Former Timberwolf rocks out

Mercedes Ordonez

     Brian Bandas, CPHS Class of 2002, recently released his first album World Wide Open with his band Love and Theft. The band is comprised of Bandas, Stephen Barker Liles and Eric Gunderson. Their single, Runaway, reached the number one spot on iTunes as the most downloaded country single. Their album accomplished the same feat for the most downloaded country album.

     Bandas showed an interest in music at a very young age. His family supported this, as they were musicians themselves.

     “I grew up in a very musical family, just like the partridge family you know? My parents were in bands and I would go to their rehearsals and stuff like that so you know I grew up around music for a long time before I even started doing anything with it,” Bandas said.

     In middle school, Bandas began playing piano and singing for the group Leopards for Christ at Cedar Park Middle School. Soon after, he found inspiration to begin writing his own music.

     “It was around my freshman or sophomore year of high school that I heard a song by the Goo Goo Dolls called ‘Black Balloon’,” Bandas said.  “That was just the moment where it hit me, and I was like ‘Man I want to write. This is what I want to do’ ”

     Later in high school, Bandas continued to receive support from his peers and teachers to pursue his musical career. However, Bandas did not limit his high school activities to music. He also played varsity basketball, and was a part of Timberwolves for Christ and FCA.

     Bandas also had a band he performed with in high school. They played at many local venues downtown.

     “It was fun, you know?” Bandas said.  “Especially [because] the [more we performed at the venues], the more fans we had that would come out and watch us play and that kind of thing, so it was a great experience. Austin is the perfect place for any young musician”

      During his senior year, he performed in the CP and Leander talent show, and won the Best Male Vocalist award.

     “I didn’t really care about the award but I just got this huge response from everybody. It was really the first time I had really performed, it was a song that I wrote and it was just me and guitar,” said Bandas.

     The song that he played at the talent show, titled Bleed, was the first song Bandas wrote.

     “I had really good luck because I wrote a good song first and then I wrote a bunch of horrible stuff for a long time after but I kind of rode the momentum of that one good song for a while,” said Bandas.

     He remembers Principal LaFevers and other faculty members encouraging him to pursue his dream of becoming an artist. His song Bleed was even chosen as the graduation song for his class, and Bandas performed at his graduation ceremony.

     After high school, Bandas attended University of Mary Hardin Baylor in Belton. After five changes in his major, and exploring many different career paths, Bandas decided college wasn’t for him and moved to Nashville, Tennessee to pursue a career in music.

     It was in Nashville that Bandas met hisfellow band mates Liles and Gunderson.

     “Sort of around the same time we all moved up to Nashville for the same reasons,” Bandas said. “We were all solo artists. We were just playing music [and] performing on our own [before we met each other].”

      After meeting each other in what Bandas considered a “close knit [music] community” in Nashville, Bandas, Liles and Gunderson tested their musical compatibility with each other by co-writing a song called Drowning, before officially forming the band in 2006.

     “When we put the harmonies and listened to it that was the moment where we [knew] this is what we needed to be doing,” Bandas said. “It was definitely a special moment”

     Bandas and his band practiced for months before performing live. They wanted to be sure they were as ready as they could possibly be before hitting the Nashville music scene.

     The band then decided on the band name Love and Theft, inspired by one of their favorite artists.

     “Bob Dylan has an album called Love and Theft that came out in 2001, and we just like the phrase [and] the way it sounded,” Bandas said. “It was just our style.”

     The band is also influenced by other artists such as the Rolling Stones, The Beatles, Johnny Cash and Elvis.

     In 2009, Love and Theft signed a record deal with Carolwood Records, a division of Lyric Street Records. They have opened for popular artists such as Taylor Swift, and are currently on tour.

     Bandas encourages all young artists and students to follow their dreams, and work hard to turn those dreams into reality.