Fans of the band Allies—formerly known as Sunday Funeral—know two things. One: Allies’ brand of music adds a rocking, sharp edge to themes teleported from the 1920s. (Hmm. Which pandemic are they in?) Two: The band’s productivity is unparalleled, as the members have managed to create numerous music videos, along with other forms of visual media, outside of their recordings.
The band’s website and YouTube page feature the band’s songs, videos and more. The newest content is a music video for new single “Swing, Swing, Bata-bing.” I spoke to the three-piece—Justin Ledesma, Andrea Taboada and Alex Gerber—over the phone about their new song.
“Alex is our new drummer, as of over a year ago,” said Ledesma. “His catchphrase is ‘Swing, Swing, Bata-bing.’”
Gerber confirmed he used to say that all the time. “Maybe annoyingly so. Justin said, ‘Hey! That’s a song.’”
Added Ledesma: “I thought ‘Swing’ fit in with the whole thing we do, and it just kind of went from there. The video had a fun party atmosphere.”
Fun party atmosphere, indeed. The music video features various moments of the band members having fun, performing and goofing around.
“There are 100 or so hours of footage boiled down into three minutes,” said Gerber. “We did a whole lot in it. There’s a whole section in virtual reality, where I put Justin in virtual reality and timed this other song in Beat Saber to our song. We played fruit baseball in an empty baseball lot one day.”
Added Ledesma: “We also got Tommy Chong to do a cameo in it.”
Added Gerber: “It was just an endeavor. There are all sorts of activities we did that we caught on tape, and we kind of went from there. Justin’s the editing wizard behind it all.”
The members of Allies are already looking toward their next music-video project.
“We’re really excited about the next video that’s coming out,” Ledesma said. “The one we just made is more fun and has a party atmosphere. The one we’re going to do next is going to be film-noir style, and it’s going to have a storyline. It’ll be a murder/mystery set post-World War II. It’s called ‘Love Me Then Die.’”
It’s obvious that the members of Allies have been hard at work during the pandemic—and haven’t let the doom distract them from creating.
“We’ve got all sorts of stuff we’re working on since all our energy got redirected,” Ledesma said. “We’ve got all sorts of new songs and music videos coming out this year and next year. We have a full album recorded!”
Ledesma said he also enjoys doing video reviews of old rock ’n’ roll movies … and making cartoons.
“We made The Elliot Family Farms cartoons five years ago,” Ledesma said. “It was very-time consuming. It took six months to make five episodes, but it was very fun.”
Another video series the group recently started is called California Homegrown. It features the band, as well as another featured act, performing virtually.
“My stepdad, who recently died, used to be a DJ, and he had an event called the Colorado Homegrown,” Ledesma said. “I got his voice and pieced it together like he’s the opening act. We invite bands, maybe a comedian eventually, and have a little variety show. We livecast it, and then I put it together as a full video and release it on my YouTube and Facebook.”
While the band has been busy, the members said they all yearn for the return of in-person gigs.
“Hopefully, if and when COVID lets up, then we’ll be able to start gigging again,” Gerber said. “We still rehearse every week and stay in shape just in case things open again.”
The band reminisced about one live-show moment in particular, which can be seen in the music video for “Battle Cry”: A woman, upset with the group, turned their power off.
“We really miss playing the Palm Springs (VillageFest),” said Ledesma. “She got mad and unplugged us. She wanted us to be quiet, and I said, ’Is that the consensus?’ She yelled back: ‘I’M THE CONSENSUS!’”
Added Taboada: “She was a restaurant owner, and she was saying that customers thought we were too loud.”
But it isn’t all about controversy for the members of Allies.
“The last time we played at VillageFest, some guy came in from a restaurant and gave us a big tip,” Gerber said. “He was from Canada and really enjoyed our set.”
Added Ledesma: “You never know who’s going to come up and try to talk in your mic. It’s really day-dependent.”
I was fortunate enough to share a bill with Allies on one of the last nights of live music in the Coachella Valley this year.
“That night, the 14th of March at Coachella Valley Brewing, was awesome,” said Gerber. “… It was literally overnight that we went from playing live and getting booked to nothing.”
That gig was also a comeback show for the group, as they had just changed their name from Sunday Funeral to Allies.
“When we played venues, they didn’t want to put our name on their marquee,” Taboada said. “I don’t know what they were afraid of.”
Added Ledesma: “Our name sounded like we were some black-metal band, and it was a little heavier when we first started. It really never fit us.”
However, choosing a new name proved to be a surprisingly daunting task.
“It was cool to change it, and I reluctantly did,” Ledesma said. “When I made the choice to, we had so many names, but they were all taken.”
Added Gerber: “We went back and forth on it for six weeks. We were throwing out silly names. We went to Applebee’s and laughed for two hours.”
Added Taboada: “Alex came up with Allied Victory, and it just kind of turned into Allies.”
The members pledged that they are ready for whatever comes next.
“After the rebrand, we were fixin’ to book everywhere,” said Gerber. “Then, of course, the pandemic hit. We’re ready to get booked; we’re ready to gig. Whenever someone wants it, we’re always ready to play.”