WORDS: BECTON SIMPSON

Apparently bands breaking out from Adelaide, Australia are few and far between. “There’s fuck all venues and then it’s so hard to get people to watch you because there’s just not a live music culture,” four-piece rockers Bad//Dreems tell us. It also doesn’t help that it takes “about ten hours” to get to any of the other major cities, but they’ve always had their sights set higher and wider than their home town. “We know Australia’s such a small place, we really wanted to make sure we played overseas.”

There’s still a culture of Australian bands reaching out to ‘break’ the UK or US before returning Down Under as famous rock star heroes but the band reflected on how the reasons for that had changed over the past decade. “Certainly ten years ago there was this idea that overseas did it better and if they thought something was good then it must be good,” they said. “Now it’s not so much the case…it’s just the music press is dead. there’s only one (alternative) radio station…and because you’ve got a bigger population (overseas) there’s just a larger number of people who are into something that’s not mainstream.”

They’re from a place which is predominantly known as “biker gang turf”, and in the same way that mentioning “London punk music” to someone not from the UK might conjur up images of The Clash and The Sex Pistols, there’s always going to be that certain association in people’s minds between Adelaide and biker gangs. Certainly, the band have been described as ‘pub rock’ before, originally in a derisive way by a “snooty guy from Melbourne” but Bad//Dreems decided to own the label. “If you wanna call us pub rock we’ll give you pub rock, but with our own twist and taking it into the present day,” they said. “We were just playing music based on what we liked which was guitar bands from the 70s and 80s. And the music we like is not something esoteric and designed in a studio, it’s designed to be played in front of a crowd and to connect with a wide range of people. What we’ve always wanted to do is concentrate on songs that connect. Pub rock does have an element of simplicity but it translates immediately live.”

“the music we like is not something esoteric and designed in a studio, it’s designed to be played in front of a crowd”

Merging elements of classic rock, classic punk and with a modern twist, they have a lively punk energy to them and “expect people to jump around and have a boisterous time…part of the attraction of punk is this outlet of energy and this close connection with people…it’s like making some form of S&M love in a circle pit.” But they also enjoy playing off the perceptions people make of them. “We’re all quite heavily set portly guys with beards, you can only do so much as a band before the way people perceive you is beyond your control.” They ride with that image, even putting it on merch, but are also wary of it. “The way the internet works…meme culture…it’s an easy way to get people’s attention but you also have to weigh up whether it’s cheapening what you’re actually about.” Thankfully, Bad//Dreems can walk that line of making fun of themselves while promoting themselves while raising an important issue. They’re here to challenge perceptions and make people think, writing songs which criticise stereotypical macho behaviour and “the dangers of the angry mob…We hope that some people will come for the rock n roll but stay for the lyrics and the thoughtfulness.” They’re also outspoken advocates for feminism. “In Australia it’s been quite a strong movement….we don’t want anyone to feel threatened at our shows.” If that boisterous punk energy “ever turns into anything violent or threatening it’s our responsibility to address it.”

This mindfulness has led them down some interesting avenues lyrically, including writing songs covering the “very strange urban myths about the weird murders that have taken place” in Adelaide, remarking that “people seem to be quite intrigued about the murder history here. I don’t think we ever actually wrote about them directly, but it’s the contrast of dark and light and taking that energy to create your own world in a song.” And while people are occasionally surprised that a band from Australia isn’t just singing about happy pop punk sun, sea and surf type stuff, they’ve always believed that when it comes to songwriting “describing is better than telling” and in having a truthful and honest approach to where they come from. “There’s a lot of bad things in Australia as well as good things, and you write about what’s around you. Maybe on the first album it was about being trapped in a small town…in the later albums it’s more stuff going on culturally, the rise of nationalism, toxic masculinity etc.”

“we don’t want anyone to feel threatened at our shows.”

Recently, things haven’t been so great politically Down Under either, although admittedly the band said it wasn’t as bad as the US or UK. “It’s not quite reached those extremes yet,” they remarked. “The politics is on a minor degree of fucked but we’re just very lucky to have a good environment to live in and it’s a relatively wealthy country, we’ve got good healthcare. Even though politics is headed in the same way as the US and UK it hasn’t been quite the same pressure cooker cause it’s kind of an idyllic place.” They added they wouldn’t consider themselves a political band but “all that stuff is interesting, and it’s hard not to let it seep into the songs.”

Another thing which invariably sneaks in sometimes is their use of Australian slang in their lyrics, some of which might be not understood by British or American audiences, although apparently it’s hugely popular. They get fans coming up to them after shows and getting them to say certain words on camera. “We can understand the popularity of it,” the band reflected. “Because I think…in any band, people like what they perceive as authenticity. It’s like getting a little window into someone else’s world. “

Bad//Dreems’ third album ‘Doomsday Ballet’ is out now, and the guys told us they’ll be “coming back in March to do our first tour of our own…then in August to do a few festivals.” Exciting stuff.

 

 

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