Written by Monica Sottile
Bad//Dreems have been making their way into Australian music and Australian hearts since the release of their EP in 2013. There’s no denying the force of the familiar accents, grit and catchiness to their musical style. Just have a look at their unearthed bio to get a sense of the atmosphere they were coming out of from Adelaide’s sleepy city. With a sound that pays tribute to the music of the Saints, the Go Betweens and Paul Kelly, I’m glad to see them gaining more and more momentum in the current musical climate.
The band are playing at the upcoming Blurst of Times Festival in Brisbane’s Fortitude Valley, and have a tour lined up for this June.
We had the pleasure of chatting to the guitarist Alex Cameron about their album, their up-coming tours and what’s next for the band.
So you started off as a band in Adelaide, juggling the band and each of your individual jobs. How have you all managed as the band gets bigger and bigger?
The band was never intended to be a career option. Three quarters of us have been in bands before and are familiar with the desolate tundra that is the industry
We've been lucky enough to be granted certain opportunities and, as music is the main passion in all our lives, we have been compelled to take them. Plus we just love hanging out with each other and playing shows, drinking beers,writing songs and recording. We'd be doing that regardless.
Everyone has managed to keep their jobs at this stage and that's the way we like it. It keeps things real.
Personally, I'm very lucky that we have a 5th member that fills in for me when I can't make it. His name is Ali Wells. He also has his own studio in Adelaide where we record. He recently produced West Thebarton Brothel Party, a great up and coming Adelaide band. So, Ali is a bit like some of the NBAs greatest 6th men like Kukoc in the 96 Bulls or Ginoboli for the Spurs.
The transition from your EP Badlands, and your LP Dogs at Bay, is pretty seamless. Dogs at Bay seems to carry on the same themes you introduced in Badlands, but maybe in a grittier way. How would you describe the natural movement from one work to the next?
As the band has gone on and we've played and written together more and more it kind of becomes its own beast. Things are less calculated and more organic. This is true of the music especially but also the themes. There's a quote by Bob Dylan - an artist must keep moving. I think this is true.
You’ve said before that a lot of your songs try to figure out the Australian youth culture, maybe stemming from Adelaide, but issues that really apply to all of Australia at the moment, like the cultural cringe of being an Australian, as well as the insane dichotomy of young men and masculinity. How do you explore that in your latest release Dogs at Bay?
I think those comments refer to the song Bogan Pride. Which was an exploration of confused young male identity, bogan nationalism, the one punch phenomenon and the psychosexual confusion underpinning all this.
Cultural cringe is an interesting phenomenon. There's certainly a lot about Australia that is cringeworthy. The Drones excellentTamun Shud nailed this. I reckon sometimes the cringe is misdirected though. As there are selected parts of our cultural heritage that we should embrace.
Your unearthed band biography spins a bit of a desolate tale about Adelaide and the (seemingly) bleak options available to young people down south, would you say it’s an accurate depiction or more a satirical comment about the cultural cringe etc we talked about in the last question?
It certainly wasn't intended to be satire. I think that when the band started we were surrounded by banal, middle class monoculture and found those fringe areas more compelling. We all like song writers such as Don Walker, Paul Kelly, Springsteen or Dylan who can chronicle people or places around them, without necessarily having first-hand experience.
Who are your top 5 favourite bands in Australia right now?
Rolling Blackout Coastal Fever
I think that the ‘Australiana’ of your sound really pays tribute to bands like the Saints, is this something you have ever aspired to or thought about?
That is very flattering, thank you. We are Australian so we make Australian music. The canon of Australian rock and roll may be small but it is rich. I think it's inevitable you relate in a special way to these bands cos you have grown up hearing them, you hear personal stories about them and play at some of the places they played. Some of them have been unfairly besmirched by cultural cringe that you mentioned before. But yeah the Saints plus the individual work of Chris Bailey and Ed Kuepper is superb. Other groups such as the Go Betweens, Sunnyboys, the Triffids, Cold Chisel, X, ACDC, Midnight Oil, Paul Kelly and Sea Scouts are also very important to us.
You guys are playing up in Brisbane soon for the Blurst of Times Festival, which I am looking forward to seeing. Where’s your favourite place to play? I know you guys like small chaotic shows, so where’s the best small chaotic venue?
Anywhere where there's good energy in the room really. Brisbane has always been awesome. Great crew of bands up there.
Cliché question, but one that can’t go unasked, what’s next for Bad//Dreems?
We are working on our second album and have a fair few tours happening in the 2nd half of the year.
We are also in the lab working on a new line of hair tint called Cultural Tinge.
Catch Bad//Dreems playing at The Brightside for The Blurst Of Times Festival this Saturday.