INTERVIEW WITH LANCE ERIC OF BANG TANGO
Date: April 14, 2016
WITH MANY ’80S ERA BANDS CONTINUING 25 TO 30 YEARS LATER, IT IS NO SURPRISE THAT SOMETIMES, BAND MEMBER CHANGES HAVE OCCURRED ALONG THE WAY. SINCE 2005, LANCE ERIC HAS BEEN THE BASSIST FOR BANG TANGO. HE HAS PLAYED ON BANG TANGO’S LAST TWO STUDIO ALBUMS AND HE HAS MORE RESPONSIBILITIES WITHIN THE BAND THAN YOU MIGHT THINK. WHAT HAPPENS WHEN FORMER ORIGINAL BAND MEMBERS START COMING BACK INTO THE FOLD? WHAT HAPPENS TO THE CURRENT BAND MEMBERS THAT HAVE CONTINUED ON WITH THE GROUP THROUGH THE ‘HARDER’ TIMES? LANCE ERIC SPOKE CANDIDLY TO SLEAZE ROXX ABOUT HIS ROLE WITHIN THE BANG TANGO, HIS GREAT RESPECT FOR THE ORIGINAL BAND MEMBERS AND RECENT ISSUES THAT HAVE SURFACED.
Sleaze Roxx: I’ll start off with the hot topic of the day. There has been some issues that have surfaced between you and original Bang Tango guitarist Mark Knight including that Mark is trying to get the original Bang Tango line-up together again for who knows how long even though Bang Tango already has a full line-up. What have been the issues that have surfaced and how do you feel about original Bang Tango members in some ways possibly threatening your spot as well as Rowan [Robertson], Tim [Russell] and Drew’s [Fortier] spots in the band?
Lance Eric: I’m not threatened one bit. Joe [Lesté] is my best friend and he’s one of the most loyal people I know. All those guys quit in the ’90s. Joe didn’t. Why would he dump the guys that have been with him for so long through so much? We are family. I’ve been with Joe for over 11 years. I handle pretty much all the band’s business so without patting myself on the back, you would probably have to hire three people to do everything I do [laughs]. Timmy Russell has been in the band for over 10 years. Rowan has been in the band over two years. We travel in close quarters on the road. We don’t fight. We have mutual respect for each other as people and musicians. No drama with us as well. Joe finally has the perfect line-up. I’ve met Tigg and he’s an awesome guy. I’ve met Mark and he came up and did a couple songs with us at the Whisky A Go Go and it was awesome. I have yet to meet Kyle Kyle or Mark Stevens.
I guess the current issue with me is that Mark was asked to come up and perform with Bang Tango at Rocklahoma in May. Since I handle the business, Mark contacted me three months out and asked to square away the songs and what he was getting paid. A band at our level usually doesn’t have all the contract details that far out and I told him that. Now we are still two months out and he asked me again to lock down a contract with him as to what his payment was going to be. I guess in Joe’s and his conversation, Joe revealed what our guarantee for Rocklahoma was and Mark seemed to think he was getting an equal share. Well it doesn’t work that way. We are doing five other shows around Rocklahoma and what the band takes home is figured out after all the band’s bills are paid which includes rentals, fuel, flights, etc. I asked him if he wanted to do the club dates with us and he stated “No” and that he was just doing Rocklahoma. That’s the easy show isn’t it [laughs]? After being hounded a couple more times about money I blew him off. Talked to Joe and we moved onto planning without him.
Honestly, we are playing on Rob Zombie night so I don’t think too many people would even know who Bang Tango is, let alone care if the original guitarist was sitting in. Then Mark goes on social media and not only insults the current line-up but insults the rest of the original guys saying they can’t get their shit together. They got their shit together and put together ReDUX… See how long that lasted and sounded? He said that he pulled out of Rocklahoma because he didn’t feel right about performing without the original guys. Since I was the one who he was dealing with, I felt compelled to let his fans know the real reason why he backed out — all about the money. He acts like he’s in it for the best interest of Bang Tango. Then he would have done it for any price. He was going to have his flights paid for, his hotel paid for and a flat fee to be determined. All of these conversations were snapshot and shown on his social media page as well as mine. I guess he didn’t like being called out for being a liar. I didn’t have any hard feelings about him backing out for any reason. If it’s money I understand. We all have a self worth.
Sleaze Roxx: It seems that the one person that is in the middle of both camps so to speak is Joe [Lesté]. Have you spoken to Joe about Mark’s open declarations of getting the original Bang Tango line-up together and how that would impact the rest of the current line-up?
Lance Eric: I completely respect all the members that have been in Bang Tango, especially the original members. Because of them, I have a job. They wrote the great albums that put the band on the map but they quit over 20 years ago. They all have their own personal lives. Some aren’t even in the music business at all. The last time they toured, they were in a nice tour bus and being taken care of. A band on our level nowadays travels in a minivan hundreds of miles sometimes after shows in the middle of the night. We don’t have tour managers and roadies. We are all self-contained. We do still do bus tours but mostly we are road dogging it. Advancing shows ourselves. Dealing with getting paid from the promoters. Getting hotel rooms. That’s just a portion of what Bang Tango does everyday on tour. We do it because we love it. I don’t think any of those guys would last three days out there doing what we do. It’s not easy. We wear dirty clothes and don’t shower everyday [laughs]. Again, Joe is a loyal guy to his team.
Sleaze Roxx: Many people don’t seem to realize that you have the second longest tenure in Bang Tango aside from Joe. Do you find that you get the recognition that you deserve?
