Interview with Bad Suns

When I arrive outside The Fillmore over an hour before doors open, the line is already insanely long. Scanning through the crowd, my vision slowly becomes blurred and I realize that I’ve essentially been looking at the same person over and over again: high-waisted shorts, a beanie, and fifteen years old; hey, what pre-teen girl doesn’t fantasize of being picked out from the crowd by a mumbling, shirtless Matty Healy singing about “yoshing in your mouth”? I know I do. After talking to some girls who attended the show from the previous night, and ended up camping outside in order to be first in line, it was clear that while they were excited about the extreme potential of being given Healy’s wine bottle, they were just as much looking forward to seeing the boys of Bad Suns live again. With extremely catchy lyrics and an infectious beat, it becomes impossible to stand still when they’re playing (I may or may not have gotten in trouble with security multiple times for sitting on some poor boy’s shoulders while they were performing). Chris Bowman (vocals), Miles Morris (drums), Gavin Bennett (bass), and Ray Libby (guitar), together make up the LA based-band, Bad Suns. After I talked to them before their performance, it became clear that these next couple months are crucial for them. With the release of their debut album, the rest of their tour with The 1975, and a European tour lined-up, 2014 is looking pretty bright for them.

How has being on tour with The 1975 been?

Chris: Well, this will be our third show so far, but yeah, it’s been great! The crowds have been awesome, everyone on tour is really cool, so we’re really happy.

You’ve finished recording your debut album, when will it be released?

Chris: It’s coming out in June.

What’s the title?

Chris: Um, I’m not sure we can say. I think there’s supposed to be some sort of proper announcement for that.

Do you have your album art ready?

Chris: Yup, we’re just working on that and finishing it all up right now, so it’s exciting.

Where are you all from?

Chris: We’re from around Los Angeles, like Woodland Hills.

Did you all grow up together, is that how the band started?

Chris: Well, we all kind of met up and became friends in high school. But we all went to different high schools; basically, we met through the music scene.

How long have you been a band for?

Chris: Two years, two and half years maybe?

When did you all realize that you actually had something to work with?

Chris: I think once this lineup came together, the three of us [Chris, Gavin, and Miles] were already playing together, and I think once the four of us played together for the first time, that’s when it really felt like a band. It felt like more than just a couple of friends jamming together.

How did it feel to be on Conan?

Chris: It was nerve-racking.

Gavin: It was fun, though.

Ray: It was scary. Honestly, it was frightening; it was the most excited and nervous I’ve ever been.

Was it live?

Ray: They filmed it like it was live, but they just broadcasted it later. And, yeah, I’m sure if someone messed up really bad they would re-do it, but you know…You never want to be that bad.

Did you watch your performance afterwards?

Chris: Yeah, we watched it. Actually, we were at a restaurant, and at this point our nerves had already calmed down…and then David Beckham walks in, and then Gordon Ramsey walks in, and Rob Dyrdek. And we’re there as it comes down on screen and watching it in this restaurant and we look over and see David Beckham looking at it, and that was just crazy. It was a pretty crazy day.

Who are your biggest influences?

Chris: I think it’s hard to say because I think really above all else we’re all huge fans of music and all fans of the idea of a band.

Ray: Yeah, we’re all fans of the identity of a band.

Chris: Yeah, there’s no particular band we strive to be like, but instead we appreciate about our favorite bands what they all did by themselves. The bands I really look up to all achieved something incredible on their own, in their own way. And I think by looking up at bands like that, it inspires you to want to do something similar. So we’re just going to try our best to take all the right cues from the right places and just create music that we really like.

Would you say living in California influences your music?

Chris: It must. I think that being in such a central location for music, and being around so many bands, it must have some sort of impact on us as people.

Gavin: Yeah, I think growing up in California, or I guess where we live, I’ve seen live most of my favorite bands, because most bands stop through LA, so I got to watch some of my favorite bands growing up, and I’m sure if I lived somewhere else, that wouldn’t have been so easy and influenced me so much in the way those shows did.

Chris: And I also think an important thing is that there are a lot of great bands that come from LA, and there are a lot of terrible bands that come from LA, who make all of the wrong decisions. So I think we’ve really tried our best to monitor everything to an extent and be what it is that we like, and do things the way we like to do things.

“Cardiac Arrest” has been gaining a lot of exposure since it came out. Did you know as soon as you wrote it that it would be a hit?

Chris: No, not at all! I think that song, like all the others, really come to life in the studio. When the song is written, you know the melody and stuff will be there, so we have an idea of how it’s going to be, but it’s kind of a surprise when we hear the final mix. You know, we had four other songs at the same time, so were trying to get each mix where we’re happy. So it was like “Cardiac Arrest” sounds great, on to the next one. So I think that for some reason when it came to put out a song for the first time, that was the one we were like, “This seems like it would be a good representation.” So it felt like that, but none of us were like. “We got to write this song so it will be on the radio.” I think that once something feels contrived like that, we’ve noticed in other bands, you can tell.

Which city are you most looking forward to playing?

Gavin: I’ve never been to Portland or Seattle.

Ray: We’re around there for three or four days, I think.

What are you most looking forward to in 2014?

Chris: I think we’re in the midst of it right now! You know we just finished our debut album, and that was a process that we made it through and we’re all kind of buzzing on right now. This is the biggest and longest tour I’ve ever done, and I’m just looking forward to continuing on this process and line of work we’re on.

Do you have another tour lined up after this?

Chris: I think we’re working on it right now. Oh! Another thing I’m looking forward to is going to Europe for the first time this year with a band.

Who are you touring with?

Chris: Don’t know yet, but we just found out that we’re going, so that will be great.

Pick up Bad Suns’ latest EP, Transpose.

For the band’s upcoming tour dates, check out their Facebook page.