interview and photographs by Justin Thor Simenson
This article was originally published in February 2014. Blackbird Buvette has since closed it doors in downtown Albuquerque. The Red Light Cameras have gone on to win “Best Local Band” in the Weekly Alibi’s “Best of Burque poll” and continue to play shows in Albuquerque and beyond.
I caught up with the Amanda, Barney, and Chris of Red Light Cameras (RLCs) almost two weeks after the show at Blackbird. With me I had a print of this issue with just the photo’s laid out and some questions I needed answered.
Chris and Barney formed RLCs in 2010 in Albuquerque. They knew they wanted female lead vocals, and when Amanda auditioned at one of their practices the group connected. They started writing their own songs and playing any and all gig’s they could get. “At the beginning we would play anywhere”, Amanda recalls. “In hookah bars with no stage and if we needed to bring our own PA, we would.” They found themselves forming a loyal following and with that came bigger and better venues.
RLCs have a good stage presence. After the show I found out that Barney had written a play (in which, Amanda acts). I asked them how their theater background influenced their music. “Chris and I are part of Blackout Theater Company and Amanda is an actor as well.” Barney continues, “We aren’t afraid of being on the stage or talking to people.” The theater background has also taught them the importance of connecting to the audience. Amanda admits that she gets nervous right before singing, something that doesn’t happen when she is acting. “When you’re in a play, you’re a character. But on stage it is just us. I feel it is even more vulnerable in that way.” RLCs are themselves on stage and they invite the crowd to enjoy the music with them. Amanda explains “We have fun at our shows. The way we rock out on stage is the way we rock out in practice.” Chris says “It should be an emotional release when you go to a show. If you’re not passionate about it, why should the crowd be?”
Q: Are you pop, rock, …? Your songs are catchy. I find myself humming ‘Fire’ often, but I can’t put my finger on the genre you fall into.
A: With the catchy lyrics we could fall into pop, but we are also kind of garage rock, pop, rock, indie… It’s hard to describe, but that is what I love about us. When we sit down to write a song we pull from different influences in our lives. We might have a riff that has soul in it, one that has more R&B, and another that has more pop.
Although they mostly stick to Albuquerque shows, they are planning a trip out to SXSW in March. They played there back in 2011 and are excited to return. Albuquerque’s music scene excites them and they enjoy playing with fellow local bands. They want to see the local scene grow more and play with more up and coming bands. In Chris’ words “I am sure there are bands here that we would love to have play with us. I want the scene to grow and I want people to push themselves to get gigs.”