Banquets: New Jersey Band Making No Reservations

It can’t be easy living in New Jersey. Constantly having to explain “Jersey Shore,” “Jerseylicious,” “The Real Housewives of New Jersey…”

Sure you’ve got Springsteen, quite possibly the greatest contribution to rock music since – well, ever. But, the Garden State’s second most popular contribution to the world of music is…Bon Jovi.

But buck up, Joisey, there are a slew of stellar local indie punk bands that have decided to stay in state (for now). Among those is Banquets, a fantastic melodic punk band comprised of refugees from other groups.

Singer/guitarist Travis Omilian was kind enough to put up with a handful of questions recently.

Innocent Words: Obviously you guys have all played in a number of great Jersey bands. When did you decide to put Banquets together?

Travis Omilian: At the time that I left Let Me Run, Dave (Frenson, guitar/vocals), Pete (Murphy, drums) and Chris (Larsen, bass) had been playing together for a few months.  Dave and I had played in a band together a few years earlier and have been best of friends for a while. So, he called me and asked me to come by and play, I did, and we had a blast. Several Bud Light Limes later, here we are.

IW: Was it originally intended as a full-time band?

Omilian: Banquets never set out to be anything more than just friends having a good time. We are going to do some records, and we are going to play some shows. We will probably do a short tour here or there, maybe a couple weekends to Germany and Japan. Everyone in the band has a full-time job, and we all enjoy what we do. Dave and Chris work on the Internet doing Internet things, Pete does something important with other people’s money, and I educate/save the youth of America (in Trenton, NJ). We are all millionaires already.

IW: Were there ever any band rivalries when you were in different bands?

Omilian: Not that I can recall. When Dave and I were in The Stand In together, we would sometimes attempt to fill up gallon jugs with our urine while out on the road. Dave spilled his all over himself one time. I don’t think that’s really a rivalry, though. Oddly enough, even though we are all from NJ, our old bands never played together.

IW: What can you tell me about the new 12-inch?

Omilian: Our 12-inch LP Nothing is Fucked Here consists of six songs. Four of the songs can be found on our debut release This Is Our Concern, Dude on Black Numbers. The other two songs are exclusive to the LP. We are really stoked on the LP, as it’s our first German release.

IW: Any idea if Lou Diamond Phillips has heard “I Wish I Was a Little More Lou Diamond Phillips”?

Omilian: He actually texted me a few months ago. I’m a huge fan, so it was an honor. He came to our apartment in Jersey City, and we got pizza. I couldn’t get rid of the guy. He just kept talking about “Stand and Deliver,” and I was all like, “I’m not big on that one.” That is a complete lie.

IW: Who produced these songs? Do you record all in one session?

Omilian: These songs were recorded and produced by Will Putney at the Machine Shop in Weehawken, NJ. We did all six songs in January and February of 2010. It was a total blast working with Will, and I believe we are going back to work with him on our next project.

IW: Do you guys have plans for a full-length any time soon?

Omilian: We actually just started writing for a full-length. No solid plans have been made to record or for a release date, but there is a full-length (as well as possibly some other cool stuff) in the works. We’re hoping to record with Will at The Machine Shop again, as long as the scheduling works out.

IW: Having put in time in other groups, what lessons did you not have to learn again in putting together Banquets?

Omilian: Just to have more fun with what you are doing and be positive about whatever circumstance you are in. I’ve dealt with the politics, the shit-talk, and so on… That isn’t what we’re doing. This is for us. We all know each other’s limitations with what we are doing and are pleased with each other as people and friends first.

IW: Do you have any tours lined up?

Omilian: We have a few weekend trips lined up as well as a few dates down to Fest. We’d love to do some larger scale touring, but right now our schedules don’t allow it.

IW: Those are all the questions I have. Do you want to add anything else?

Omilian: Just a quick thanks to everyone who’s been coming out to shows, buying (or stealing) the record, etc… We never meant for this to be anything but fun, and we’re just glad people are getting behind it.