BANGS! Interview with Renegade Cartel

With Stephen Damon-Tilley, Robert LaFlamme, Victor Robles

Alice: Talk about how music has influenced you each individually in your daily living.

Stephen Damon-Tilley: Music is all around me. I wake up to music, often sit at the piano when I wake up, or grab my guitar. I always try to do something new on an instrument each day. I put on the newest album I’ve bought in the car ride to work. Hum all day. Rehearse at night. It’s just necessary to keep me going. Almost as necessary as my heart pumping my blood.

Alice: Where do you each find yourselves listening to music most often?

Stephen Damon-Tilley: I listen to music mostly at home on my laptop as I work on band stuff. It’s not the best way to listen, but at least I can listen.

Robert LaFlamme: Mostly in headphones on my phone but I always prefer the real CD. Much clearer. I like going through YouTube and checking out different songs from all genres. 

Victor Robles: I mostly get to listen to stuff in the car while traveling. It inspires me a lot.

Alice: What are your favorite brands to use when it comes to the instruments, mics, amps, pedals and so on? Why do you favor them?

Victor Robles: Gibson guitars, Mesa and Marshall amps. I’ve been playing Les Pauls since I was 15 years old. Nothing else feels right.  When I have a Les Paul in my hands I feel like I can do what I need to do, whether it’s playing a gig, writing or just practicing.

Stephen Damon-Tilley: I use Allen Eden basses. Have used them since day one playing bass. I love the weight and ease of playing the neck. They are gorgeous instruments and sound amazing.

Robert LaFlamme: Pearl Drums and Pedals. Always loved the sound of them. Great quality! Zildjian Cymbals as they are nice, clean and crisp. Shure Microphones are definitely the ultimate.Remo Heads because the tone they give cuts across so well. Latin Percussion have a nice warm feel when playing.

Alice: Talk about your current project. Its conception. How it evolved. The storyline behind its development or any anecdotes that may have occurred during the writing/recording process? 

Stephen Damon-Tilley: The record has songs from the start of Renegade Cartel. We have stuff that we’ve been dying to record and release. We’ve included all those tunes, with a bunch of newer songs we had been working on. Just a compilation of songs we wanted to get out there. Nothing like a concept album or anything. But they’re all from us over the course of time, so it’s a flow of young to wiser tunes.
We love them all and feel they’re all necessary. We didn’t write any filler songs.
Alice: Were there any conflicts during the recording process? If so, how did you as a band overcome them, if not what do you think is Renegade Cartel’s formula to gel so well?

Stephen Damon-Tilley: We didn’t have any major issues. I was sick during the vocal recording sessions, but we worked on things that worked for each session. Vic had a lot of work ahead of him, mixing the entire album by himself. That’s about it, we can’t complain. We all love each other and respect our musicianship. We do what we feel and make it happen. It’s a joy working with easy-going people.

Alice: Is there a particular part you enjoy more than another in the process of a project?

Stephen Damon-Tilley: Recording is full of anxiety but it’s so fun. You really get to focus as hard as you can on getting everything as perfect as it can be. The ultimate version of the song you play over and over, every day. If you’ve got the time, it’s an awesome time going over your parts and adding embellishments or layers. We’ve created some awesome things messing around in the studio. 

Alice: How do you know when a song is done and ready to be taken to the recording studio and produced?

Stephen Damon-Tilley: We know it’s ready when we settle on an arrangement. Sometimes that
happens immediately. Other times, we have to rehearse them a bunch of times, work it out. We’ve even included new stuff at shows to see how it fleshes out. Especially when there are a lot of friends and family that want something new. It’s extremely personal, but exhilarating.

Alice: Looking towards the short and long term of where you might be currently- where do you see yourself (yourselves) as an artist/band in 2019 and beyond?

Stephen Damon-Tilley: 2019 is pretty much wrapped for us. We will play shows for the rest of the year, trying to promote and sell the album as much as we can. We worked a ton in 2019 to get this beast out. Of course, that will carry over to 2020, as we push for bigger shows and hopefully a tour of some sort.
We are trying to get a concept of where people want us. Maybe someone will like the album, and help us get out there, further and further. Long term? Playing enough to quit our full-time jobs, touring and playing, then writing and releasing the next one. Every musician’s dream. 
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