Bonnie & the BANG BANG
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Bonnie & the BANG BANG

Oakland, California, United States | INDIE

Oakland, California, United States | INDIE
Band Rock Americana

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"The Dark Dream Album Review"

Since emerging out of Oakland in 2011, Bonnie & the BANG BANG has been crafting its own distinctive brand of music that burns with western vibes, though not necessarily in the same way prescribed to genres like Americana, blues or country. Bonnie’s sound is western is a way that summons imagery of both dusty boots and polished oxfords, endless desert highways and dimly lit bars, sometimes the swanky kind and other times the smokey kind.

When asked how he would describe his band’s sound, bassist Robby Cronholm offers “thrash folk,” which may invite notions of aggression and shredding guitar parts, but for Bonnie & the BANG BANG, its more about the threat of violence. While the band’s music is delivered with playful, groovy overtones, it drifts in and out of darker areas, resulting in a brand of music that feels inviting and dangerous, the kind of danger that smiles at you before knocking you at your ass.
Lead vocalist Patrick James explains, “The name ‘Bonnie & the BANG BANG’ reflects the types of songs we write. There are parts that are polished and smooth, and there are parts that are aggressive and heavy. So the name represents a duality in the music and alludes to the classic story of Bonnie and Clyde.”

With velvety vocal stylings that switch between sounding soothing and surly, Patrick lends the band much of its rough-refined flavor while also adding tough twang with a 12-string guitar. He remembers, “When we arrived as a band two years ago, we were typecast as another indie-folk/Americana band in the vein of Mumford and Sons or The Devil Makes Three.” Crediting much of these comparisons to Bonnie’s instrumental repertoire, he explains, “We utilize a lot of Folk/Americana instrumentation. One of our musicians, Jake Dineen, plays several classic Americana instruments including banjo, 12 string guitar and mandolin,” adding, “I feel like we’ve grown into something much more complex than indie folk.”

While there are indie folk elements woven into the fabric of the band’s sound, the sweetness of the words “indie” and “folk,” when put side by side, does nothing to highlight the grittier, witty tones that Bonnie’s music can take on, particularly on its brand new debut LP The Dark Dream.

“We didn’t take post-hardcore, bluegrass and pop and throw them in a blender just for the sake of it,” Robby explains. “We tried to listen to what the songs needed and we went from there.”

With moody threads of 1970s jazz-rock and definitive 1960s pop also sewn throughout the album, the five-piece outfit transitions between sounding like a group of bar room rockers to dining hall entertainers and lonely campfire serenaders with a cohesive, western style.

Comparing the album to the band’s first release, the 2012 Ode to Darkness EP, guitarist Joe Warren credits the differences to Bonnie’s personnel changes, specifically the addition of Robby on bass and keyboardist Jonathan Kepke, as well as the contributions of drummer Brad Harbridge. He explains,

"We used acoustic instruments and hardly any percussion on Ode which was great for giving it the catchy campfire vibe it has. On The Dark Dream we recorded with one of the best drummers in the area, Brad Harbidge. With Brad we were able to draw every ounce of power out of the songs we wrote predominantly on acoustic guitars. The Dark Dream has the basic song writing elements that we exhibit as a band with more raw power then anything we’ve put out previously."

Lyrically speaking, the band also allows itself to lean towards the tougher, heavier spectrum of its sound. Patrick assert, “The overarching themes of the album refer to the absurdity of the modern condition. The Dark Dream is actually a reference to having a bad trip on psychedelics, and through that experience, finding perspective to better yourself,” before describing, “Songs like ‘Car Crash’ and ‘Rewrite’ deal with loss and accountability. ‘I Ain’t Afraid of No Ghosts’ and ‘Medicine Man’ tackle addiction and withdrawal. We also have a couple songs about Zombies.” - The Bay Bridged


"Bonnie & the BANG BANG Kick Off Their Shoes at Dance Parties"

