ADELAIDE indie-rockers Bad//Dreems are set to have a pretty big year.
“We’re about to sign with a record label,” says guitarist Alex Cameron. “I can’t say who it is, but we’ll announce the signing probably in the next couple of weeks, and the next release is a seven-inch called ‘Dumb Ideas’, which comes out at the start of April. That’s the first step towards an album that we’ll probably record later this year and release towards the end of the year or next year. There might be an EP in between.”
The quartet’s debut EP Badlands earned rave reviews and helped the band find their sound. This time, they’ve enlisted help from an experienced source.
“We’ve always got heaps of songs,” Cameron says. “We had fifteen demos for this seven-inch that we whittled down to get these two. One of the ways to do that is to demo a lot of songs and pick the best. The last EP was a collection of songs that spanned from when we started in 2012 through to just before we recorded it in January 2013. You can probably see an evolution in the songs; the first song we wrote was ‘Chills’ and the last was ‘Hoping For’, and I think that ‘Hoping For’ was the song that we think crystallised our vision into something that was around the mark of what we were going for. The difference may be that we’ve recorded with a new producer; Mark Opitz. He’s a pretty famous Australian producer; he worked with a lot of Australian bands of the ’80s. He originally worked with Vanda and Young doing a couple of AC/DC albums, then the first album he did himself was The Angels’ second album, which sold about 300,000 copies, and he worked with The Models, Hoodoo Guru and INXS. We thought it was a left-field idea to record with him, and we didn’t even know if he was still recording, but we got in contact and he really liked our stuff. I wouldn’t say the bands he recorded in the ’80s are particular inspirations of ours, but it was more of the way he captured what were good live guitar bands, and also the fact that he’s a very song-based producer and good at helping to bring out a band’s sound. Also, he’s good at sifting through songs and turning them into the best pop songs possible. He was given a lot of credit for the massive albums bands like INXS had, as he was able to pick out songs that had potential and take them to the next level. We were happy with the EP recording, but this time we were able to capture more of the live energy of the band. First and foremost our songs are based around playing them live; we don’t want to record with overdubs and there aren’t extra instruments in there padding out the sound. The EP didn’t quite have the same energy, but this time we’ve got that a lot better. I think the drum track for the single was the first take. We set up all our stuff in the room, gave it a run through and [Opitz] was like ‘Okay, that’s the drums done’.”
Triple J have been big supporters of the band, but radio airplay isn’t a make-or-break factor says Cameron.
“Triple J support didn’t happen overnight for us,” he says. “’Hoping For’ was the fifth single we put out. Having said that, Triple J have been supportive of all our things from the start; whether it was on Unearthed or Home & Hosed. There are two approaches that we wanted to avoid. One of those was caring too much about whether Triple J was going to play our songs or not, and pinning all our hopes on that. Triple J support is great, but if you pin all your hopes on it and it doesn’t happen you can be left high and dry, when there are plenty of other avenues to get your music out there. The second approach that some bands take is to be anti-Triple J and don’t want to put their stuff on Unearthed or associated with it. We just make the best songs we can and if Triple J support it so be it, but we’ve got other irons in the fire, and keep pushing ourselves to keep playing live and doing different things. The other thing I’d say is that the band started off not trying to ape any particular genre or make a new sound, but just trying to make really good songs. There are certain touchstones and elements that we reference, but our goal is to write songs that can be appreciated by everyone from the man on the street, to the music critic, to the hipster if you will, to the guitar shop guy. Some of my song-writing idols, from Dylan, Springsteen, Paul Westerberg, Kurt Cobain and Robert Smith; they wrote songs that are appreciated by everyone. That’s our goal as songwriters, and while we’re a long way off achieving that level, if you aim for that other things will follow. We just worry about the song-writing and the rest will take care of itself.”
Upcoming slots at Bleach* Festival and supporting The Scientists will give Queensland fans a chance to catch the band in their natural setting.
“Half the set consists of new songs now,” Cameron says. “We play most of the EP and plenty of new material. The shows are rock ‘n’ roll shows; we don’t go in for smoke machines or giant fans up there. We just really enjoy playing live, especially at the moment. It’s interesting when we play now because people actually know the words to the songs, which is pretty moving and inspiring. Bleach* Festival will be awesome; we’re big fans of Violent Soho. Supporting The Scientists will be one of the highlights of our career so far; we could pretty much pull up stumps and be satisfied. They’re idols of ours, and that might one of the few times I’ll be nervous playing in front of them, not that they’ll even be watching probably. I’m sure their fans will be pretty discerning too, so we’ll certainly want to be on our game.”
BAD//DREEMS PLAY BLEACH* FESTIVAL MARCH 14 AND THE TRANSCONTINTENAL HOTEL MARCH 27.