Contributor’s Note: Alfred Banks is a hip-hop artist from New Orleans, LA. Alfred has toured extensively, with fellow New Orleans artist Big Freedia and Tank and The Bangas as well as headlining tours himself. I met up with Alfred Banks for Madness To Creation on the rooftop of the Georgia Theatre in Athens, GA before a show to talk about touring, success and staying healthy on the road. Keep up with Alfred’s travels and music on https://www.underdogcentral.com/
Richard: Hi Alfred, I spent the past week listening to your discography, relatively new to your music. Listening to all your albums and singles consecutively, your music and life reads like a success story, complete with struggles and triumphs, do you feel like you’re achieving the success you sought as a younger artist?
Alfred: I think so, when I started it was hard, I didn’t have a lot of backing and I still pay out of pocket. I just wanted to rap so bad, I wanted to make it happen by any means necessary, I was good and the quality of my work got better so I kept getting booked… I’m definitely happier now. My music reflects that happiness, I think I’m hitting my groove.
Richard: In your single Garden District, you question if you should make “hip-hop or tracks that appeal” do you think you’ve found your middle ground?
Alfred: Yea, I feel like on songs like ‘Homecoming and ‘On That’, it can work in the underground and the overground. The underground is where I came from, real hip-hop is my roots and I try and represent it in all my music. Songs like ‘Road to Rolex’, ‘Bless My Soul’’ and ‘Mere Exposure Effect’ can be in a club but also still have heads bumping. Whatever we do we keep it a hundred. This is my life and I’m making music that represents it. Touring with acts like Big Freedia and Tank and The Bangas showed me how to react to the masses and work a crowd.
Richard: Some people consider fashion to be a fifth element of hip-hop, how important is dressing well and style to you?
Alfred: Incredibly important, you can express yourself through fashion. I like to look and feel good.
Richard: What shoes are you wearing?
Alfred: Jordan 1’s, red and blacks.
Richard: Complex.com named you one of their upcoming New Orleans MC’s, what does it mean to you to be an artist from New Orleans, how do you represent that in your life and art?
Alfred: Coming from NOLA, I got a reputation to uphold. We invented jazz, some of the best musicians in the world come from New Orleans. Louis Armstrong, Master P, Birdman. I’m super proud to be from New Orleans.
Richard: I have a lot of personal love for the Louisiana music scene, you always do your best to shout out people you respect, who are some of your favorite artist from the Bayou State?
Alfred: Kaye The Beast, he’s dope, he’s a really talented dude. Sleazy EZ, she’s killing it. Marcel P. Black, of course. Truth Universal.
Richard: You’re in the middle of a tour with Tank and The Bangas and I’m seeing you now (In Athens) with Kaye The Beast, but these arn’t your first rodeos, what was your first tour like?
Alfred: Like consecutive dates, out of the region?
Alfred: That was…2014, I opened for Mickey Factz, a full 16 date tour. I booked the whole tour myself and set everything up, the artist, the venues, the promotion, then hit up Mickey, I said I got everything covered you just need to show up and rap. We had a Toyota Camry, 5 deep, trunk to the max. It was my first taste of experiencing all the ups and downs of touring; we played to nice crowds, okay crowds and no people. I learned a lot on that tour, don’t bring 80 pairs of shoes with you, I learned tour etiquette, talking to the sound person and calling them and the DJ by name. You got to talk to the fans, you came all this way, make the connection. When you’re touring with someone bigger than you, know your place.
Richard: What are some of your favorite cities and venues to play on the road?
Alfred: The Neighborhood Theatre in Charlotte is great, Detroit is always nuts. Chicago always shows me a lot of love, I had a fan drive from Chicago to NOLA to see me one time. When I’m headlining, I love Columbus, Ohio.
Richard: You talk about ‘the work’ and the ‘grind’ to someone who doesn’t actively make or tour as a hip-hop artist what does that work look like?
Alfred: The work is, on a 4-day tour, driving all day. I’m my own manager on the road, I have to settle with the promoter, sound check, call the venue ahead of time and make sure everything is okay. Up until two years ago, I didn’t have a manager.
Richard: How do you keep mentally and physically healthy on the road, between being a performer, a person and doing all these other tasks?
Alfred: I try and stay positive, I talk to my girlfriend as much as possible. I got a couple of friends I can always call, CZA, my producer, and Marcel P. Black. Marcel’s a good listener, talking to him is like journaling, he lets me decompress. I like to eat and play gameboy advance. I try and play basketball or have fun when I can, you cant just drive and play all the time.
And there you have it! Check out his latest music video for “Shoulder Chips” below:
Check out Alfred Banks on tour below with Tank & The Bangas and The Suffers:
Thu. 9/19- White Oak Music Hall in Houston, Texas
Fri. 9/20- Emo’s Austin in Austin, Texas
Sat. 9/21- Trees in Dallas, Texas
Sun. 9/22- Revolution Music Room in Little Rock, Arkansas
Wed. 9/25- Meow Wolf in Santa Fe, New Mexico
Thu. 9/26- The Van Buren in Phoenix, Arizona
For tickets and further information on any of the gigs listed above, click here.
One off gigs:
Fri. 10/25- Tipitina’s Uptown in New Orleans, Louisiana
Wed. 10/30- 7th Street Entry in Minneapolis, Minnesota
Thu. 10/31- Wisconsin Union in Madison, Wisconsin
Sun. 11/3- Motr Pub in Cincinnati, Ohio