Four men are on stage at Jillian’s in tube socks, booty shorts and headbands. They throw stuffed monkeys and homemade headbands into the crowd, while “mandancers” boogie behind them in spandex suits. They are local pop-rock band Air Raid Anthem, and they are willing to do whatever it takes to make it.
“Vegas is a tough crowd,” explains lead singer Justin Harker. “It’s a lot of work. You have to love music or you’re going to fizzle out and become like the average local band that kinda sucks.” Harker and his three band mates, all in their late twenties, leave their day jobs and meet up at 4 p.m., five days a week, to practice.
They are hoping a label will notice their hard work and standout sound. “[It’s] real pop-rock hooks and cool choruses with a lot of keyboard and synth,” explains Courtney Ballard, the keyboardist. This Sunday Air Raid Anthem will play their first strip gig at the Beatles’ Revolution Lounge inside the Mirage, and next week they are road tripping to Upland, California to record. And the push continues. The band is relaunching their MySpace page, and in a couple of weeks they will debut new music, new music videos and documentaries about the band. The band has also started a merch campaign with t-shirts for sale (selling like crazy, according to Ballard) that read “ARA Saves Lives.”
“We’re here to save lives musically. That’s our campaign and we’re going full-blown with it,” Ballard proclaims. “So many people are trying to be someone they’re not and trying to rip off other bands on the radio. Just be yourself and write music. We’re doing what we love. You can’t really describe the feeling of creating something and have people react to it. The music that we write is a real personal expression, and when the crowd is digging it and feeling it, it’s pretty surreal.”