Get To Know Your New Favourite Punk Band 'Bad Girlfriend'

A trio from Birmingham, Bad Girlfriend ooze the appeal of any Punk band; unfiltered ideas

and raw energy. Although I talk to them over Zoom, lead vocalist Connor is exuberant and is

the manifestation of an expected Punk singer, bringing the party to even the humblest of

Zoom calls. Bassist Richard and Drummer Billy complement Connor’s energy nicely, with

Richard talking greatly about their musical processes, and Billy seeming to bring them all

together in the first place over email. In anticipation of their new release ‘Here It Comes’, I

chat to Bad Girlfriend about their existing discography, their plans for the future, and their

punk influences.


Listening to your music, it's clear that it's raw, punk and untamed - where would you say that influence comes from?


C: Punk music.

(All laughing)

C: I’m fucking about – as in artists? I don’t know man I think it’s something inherent. It’s

about how we feel and expressing something wild in the music.

R: It’s a lot of pent-up energy; a natural expression of feelings I guess.

C: There’s a lot of social boundaries you can break when you play live that you can’t do in

real life. What other chance will I get to push someone around or scream in their face or get

punched in the face? People love it, man!

R: Very true. In terms of artists we’re influenced by it’s a big range I think. For myself, it’s

people like The Stooges, The Clash, things like that with what we do. But then you also have

more contemporary things like The OC’s, Black Lips.

C: The Chats. All the new Punk that’s coming out now as well, like there’s so much good

music going at the moment, it's hard not to be inspired by it.


Punk seems to have stood the test of time in a way, and so there’s something rather timeless in your sound; retro, and reminiscent of even the '60s/'70s and '90s. Would you say those eras tie into your music heavily or more subtly?


C: Heavily for all of them I’d say.

R: I think we were brought up on that sort of music. We’re a huge melting pot of different

generations; from grunge to 60’s pop-rock.

C: Hip-Hop’s a big part of it as well.


How would you say that Hip-Hop comes into your music and gives your punk an edge compared to what's out there at the moment?


C: Lyrically. I think Hip-Hop lyricists are some of the best lyricists in the world, man. I’m into

story-telling and mad little things. Hip-Hop’s a madness. Hip-Hop itself is very punk when you think about it. Probably more punk than punk actually is now to be fair, a lot of it is anyway.


Do you think that's because of the socio-political commentary you find in both genres?


C: Absolutely. It’s just giving it to you 100% unfiltered, it’s not worrying about your feelings

you know? It’s just giving it to you how it is. That’s what I’m inspired by anyway, just being

honest. Even with something like our new single ‘Here It Comes’ it’s not very political, but it’s

honest about tripping (laughing).

R: I think we tread the line between political and tongue-in-cheek at times really.

B: I don’t think we take ourselves too seriously, we’re not trying to change the world or

anything. We like to have fun with the music, which shows.

R: Sometimes the lyrics are a little satirical or political commentaries on what’s going on as

well.


Do you find you can direct any feelings about social climates towards a creative outlet such as your music?


C: Yeah a little bit, maybe not so much with the older songs. Obviously we have songs like

‘The Royals’ and other stuff which is a bit more jokey. They're about what's going on in the world, but a lot of the new songs that we haven’t released yet or that we’re just practising live are taking - I don’t want to say a serious tone but a more grown-up tone lyrically. They’re still kinda jokey but there are some songs which are pretty heartfelt.


Do you think sometimes artists have a role in voicing issues of the generation they're in?


C: I think it’s just art isn’t it? Art becomes a mirror for society itself. I wouldn’t go around

saying ‘artists have to point out what’s going on now’ but it’s up to that individual. Sometimes it's just an escape you know?

R: Sometimes it's just an inevitable consequence of the era you’re living in isn’t it? Even if it’s

the case that it’s not completely overt. Like Connor said, with ‘The Royals’ it swipes at high

society but it’s not taking itself too seriously. With some of the newer stuff we’re doing there

is a lot more social commentary to it, but again we’re not trying to get up on a high horse.

C: That’s what you don’t wanna do. That’s the line you’ve gotta tread. It’s good to write

about this stuff but you don’t wanna be getting up on your high-horse like Richie says,

looking like a c*** because that’s a long way to fall.


Do you think some artists take too much of a political approach where it risks becoming out of touch?


