With their breakout Transpose EP just released and festival touring about to kick-off, LA band Bad Suns is a bright spot shining through the cluttered, cloudy indie pop space. And although their debut four-song sampler is awesome, a hit is not just a hit these days – thanks to remixes, a song can have as many lives as a cat. Today “Transpose” gets to dress up as dream pop, c/o New York based producer NICITA (aka the drummer for indie electro duo MS MR) who takes Bad Suns’ title-track on a trancier up-tempo trip.
For us, it was kind of like love at first listen. By two seconds in, the percussion is being driven by a dragging sound like chain on concrete and anchored by a unique seat-belted beat in the backseat. We're already seamlessly riding off into a blooming electronic sunset before a minute in. The track bursts open with the chorus, like a drag race of synth versus vocals, each propelling the other forward all the while being grounded by a deeper bass, pumping the breaks.
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When we reviewed Bad Suns' last track, “Salt” we compared their retro alternative sound and style to another favorite four-piece, The 1975. So even though today's announcement was a surprise, we're not really surprised per se that the guys will be touring North America together this spring. (Dates below.)
We were also able to chase Bad Suns down on their fast track to success, and weasel our way into guitarist Ray Libby's head – talking shop and shooting the breeze, touching on everything from the band's formation to superlatives and Wasabi seaweed.
EARMILK: To kick things off, tell us a little about how you formed.
Ray Libby: Chris had met Gavin at school, and knew that Miles played drums really well, so they started playing music together. A point came where they were looking for a guitarist, and having heard some of their newer material, I reached out. We started playing together around the beginning of 2012, and it's felt very natural and comfortable ever since.
EM: What was the inspiration behind the band name?
RL: I think coming up with a "cool" band name is the hardest part of being in a band. We had been looking through books and movies, trying to find something that stuck out, and the words "bad" and "suns" came up, and it sounded good together, so we stuck with it.
EM: How did the Transpose EP come together? How do you typically write/assemble music? What’s the creative process?
RL: There's not really one specific way that we write music. Usually someone will come up with a guitar riff, or drum beat that inspires someone else. Other times Chris will come up with a rough structure of a song with some vocal ideas, and then we'll flesh it out and turn it into a song. It all varies.
EM: Speaking of songs — what is the album title/title track Transpose about?
RL: The song "Transpose" is about questioning yourself, and coming to terms with the way things are. Persistence is crucial, but persistence to no avail can drive you nuts. It was also one of the first songs we wrote together, and felt it captured something unique.
EM: Most people know we're big fans of remixes here. How did you come to work with NICITA on the "Transpose" one we're premiering today?
RL: I believe Jeremy Maciak from Vagrant is a friend of his. He did an awesome job on the remix, I always really like hearing someone else's take on a song.
EM: It is, you never know how someone's style/background will influence the end result. Who would you say influences your sound?
RL: It all really depends. The four of us listen to such different music that it's hard to source direct influences, but we're all fascinated with musicians that use unique sounds to create their songs. I know we've all been listening to a lot of The Cure lately.
EM: What are some first memories of music?
RL: The four of us became interested in music at a really early age. I know Chris's dad would always be listening to Elvis Costello when he was younger, and that played a big part in it I'm sure. I personally remember being in middle school with my green iPod mini, always listening to bands like The Strokes and Bloc Party. That kind of energetic music sparked something in me that hasn't ever gone out.
EM: Yeah I can definitely hear influences of The Strokes in your sound. Is there an artist you'd love to collaborate with down the pipeline?
RL: We'd love the chance to work with Tycho. We've been listening to his stuff a lot lately. He always does such a good job of creating a vibe for the song.
EM: What do you most want people to take away from the EP?
RL: If people take anything positive away from the EP, then that is awesome. I'd hope that people can find something, musically or lyrically, that they can relate to, and enjoy it.
EM: What’s in store for the next year?
RL: We're going to be finishing and releasing our full length album, which is a dream come true. Very excited to come out with new music. And after that we'll be touring a lot, playing a few festivals here and there. This years definitely going to be a fun one.
EM: Is SXSW your first festival? What are you looking forward to most about touring?
RL: Yes it is actually! I've never been to SXSW, but I'm ready for the insanity that I've heard about. With touring, I think having the ability to experience different cities in such a unique and fun way is my favorite part. We get to hang out together and play music, all while traveling to different places, it's great.
