After over fifteen years of playing and recording together, California’s Rx Bandits are calling it quits. But though the band has decided to go their separate ways as musicians, this doesn’t mean they aren’t going to go all out before the end. Rx Bandits are scheduled to play their final show next week on June, 28 with openers Maps and Atlases, Zechs Marquise, and Happy Body Slow Brain. Tickets are available now for what is sure to be an outstanding final performance from a group of talented musicians and friends.
Founded in 1995 and originally called The Pharmaceutical Bandits, the group started life in the ska revival of the mid 1990s and after playing shows and garnering interest in their hometown of Seal Beach, California and the surrounding areas, released their first album Those Damn Bandits in 1997. The record was met positively but some critics memorably mentioned Rx Bandits would have more potential as a band if they broke from the pure ska sound they had made their stock and trade. So, hearing the criticism and seeking to expand their sound, the band followed suit and broke from their ska roots on their next album, the appropriately title Halfway Between Here and There. The album featured a blend of ska and alternative rock that garnered The Pharmaceutical Bandits critical acclaim and their success led to tours with The Bloodhound Gang, Reel Big Fish, and Goldfinger. A year after its original release date, Halfway Between Here and There was re-released with two new tracks and under the band’s new name: Rx Bandits.
In between the success of their second album and the recording of their third, Rx Bandits went through some line up changes as bassist Franz Worth and saxophonist Noah Gaffey both left the band. Worth was replaced by James Salomone of the group My Superhero and Gaffey’s position was not refilled. For Rx Bandit’s third album, 2001’s Progress, the band was at the tightest their line up had ever been, consisting of guitarist/vocalist Matthew Embree, drummer Christopher Tsagakis, trombonist Rich Balling, and Solomone on bass. With Progress, Rx Bandits expanded their sound, transcending ska even further and developing a style all their own. The album received the most positive reception Rx Bandits had gotten up to that point with the release of the single “Analog Boy” which was made into a music video. The group went through several more line up changes after Progress was released, when Solomone and Balling left the band to be replaced by Joe Troy and Steve Borth respectively. Trombonist Chris Sheets and guitarist/keyboardist Steve Choi also joined the band with Choi sharing songwriting credits with Embree over the next two albums.
In 2003, Rx Bandits released the live in studio album The Resignation, the most experimental album the band had released to date. The Resignation was the farthest Rx Bandits had come from their early days as ska-punk rockers, experimenting with odd time signatures and politically charged lyrics. A DVD of the band playing their raucous live shows to receptive audiences was included with the album as well that brought Rx Bandits’ energetic shows to fans at home. Rx Bandits were proving themselves to be a band that never stood in one place, constantly challenging audiences and fans with a blend of genre stylings and musical elements. The band’s fourth album, …And the Battle Begun was made available in 2006 and produced Rx Bandit’s third music video for the album’s title track.
A few days after the release of …And the Battle Begun, Rx Bandits announced on their Myspace page that Borth had left the band and would be pursuing his own musical endeavors. With only Sheets on horns, Rx Bandits found themselves having to find new and inventive ways to play songs live and in 2007 released the recording of their set at the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival. In 2008, Rx Bandits went out on a headlining tour that introduced new fans to the band and solidified the group’s solid fanbase with more energetic and engaging live shows. The writing and recording process of the next album Mandala saw the departure of Sheets, leaving Rx Bandits without horns for the first time in their careers. The lack of horns forced the band to focus even more on live performances however as fans raved about Rx Bandit’s connection with their audiences, competence as a live band, and onstage charisma. Mandala was released in 2009 and 2010 saw the band’s biggest tour to date, with three night residencies at The Gramercy Theater in New York City and The Troubador in Los Angeles.
In April of 2011, Rx Bandits announced that they would be playing their final tour together through the summer with their final date at The Granada Theater. Rx Bandits have been leaving everything onstage for this, their final tour with nothing to lose. It seems that the band has decided that if they are coming to an end, the might as well make the most of the time they have left. Known for making deep connections with their audiences and responding to the energy of crowds, Rx Bandits are sure to go all out when they take The Granada’s stage on June 28 for the last time. Known to play extended jams that push the boundaries of the band’s signature brand of experimental, alternative, and ska influenced rock, Rx Bandits show off their impressive technical skills while maintaining a grounded groove as players. The experience is sure to be intense as openers Happy Body Slow Brain, Zech’s Marquis, and Maps and Atlases will kick off the night before Rx Bandits take the stage to say goodbye and to put the exclamation point on their careers as band members. Don’t miss out on what is sure to be a once in a lifetime performance! Tickets are on sale now.