Formed in 2013, Bad Breeding is a punk band from Stevenage, consisting of vocalist Chris Dodd, guitarist Matt Toll, bassist Charlie Rose and drummer Ashlea Bennett. Their music is a breath of fresh air in a climate that is becoming toxic. Bad Breeding has taken it upon themselves to address issues that are both political and social in their music, which today is more important than ever.
“It provides a place in society for people to get together to celebrate themselves and others who might not get the chance to elsewhere”
Punk is a genre that in times of unrest, uncertainty and unhappiness gives people not only a sense of community but also a sense in comfort as it often has the balls to talk about the things that would be otherwise incredibly difficult to. Chris explains ‘It provides a place in society for people to get together to celebrate themselves and others who might not get the chance to elsewhere. The nature of neoliberalism has made us so much more complicit in consumerism and sometimes it is difficult to live in a way that isn’t compromised, but that form of spirit certainly helps me want the world to look at itself more closely, to actively be better in how we look after each other.’ Punk music is renowned for its inclusive nature, it is often heard that there is a ‘spirit’ or ‘ethos’ but as the world has changed, so have people and so it can feel like that spirit has decayed.
“‘Some of the notions of punk have been financially appropriated by labels and artists, but there are plenty of bands discussing and driving conversations on important issues – race, identity and class to name a few.”
Authenticity is something vital to the genre, as punk found its way into the mainstream it took its ideologies with it. But major labels turned those ideologies into something profitable, this is something Chris has paid close attention to. ‘Some of the notions of punk have been financially appropriated by labels and artists, but there are plenty of bands discussing and driving conversations on important issues – race, identity and class to name a few. So many of these discussions are progressed in circles that have been built from a place of initial exclusion and that’s the beauty in some of them, finding new ways to subvert the oppressive structures that have made those discussions difficult to have.’ Today, authentic punk music still exists however it is just hidden further away than before and maybe that isn’t a bad thing? Being hidden in obscurity offers a certain protection from the threat of bands messages becoming diluted. Bad Breeding offers a sense of authenticity with their music because the issues they speak about are free from the notion of speaking to support a trend or narrative, instead, they speak about issues because they are important to them.
Punk music has had its roots within the working class since its inception, so it usually comes hand in hand that a band like Bad Breeding would feel that it is important to stand up for the working class. ‘It’s vitally important. You only have to look at the punitive punishment of austerity to see the sort of disdain recent UK governments have held for the working class.’ With the current rise in fascism Chris gives his thoughts on anti-fascist politics saying: ‘On a wider scale I think it comes down to addressing the domination of global capitalism and its destructive impact on societies too. Rooting out fascism is one part of an increasingly complex struggle to address the imbalances created by greed and self-interest in the West. In terms of the UK, I feel it’s important to address the root causes and voter issues that have arguably driven populism and a seeming lurch towards the right.’
“You only have to look at the punitive punishment of austerity to see the sort of disdain recent UK governments have held for the working class.”
Getting to know how the creative process for such a volatile band is key when understanding their music, as the environment the music is recorded in will largely impact how the music sounds and feels. Chris explains their low budget DIY process saying ‘We tend to only have the evenings free after work to put collective thought into the songs so they’re put together in quite a tense and constrained environment. We rent this little industrial unit that we’ve managed to soundproof and spend whatever free time we have down there. Somebody will usually have an idea that they’ll bring in and we’ll try work on the structure of something before I start thinking about the lyrical approach. For us, we’ve always been keen to find some form of emotional expression in the parts prior to the lyrics being worked in. There was plenty of experimenting with production on Divide, but with Abandonment we just wanted to capture something that represented us playing together in a room.’
WORDS: FERGUS CARNEY
Abandonment is out now.