March 2017 - Turn It Up: Red Light Cameras
Photography by Ben Bunner
Albuquerque boasts a surplus of musical talent. One band that overflows in that area is Red Light Cameras. Truly making a name for themselves, Red Light’s mix of alternative party rock has left audiences wanting more. The band members took a moment to sit down with New Mexico Entertainment and talk about how they formed and where they see their journey leading.
How did the band come together?
Barney Lopez and Chris Walsh grew up in Los Lunas playing music in adjacent bands with another friend named Mike Meyer. When Chris returned from college, the three of them decided to start a band together called Evol Lived with with Kirsten Allard on drums. The band went on for about a year, until they decided that a female vocalist would match the music they were trying to make better. At the time, Barney was in a play with Amanda Machon, who was also playing in a cover band with her dad’s friends, called Little Sister. Amanda was the only one that they auditioned, and it was a perfect match. They played as Evol Lived for several months but decided to change the name when they met Spoon in Burt’s Tiki Lounge and were told they had a horrible band name. They became Red Light Cameras in the Winter of 2010 and never looked back. Mike left the band early on and when Kirsten left, they added Joey Gonzalez, who was a fan of the band and was referred by Kirsten to be her replacement. The band has had it’s current line-up for 4 years now.
What is it about music that drives you?
The opportunity to work creatively as a member of a collaborative team keeps it fun and energizing. We write all of our music together as opposed to a single songwriter dictating parts to the whole band. We get to express different sides of ourselves and our experiences through music—and when we are able to make a solid connection with a live audience, it is one of the best community experiences we could be part of. We find music therapeutic and it makes us happy. Every day we get to play together is a good day for us.
How would you describe your sound?
Our music makes people dance, jump around and gets the audience excited. Amanda is a powerhouse of vocal emotions. She can go from being really cute and light in her lyrics, to a soulful and heart-wrenching lyric from one song to the next. We like to explore different moods with our music and are not afraid of experimentation. We make good, catchy tunes, though, with melodies that stick in people’s minds. We work hard to make the audience have a great experience every night we play. We want our shows to be a cathartic experience. Our sound has been described as a mix of The Pixies, No Doubt, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and KC and the Sunshine Band.
How do you feel about the New Mexico music scene?
It has been a supportive scene for us. Fans, venues, bands, and musicians have all been extremely supportive and great to work with. Our NM fanbase has been amazing. They inspire us in our songwriting and how we think about working toward establishing a fanbase beyond the state. There is a diversity of talent here that expresses itself through so many lenses. There are a lot of musicians creating important music in every genre, and we are happy we get to work with so many of them. It has been both inspiring and motivating to experience what our fellow musicians create. Albuquerque has a do-it-yourself attitude. A lot of artists are doing all this work by themselves, which is hard, but also makes it that much better. It’s so inspiring to look at what our fellow bands are doing, and we can’t wait to see more.
Do you see challenges when booking gigs?
We are fortunate to work with really good people—booking agents, venues, promoters, and others who support us and provide new opportunities and knowledge about how the industry works and what we should be aiming for as next steps. We set goals for ourselves and then try to navigate ways in which we can achieve those goals locally, regionally, nationally, and more. Maintaining good relationships and helping other bands, agents, and promoters out when we can, whether it’s by booking shows for independent acts coming through town, or making sure we spend enough money on advertising for shows, demonstrates we are serious about what we are doing and respect the businesses and people who provide opportunities for us to play.
When are your next upcoming performances?
We are going to be everywhere! We head out on tour to SXSW on March 10-19, playing several unofficial showcases during the iconic music festival. Locally, we have a show at Low Spirits on March 31 and a show at Sister on April 23. We’re going to be on the road a lot this year, but we’ll always try to play Albuquerque at least once a month!