Music, Pop Culture

Garage Pop With Soul & Something To Say: A Q&A With Red Light Cameras

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This is an interview done with Red Light Cameras, read their story below! If you, or anyone you know, would like to be highlighted in The Zillennial Zine, shoot us an email at or DM us on Instagram!

Q: Tell us your story! Where did you begin and how did you reach the caliber you’re currently at?

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Amanda: Barney Lopez(Bass) and I knew each other from college. We were both studying theatre at the University of New Mexico and acting in a play together when one day he asked me to come sing and audition for his band with Chris Walsh, Kirsten Allard and Mike Meyer, at the time it was called, Evol Lived. (It’s Devil Love, backward).

Once I joined, we started writing a ton of music together and began taking every gig we could-and I mean EVERY gig. Barney used to say, “A gig is a gig is a gig is a gig”, which I think is from Scott Pilgrim vs the World. So, we played lots of Tuesday and Wednesday night gigs when we were starting off. Lots of small shows in garages, living rooms, parking lots, backyards, late-night variety shows, dive bars and plenty of gigs that said they’d pay and didn’t. But we didn’t care, we just kept taking the gigs and working for everything we could. One of those Tuesday nights, the band Spoon was hanging out at the bar we were playing at after their set at the larger venue down the road. They told us our name sucked so we changed it to Red Light Cameras the next day. The gigs kept coming and so did the support from the ABQ music scene! We gained traction and started playing bigger venues and opening for touring bands, and eventually headlining our own weekend nights at the bigger venues down the road.  Twelve years is a long time to be on any endeavor, and Red Light Cameras has been quite the journey. It hasn’t all been high, by any means. We’ve had ups and downs. Band members have come and gone. There’s been relationships, divorces and plenty of drama that could probably fill a novel, but at the end of the day, we’ve persevered and let our music lead the way. Now we’re back after a two year world hiatus with a fresh lineup, Amanda Machon(Vocals), Barney Lopez(Bass), Mag Kim (guitar), Aaron Cather (Guitar) & Justin Salazar (Drums), ready to rock the southwest this summer!

Q: What makes you love what you do? How long have you been making music? Would you call it your passion?

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Amanda: I went through vocal lessons as a kid. I focused on musical theatre and even dabbled in opera. My dad was a big music fan and we went to lots of summer music festivals. That’s where I fell in love with the live music world. One day I was watching TV and saw Gwen Stephani of No Doubt, and I thought, “THAT! -I want to do that.” 

The first band I played with did a lot of classic rock covers. Which was fun, but Red Light Cameras is the first band I’ve written music for and it truly is a piece of me, my therapy. I have another project as a Selena cover band, and honestly, I’m just happy to be on stage whenever I get the chance, but I love expressing my feelings through my lyrics and sharing that piece of me is so exciting, vulnerable and scary all at the same time. 

Barney: I started playing bass in middle school with my friends. We wanted to start a metal band and there happened to be a bass at my grandparents that belonged to my uncle from his music days in the 60’s. So naturally, that’s what I had to learn. I taught myself by learning a bunch of Black Sabbath covers. By high school, I had migrated to listening and playing pop-punk music while running a DIY music venue out of an abandoned trailer next to the prison. It was wild. It felt like we had recreated Seattle in the 90s and I fell in love with live music and performance.

Q: What are some accomplishments or milestones you’ve reached lately?

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Amanda: Pre-pandemic, we were on a roll. Playing summer festivals, going to sxsw, being named ABQ’s best band in Albuquerque the Magazine & the Weekly Alibi several years in a row. We were on fire! We had just recorded a new album when the pandemic hit and then everything was put on hold. “It was the first break we’ve had in like 10 years and it was kinda nice to be honest.” (Barney) Since things have started to reopen, we’re building up our momentum again. We put out a new album, “it’s fine” in March. We just played the Treefort Fest in Boise, ID and Vortifest in Sedona, AZ. We have a great summer shaping up with more touring and festivals to play too!

Q: Tell us about “It’s Fine”!!

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Amanda: Our latest album, “It’s Fine” was the last project we worked on with our previous drummer Joe Bolt, our bandmate of 8 years. We worked on the album prior to Covid, but after some time away and a lot of global shock and trauma, we decided to scrap our initial attempt and re-record the whole album with a more raw approach. We were aiming for simplicity, kinda hoping the sparseness would help highlight the emotional intention of the lyrics.  We sat on that for a long time, unsure when we’d be able to release it, because, you know, the world was still shut down. In the fall of 2021, Joe let us know that he was taking an exciting opportunity in Miami and would be departing the band. So we finally decided, you know what, “It’s Fine” let’s just release the album as it is and let this chapter of the band end so we can move on to the next. We decided on “it’s fine” because those two little words can mean so many things depending on the feelings behind them. When I told people I got such mixed reactions, everyone said it with completely different intonation and emotions.  It just solidified it for me.

Q: Do you have any advice for someone who is starting out in the music industry?

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Amanda: Hustle! No gig is too small and each one is a learning experience. So if you want to play, PLAY! Everyone has to start somewhere and you should treat every show like it’s 300 people, even if it’s only 3. 

LOVE what you do, because sometimes it will not love you back and it will hurt you and challenge you, but you have to love it. 

Remember you get to play music, and that’s awesome. Sometimes at the end of it all, it’s the only thing we can always hold on to.

Q: What do you want our readers to know about you and your music?

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Barney: We are garage pop with soul and something to say. We are the song that you turn on to blow dry your hair and scream/sing in the bathroom. We are dance floor fun, but we will pluck those heartstrings that remind you it’s ok to feel the feels. We love what we do, and we love sharing these special moments with our audiences at a live show. We live for the performance and the stage. We’ve worked so hard to get where we are today. We’ve faced countless setbacks and adversity, but we’ve pushed through and we’re still going. “DIY or die, baby!”

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