Las Vegas’ Afghan Raiders have been booked for New York’s prestigious CMJ Music Marathon for weeks. At least, they’ve had flight reservations. As for the festival itself, the newish electro duo hovered in standby limbo—until it received word it had not been selected. So the two members canceled their plane tickets and prepared to spend late October in town.
Just in time for CMJ to change its mind.
“We heard ‘not selected,’ and we were like, ‘bummer,’ because we’d been assuming we’d get in,” vocalist Mikey (Michael Francis) says. “Then, two days later we were selected. We really wanted to go, so we’re pretty excited.”
The Raiders—Mikey and keyboardist Beans (Vincent Campillo), both 26-year-old Green Valley High grads—celebrate the news on a Friday night out back at Beauty Bar, working over a delirious throng on an unseasonably chilly October night. The twosome, which played its first show on June 20 (Mikey estimates the gig tally now stands at 10), has just five songs in its repertoire, but the 30-minute set is made memorable by Mikey’s intense, punk-rooted vocals, Beans’ fun-to-frolic-to synth swirls and the loosing of inflated balloons into the raging mob.
“You guys just paid $5 for the most ghetto’d-out punk show you’ve ever seen,” Mikey exclaims, as chest-thumping beats emanate from a laptop and Beans pounds on a Kawasaki drum pad (“the same one Daft Punk uses,” he asserts).
Oh yeah, the next day the pair re-books its plane tickets to New York.
Thus far, Afghan Raiders have two CMJ gigs booked, both on Thursday, October 23: an official showcase and a BPM magazine-sponsored party. “CMJ is basically a big industry mixer; we’re going to try to attend as much as we can,” Mikey says. “Our No. 1 goal is to quit our jobs [both men bus tables for casino restaurants] and do music full-time, so if we can get a booking agent and set up a tour, that would be a huge step for us. And obviously if a label is interested, we might be interested in that.”
The Raiders’ lone release, the Future Thinkers EP—featuring two dynamite original cuts and other artists’ remixes of both songs—was pressed on the duo’s own imprint, Badical Beats. Mikey and Beans have also been commissioned to remix the track “Mirror Error” for popular synth-pop outfit The Faint. “It definitely has all happened very quickly, and it’s been wonderful,” Mikey says. “But at the same time, Vince and I have been in bands for 10 years, so we’ve paid our dues and learned how to do things the most efficient way possible.”