INTERVIEW: BAD FAMILY
I am ashamed to say it has been a week of excess. As someone who doesn’t drink very much (my 5ft3 frame can only handle about two drinks before it’s rendered near-paralytic), I am quite frankly feeling the effects on my morning commute to Camden. Due to an early morning lock in at my local pub and the free booze on offer at the AIM Annual General Meeting (at which our Managing Director Ach was elected a board member), I feel as though I need to detox my mind, body, and soul, and perhaps go on an Eat Pray Love-esque, culturally appropriative pilgrimage to Bali to ‘find myself’ once again. If it wasn’t already clear, I’m feeling quite sorry for myself. However, before I pack my bags, I would like to introduce the band responsible for the inner soundtrack that’s been playing over and over in my head all week. ‘I’m A Drunk’ by Bad Family, is a self described ‘Bukowski Ballad’, full of witty writing and a 1950’s style sound world, that will surely form the soundtrack for many more nights of debauchery. I spoke to lead singer Dane:
KM: So how did you first get together?
D: Bad Family is pretty much just a band of best mates that treat one another like brothers, we pick on each other, we degrade one another, but if it came down to it we would jump in front of traffic for each other.
KM: Brighton has a pretty vibrant music scene. How has that influenced or affected you as a band?
D: Brighton has a really great music scene and needless to say we’re really proud of the music that is coming out of there. We have a lot of friends in really great bands, and we’re proud to say a lot of them doing well! However we have never really been the type of band to pay too much attention to what everyone else is doing around us, we’re pretty blinkered by it all and have always just focused on our own agenda and try to write the type of music that feels the most honest to us.
KM: You finished recording your first EP in April this year – tell us about how it came together. I heard that you produced it yourselves.
D: That’s right. We had close to zero money to go in and record it, so I spoke to producer friend of the band and asked him if he knew of any great engineers and somewhere we could record for cheap. He recommended his own engineer, Liam Thorne, so we went in with him over a series of weekends and the process eventually turned into a bit of a co-production between the band and Liam. It was a really lovely environment to work in, and being at the helm of the session ourselves meant that we didn’t have to listen to anyone but ourselves which was such a liberating change for us.
KM: Do you think that self-producing this EP made it all the more personal?
D: I think the songs are what make this EP personal to us, but having a more hands on role with the production just allowed us to get the whole thing sounding the way we wanted it. Because the root of Bad Family songs is pop, there was always going to be an obvious pull to a poppier sounding production, which is something that we definitely didn’t want. So, we kept as much grit and dirt in the record as we possibly could, because no one was telling us we couldn’t.
KM: Your first single, ‘Real Fast Car’ tells a story of lust and manipulation, from what seems to be the viewpoint of a gold-digger and their ‘victim’. Why did you feel it important to have both narratives in this track?
D: I like stories, and have always been a fan of writers who tell stories, like Nick Cave and John Lennon. To me, ‘Real Fast Car’ is about everything other people can make you do using sex, or just the promise of it. Personally, I have been on the receiving end of such a thing, and I know how weakening it can be, yet to deny it would be stupid. So I think this particular narrative needed the ‘sell’ from one side, and the giving in of the other, or ‘the win’ if you know what I mean.
KM: You’ve been said to be frustrated as artists, by the often sugar coated sentiments in pop music today, yet there’s no denying this track has an incredibly catchy hook. How do you negotiate writing songs that are both commercially appealing and have an artistic statement?
D: I think the important thing is having an honest and candid sentiment. Modern pop music, to me, has been given this surface layer/zero depth overhaul recently that I honestly just don’t have any time for. So, I try to write music that excites me and attempts to break away from the traditional “I love you, you love me” pop song. I have no issue with a good infectious hook, I just don’t like the guff that people are saying whilst its happening.
KM: The second single to be released from the EP, ‘I’m A Drunk Now’, has a great retro feel, reminiscent of those 50’s crooner bands. Was it intentional to juxtapose this wholesome sound with the seedy feel of the lyrics?
D: Yes it was intentional, I found the idea funny, and I do love all that kind of thing. I’m a massive fan of Phil Spector and all The Ronettes stuff he did, which definitely was a strong influence on ‘I’m A Drunk’.
I just wanted to hear someone do that type of song, but take away the bubblegum aspect of it, so I thought I’d write about alcoholism instead, which is pretty far removed from the sweet sentiments you usually hear. I like to think of it as a kind of “Bukowski Ballad”.
KM: Tell us about the inspiration behind this track.
D: I like a drink as much as the next guy, maybe sometimes a little too much. I’ve definitely fucked up relationships and been an idiot as a result of too much drinking, so I wrote about that, and how these days it seems as though alcohol is more than just a social pass time – it’s a crutch that supports so many peoples lives and daily routine; the stress reliever and the psychiatrist. The results can be damning. But I’m not trying to preach or change anything, hence why there is a lot of humour in the song. If you can’t laugh at yourself…
KM: I do appreciate the humor in this track – it has a real tongue-in-cheek feel, which I feel can be far more effective than songs that are entirely serious. Do you think it’s important to have a sense of humor as musicians?
D: Most definitely. Its good to take yourself seriously as an artist I think, but its bad to take yourself too seriously as a person. I am a strong believer in letting your true personality shine through in everything that you create, and that way, much like novelists, you will hopefully find your own, unique voice. And I quite like a laugh, I do.KM: So far this EP seems to have a theme of indulgence, excess, and giving into temptation. Can we expect more of the same from the third track?
D: Perhaps. But you’ll have to wait and see.
KM: What’s on the cards for Bad Family going into next year?
D: Well we are going to be doing a super limited run of 7’s for the first EP before the end of the year which will be fun, and during that time we’re going in to record the second EP, which we will hopefully be able to start sharing with people in January. We basically just want to write as much as we can, and release as much as we can and play some fun shows around that too.
CONNECT WITH BAD FAMILY: