Denver-based Bandits play Snake River Saloon in Keystone
IF YOU GO
When: Friday, Oct. 9 and Saturday, Oct. 10, 9:30 p.m.
Where: Snake River Saloon, Keystone
Lulu and John Demitro often get mistaken for a married couple. After checking out their CDs and noticing the two have the same last name, bar patrons will comment on how sweet it is the two tour together as a couple. But at 21 and 22 years old, the two finish each other’s sentences better than spouses who have been together for decades — or as only brother and sister can do.
“She’s a lot taller than me,” John said, after Lulu explains the two are only a year and a couple months apart, and, when they aren’t mistaken as a married couple, they are mistaken for twins.
The two, along with drummer Andrew Oakley, make up Bandits, a nationally-touring, Denver-based rock band that will be playing the Snake River Saloon in Keystone on Friday, Oct. 9 and Saturday, Oct. 10. The Demitro duo — with John on guitar and vocals and Lulu on bass, keyboards and vocals — have been playing together as a project for the past three years, and Oakley was added to round out the group about nine months ago.
Lulu said the fact that her and John are brother and sister doesn’t take a toll on the group.
“We try to keep (fighting) to a minimum for our drummer’s sake — we don’t fight that often on the road,” she said.
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“We make fun of each other, that’s how we …” John starts.
“… That’s how we function as a band — everyone gives each other a lot of sh*t, that’s how we get through it usually,” Lulu finishes. “We don’t have any horrible sibling fights; it’s usually about something stupid, like tuning, can someone make a Facebook post, you have the phone charger — just silly things.”
ON THE ROAD
The van was traveling down a construction-filled highway in Texas, windshield covered in dead bugs. It was that time of day when the sun is glaring straight into the vehicle, making it hard to see even if the insects hadn’t tragically met their doom on the glass. In Texas, Lulu explains in their defense, there are no lines on the road in the construction zones, only dots. Oakley, who was driving, suddenly realizes he’s doing 45 on the wrong side of the road, and that’s when everyone starts screaming.
John and Lulu tell the story as one, a stream of thoughts only differentiated by the pitches of their voices.
“Our drummer was apparently confused,” Lulu said. “We were driving, he couldn’t see out of the windshield and, suddenly, we are on the wrong side of the road, driving the wrong way —“
“Doing 45 miles an hour —“ John adds.
“Luckily, we got off the road, wiped the bugs off with a CD and found a gas station to clean windshield,” Lulu continues.
“It was an interesting little moment,” John finishes.
Last year, Bandits did a small tour through the Midwest to test the waters but really started hitting it hard this past year, and the young group can’t get enough.
“It’s been great,” John said. “It’s awesome to get out and play other places, get a different perspective on other music scenes, and I just love being on the road.”
Lulu said the group likes to take advantage of being in new places.
“We have a good time on the road,” Lulu said. “We like to make the best of traveling to different places. We are in the van a lot, like eight or nine hours a day, so, when we get to a city, we try to find something cool to do — go to a museum, garden, anything other than staying in the van all day.”
The band played the Snake last August but has also toured through all the other mountain towns, including Steamboat, Aspen and Telluride.
John describes their sound as heavy, aggressive rock — with a little bit of blues, Lulu adds.
“We’ve got a lot of modern influences, like Queens of the Stone Age, Def Leppard, The Kills, … Jack White — all those kinds of bands,” Lulu said. “We also take a lot of influence from ’70s rock — Zeppelin, Sabbath.”
Lulu said their sound is unique in that they do a lot of heavier music with a keyboard, and it’s hard to get big sound as a three-piece, but that is what they strive for.
Each song has a different vibe and a different voice to it because the two switch up on lead vocals, John said.
“I feel like dynamics are really important in a band,” he said, “and a lot of our newer songs, we incorporate that a lot more and have a lot of quiet parts, and then, when it’s heavy, it’s really heavy. We try to write original-sounding songs with new ideas.”
All three members grew up playing music throughout their childhoods. Oakley grew up on the drums, and John and Lulu grew up playing various instruments. Coming from a musical family, the Demitros’ mom was a trumpet player, and they both learned the guitar from their dad. Instruments were always around the house, thanks to their grandfather’s music shop.
“Our parents made us take piano lessons at 3,” Lulu said. “We both continued playing piano — John started playing drums, then he started playing bass, then I started playing guitar, then John taught me how to play bass, then he learned how to play guitar.”
The group has an EP of four songs available online and also have a music video premiering.
“It’s hard to say what exactly inspires our music, but we love to write music,” John said. “If we have an idea, something that excites us, we just do it and we are really excited about it.”
Lulu said they want try create music that is appealing to themselves first and foremost.
“As musicians, everyone can agree that you write the kind of music you want to hear,” she said. “So we definitely try to play the music that we would want to hear somebody playing that excites us.”
Things seem to be taking off for the band, and they are holding a single release show Nov. 13 at Hi-Dive in Denver. The two Demitros both would like to see themselves touring and creating music long into the future.
“The most important thing is writing good songs and releasing them and having a good time doing it,” John said. “In the next five years, I would love to tour a lot and play as many places as we can play. That’s the most important thing, is just playing and writing good music —”
“And that’s all you can really hope for,” Lulu adds. “You can’t have high expectations, but you want to have some good goals.”
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