Banditos Has A Champage Taste On A Beer Budget.
Behind every great band is a great van. And when these former church vans, daycare buses and plumber's work vehicles have racked up enough miles on the road, they eventually start being thought of by the band as another member of the team. Hey, we get it: It's hard to spend so many hours with bandmates (both human and machine) without a few things getting broken, a few good fights taking place and lots of great memories being made. We hope that, by exploring these stories, we might get to know some bands from both North Texas and beyond on a more personal level. Check out this feature's archives here.
The rowdy Nashville-via-Birmingham sextet Banditos brought its hip-shaking Americana act to Three Links earlier this month, bringing with them a DIY mentality that pervades even now that the scuzzy boogie rockers signed to Bloodshot Records last year.
That kind of label support is deserved given how foot-stomping and polished the band's tour de force live show has become over the years. But this western-flavored outfit is still one very much on the rise, and that much we could clearly see while chatting with Banditos' members about their current tour van — the fourth they've had since forming five years ago. Though they consider their current ride a home away from home and a solace on wheels, the band's hard-touring ways might dictate trading her in for a bigger better van in 2016.
Lord knows this group has earned one.
Band Name: Banditos.
Van Name: Champagne Van.
Year/Make/Model: 2001 Ford E-350, diesel.
Tell us about your van's name.
Randy Wade (Drums): “Bandito IV, aka the Champagne Van. It's our fourth van. We never really got a good name for it. Champagne Jam Van is what it started as, and just Champagne's funny.”
How did you acquire this van, in particular?
Randy: “We just saw it on Craigslist in New Orleans, took a train and picked it up.”
You went all the way to New Orleans? You couldn't find anything in Alabama that would do?
Randy: “Well, this one looked awesome, so…”
What do you find most awesome about her?
Randy: “Ah, it just looked cool. It was a diesel and it's got captain's chairs instead of bench seats.”
How did the previous three vans meet their end?
Randy: “Two of them died, the other one we sold before it could. We sold the last one to get this one. The one before, we left in Pascagoula, Mississippi. It had died, so we took it to the scrapyard. We had to tour in a U-Haul van, like the cargo vans. We had taken all the seats out — all the barrier shit they put from the backseat to the front — and we laid in there like sardines, rolled out to Texas and back.”
Steve Pierce (Banjo): “It was middle of the summer. That shit was mean. But, yeah, we're thankful for this beast.”
What kind of modifications have you done to her?
Danny Vines (Bass): “Well, we put our cow skull — Lucky, Unlucky, I'm not sure [what we call it] yet — on it. It's been the first addition to any new van we get, and we sort of deck out our own [areas]. Everyone sort of has assigned seats, some of it is just areas they are more comfortable. Everyone makes it their way. You know, the curtain things in there are nice, kind of like a cheap Chinese restaurant, where everyone has their own ways of attaching that up. Either having it or not. We put superchargers on it. We have a Flowmaster on it.”
Randy: “We ain't got no Flowmasters or superchargers. I don't know, I guess we put the power inverter on it. It's a must for charging all out phones and stuff. There's this weird wooden sculpture in it, made out of this shitty piece of wood that kind of looks like an owl, that we got in Austin from some homeless guy. It's been in every van since.”
Steve: “It's good to knock on when you say something stupid.”
Has this one broken down on you yet or has everything been so far so good?
Steve: “Ah, not really. The only thing that messed up was a fuel filter we couldn't find. It had been modified.”
Randy: “And we ran out of gas a couple times.”
Steve: “Yeah, it's kind of a ding-dong mistake.”
Randy: “Nothing really bad. It's been good to us.”
What else should we know about the Champagne Van?
Steve: “It's home. I feel unsafe without it. I wouldn't know what to do.”
Mary Richardson (Tambourine): “It's home base. When you feel uncomfortable at a show and you don't know what to do, you can always go smoke in the van.”
Randy: “It's a strong, big ol' diesel that may be for sale coming soon.”
Really? Why is that?
Randy: “Well, we want a mini-bus. There's six of us and when we bring somebody with us, it's nice to have that extra bit. We'd make some bunks or something.”
Sounds like y'all need one of those Sprinters.
Randy: “Yeah, but those are expensive as hell. But if we had an extra 30 grand, we'd pick one up.”
Jeff Salter (Guitar): “So if any of the readers have an extra 30 grand…”
Steve: “Or just want to buy this one…”
What are your thoughts on trailers? Does having this one help or hinder you guys?
Randy: “Well, when we've got Danny in the van, it doesn't hinder us too much. But left to my own devices, we got a problem.”
Danny: “We got a lot of shit. So, y'know, with the trailer, it's not all in our van. So it's better that way.”
Randy: “Our first couple tours we put everything in the van along with ourselves. Yeah, that was terrible. It's definitely roomier. It changes things a lot having more members.”