Lance Eric: I just do my job. I’m not the best bass player in the world but I do my job. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t have my job. Joe is a normal guy and he wants friends around him. He doesn’t want drama. He and I have been best friends since meeting and I would take a bullet for him and I’m sure he would for me.
Sleaze Roxx: It seems that you have always been very respectful towards Bang Tango’s history and the contributions that the original band members provided back in the day. As someone who joined Bang Tango after the band arguably peaked in popularity, is it difficult to always be faced with the band’s past?
Lance Eric: My only issue is people who don’t understand that this is my job. By them coming back, it eliminates our jobs. Much respect to all of them but it’s not the Guns N’ Roses reunion with millions of dollars at stake here. I used the example of this. Let’s say you busted your ass for a company for over 11 years and one day your boss tells you that a guy who quit over 20 years ago wants to come back and now I’m out of a job. Who would be cool with that? None of this would even be an issue if the band wasn’t being offered great shows like Rocklahoma, the Monsters of Rock Cruise — four times so far, M3 [Rock Festival] multiple times and many many shows all over the world. We are doing great now finally with a ton of help from Sullivan and his great staff at Bigg Time [Entertainment] Inc. Mark is too good to do the club dates but wants to do the big show and go home with his pocket full. That’s not how it works. I don’t care who you are.
Sleaze Roxx: What have been the highs that you have experienced in Bang Tango to date?
Lance Eric: Like I said, the big festivals. Recording the last record ‘Pistol Whipped In The Bible Belt’ in Chicago at Johnny Ks studio. Mr Larry Morand pulling us on so many of the Monsters of Rock Cruise.
Sleaze Roxx: And what about the lows?
Lance Eric: Well, there’s many of them. Joe’s health was a big issue years ago and he almost died a couple times. I literally put him over my shoulders and carried him down a flight of stairs into a van and to the emergency room. That was something he had no control over though. Losing members is always a low point but we’ve overcome pretty much everything. We used to have a pretty bad agent a very long time ago. All is good now in the Bang Tango camp though.
Sleaze Roxx: What did you think of Drew Fortier’s ‘Attack Of Life: The Bang Tango Movie?‘
Lance Eric: I loved what Drew did. He did an outstanding job capturing the entire history of the band. I believe it was very neutral and it was very entertaining for fans and even people who don’t even know who we are. He actually got to know a lot of the former members and it gave fans a chance to see what goes on behind the scenes — before and after shows.
Sleaze Roxx: You have played on Bang Tango’s last two studio albums ‘From The Hip’ and ‘Pistol Whipped In The Bible Belt.’ When I spoke to Joe back in October 2015, he pretty much said he didn’t like ‘From The Hip.’ What are your thoughts on the two Bang Tango studio albums that you have played on and how do you feel that they fare and compare to the albums from the original Bang Tango line-up?
Lance Eric: There’s no comparison really. ‘Psycho Cafe’, ‘Dancin’ On Coals’ and ‘Life After Death’ are outstanding albums. The two records that I’ve done with Joe are completely different. I believe they’re good in their own way. Fans have accepted them and we’ve gotten many compliments and great reviews on both albums. ‘From The Hip’ was written and recorded in a very weird way. The band pretty much wrote on the road and recorded it as it was to be a demo. Turned out the record company just released it as is and put their own album cover on it and released it without clearing anything with us. I believe that’s why Joe isn’t a big fan of it. I think there’s a lot of good tunes on there but if Joe doesn’t like it, we won’t play it. ‘Pistol Whipped In The Bible Belt’ — I’m completely proud of. From all the band members’ input to our producers, our coaches and engineers — everybody did an outstanding job with that record.
Sleaze Roxx: You have already indicated that you handle the business side and therefore have more of a role in Bang Tango than simply being the bassist. What are some of the duties that you have taken on over the years and are currently doing for the band?
Lance Eric: Tour manager, merchandise designer, driver and security… just to name a few job titles [laughs].
Sleaze Roxx: Bang Tango continues to play shows here and there but mostly in the States. The band is currently booked at the HRH AOR Festival in North Wales, UK in March 2017. What are Bang Tango’s plans touring wise for the rest of 2016 and 2017?
Lance Eric: Our agents are always working hard for us. We do tons of festivals like I mentioned earlier and they usually keep us pretty busy over the summer. Around Rocklahoma, we will be in Omaha, Texas and Kansas City in May. Multiple band tour in October is being talked about but I can’t say anything yet. We never stop. Like I said, we are road dogs.
Sleaze Roxx: When I had spoken to Joe in October 2015, he had stated that it was just a matter of getting the band together and recording. What’s the status with respect to a new Bang Tango studio album?
Lance Eric: We have been writing. Rowan [Robertson] comes out here to Phoenix where the rest of us live and we write. We have some great stuff ready. A lot of the time, we write in the recording studio. On the fly is where we do our best work.
Sleaze Roxx: Is there anything else that you’d like to add that we haven’t covered?
Lance Eric: Well I know this interview focused on the little drama that has been going on lately but I just want to reiterate that I have the upmost respect for all the former members of Bang Tango — especially the original members. I just felt I needed to vent and let people know the truth. I can’t stand liars and if I’m on the butt end of a lie, I will call you out. I just called a spade a spade.
Sleaze Roxx: Last question for you — what are your top three albums of all-time and why?
Lance Eric: ‘Black Parade’ by My Chemical Romance. It’s such a great album top to bottom. I’m a big fan of ‘Theatre Of Pain’ by Mötley Crüe. That record still sounds great to this day. And anything Johnny Cash.