With a name inspired by the infamous story of Bonnie and Clyde, Oakland natives Bonnie & the BANG BANG have been known to get barefoot when they go onstage to deliver smooth, folk-inspired indie rock. Bonnie & the BANG BANG are one of the seven bands hoping for your vote to play at The Lineup showcase on June 13th at Brick and Mortar Music Hall. - SF Station


"Bonnie & the BANG BANG Kick Off Their Shoes at Dance Parties"

With a name inspired by the infamous story of Bonnie and Clyde, Oakland natives Bonnie & the BANG BANG have been known to get barefoot when they go onstage to deliver smooth, folk-inspired indie rock. Bonnie & the BANG BANG are one of the seven bands hoping for your vote to play at The Lineup showcase on June 13th at Brick and Mortar Music Hall. - SF Station


"Bonnie & the BANG BANG Kick Off Their Shoes at Dance Parties"

With a name inspired by the infamous story of Bonnie and Clyde, Oakland natives Bonnie & the BANG BANG have been known to get barefoot when they go onstage to deliver smooth, folk-inspired indie rock. Bonnie & the BANG BANG are one of the seven bands hoping for your vote to play at The Lineup showcase on June 13th at Brick and Mortar Music Hall. - SF Station


"Bonnie & the BANG BANG Kick Off Their Shoes at Dance Parties"

With a name inspired by the infamous story of Bonnie and Clyde, Oakland natives Bonnie & the BANG BANG have been known to get barefoot when they go onstage to deliver smooth, folk-inspired indie rock. Bonnie & the BANG BANG are one of the seven bands hoping for your vote to play at The Lineup showcase on June 13th at Brick and Mortar Music Hall. - SF Station


"The Dark Dream Album Review from The San Jose Examiner"

When a recording artists uses PledgeMusic, they’re slapped with a few ultimatums. The way the system works requires an artist to raise a certain amount of money during a given number of days. In the case of Bonnie and the Bang Bang, they established a sixty day period to meet their pledge goal of $3,500. It required incredible faith in their fans, their supporting Bay Area scenes, and themselves.

And their faith paid off; Rather quickly, I might add.

It took a mere 39 days for BBB to meet their goal and secure funding for their debut, full-length, “The Dark Dream.” A significant achievement for a band that released a 6-song E.P. (“Ode to Darkness”) a year ago, and has relied on little more than word of mouth with a ferocious touring schedule that encompassed every corner of the Bay.

After securing funding, the quintet of Patrick James Stiles, Jake Dineen, Joe Warren, Robby Cronholm, and Jonathan Kepke checked in at Noise Root Studios in Campbell, where Rob Ernst (frontman for San Jose’s Troubador) would serve as producer for “The Dark Dream.” Consequently, Troubador’s latest release, “Light in My Eyes,” and “A Dark Dream” both hold Ernst’s signature gut-punching emotionalism. The line-up was then set, and the rest is history.

The record itself, hovers around the themes of darkness with macabre fascination and a highly palatable, yet disturbing, range of moods. Straight-up bar rockers like “Give It a Go” and the albums opener “Car Crash” get the blood pumping, clenching fists and solidifying resolve, while the restless ballad of “I Ain’t Afraid of No Ghosts” pleads in the spirit of a Mark Lanegan, slow-burn. The undeniable jazz-lacing of tracks like “That Was Longer Than a Heartbeat” or “Medicine Man” beckon the early 70s, i.e. Atlanta Rhythm Section or The E Street Band, as do the doo-wop, pop-sensibilities of “Master Plan.” The paranoid, spooky ‘come-down’ of tracks like “Economies” and “Simple Ships” show BBBs ability to inspire and manipulate the full array of emotion. But the album’s pinnacle movements come in two parts, as “Zombies” parts I & II purport the metaphoric underpinnings of any zombie story. (“I found the answer - I have a cure. You are a cancer - you in the plural.”) The tracks are as melancholy as they are shocking.

