Interview: Mark Knight, Bang Tango

Dancin’ to a Different Tune

With their first two releases, Live Injection, on the independent World of Hurt Records and Psycho Café, their label debut for MCA/ Mechanic, LA’s BANG TANGO established themselves as one of the city’s more diverse bands. Augmented by Joe Lests (vocals), Kyle Kyle (bass), Kyle Stevens (guitar), Tigg Ketler (drums), BANG TANGO’s press cites a strong European feel to their sound.

I got guitarist Mark Knight on the blower from Tinsel Town to discuss what they’re about.
"Even though two members were born in LA, which is quite rare, as most people move here, we don’t consider ourselves an LA band," relates Mark. "Basically our influences are European. Y’know ZEPPELIN, THE STONES, which is a cool comparison as the music is usually classier there."
Produced by John Jansen (“He’s our mentor, man. We owe a lot to him”) Dancin’ On Coals is an album of contrasting moods, its focal point being Midnight Struck, an epic ballad complete with orchestra and gospel, stylish backing vocals supplied by the girls from STING’S touring band.
"Yeah, they were STING’s singers," laughs Mark before continuing on the song’s structure. "I’d been messing with this acoustic thing. Joe would adlib over it, so the band would improvise over us. So the song wasn’t pre-planned. It was just a case of putting the progression together. John then built on it and what you hear is the result."
The first track, Soul to Soul, is a surreal tale of ghostly meetings in hotel lobbies.
"It’s a little avant garde. We tried to do something funky and broken up like off Live Injection, kinda like getting back to our roots. It’s really not an obvious song,” states the guitarist, “but it grows on you. We may put it out as a single sometime."

Comparing one band to another often meets with cries of derision, but when I mentioned the fact that both the title cut and United and True are similar to one bleached blonde lip snarler, Mark seems relatively chuffed.
"Yeah, we like BILLY IDOL a lot, especially Joe. He’s a really big fan. We just screwed around with melodies and those two songs resulted. In fact United is our first single."
Having had over forty songs to choose from, the novel idea of inviting friends and fans down to the rehearsal studio was hatched.
"They were given a special tally sheet on which they marked down their choice, which was great as it gave us a different angle on which to view the record. From this we got down to fourteen songs and then we chose the final eleven."
Talk of BANG TANGO often centres on their funk approach. This is less prevalent this time, though Mark is keen to make a point:
"When we started we just wanted to get people moving. We were the only ones at that time to be doing that style. Now, I don’t want to say we started it but a lot of bands have latched onto the groove."

Joe Mackett
Riff Raff
October 1991
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