For the last three years, Interpol frontman Paul Banks and Wu-Tang Clan legend RZA have been working on a collaborative project that, for the most part, has flew relatively under the radar. But just a couple months ago, the duo made things official when they finally unveiled the name of said project as Banks & Steelz.
The next day, the singer/guitarist and rapper released their first Banks & Steelz track “Love + War” featuring fellow Wu-Tang member Ghostface Killah. Three weeks later, Banks & Steelz had more important news to share, announcing that their debut album Anything But Words will drop on August 26th with guest appearances from Florence and the Machine’s Florence Welch, Wu-Tang Clan’s Method Man and Masta Killa, and Kool Keith.
The two musicians, though, had yet to play a show together — that is until last night at The Roxy Theatre in LA. Kicking off a 15-date tour that includes stops at The Independent in San Francisco, FYF Fest and Life Is Beautiful, not to mention two weekends at Austin City Limits, Banks & Steelz performed songs from their forthcoming LP for the first time ever, showcasing the Rage Against the Machine-inspired cut “Speedway Sonora” along with lead single “Giant” that opens the 12-track record. Singing in his usual baritone style, Banks worked the strings on his Fender Stratocaster while RZA handled rapping and keyboard duties. And at one point during their 50-minute set, they even brought out LA-based singer-songwriter Morgan Kibby, who performs under the name White Sea and has collaborated and toured with M83, to help contribute vocals.
While rap rock may feel like a thing of the past now, Banks & Steelz feature a unique pairing of musicians from very different backgrounds. Banks, for one, has remained Interpol’s lead singer for close to two decades as the New York band continues to rank high on the charts. And RZA, who served as Wu-Tang’s de facto leader, has managed to find success outside of music, whether it’s writing and directing movies or just acting in them. But between Banks’ longstanding love of hip-hop and RZA’s newfound interest in rock music, they’ve figured out a formula that could work in a studio and on a stage, even one as small as The Roxy’s.