Bonnie Riot Debuts "Backbone" on New Times and Celebrates With Three Album Release Parties

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2014 was all about keeping it low-key, according to the band's outspoken frontwoman, La Madrid. In the year that Bonnie Riot "went missing," according to La Madrid, she and Sanabria decided to revamp the lineup and pursue an effort that functioned more as a duo rather than a quintet -- like its previous iteration.

They took their time selecting musicians to round out their sound, discovering them on Craigslist. There's bassist Andrea Salamone -- Sanabria describes her as a natural, funk-driven bass player from the '80s -- and drummer Josh Pono, who, according to Sanabria, is a heavy-metal drummer who can switch to hip-hop at the drop of a dime, and guitarist Alex Yasenev.

"In the past, we would just settle [for a musician] out of desperation," explained La Madrid. Though she and Sanabria share an apartment, the two are quick to point out that they're just roommates. They met in 2004, when La Madrid was passing out fliers in West Palm, looking for a guitarist with whom to jam. She and Sanabria have been inseparable onstage, performing together for more than ten years.

Sanabria, however, La Madrid admitted, is a "perfectionist" and has had trouble keeping a lineup together. "I know I have a strong personality," confessed La Madrid. "I will admit to having butted heads with previous bandmates, but this group is something that I take very seriously, so if someone I am playing with doesn't feel the same way, I really take offense to that."

The two couldn't be more content with their current group, the third since forming Bonnie Riot. Together with Pono and Salamone and with the help of producer Matt Garamy and his This Is Not Dead Studio, they say they finally found the band's true sound with Backbone.

The album is a bit of a departure from their debut EP, according to La Madrid. "We wanted the vocals to shine more than they did before," she explained. She credited Garamy, who mastered the record, for understanding their vision. "We wanted to hear more of the synths too and make the vocals pop, and Matt completely got what we were going for." The result is more "sexual and deliberate" than its predecessor.

Sanabria feels the record has a broader appeal too. "Musically, I'm kind of all over the place, like having ADD, and I wanted this record to reflect that." He describes Backbone an amalgam of different genres, that will appeal to a broader base than just indie rock. He cites track "Wreckage," and its bombastic guitar licks, as a prime example. "There are moments where we get a bit heavy, and I think it offers something even heavy-metal fans will enjoy."

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Alex Rendon