals have been refined into a chant.
“We’re all at such a different point in our lives compared to four years ago; we’re literally not the same band,” he says. “For starters, my younger brother Gavin took over the drums when our old member Drew [Lanzafama] took a job down in Atlanta. Joel [Alicea] and I have both been working steadily and getting our lives on track, more or less. In addition, I graduated college and quit some harmful habits that were holding me back.”
Whammy serves as a bridge between the old band and the new; the last track, “Wash – 2k17 Demo” was recorded, as it says on the tin, in 2017, featuring the band’s original lineup. “Tour Song” has been in their live rotation for about as long, and was originally recorded with Lanzafama on drums, though Gavin Thibodeau appears on the finished EP.
“It was weird when we finally started fleshing out the other tracks. We were all doing different shit around Virginia, so practices were few and far in between,” says Colin. “I think that worked to our advantage in a way, ‘cause when we finally did get together, everyone was motivated and feeling the creativity heavily, so we just jammed a lot of the stuff out.”
They worked out of the Thibodeau brothers’ parents’ house in Stafford as well as Colin’s apartment in Richmond, with engineering courtesy of Gavin. It continues their unbroken streak of recording, mixing, and mastering all of their own music, it sharpens their signature sound, but more than anything, Colin says he’s proud the EP exists at all.
“With all of the bullshit I had been going through and the literal distance between members of the band, it was honestly such a good feeling to be able to release a cohesive set of songs,” he says. “Also, the fact that this is the first Lance Bangs release featuring my brother on the drums; I always love working with him and am proud of anything we produce together.”
Since finishing Whammy and releasing it in May, the trio have been feeling the all-around squeeze of 2020 and the unique strain put on musicians by COVID-19–it’s made promoting the EP unusually difficult. While live shows are off the table, the members of Lance Bangs have been focusing on their individual lives, but they also say they don’t plan to keep listeners waiting another four years to hear from them again.
“Gavin is about to graduate college, Joel just got a new apartment down in Richmond, and I’ve been working in a veterinary lab,” says Colin. “Joel and I have also been working on a side hustle trying to break into the commercial side of the music industry so we can quit our jobs, but we’re still dedicating a ton of creative energy to Lance Bangs and definitely plan to release something new sooner than 2024.”