“We can finally reveal the full Bad Sounds package.”
Last year, Bad Sounds kicked it up a gear, releasing two EPs – PHRESSSH and Mixtape One – in quick succession. Now looms their debut full-length, out this month. That’s a lot of music in a short space of time, especially for a band whose songs are as detailed and high-octane as Bad Sounds’. True to form, when I spoke to Ewan Merrett, he was just about to head off to the studio.
“We can finally reveal the full Bad Sounds package,” Ewan enthuses of Get Better. The five-piece is the brainchild of Ewan and brother Callum, who’ve been blowing things out the water with their flawless blend of hip-hop, funk and indie, while their live shows have become a true spectacle that few new bands even dream of.
For those unfamiliar, the band’s sound is a mish-mash of influences that both he and Callum absorbed when they were younger: “Me and Cal grew up in a really small town, and didn’t have anyone to show us music. So our core music knowledge is so random because it’s just from, like, random things we’ve found on the Internet and obviously the stuff our parents listen to.” This is why their music jumbles up hip-hop breakbeats, Michael Jackson-esque Motown funk and Flaming Lips wig-outs so perfectly. Their obsession with music started in their bedrooms, where most of the album ended up being recorded.
“We did about 60 to 70% [of the album] back home,” Ewan explains. “Cal’s got a big space in his living room now and I used to do a lot of stuff under the stairs. It was in a shared house with the other guys from the band, but it was by the kitchen, so if you were recording and someone was making food, it all got a bit weird.”
“We’ve always had this thing that people pick up on, where the music’s really positive but the lyrics can be quite downery.”
Ewan explains that the band always wanted their first album to be a cohesive project, “and not just a collection of like, eleven random songs,” but that the theme – “a novelty self-help book idea,” – came together naturally: “It seemed like a common thread. We’ve always had this thing that people pick up on, where the music’s really positive but the lyrics can be quite downery.”
If the album is supposed to be a self-help book, Bad Sounds’ gigs can often feel like cathartic group therapy, through their sheer joy and ridiculousness. Recent outings have seen the band play with giant replicas of their own heads, as well as appearing in the crowd from a cardboard box. Ewan reveals that they have even more planned for their UK tour, which sees them hit Bristol’s SWX on 26th October. “I think a visual element is such a massive thing. You’re literally going to watch something,” he explains. “That’s the way we look at it.”
Through single after single, Bad Sounds have built themselves a reputation for pop-culture-y yet brilliantly relatable tales, painted in rich, technicolour pop. But for Ewan, Get Better is the chance for everyone to see a “more mature” and complete side to the band: “We’re really into albums and all the extra stuff that goes with them: being able to experiment a bit more and getting over more character. I think there’s a lot of stuff on the album that people aren’t going to be expecting,” Ewan concludes. Looks like there’s no better time to get the help you need.
Get Better is out 17th August, with their headline show at Bristol’s SWX on 26th October.