Pronounced as 'banquet', BNQT is something of an indie music super-group, with members drawn from some of the most successful independent rock bands of the last few years. The concept for BNQT was conceived by Eric Pulido of Midlake, an indie/folk/progressive rock band from Denton in Texas. Pulido recruited a number of other established indie artists to take part in the project, which initially set about recording an album. When the first track from this work was made available in January 2017, there was a considerable clamour for the recording project to be turned into a full live band, something that became a reality soon afterwards.
BNQT's first album recordings use no less than five different lead vocalists for the tracks. Ben Bridwell from Band of Horses was one of them, as was Alex Kapranos, the lead singer of Franz Ferdinand. Fran Healy, the frontman of Travis, a band that has enjoyed two number one albums – “The Man Who” and “The Invisible Band” – also contributed vocals to the project. The other two singers used on the debut album were Jason Lytle of Grandaddy, and Pulido himself.
Having attracted some of the leading indie rock vocalists to take part in his project, Pulido needed some session musicians and writers to help him bring his ideas to fruition. Understandably, he turned to his bandmates in Midlake to provide the necessary studio skills. When the first writing and recording sessions for what would become Volume 1 occurred at Midlake's studio in Texas, McKenzie Smith provided the drums, Joey McClellan played the guitar, and Jesse Chandler offered his keyboard skills. All of these artists were at that stage full-time members of Midlake.
According to Pulido, the idea for BNQT came to him while he was touring with Midlake, promoting their 2013 release, Antiphon. In his words, he wanted to bring together a number of 'contrasting yet complementary' singers who he'd met while on the road. Some of the people he called had become friends over time, and others he had simply shared a stage with and thought that their style would suit the project. Seeking to establish an environment that all of the musicians could collaborate on with an equal footing, he set about inviting the artists to Midlake's headquarters in Denton.
Although the concept of BNQT was enthusiastically met by the singers he asked to take part, not all of them were able to make it in person. As such, some of the recording sessions were conducted together and others were made using a virtual studio, over the Internet. When a sufficient number of demos had been recorded, Pulido set about working them up into fully-fledged arrangements, ready for their eventual release in April 2017.
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