C: Maybe, it depends on which artists. I feel like you’ve got someone like Stormzy, and you look at where he’s come from and the music he does – him in general and what he represents, it’s important for him to be on it with politics and being aware of change. But when you’ve got someone like Bono…maybe back in the day I could’ve gotten on board with him but right now when he’s telling me to save the planet and the man's bombing around in jets; get a life.


Looking at the musicianship outside of lyricism, would you say you three each bring something different to the table or that you all agree on things generally?


C: Obviously we all love Punk, but I think outside of the obvious links we’re all into our own

things.

B: Yeah there is a big crossover in what we bring to the table, but we have our own

things on the side that we do separately too.

C: Billy brings the drums, I bring the guitar and the vocals, and Richie brings the bass.

R: From a creative point of view, Connor is the chief songwriter. I do write a couple of songs,

but he brings in his energy and lyrics to it all. Myself and Billy work off of that. From an

influence point of view, Connor may come in with a rap tune, and that’s not my particular

forte, but I’ll use what I've got to complement that. I think all three of

us have different interests; we may go through different phases and then we bring that into

this melting pot of a band which makes it varied. When you listen to our set, we

have different light and shades to everything. We may have an intense punk song, and then

more of a ballad at the end. All sorts of weird and wonderful mixes of what we’ve got.


Is that something you actively aim to do? Keep your music interesitng by making each some different?


C: Yeah you don’t wanna sound the same constantly. Look at Mac Demarco; after 3 albums

all sounding like Salad Days it gets a bit like ‘come on dude’.

B: I don’t know if it comes about forced, like ‘Oh we’ve gotta make sure this sounds

different’.

C: Sometimes you don’t want all of your songs to sound the same, but sometimes you just wanna record a standard Punk song that does sound like every other punk song - it might just happen sometimes!

R: It’s what interests you at the time. Your attention span is what makes you good

as a songwriter - that one minute you’re going ‘I’m really into my psych and garage at the

moment’ and you’ll hear something come out of that era you’re listening to. Then at another

point, you’ve got other influences coming to you. I don’t think it’s a deliberate thing of you

going ‘Oh I’ve got to tick these boxes’ because I don’t think it would work. The way we are as a band, although there are many different genres there, it’s still recognisably us. I don’t think there is a pre-contrived manner of ticking different genres off - it’s just what we feel at the time.


What would you say is the 'Bad Girlfriend' motif, whereby people come away from a song and know it was one of yours?


C: Maybe what you said at the beginning; the wildness and how untamed it is. Even on

record - although we’re way messier live - there’s still that raw energy.

R: A sense of humour, but heaviness and energy. It’s a mix of all of those things that make

you go ‘Ok that’s definitely us’, but it’s hard to describe. It’s what we’ve been told by people

after gigs. I think what we have, from what people have said, works. Each song has it’s own

individual charm and I don’t think it’s us going around thinking ‘we’ve got to find something

with this’. It’s more the fact that what we come up with is very individually us and usually

well-received, from our experience anyway.


Do you think there's a charm in your music insofar as someone may hear a track and find themselves surprised that it's one of yours given the difference?


R: I think with our new single ‘Here It Comes’, it's a bit of a departure from some of the stuff we’ve done previously. I guess we do try and challenge ourselves to a degree for our own amusement and that’s what we ended up bringing to the table.


Looking at your socials, you already have a lot of music out for an up-and-coming band. Is this something that has come naturally, or do you make an active effort to continuously put new material out?


C: Nah we just keep writing man because it’s just so enjoyable!

B: I think if it was up to Connor we’d put a new EP out every month.

R: Literally. I think if Connor had his way we’d be writing and recording every day. Obviously

there’s a little financial restraint and you wanna keep things fresh with people so we’ve tried

to contain it by doing EP's and singles, to try out different things and reach new people.


Do you think there’s an element in the ‘Bad Girlfriend’ project that exemplifies something that’s missing in the genre at the moment?


C: I know that there’s something other people don’t put into their music like we do; we put

balls into our music.

R: I think what Connor’s trying to get at is that sometimes there’s a pre-contrived nature to

some bands. That’s not a bad thing but it’s just not very us; they have a format, they want to

make something radio-friendly.

C: They wanna look pretty as well, and get all dolled up for the gig. I kinda wanna take it

back to what it was; a bunch of weirdos just having fun.

R: It’s the experience I guess isn’t it? Not taking ourselves seriously. We’re not a comedy

band but just putting what we feel out there rather than what we want to be perceived as being.

