Two Guy, Four Instrument Metal Band Punches Above Their Weight

LA-based synth-rock band Bantamweight shared this live performance video for their track Hellion, from their new EP Sounds + Haptics.

Bantamweight punches above their weight by doing more than just playing synths. Drummer Max Kelly combines syncopated rock drumming with complex keyboard riffs, while frontman Keith Shacklett plays bass, sings – and throws in some keyboard work for good measure.

After nearly 15,000 hours of close collaboration, the duo have telepathic chemistry, chops to spare and a unique sound.

This performance comes from a charity livestream organized by Polyverse Music. All proceeds were donated to Sweet Relief Musicians Fund.

9 thoughts on “Two Guy, Four Instrument Metal Band Punches Above Their Weight

  1. I used to mess around trying to play a keyboard with one hand while playing a drum set with my other limbs (typically while waiting for drum students that were really late or didn’t show up đŸ˜‰ but I never came even close to mastering anything this difficult! Super impressive. I’d be curious to see the details on exactly what they are doing in real time and what is automated.

    1. First, I think this is really cool, if it’s going to charity, even better. But don’t knock yourself out trying to achieve this level of performance, because it’s sequenced, and the left hand is for show. I’d already worked out the sequence (F# minor, seems to be 200 bpm but didn’t measure) back when this was posted, but today saw I still had the video open in ScreenFlow. So, I transcribed the key presses for fun to hear what it would sound like. It’s atonal, hitting every white and black key of the scale, trending up. In contrast, the music hits three black keys, and trends down. Also, the real sequence is one that is easy to play right-handed, very awkward left. Do I think it’s being done with key-replacement (notes played triggering next note of sequence)? No, the timing is too perfect, the music is sequenced, they might be playing live to it, but the whole thing isn’t live.

      No disrespect to them, I just don’t want other musicians to feel someone else is performing at a level they can never achieve.

  2. Being a keyboardist I was initially amazed by the left hand performance of the drummer on the keys. But after watching the first seconds of this video over and over again, and playing along on a piano, I can almost certainly confirm that what you see is not what you hear, at least not on a conventionally scaled keyboard. The most favourable explanation for this band would be that the keyboard uses a custom key scale to make this specific riff easier to play. Slightly less favourable would be that the note order of the riff is predefined in a step sequencer that is manually advanced a step with each note pressed. In this case only the timing matters, notes played are arbitrary. And the least favourable: the whole thing is sequenced and nothing was played live in this video.

    1. Great catch, Rutger Vlek.

      At first, I was just impressed, but on a 2nd viewing it’s clear that what is being played on the keys doesn’t match what I’m hearing at all. It’s weird because if it was a custom scale, the pattern seems harder than it needs to be. If it is just step-advancing, then why does it seem to be following an unrelated pattern?

      I suppose it is possible that this drummer learned one sequence of notes and can use it for lots of songs. (?)

      Maybe they recorded video, then changed the keyboard part after the fact.

    1. I have no problem with the video—most things committed to video have some degree of “pretend”, and music videos are certainly no exception.

      However, to be clear, the sequence being played has no resemblance to the keys being pressed, this is not about slight edits or different takes. He plays (all in octave 3 unless noted) c, d, e, f, g, f#, d#, c# , while the notes are f#2, c#, f#, a, g#, f#, f#2, c# (, e, f#…). Note the the first is trivial to play left handed, while what you’re hearing is not (though easy to play right handed). Also, the figure stretches out initially to a peak pitch (the forth note, a, is the highest in the figure), then basically drops lower, while the notes being played clearer move higher overall as the figure progresses.

      It’s still extremely cool. But, it’s almost certainly sequenced, not played live.

      1. I get it. You are right. He could be stepping through predefined sequences or he could have just recorded midi notes and then fixed them after. Or maybe the vid is from a take they didn’t use. He’s also triggering a lot from the Alesis pads and who knows what that’s automating with those chord changes. Live and Max 4Live is extending what any of us can do. Anyway, check out Nate. He’s one of these otherworldly musical savants and he really does it the hard way. Plus he lands top sideman gigs on both bass and drums. It’s almost not fair.

  3. Pretty damned good song, overall. With high-tech being as it is, its almost unavoidable to “cheat” in some small way, but those are the tools. You work with what you’ve got. Its a worthwhile win-win to me.

    If they’re doing some sleight-of-hand triggering, big deal. If they had a third player of their caliber in the group, it’d be like a modern version of the 80s power trio U.K. I like angular tempos.

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