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Meet a Musician: BadCameo combines genres to make indie funk fusion

Meet a Musician: BadCameo combines genres to make indie funk fusion

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BadCameo lives by the mantra of “Fuse whatever you’ve got into this music.”

The Winston-Salem trio, made up of singer and guitarist Lando Pieroni, bassist and keyboard player Geoff Weber and drummer Dan Mead, has described itself as premium funk, but its influences are many.

“When we first started jamming, I played a lot of classical and Brazilian music, a little bit of bluegrass,” Pieroni said. “Geoff studied classical music, but also jazz. And Dan came through with a huge jazz background, playing big bands. So we all had these different genres we were used to playing. When we came together, we found ourselves playing all sorts of different songs. And so, there really is no limit in what we want to explore.”

The band hasn’t been able to tour lately because if COVID-19. But in a recent interview they spoke about how they still have a ball practicing in their basement, as well as how Craigslist brought them together, and the stuffed fish that accompany them to shows.

How did you get started?

Pieroni: Geoff and I at different times went to Wake Forest University for undergrad, and he majored in music, and I played a lot of music. And we had a mutual friend that connected us. We started jamming, and it was very organic.

Weber: While that was going on, I was trying to play with as many people as I could around town to get something going. I was also playing with a cover band called the Wingmen. Our guitar player in that band was surfing Craigslist, and he came across Dan and invited him to come in one day to jam with our cover group. But Dan and I clicked musically and as friends really well. Lando and I didn’t have a drummer, so we all got together.

Who are some of your inspirations?

Pieroni: One of my great inspirations is Antonio Carlos Jobim, one of the godfathers of bossa nova. His way of viewing music and the way he structured his songs are beyond impressive. It speaks to your soul. He’s one of my all time favorites.

Mead: The thing that kind of got us on this track was going to Whisky Box in Winston-Salem, and going to see BraveWorldTrio. Jonathan Greene is the drummer for them, and I took lessons from him. We liked watching them experiment and do wacky stuff that we couldn’t really even understand all the time because it was so complex. But it gave us the desire to get better.

Weber: My dad turned me on to a lot of really cool music from his record collection. And he had hipster tastes, so there was a lot of funk and jazz. And I’ve also got some pretty deep roots in classic rock and Steely Dan. I like the way their chords work, their parts go together. Those kinds of textures are where I draw a lot of my influence.

How would you describe your music?

Pieroni: We’ve done some songs that go from funk to rock ‘n’ roll, some that are straight up blues rock, some that are four-on-the-floor funk. Some have some samba and bossa nova rhythm. So, when people ask us about our genre, we ultimately come to the conclusion that it’s something like indie funk fusion. We’re independent artists first and foremost. We like to be funky, and with more than just the musical sound, but also with how we interact with the live audience, which can be really kooky. And fusion — I say use whatever you got. Cowbells make an appearance, melodicas, flutes. Whatever we can get our hands on, we’ll try to incorporate it.

What is your creative process like?

Weber: Usually Lando will have some kind of little ditty, or little chord progression, kind of like a seed of an idea. And he’ll bring that to me and Dan. Dan is great with structure and making different sections distinct. And I’m a huge nerd for chords and arrangements and stuff like that. I’ll kind of figure out how we can make it flow. Once Lando brings us something, it’s kind of an organic process and we kind of just jam on it. We use a lot of spontaneity, too. We’ll stumble on some pretty crazy ideas when we’re just jamming and having fun. It’s really a nice collaboration, though, of everyone bringing their own strengths to the table.

If you could open a show for any artist, who would it be and why?

Pieroni: Khruangbin (a Thai-inspired psychedelia band from Texas). They fuse all sorts of world music, sort of a similar approach to what we try to do.

Mead: We usually play in front of people who are up and dancing and having a good time and feeding us energy. I’m thinking maybe Tom Misch, people who understand rhythm and grooving around.

Weber: Maybe from a business perspective, opening for John Mayer would be pretty sweet, because he’s got a lot of fans. Plus, we could get to see the show afterward, which would be pretty cool.

Do you sing karaoke or sing in the shower, and if so, what do you sing?

Mead: Well, we do that equivalent to drumming. We’ll be at the kitchen table and we start making beats. Geoff has the salt shaker, and starts shaking it, making 16th notes. And, then I’ll come in and start putting some beats down.

But when it comes to singing, I love Third Eye Blind, so I’m liable to bust out “Semi-Charmed Life” any time.

Weber: One time, Dan and I were at a karaoke bar in Winston, and we did a duet on “Semi-Charmed Life.”

Pieroni: Recently in the shower, I’ve been singing “Use Me” by Bill Withers a whole lot.

What’s the funniest or weirdest thing that has happened at one of your shows?

Pieroni: We’ve got three huge stuffed fish. And the biggest one is this giant green bass. And people love throwing him around in the crowd.

But at The Evening Muse (a venue in Charlotte), they were getting pretty wild with these stuffed fish, and actually broke a lamp or two. There are fish flying across, and one gets stuck in the lights.

Weber: And there are pictures of people hugging the fish, and it’s pretty funny.

Mead: Some people just chuck them like a football, and if you’re not looking, you can get a smack in the head. But it’s a good way to interact with fans in a tangible way.

What is your favorite song to perform?

Pieroni: One we’ve been doing recently toward the end is called “Swamp Doctor,” and we just get real down and grungy with it. There’s a crazy, upbeat funk rock outro. And it’s just fun to lay it all out on this really crazy song, which will be featured on our upcoming album.

Mead: One of my favorites is called “Pink Leather,” which takes some jazz and hip-hop influences. That’s how we start most of our shows. Lando will freestyle over this minimalist beat, and then we kind of fill it all back in.

Weber: There’s a song “Kick It,” and we usually stick it either very last, or second to last, and we’ll just leave it all on the table. We’ll run around and go crazy and dance in the crowd, jump off things.

What’s next?

Weber: We’ve got an album cooking up. We were supposed to have a good-sized tour beginning in April, though obviously that got canceled. But we had the time off, and decided to lay down nine new songs, and we just kind of locked ourselves in and cranked those out for eight days in a row. We set up for the day, record all day and just take a ramen noodle break. We miss shows, but being able to focus on that has given us some creative juice.

Mead: We have a lot of songs we play that we love. But, we went through and thought about what really makes us tick. What are we capable of? We took our best stuff and put it on this album. The goal here is to show what we’re capable of.

Pieroni: We record, mix, produce all our music. Geoff is a brainiac when it comes to mixing, producing. So we have the fortune of having that knowledge and equipment to mess around with, instead of outsourcing it.

— As told to Robert C. Lopez, roberto.lopez79@gmail.com

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