C: Some bands seem a bit contrived and forced. The lead singer is the most important element, and sometimes they’re so stuck up their own arses that they can’t enjoy it. It’s horrible to watch those people do what they do because they’re not having any fun, but then you meet so many people that are like us and it’s amazing.

R: We’re there to entertain when we’re at a gig - we’re there to have a good time. The

agenda isn’t aim-driven, it’s just a case of wanting to put on the best show in the city that

anyone can. I think sometimes bands have a different perception of that and watch the way

they look or how they’re perceived, but it isn’t like that with us.


In terms of priorities, it sounds like you don’t care so much about image and you prioritise having fun. With that in mind, would you say you have things you want to keep true no matter how many years go by? Perhaps 3 staples?


C: I mean if it ever stops being fun I’ll definitely stop then, that’s the only thing that’ll ruin it

for me really. If it ever feels like it gets to a point where ‘Oh we’ve got to do this because we

need some money, or because so-and-so says’- if it ever got to the point where we felt we had to do it rather than we want to do it.

R: That would then lose the purpose of being a band.

C: If you want three things I would just say ‘Fun, fun, and money’.

(all laughing)

C: Money would keep me around for a time. Fun, women, and money (laughing). Nah I’m

joking man.


Is transparency a massive part then of what you guys stand for?


R: We are who we are I guess.

C: Yeah definitely, definitely. We are very much heart-on-our-sleeves.


When the time comes again, how do you intend to translate your studio sessions to your live shows?


C: The first 3 EPs we did we recorded live, so it wasn’t done to a click-track. It’s just guitar, bass, and drums; you can’t really add anything more to it. We always thought that was the way to go - recording things just as we played them live. But for ‘Here It Comes’, we recorded it in a studio, not live. We did it track-by-track, where you can add loads of stuff to it - different sounds etc. That was the point - it was kinda like ‘Well we can have one thing for the live shows, which will be mad, balls-to-the-wall, rawness. Then with the recording, you’ll just understand the song a lot more. We want to take the recording aspects a bit more seriously and let people hear the songs for what they actually are rather than just ‘wildness’.

R: Especially for this track. It’s a little more nuanced and we wanted to make sure it sounded

as big as it possibly could do. There’s an organ in there, a sort of tape loop,

a few layers of guitars. We wanted to make it sound a bit more like a soundscape, even

though it’s still got that grungy, garage element to it.


How would you describe 'Here It Comes'?


C: Psychedelic. Fuzzy. It’s very different. I don’t know man, it’s inspired by very heavy drug

use, just imagine what that’s like (laughing). It’s made sure the lyrics were more surreal and chaotic.

R: Again, that’s what you were experiencing at the time wasn’t it? I think the way you

described it to me was “just like a massive ketamine trip”. Before this, you were writing different types of songs that had more of a Punky element and they didn’t have that

psychy/garage feel, because it wasn’t something you were influenced by at the time. With this song, it’s a reflection of a different phase of your life I guess.

C: It's like with Bowie; I go through different eras (laughing). Nah, but back to the original question, ‘what’s the song like?’. It’s way more nuanced - there’s a bit more care taken with it, especially the music like it’s way more riffy for sure.

B: More layers, like an onion.


As time goes on, is that something you want to dabble with more; higher production value and layered tracks?


C: Yeah definitely.

R: I think it depends.

C: I wanna start looking at more synths and stuff. Maybe not necessarily higher quality - I

never want it to sound too polished because we like the rawness. Let’s just say expanding

the sound in the studio, because live it can always be raw and wild, but we really want to

push the sound in the studio because there’s way more stuff to play about with. Live? Live is

a party, man. There’s no question about that.


When people come away from hearing your music or seeing you on stage, what do you want them to have in their minds?


C: A smile. In their minds? ‘What the fuck was that man?’.

B: Hopefully they can feel our excitement.

C: I want them to come away feeling euphorically confused.

R: Something they haven’t really witnessed before, or at least not having felt that energy

before.

B: Honestly, we’re having a great time up there doing it.

C: A lot of people come up to us and say ‘You’s look like you’re having the best time up there’ and I think it’s translated to them, which is good.


Do you guys bring a lot of yourselves to your live shows?


C: Absolutely. I’m a nutter all of the time, man.

B: I think that’s a fair comment definitely (laughing).


‘Here It Comes’ is set to be released on July 18th, and their existing discography is available on Spotify HERE


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