Some bad ideas are actually good ideas. Pancho Ballard and the Banditos were born in a bedroom in the North West of England as a ‘make-your-own-fun’ recording project for Darren Riley. A big bubbling pot of Mexicans, cowboys, surf guitar and spaghetti westerns, it started as one song and became a full album.
Whilst never intended for public consumption, Darren (henceforth known as Pancho) played an acoustic version of Mexican Elvis to some friends at work – they liked. So he put a few tracks online for people to listen to – the listeners, they said yes! It seemed inevitable that a gig with a full band would have to follow pretty soon and the chance came when a friend of Pancho’s was asked to put a band together for a gig that was to commemorate the passing of a local comedian and poet, Hovis Presley. It seemed the perfect place to launch a Mexican-cowboy-surf-spaghetti western band.
The gig was a ridiculous, hilarious success. Not only was the music exciting, entertaining and often funny but Pancho also discovered a gift for making the audience laugh between songs. They also appreciated the free packs of Doritos he threw out too. Within a couple of weeks a brass section was added and the whole town was talking about the band – “Have you seen Pancho?”; “Are you going to see the Banditos?”; “Ay caramba!” Indeed, the aforementioned Darren Riley was now called Pancho as much as his birth name and that continues to this day.
And now the release of the Five Songs For Oscar E.P. sees the Banditos deliver a more developed, mature sound. Trombonist Dick Perkins has contributed to the writing duties as the band do a quick tour of South America, visiting Argentina in 1945 and Chile before returning to Mexico, and the whole E.P. is a great document of a band at the top of their game.
If you get the chance to see them live don't miss it, but meanwhile, grab a copy of Five Songs For Oscar and become a Fandito.