The rise of South Yorkshire band Bang Bang Romeo continues apace this summer with a string of stadium concerts as guests of superstar Pink.
The trio, from Doncaster, who are due to release their debut album in the autumn, are due to play 14 shows with the US singer, starting in Amsterdam on June 16 and including two nights at Wembley Stadium, on June 29 and 30.
Singer Anastasia ‘Stars’ Walker explains the invitation followed a gig that Bang Bang Romeo played at London venue The Social. “Pink’s agent was there, which we didn’t know, which was probably a good thing, and then our management rang up and said, ‘Pink’s really interested’. We were like, ‘Yeah, it’s great that she’s interested but it is Pink…’ But her agent had put our music forward to her, she had a list of people to look through and she picked us. That was a strange phone call when you’re sat at home watching Jeremy Kyle with a bowl of Cocoa Pops, you get that phone call that you’re going on the road with Pink. It’s crazy, because she’s a bit of a hero of mine.
“I knew there was going to be a tour announced soon, so I was actually planning on going to see her. Now I get to see her a few more times. But it’s also a dream, it’s Wembley, it’s Anfield, it’s also those places that a band from a small town dreams of. We’re just so excited and thankful to Pink and her team for the opportunity, but we’ve got every intention of giving it everything we’ve got. We’ve been rehearsing for three months, so you should hope so.”
The tour will be the first time that Bang Bang Romeo have had the luxury of a proper tour bus, Walker notes.
“But the way we work as a band, we’re very particular and we want everything to be perfect, which is why it took us so long to record the album,” she adds. “We rehearse two or three times a week for three hours at a pop and we don’t stop. Lots of stuff, even down to the costumes. We’ve had amazing endorsements, we’re working with these incredible bands, which again is a dream, and I’m just doing my best not to watch any live at Wembley concerts. I went to Wembley a few years ago to watch Rotherham with my dad, and we were walking up and I said to my dad, ‘One day we’ll play there’ and he said, ‘All right, I believe you’, and then we got the phone call and he went, ‘No, two days’ and I was like, ‘Well played, dad, it’s a good joke there’.
“We’ve been doing lots of prep, lots of rehearsing, lots of coaching. We speak to each other every day and we have a conference call. It’s got to be right, hasn’t it? And I’m going teetotal for the whole thing because I don’t want to feel groggy the next day. It’s so not rock ’n’ roll but I want to take it all in. My birthday lands when we’re in Dublin – that will be fun.”
The seeds were sown for Bang Bang Romeo when Walker and guitarist Ross Cameron were in their mid-teens. “We started writing together about eight years ago,” says Walker. “Just acoustic songs in the living room and playing local bars acoustically. Then about five years ago we got Richard [Gartland], the drummer. We thought, ‘Right, shall we do this properly? We’ll still keep the day jobs but let’s proper go for it. We love it so much, we enjoy it, people in our home town seem to dig it, let’s see if the rest of the world will’ – and luckily Pink dug it.”
Walker credits BBC Introducing for their “immense support” in the early stages of their career, along with Steve Lamacq and Huw Stephens, who have played the band’s music on national radio. She notes that BBC Radio Sheffield have often had them on for sessions. “Whenever you have an opportunity like that you grab it with both hands,” she says.
Walker feels the message of their music is empowering. “I’m an out, proud gay woman, I’m also a big girl from Yorkshire. I’m actually not your stereotypical pop/rock woman, and I think my message is equality and be anything you want to be. I get a lot of messages from girls who are perhaps bigger women or gay women saying, ‘You just put a bit of boost in my step today’, and that’s the plan. I didn’t have any role models as such, growing up. My hero’s Freddie Mercury, who, again, as a gay man back in his time, the challenges were a lot bigger.
I get a lot of messages from girls who are perhaps bigger women or gay women saying, ‘You just put a bit of boost in my step today’, and that’s the plan.Anastasia ‘Stars’ Walker
“I feel as though everything is coming round again, with things happening around the world, there are still certain places where I’m not allowed to walk into as an openly gay woman, so with our next single you’ll be hearing messages with that. But my message is just be who you want to be and don’t give a s*** whilst doing it.”
Walker has said while she might ‘wear the trousers’ in Bang Bang Romeo, she appreciated how respectful her two bandmates were of her. It’s something she feels other male musicians could learn from. “I’m in a band with two absolute gentlemen that do not feel the need to clip my wings in any way. In fact, they make way for my wings on the runway, and I think more men could learn from that in the music industry, purely because it is pretty tough being a female in the industry. I’ve had the whole, ‘Are you carrying your boyfriend’s guitar?’ ‘No it’s my guitar, you p****. And singing’. I do probably wear the trousers in the band but it’s not through bullying my way in, it’s through the men in my life the men in my life making me feel empowered and making me want to be better and I think that’s a wonderful thing. I’m very lucky to be surrounded by talented, smart, humble men.”
The band’s album, A Heartbreaker’s Guide to the Galaxy, was recorded in New York, Los Angeles, Birmingham and London. “The way the album’s been written it takes you on a journey,” Walker says. “There’s a lot of music that makes you want to think about perhaps politics or things that are happening in the world today, which we’re all very passionate about. There are hints about that ever so slightly but the music that we make, we want to take you to a different place entirely. It’s the sort of music that makes you want to forget you’re in a certain city, the whole album is to take you to a different universe altogether, so when we were recording it out in LA and New York it felt a bit apt as well, right we’re taking this all over the place and we’re so happy. You can hear New York in the album, you can hear LA, you can hear London, you can hear Birmingham and then obviously you can hear Doncaster because we’re from there. The album really is a place for everywhere.”
Bang Romeo’s new single What’s Up is out now. A Heartbreaker’s Guide to the Galaxy is out in September. The band play at Belgrave Music Hall, Leeds on october 10 and The Foundry, Sheffield on October 26. www.bangbangromeo.com.