The subways of New York City are their own world. It is a living, breathing, pulsating ecosystem where every walk of life winds in and out of each other twenty four hours a day. Yet even there, in the belly of the city where every soul is constantly on the move, the great ones make you stop and stare. Or, in the case of Bandits On The Run, stop and listen.
It took a chance encounter between cellist Sydney Torin Shepherd and guitarist Adrian Blake Enscoe as he was busking on a Brooklyn L-train platform to make Bandits On The Run is a thing in this world. Of course, it would take Regina Strayhorn to make the trio complete, but once it did, as you can hear for yourself, the pairing couldn’t be more magnificent. Once conceived, all three, each actors in their own right, each assumed a Bandit alter ego (Shepherd as Bonanza Jellyfish, Enscoe as Roy Dodger and Strayhorn simply as Clarissa), and began melding their patchwork of guitar, cello, squeezebox / keys, drums and ungodly harmonies into something you’ve never heard before yet at the same time, is as comfortable as a favorite pair of jeans.
With each member owning a unique voice and songwriting slant, the songs come together as a musical triptych: three separates hinged together and all dependent on each other for the final product to be complete. Their sound is impossible to pin down as they zip from indie-pop to folk-soul with several stops in between. As with any artist, who they are is largely a result of who they’re influenced by and that range is as diverse as it gets.
“We listen to a lot of artists, and everyone ends up influencing you whether you know it or not. But perhaps our most conscious musical influences are The Beatles and bands like The Mamas & the Papas in the Laurel Canyon music scene in the 60s. As for more current artists, we are inspired by Andrew Bird, Fleet Foxes, Shovels and Rope, Yola, Arcade Fire, Julia Jacklin, The Head and the Heart, the list goes on!”
Since their inception, between busking every corner and subway stop and stepping on any stage that would have them, the trio has seen exponential growth in both themselves and their popularity. Their 2017 debut album The Criminal Record was released to critical acclaim as the tracks “What To Do” and “Funky Ghost” both found their way to Spotify curated playlists. 2019 saw a European tour as well as a four song EP release of earlier songs they had recorded at NYC’s famed Power Station.
2020 was in line to be the bands biggest year yet before Covid-19 took its grip. They were slated to play a handful of coveted official showcases at SXSW as well as support slot for the Grammy nominated Larkin Poe. Locked down and sent home (like the rest of the world), the threesome turned a negative into a positive. With nowhere to go and no deadline to meet, the three hunkered down together to both ride out the pandemic and while they were, relax and focus on creating new music.
“There’s no shortage of things to write about these days. In 2020 alone we’ve finished more songs than in the past two years combined.”
Now with 2020 winding to a close, the Bandits are eager to showcase what they’ve spent the majority of the year creating. As their single “Now is the Time” rolls out into the world, it’s evident the band isn’t afraid to not only acknowledge the state of the world, they welcome the confrontation.
“We wrote this song because between the pandemic, protests for justice, and the upcoming election, 2020 has been an epic hurricane of emotion and distress. We wrote this song to remind everyone (including ourselves) that positive change is possible, magic is real if you believe in it, and there’s never been a better time to rally and fight than right NOW.
“We love how the song builds. It’s a high-speed train that starts simply and ramps up and up until there’s this big wall of sound at the end. Whenever we start playing it, before we know it – it’s over. We truly mean it when we sing “Blink and you will miss it, before you even glimpse it, it’s gone.”
Equally as impressive is the produced lyric video for the song. With Brooklyn about as far east as you can go on this land, the band shot windshield footage of their road trip trek across the country all the way from New York to Bear Creek Studios just outside of Seattle. Cityscapes, suburban roads, hillside huggers; it’s all in there.
“We got in our 90’s campervan and drove cross country to record with our producer Ryan Hadlock (The Lumineers, Brandi Carlile, Vance Joy). We connected with Ryan after SXSW was cancelled. He was planning on seeing our showcase, but alas, coronavirus had other plans. Despite everything, we became friends, and we’re so happy the strange string of events happened the way they did, because the collection of songs we made with him is some of our favorite work yet.”
Given the temperature of the world mixed with the creative capabilities of the band, there’s no question the timing is right for something special. Something truly momentous. Perhaps even cataclysmic. Whatever it is, now is a time for action and the Bandits don’t want to waste it.
“The present moment has so much power. Run towards it, not away from it. And Oh My God, please vote!!”
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