How Bang Bang Jet Away’s “Cocaine Company” landed a top spot on 91X Loudspeaker

Matt Binder contrasts experimental music to his strict approach to authoring books

Bang Bang Jet Away’s Matt Binder (left) and Mike Kamoo (right)
  • Bang Bang Jet Away’s Matt Binder (left) and Mike Kamoo (right)

Hotel St. George formed in 2007 and was kaput five years later in 2012. “Yeah, I got frustrated that we stayed at the same level for a long time,” singer/guitarist Matt Binder explained. “There wasn’t this progress. We didn’t graduate from playing the Casbah to selling-out the Casbah. We were still the middle band on a Thursday night... for like the whole time we were active. We were really prolific. Maybe six or seven records in four years, and there’s some really cool stuff on there. I’m definitely proud of what we made and accomplished, but I was just ready to step away from it.”

After a stint in the short-lived Snakesuit, Binder ditched music altogether to pursue a new passion — writing novels. His first effort was, according to Binder “rejected by like 60 presses and agents probably.” He persevered, and his second novel High in the Streets got picked up by a publisher. When High in the Streets was nearing completion the music bug struck again. Binder (who was living in Albuquerque at the time) called up his old friend from Earthling Studios, Mike Kamoo, and Bang Bang Jet Away was born.

“I would just fly out to San Diego and do a couple marathon recording sessions with Kamoo. There would be no rehearsals or anything. I would come in with a skeleton of a song — just like a little piano part or a little acoustic guitar part. Just an arrangement basically. Then whatever would happen in those two days that we would record is what would go on the record,” Binder said.

The experimental approach to songwriting was in stark contrast to Binder’s militant regimen while writing fiction. While working on his newest novel The Absolved Binder kept a strict weekday writing schedule from 9:30 am-12:30 pm.

“Then I would go do something else like running, go to the gym or go to a museum. I would then come back and edit and do some revisions on whatever I worked on that morning. Then the rest of the evening I would be out, but I would always be making notes. I was never not working on the book in my mind,” he said.

Binder wrote The Absolved while living in Budapest in 2016. He moved to New York afterwards, and once again began flying out to San Diego to occasionally record with Kamoo. The end result of these sessions is Dzzs Bar. It’s a slight departure for the duo as, this time around, Kamoo has handled about half of the song arrangements from the start, and there are very few electric guitar tracks to be found on the album. With non-existent marketing push, the band’s song “Cocaine Company” somehow landed a spot on 91X Loudspeaker’s top five tracks of January 2019. As a result, the recording duo are starting to get requests for live gigs. That entails putting together a band.

“I don’t know what that would look like,” Binder said. “We have a lot of songs to choose from between the three releases we’ve done. Probably 20-something songs. They might not be exactly how they are on the record, but we’ll be able to do cool versions of at least seven or eight songs.”

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