If we're to believe the hamburger/memorabilia magnates at Hard Rock Cafe, the world's best new band is from Minneapolis. Yesterday local group Enemy Planes bested five other acts from New York, Kentucky, Scotland, Argentina, and Japan in the final round of the Hard Rock Rising Battle of the Bands contest. More than 13,000 bands entered the worldwide battle, which culminated at the Hard Rock Cafe in Barcelona.
Calling via Facebook video chat earlier today, Enemy Planes guitarist Joe Gamble described how his hazy, texturous indie-rock band were sequestered in a room prior to the final round, performed to a darkened panel of judges, and then stashed back into a room where they were informed of their victory.
"We went upstairs, they shot a bunch of confetti at us, and we played a few more songs. It was a wild night," says Gamble, whose group must have impressed celeb judges Steven Van Zandt and Bret Michaels, plus members of Mumford & Sons, Panic! at the Disco, and others. “We were like … we won … really? The bands we played against were really good," adds lead singer Casey Call. Every rose has its thorn, though, as Enemy Planes tells us there wasn't any American Idol-style judge banter or critiquing.
Their top prize? A slot at Friday and Saturday's inaugural Hard Rock Rising Barcelona music festival, where they'll perform alongside Kings of Leon, Avicii, Lenny Kravitz, Juanes, Robbie Williams, and others to around 70,000 attendees. Enemy Planes will also be considered for a development deal with Island Records.
“It more just reaffirmed all of us," Call says of the win. "We already knew this is what we wanted to do, hopefully [the win] just gives us a shot in the arm and exposure on a wider scale."Call says he entered the Hard Rock Rising contest on something of a whim five or six months ago.
"When I told the guys we got picked for this battle of the bands, they were like: 'Are you kidding me? Are we in high school?'," he remembers. “This competition had been going on for almost three months all over the world. In our region, they had been holding shows every single week for a month. We actually ended up playing the final night in our region [at the Mall of America's Hard Rock Cafe]. We were like, 'Whatever, we don't even care, let’s murder it.”
The week following the MOA show was a "silent round," keyboardist Kristine Stresman reports, in which festival organizers studied the band's marketability and notes from the judges. Turns out it was the only show Enemy Planes would need to play to enter the final round. "We thought we’d have to do another around," Call says.
Enemy Planes — a reconfiguration of former Twin Cities rock band Pictures of Then — are currently prepping for the releases of their first two official albums.