On Friday 9th February, Bad Sounds gave a high energy show at the Manchester Academy, with some rough play among band members initiated by the band’s leading brothers, Callum and Ewan. Supporting for Rat Boy on a tour of the UK, Bad Sounds seem to be performing their characteristic amalgamation of hip-hop and funk with a warm and revering attitude. Backstage, Callum and Ewan sat down in a 'cold, cold' kitchen to discuss tour life, music, upcoming projects, and more.
That was a good show, you really party on stage. How do you think the performance went?
Ewan: It was good, probably one of my favourites of the tour so far. The first few shows you’re finding your feet a bit more – they were still good but by now I feel very comfortable doing it. At the same time, because there are only a few shows left, you know that it’s going to be over soon so you’re sort of making the most of it. It’s like the perfect balance.
What’s it like touring with Rat Boy?
Ewan: It’s cool, we actually did a tour with him once before. About a year ago we only had one or two songs out and no-one knew who we were. This time, we didn’t expect it but during our first few shows there were a lot of people in the audience who know our songs already. It felt like a lot of people were excited for certain songs in the set rather than just waiting until they see the band they’ve come to see. It was nice to have the contrast this time.
What’s the meaning behind the logo?
Callum: That first came about on the ‘Avalanche’ cover art. It was like an abstract mountain and we’ve embellished it more and more with everything we’ve put out. The whole colour scheme came from a film poster and I manipulated it into the mountain shape. The single we put out after that was ‘Wages’ and we were doing a whole kung fu thing for the video and once I had put it into that circle it reminded me of The Karate Kid logo that they had on the back of their uniforms. It’s just stuck and it’s become as identifiable as the band.
How would you say your music fits into a contemporary setting?
Ewan: We never want to be a rehash of something from the past. The kind of pop culture we’re both into starts at the end of the 50s, ranging up until now. We try and pick our favourite things from all of that and then merge it into something that’s uniquely our taste. For us, it comes from a hip-hop way of working because, before, I was just making straight up hip-hop and that’s made from sampling old stuff and flipping it in a contemporary way. We try to maintain that mentality towards how we write, whether we’re sampling or writing parts.
Callum: We’re definitely not consciously trying to be contemporary or throwback. We’re just following our music tastes.
Ewan: There is some really cool throwback stuff. I like bands that sound like they're still in the 60s. It’s not necessarily what I want to do but I think it’s still cool when bands do that.
Who’s the older brother?
How has music influenced your relationship?
Callum: I feel like we would be as close if we weren’t doing music. It would be wrong to say that music brought us together or whatever; I feel like we would still be best friends.
Ewan: We’re quite different as people and we’ve always leant on each other. We sort of even each other out.
Callum: We understand each other’s flaws. We’ve always got each other to vent or just to call each other out for being wrong. Also, onstage, when people are vibing to the music and they’re looking at each other, you can tell that they’re enjoying it as well. If you watch Anderson .Paak play, he’s so into and he looks at his band like “yeah, this is great!” I love that shit. That’s what makes a good performance.
As it’s very fun to watch your music live, what do find most fun about creating your music?
Ewan: It’s about finding a different space, I find I go to different things for different times. So if I’m writing something by myself, it’s like a very meditative thing, something you can really focus on and lose yourself in while you’re doing it. Then it’s fun to mess about with someone else to try out ideas, even something stupid when you put something on and you’re laughing about how cool it sounds. I feel like that’s the best bit: trying out weird ideas. In the studio, it gets a bit more intense because you’re trying to refine it all and smooth out all the rough edges.
How do you fit songwriting around touring life?
Callum: I enjoy the travelling. The first trip was an eight hour drive to Glasgow from where we live so that’s valuable time to listen to something I’ve never heard before or watch a documentary about something that I don’t really know about and sort of refuel on inspiration. So when I go home I’ve got fresh stuff to draw from.
What’s your favourite thing to eat or drink while on tour?
Ewan: This is the first tour I’ve tried being vegan for the whole time. It’s been pretty hard. I feel like I’ve eaten a lot of Oreos. This guy, Jordan Hughes, he came up for a few days, taking photos, and he’s been vegan for a while and had been helping out with being on the road and not just eating nuts.
Callum: It’s hard in Europe. I’m vegetarian and we did Eurosonic the other weekend and on the way back we stopped at a couple services and there was just nothing we could eat. So you end up just eating Oreos and bread which is not very nutritious at all.
So if it’s very hard, what makes you be vegetarian/vegan?
Ewan: I care more about doing the right thing in that way. Plus there’s always a way, it’s just more difficult. The difficulties are so minor compared to what I feel the cost is.
What are you listening to at the moment?
Ewan: I’ve never listened to it before, but I was listening to the classic Ms. Dynamite album today. It’s kind of like ‘The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill’ but English. Missy Elliott is my hero so always Missy and Timbaland. We were listening to Busta Ryhymes’ first album the other day. I also put on some Lady Sovereign last night and there are some bangers on that first album. There’s this track called ‘Those Were the Days’ and it’s got the coolest guitar sample.
Callum: On the way up here, I listened to ‘Electric Circus’ by Common. I really love Karriem Riggins, who’s this awesome beat maker/jazz drummer. He’s worked with Common but also he’s worked with Robert Glasper, a Jazz pianist who did the soundtrack to the Miles Davis movie. At home, I’ll probably chill out to some Al Green or Marvin Gaye. I also love Massive Attack, De La Soul, A Tribe Called Quest. I’d say ‘Siamese Dream’ by Smashing Pumpkins is probably one of my top ten albums of all time.
Ewan: I’ve got really into Pink Floyd on this trip.
Callum: There are loads of Pink Floyd references on Electric Circus. Even a ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ reference.
What are your plans for after the tour?
Ewan: That’s pretty much it. We’re booking some other shows but we want to take a bit of time out of shows to record as many songs as we can. We’re writing with a view towards an album but nothing’s set in stone. We have like six tracks that are done, that we think are ready for an album. And then we have a lot of other demos that we want to finish and then we might have some new stuff that goes on as well. It’s really important to us that it feels like a cohesive piece of work.
Like ‘Mixtape One’.
Ewan: Yeah, exactly. That was when we were first experimenting with it and we kind of want to continue with that on the album.
Callum: Sequencing is a big thing. That’s why, out of a-hundred-and-something demos, we’ve probably narrowed it down to about twenty demos that we want to build on and put everything together.
Final question, what do you have planned for your last show?
Callum: This is the thing, when you think about it and plan it, it f*cks up. So we’re just going to go out there and hope for the best.
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