BBB gives listeners plenty of opportunities to sing along (if you dare), but the core darkness of "The Dark Dream" is more apt to inspire a furrowed brow and a long, deep stare into the music. Stiles's vocals are commanding, as if he never assumed amplification, like a street corner trouveur demanding your nickels. The Americana influence ensconces listeners in BBB’s alternate universe, wherein things are never quite okay, and you best look over your shoulder from time to time.

“The Dark Dream” goes public in July. In the meantime, catch Bonnie and the Bang at Live 105’s Soundcheck Stage at BFD, this Sunday (May 19th), and hear the new music.

Visit Bonnie and the Bang Bang's page at Pledg - The San Jose Examiner


"Album Review: Bonnie & the BANG BANG, Ode to Darkness"

"Bonnie & the BANG BANG are too good to remain only known in the South Bay. They are the real deal. They have a lead singer who sings with a power most can only dream of, and writes lyrics that can manage to be dark, twisted, witty and fun all at the same time. The keyboard player provides some downright catchy and always fitting backing. Joe and Jake provide a perfect one-two punch on guitar, banjo and kick drum. DIY bands sometimes tend to overproduce, probably because of inexperience, as well as recognizing the material they have recorded does not sound very strong. Bonnie & the BANG BANG choose to keep the production sparse, and let the extremely well written and powerful songs stand on their own." - Ed Maxwell


"Album Review: Bonnie & the BANG BANG, Ode to Darkness"

"Bonnie & the BANG BANG are too good to remain only known in the South Bay. They are the real deal. They have a lead singer who sings with a power most can only dream of, and writes lyrics that can manage to be dark, twisted, witty and fun all at the same time. The keyboard player provides some downright catchy and always fitting backing. Joe and Jake provide a perfect one-two punch on guitar, banjo and kick drum. DIY bands sometimes tend to overproduce, probably because of inexperience, as well as recognizing the material they have recorded does not sound very strong. Bonnie & the BANG BANG choose to keep the production sparse, and let the extremely well written and powerful songs stand on their own." - Ed Maxwell


"Album Review: Bonnie & the BANG BANG, Ode to Darkness"

"Bonnie & the BANG BANG are too good to remain only known in the South Bay. They are the real deal. They have a lead singer who sings with a power most can only dream of, and writes lyrics that can manage to be dark, twisted, witty and fun all at the same time. The keyboard player provides some downright catchy and always fitting backing. Joe and Jake provide a perfect one-two punch on guitar, banjo and kick drum. DIY bands sometimes tend to overproduce, probably because of inexperience, as well as recognizing the material they have recorded does not sound very strong. Bonnie & the BANG BANG choose to keep the production sparse, and let the extremely well written and powerful songs stand on their own." - Ed Maxwell


"Album Review: Bonnie & the BANG BANG, Ode to Darkness"

"Bonnie & the BANG BANG are too good to remain only known in the South Bay. They are the real deal. They have a lead singer who sings with a power most can only dream of, and writes lyrics that can manage to be dark, twisted, witty and fun all at the same time. The keyboard player provides some downright catchy and always fitting backing. Joe and Jake provide a perfect one-two punch on guitar, banjo and kick drum. DIY bands sometimes tend to overproduce, probably because of inexperience, as well as recognizing the material they have recorded does not sound very strong. Bonnie & the BANG BANG choose to keep the production sparse, and let the extremely well written and powerful songs stand on their own." - Ed Maxwell


"Album Review: Bonnie & the BANG BANG, Ode to Darkness"

"Bonnie & the BANG BANG are too good to remain only known in the South Bay. They are the real deal. They have a lead singer who sings with a power most can only dream of, and writes lyrics that can manage to be dark, twisted, witty and fun all at the same time. The keyboard player provides some downright catchy and always fitting backing. Joe and Jake provide a perfect one-two punch on guitar, banjo and kick drum. DIY bands sometimes tend to overproduce, probably because of inexperience, as well as recognizing the material they have recorded does not sound very strong. Bonnie & the BANG BANG choose to keep the production sparse, and let the extremely well written and powerful songs stand on their own." - Ed Maxwell


