Despite social distancing and economic hurdles brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Bayou Bandits are gearing up to launch “gritty” new music.
The Southern rock four-piece, which comprises lead singer/guitarist Joshua Strickland, lead guitarist and background vocalist Jeremy Madig, bassist and background vocalist Jay Kereny and drummer Dan Johnson, has quickly built a reputation in the Arizona music scene with its cover shows.
Blending the sounds of Louisiana swamplands with other elements of Southern rock, the Bayou Bandits have shared the stage with Billboard-topping artists like Jerrod Niemann, David Nail, The Black Moods, Jason Charles Miller and Jonathon “Boogie” Long, among others.
The Bayou Bandits are now tapping into their bubbling notoriety to focus on creating new original music, according to Strickland.
“I think, with this new music, I’ve matured a little more as a writer — it’s a little bit more complex lyrics and definitely more of a punch in the mouth,” says Strickland, a Louisiana native and U.S. Army veteran. “It’s like if the Doors and Marshall Tucker had a love child who was born and raised in South Louisiana with harmonicas and dirty guitar riffs. It’s a whole lot of soul.”
The Bayou Bandits are in the “planning stage” of releasing an EP in the near future, boasting slide guitars guaranteed to inspire a “hell raisin’, boot stompin’ musical throwdown.”
Operating independently from a record label, Strickland says the band’s recent single “Gasoline” has attracted the attention of “record labels across the country.”
“We’re real proud of that song,” he says. “We started working with a publicist out in Vegas, and they’ve been jamming it and loving it. That’s something we’re real proud of — not saying we don’t want to be on a label, because we do. But everything we’ve achieved as a band is on our own.
“It’s been a grind. Whenever you’re independent, you don’t have the same resources as a big label head does, so it’s a matter of shopping your music out there and getting people to hear it.”
The Bayou Bandits stepped into the spotlight in 2019 with the song “Take Me Back,” which landed the band a feature in Comedy Central’s docuseries “Klepper” by Jordan Klepper. “Take Me Back” was then added to the Bayou Bandits’ self-titled album, accompanied by other hits such as “Dixie Ass” and “Tip ’Em on Back”
In early 2020, the band hit the road for its debut tour across the Gulf Coast. The Bayou Bandits amassed scores of fans, including a sold-out crowd in New Orleans, along the way — until lockdown measures halted performances.
Strickland, whose musical careers stems back to playing on Bourbon Street as a “bucket boy” when he was 13, describes honing his singing skills throughout his youth in Southern Baptist churches.
Like many creatives, the singer-songwriter says he draws most of his writing inspiration from his personal life experiences.
“It’s hard for me to write songs about stuff that I don’t know anything about,” Strickland explains. “I write about stuff I know that I’ve lived. It’s hard for me to believe in something that doesn’t have a personal tie to me.”
Having served missions in Kandahar City, Afghanistan, Strickland honored that time with the song “Kandahar.” A live performance of “Kandahar” was recorded by an audience member during an open mic night. It was later uploaded on YouTube and has since generated over 3,000 views.
A registered nurse at a Phoenix hospital, Strickland has also written pieces honoring the nurses and front-line workers who are powering through the pandemic.
“A Nurse’s Story (Save You)” was released as an acoustic single in 2020 and immediately gained attention across the United States from fans and multiple state nursing boards and organizations.
Strickland, however, says he is most proud of the band’s success and development as a unit.
“My bandmates are my best friends, and it’s not necessarily by choice either. It’s because we were with each other so much,” he says. “Our lyrics have grown more; our sound has grown more. I feel like our next record is basically the transition from when boy becomes man — a coming-of-age-type tale.”
And the band’s progression doesn’t appear to be slowing down.
The Bayou Bandits will open for the Los Angeles-based American rock band Steel Panther, best known for its satirical lyrics and exaggerated on-stage pastiche of the stereotypical glam metal lifestyle.
“They’re great dudes. We’ve played with them before,” Strickland discloses. “Those dudes are a riot, and they bring the party.”
Steel Panther w/The Bayou Bandits
WHEN: 7 p.m. Friday, December 17
WHERE: Marquee Theatre, 730 N. Mill Avenue, Tempe
COST: Tickets start at $30
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