EM: Obviously y'all are busy, but everyone can use their downtime – where we can find you on a Saturday afternoon?
RL: Hmm, well we're all big fans of Crave Deli in LA, and go there a lot. Chris and I love the beach, and try and take advantage of how close we are to it, as much as we can. We all just like to hang out with our friends, get good food and joke around.
EM: What would your respective superlatives be?
RL: I'm going to have to say, Christo is "Best Hair", Gavin is "Class Clown", Miles is "Most Athletic", and I'd be "Party Animal". Haha, that's my best guess.
EM: What product can’t you live without?
RL: Definitely wasabi seaweed snacks. Those are the best.
EM: I love those! So tasty & low cal. Okay last question. Anything funny/random/comedically tragic that's happened lately?
RL: Well Miles just beat Grand Theft Auto 5, so that's pretty large. Oh yeah, and we just got followed by Lil B on twitter, very random.
EM: Definitely ending this interview on a high note. Tell Miles congrats from us – can't wait to check you guys out next week in Austin!
And if you're wanting even more info on the band, look no further than the links below. And check out their touring schedule because Bad Suns + The 1975 might soon be coming to a stage near you.
3/12/2014: Austin TX- On-Air Streaming Session 12pm
3/12/2014: Austin TX- Beautiful Buzz @ Brew Exchange 4:30pm
3/12/2014: Austin TX- Communion Showcase @ The Blackheart 11pm
3/14/2014: Austin TX- In Grooves Showcase @ Buffalo Billards 1:15pm-
3/14/2014: Austin TX- The Windish Agency Showcase @ Mohawk 4:30pm
3/15/2014: Austin TX- Rachael Ray Feedback Showcase @ Stubbs 12:30pm
w/ FITZ AND THE TANTRUMS
4/03/2014: Oakland CA- Fox Theatre
4/05/2014: Hollywood CA- Hollywood Palladium
4/10/2014: Santa Ana CA- Constellation Room
w/ THE 1975
4/16/2014: Los Angeles, CA – Club Nokia
4/17/2014: San Francisco, CA – The Fillmore
4/18/2014: San Francisco, CA – The Fillmore
4/21/2014: Sacramento, CA – Ace of Spades
4/23/2014: Portland, OR – Roseland Theatre
4/24/2014: Seattle, WA – Showbox
4/25/2014: Victoria, BC – Sugar Nightclub
4/26/2014: Vancouver, BC – Vogue Theatre
4/28/2014: Edmonton, AB – Starlite Room
4/29/2014: Calgary, AB – Flames Central
5/1/2014: Winnipeg, MB – Garrick Center
5/2/2014: Minneapolis, MN – First Ave
5/3/2014: Madison, WI – Orpheum
5/4/2014: Pontiac, MI – Royal Oak
5/5/2014: Columbus, OH – The LC Pavillion
5/6/2014: Toronto, ON – Kool Haus
5/8/2014: New York, NY – Terminal 5
5/9/2014: Providence, RI – Lupo’s Heartbreak Hotel
5/10/2014: Boston, MA – Royale
5/11/2014: Baltmore MD- Rams Head Live!
5/12/2014: Washington, DC – 9:30 Club
5/13/2014: Carrboro, NC – Cat's Cradle
5/14/2014: Charlotte, NC – The Fillmore
5/15/2014: Nashville, TN – Marathon Music Works
5/19/2014: Jacksonville, FL – Free Bird Live
5/20/2014: Ft Lauderdale, FL – Culture Room
5/21/2014: Orlando, FL – House of Blues
5/22/2014: Atlanta, GA – Buckhead Theatre
5/23/2014: Birmingham AL- Bottletree
5/24/2014: Baton Rouge LA- Spanish Moon
5/26/2014: Houston TX- Bronze Peacock Room- HOB
5/27/2014: Dallas TX – HOB- Cambridge Room
w/ THE 1975
5/28/2014: Tulsa OK- Cains Ballroom
5/29/2014: Dallas TX- House Of Blues Dallas
5/30/2014: Austin TX- Stubbs Waller Creek Amphitheater
6/01/2014: New Orleans LA- House of Blues
6/03/2014: Charleston SC- Music Farm
6/04/2014: Norfolk VA- The Norva
6/05/2014: Baltimore MD- Rams Head Live!
6/06/2014: New York NY- Mercury Lounge
7/11/2014: Cincinnati OH- Bunbury Music Festival