"Bonnie and the Bang Bang Bring Their Campfire Revival to the Blank Club"

From the opening chord of Bonnie and the Bang Bang’s debut album, Ode to Darkness, the listener is transported to a campfire in rural America at the turn of the century, where the ghost stories are that much more chilling—because they just might be real. The lo-fi, stark recording adds to the rustic quality, but aside from the obvious Americana influence of the music—the banjo and mandolin help in that regard—the music is infused with a gospel edge, at least in terms of the emotional depth. There is no doubt that Bonnie and the Bang Bang are a part of the indie-folk fusion movement. The bluegrass instrumentation and old timey spiritual sound are tempered with a subtly lush layering. On top of the plucking of each guitar string is the rich tone of the long sustaining keyboard and the eerie, macabre vocal harmonies, creating a dark, gothic-indie folk sound that is like a surreal artifact of a long-forgotten era—something like reading an alternative reality history book." - - Aaron Carnes,


"Bonnie and the Bang Bang Bring Their Campfire Revival to the Blank Club"

From the opening chord of Bonnie and the Bang Bang’s debut album, Ode to Darkness, the listener is transported to a campfire in rural America at the turn of the century, where the ghost stories are that much more chilling—because they just might be real. The lo-fi, stark recording adds to the rustic quality, but aside from the obvious Americana influence of the music—the banjo and mandolin help in that regard—the music is infused with a gospel edge, at least in terms of the emotional depth. There is no doubt that Bonnie and the Bang Bang are a part of the indie-folk fusion movement. The bluegrass instrumentation and old timey spiritual sound are tempered with a subtly lush layering. On top of the plucking of each guitar string is the rich tone of the long sustaining keyboard and the eerie, macabre vocal harmonies, creating a dark, gothic-indie folk sound that is like a surreal artifact of a long-forgotten era—something like reading an alternative reality history book." - - Aaron Carnes,


"Bonnie & the BANG BANG"

"In all, this band is one of a kind and if you are a lover of alternitaive-indy bands they are a MUST listen."

~Rich Harris
www.thelocalmusicscene.org - The Local Music Scene


"Bonnie & the BANG BANG"

"In all, this band is one of a kind and if you are a lover of alternitaive-indy bands they are a MUST listen."

~Rich Harris
www.thelocalmusicscene.org - The Local Music Scene


"Bonnie & the BANG BANG"

"In all, this band is one of a kind and if you are a lover of alternitaive-indy bands they are a MUST listen."

~Rich Harris
www.thelocalmusicscene.org - The Local Music Scene


"Bonnie & the BANG BANG"

"In all, this band is one of a kind and if you are a lover of alternitaive-indy bands they are a MUST listen."

~Rich Harris
www.thelocalmusicscene.org - The Local Music Scene


Discography

The Dark Dream- July 19th 2013
Ode to Darkness- Feb 14th 2011

Photos

Bio

Bonnie & The BANG BANG is music built from the soul up. With simple song structures, cutting lyrics, rich folk textures and grooving rhythms, this music is written to lay you gently down and loot you for all your worth. Their sound is cleverly pop, a fresh take on the folk aesthetic. Utilizing instruments such as Banjo, Mandolin, Organ and Melodica, Bonnie & The BANG BANG is rich in instrumental variety but still a comfortable listen. Catch their blossoming live show at a venue near you.

"Beautiful compositions reflective of 60's pop and folk sang with current harmonies that burn themselves into memory. Their melodies are memorable and beg for a sing along. Their lyrics lend themselves to darker subjects and sang with hopeful enthusiasm. They have been growing throughout the Bay Area, and were introduced to us through our friends at Local Bay Area Music! Great find!" -Bill O'Brien SaveAlternative.com