Named after the hard-to-crack texture of a gru-gru bef (banga fruit), the hard rockers of Bangaseed wanted their band’s name to align with its hard rock music. The band was formed after three friends bonded over their love for music while at their alma mater, Fatima College. Bangaseed’s repertoire of nine songs with hints of love and loss are euphorically driven with music that take you on an inward journey.
Their debut song titled “Mystical Ecstasy” was followed up with eight other tracks in their repertoire. The band is preparing for their studio EP release on October 27, along with the release of their debut music video.
The Kitcharee recently spoke to lead singer and founding member, John Emmanuel, who came from a family that was heavily involved in rock music. He spoke about the camaraderie shared by his bandmates, their music and latest projects. “Our band’s name pays homage to our local fruit “goo-goo-beff”. Bangaseed was a three-way joint idea between myself, current lead guitarist Johnathon Agostini and Javed Ali who is a rude, rude guy, who to this day still holds the real reason as to how he came up with the name for the band.
“I’ve known Johnathon since our primary school days, so for about 21 years now. We started playing guitar around the same time as kids and always spoke about creating music since then. Johnathon was pivotal in the band’s current line-up. We started jamming with musicians over the years but their membership was often short lived until Johno brought in Kyle on the drums back in 2017.
“Kyle cemented himself as Bangaseed’s main drummer and he brings that hard jazz influenced feel which drives us. From that we had a chain reaction. Javed eventually had to leave and left an open spot in the band. That’s where Kesh Maraj came in. Kesh is a metal lover at heart who was in a band with Kyle until they disbanded, and somehow found himself with us during our 2019 shows campaign. The chemistry was instant and you’re sure to see him and myself sharing some kind of placebo effect between us on stage. Johnathon also brought in our current bassist Gregory Pantin.
“Our motivation fostered as teens when we hung out with fellow students from Fatima College, who went on to form their own band. Being around that along with our love for music propelled us into trying to create our own act. Guns N’ Roses, Pearl Jam, Metallica and Iron Maiden were some of our early motivators but over the years that’s changed. But our definite motivation when the band formed was to get 30 minutes to just let ourselves be free on stage.
“The band was originally formed in 2009, with sporadic performances throughout the years until 2019, when we decided to really get down to giving Trinidad something it was missing which was a hard rock band that goes all out in each performance. We play original music first and foremost but our love for the 90s grunge music makes us play a few bangers every now and then for that nostalgic feel. The band has all elements in it, the sonic sound, looks and feel that makes you come back for more,” Emmanuel said.
Speaking about the band’s inspiration he said: “It’s a real mix of everything, to be honest. Our music stems from what we emotionally feel towards the music. In the nine songs we presently have in our repertoire you can get hints of love, loss, euphorically driven, and lyrics to take you on an inward journey. Our debut song ‘Mystical Ecstasy’ was written to feel the sensation of losing oneself to mystics of this universe. Our follow-ups are about lost loves. Love songs are easy to write and it’s easy to flow off the vibe of the song but we really do our best to not copy our predecessors or mimic the next song to sound like the current. I think that’s what stuck to me all these years which is seen and heard in our material. I’ve dabbled in other genres like pop and chutney but my roots stayed true to rock. In a nutshell, we want the viewers to rock out with us, it’s good ole’ fun when we hit that stage.
The Canada experience
Emmanuel is proud of the band’s accomplishments. “Throughout 2019, we gained so much traction that after performing 15 times we were a household name in the circuit for a must-see act. For any rock band at the moment, any achievement, small or big is still something to note. We were blessed with the opportunity to perform in Canada, back in 2018, representing Trinidad and Tobago for the television show called ClubOneNewReleases. This was a partnership between Flow and the Newfoundland connection where acts were taken from the Caribbean and paired off with Canadian acts, where they were recorded for the show, and each act would have two performances, one being in Trinidad and the other being in Newfoundland. We took that week to perform a couple times in Newfoundland at some pubs and their rockers lounge. All in all, a really great time, and we’re always looking for more opportunities out there.
Covid-19 has been tough on the band. “We ended our 2019 live campaign with 15 performances for that year. We paused for Carnival and were set to begin our performances in March at the Hard Rock Café in Gulf City. Two days before that gig was set to take-off, the Prime Minister announced that Trinidad had its first Covid-19 case which derailed the entire occasion. Since then we have not played out.
“It’s been rough on us, likewise for all musicians in the country. To keep our fellow musicians somewhat happy and stop the downer, the band created what we called “The coVIDS” where we individually covered songs with guest artistes and compiled the video to form one main video. Have to give kudos to Greg on it because he’s the wizkid in the band, and bassist sadly. We were invited to perform for the Rotary Club of Port of Spain’s Covid-19 telethon where the same concept applied (record yourself at home), so in a sense music still finds its way of uniting us in these hard times. We took this time more than ever to finalise the production of our upcoming tracks and to really dig deep into the new music we’ve been procrastinating where writing is concerned.
“We’re currently fine tuning our new music. This year, though upsetting, gave us an opportunity to finish writing songs we didn’t get a chance to end during the constant gigging last year. We also went to the drawing board and removed a couple songs that we didn’t feel anymore. We can safely say we’re fine tuning the full-length album with what makes sense to us. We’re a band that likes new initiatives and there’s always the possibility of working with artistes outside our genre.”