Redbrick Meets: Bad Sounds | Redbrick | University of Birmingham

Redbrick Meets: Bad Sounds

Film Editor John James meets the indie-funk band Bad Sounds to talk about how they're paving their own, unique path to the top

John: So, according to your Spotify, the idea of you two starting a band came after you saw Scott Pilgrim vs. the World and hearing the soundtrack by Beck? What influences from them and other artists do you take into your music?

Ewan: I was just making hip hop stuff before that and we were in bands when we were kids, but I got quite into sampling. We’re from Bristol so trip hop’s big. When I saw that, it reminded me how fun being in a band was. I fucking love Edgar Wright anyway, so I think maybe just that whole style of things.

Speaking of Edgar Wright, your music videos are quite stylistically weird. How much effort do you put into your music video in terms of marketing yourself?

Callum: Way too much! It’s like, I dunno, I’m always really happy when it’s done. ‘Wages’ in particular, that came out way better than I was expecting. I feel like we’ve almost shot ourselves in the foot a little bit because it’s now something people associate with us. We spend a lot of time shooting ideas back and forth finding out what the most ridiculous thing we can come up with is, hence the ‘Living Alone’ video, with two heads in a basket. 

How’s the tour been going? You’re now in the glamour of Birmingham, have you had a favourite location so far?

Callum: Yeah wicked, surprisingly good. I really liked Nottingham. I think because it was the first show we’d played away from home and I didn’t really expect anyone to be there. It used to be we’d turn up to the venue and no one really knew our songs, or they might know one; ‘I Feel’ people used to sing along with. Now everyone is singing everything back to us, it’s made the new songs we’re playing on this tour seem a bit quieter in comparison. 

It used to be we’d turn up to the venue and no one really knew our songs, now everyone is singing everything back to us, it’s wicked

Your new song ‘Are You High’ is Annie Mack’s hottest record in the world, not the first time you’ve been that. Is this tour the start of something bigger for Bad Sounds? An album?

Ewan: We’re working towards an album, but this [single] has nothing to do with it right now. We’re seeing the album as it will be done when it’s done, maybe when we do ‘Are You High’ will be on it, but only if it fits. We want it to be a cohesive piece of work rather than the next ten songs we write, sort of like we did with Mixtape One.

Mixtape One is peppered with skits, what’s the process behind these?

Ewan: We had some stuff already that we thought we’d use as skits down the line, I’ve always been into that idea. But when we actually came to put it all together, a lot of the skits we were convinced would go on it didn’t really work. And then we came up with the idea of their being a theme that went through the whole thing and tied it together. So that’s why it came to be mixtape rather than an EP, ’cause it all flowed as one thing. We did actually talk about releasing it as one 15-minute track, but everyone said no don’t do that, so we didn’t. 

We're working towards an album, but we want it to be a cohesive piece of work rather than the next ten songs we write,

What’s it like being brothers in a band?

Ewan: Yeah, it’s cool, we’ve always been best mates anyway so it’s not a Gallagher type thing. It can get a bit intense doing all the music stuff and all the videos ’cause its quite full on. So I consider myself lucky that I have someone I’m super close to have passionate disagreements with.

Callum: We both just know that the other person is only doing what’s right, or what they feel is right for the band. Sometimes we argue but it never lasts the whole day.

Sam: They’re the most polite arguments I’ve ever seen, it never makes us awkward.

Ewan: You sort of realise when the other person’s in a bad mood about something. The other day I was getting really pissed off and I knew I was being unreasonable, and Callum kept very calm and didn’t rise to the fire. You know each other’s traits, so you know when its worth piping up. 

There’s a unique lyricism to your songs, sort of Mike Skinner meets The Mighty Boosh. What are they drawn from real experiences? Is there a real Zachariah?

Ewan: Yeah there is, but Zachariah’s not his real name. I always write lyrics that are niche and personal to my own life, and the label will say what are you talking about, and I’ll explain it to them. And they’ll say nobody knows what you’re talking about because they don’t have your point of reference. And I say I know, but that’s what the lyrics are, deal with it.

‘Pop one in the oesophagus of a rhinoceros, I’m a man’. What’s that? Is it metamorphosis? An irreverent take on large-animal-game shooting?

Ewan: That song’s sort of about proving yourself, doing something ridiculous to assert your confidence, like when someone puts someone else down or something. 

We make music and write lyrics that we relate to and think is cool, so hopefully other people will like it too

Callum: I think that’s the thing about how we put lyrics together. We use general conversations with our friends and will turn it into a line, but once you put in a song and somebody else listens to it, they interpret it their own way. So it’s a win/win for us because we know what they mean and other people can take it differently. Because it’s normal stuff people can relate to it.

Ewan: Like ‘Hot-Headed Chippenham’ is about our hometown, which is a shithole, and someone came up to us and said it reminded him of his home town. And in the stupid video of us riding bikes through it, he said it looked like his town a bit. People worry about being too specific, but I worry if you’re too vague, will it actually mean anything, will anyone relate to it? So, we make it so that we relate to it and think it’s cool so hopefully other people will like it too.

Bad Sounds’ new single, ‘Are You High’, is out now, to order it and for more information about the band, you can follow their Facebook page.

Tinged with tragedy, touched by greatness.


28th November 2017 at 9:00 am

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