MUSIC INTERVIEW: Bad Sign
A trio that isn’t afraid to be different and prides themselves on sincerity, Bad Sign are about to inject the world with some monumental riffs as they release their debut album Live And Learn. We caught up with vocalist/bassist Joe Appleford to find out about the record and how he perceives the UK music scene.
Let’s get started by talking about the album: how long has it been in the making?
We started writing it about 18 months ago, and then we recorded it in stages just due to finances. We had to break up the sessions, which was interesting for Neil [Kennedy, producer] because to get a cohesive sound, for all of the drums to sound the same for example, we had to bring down the exact kit for certain bits. Then we recorded it over the course of last year, we finished it in October and then we had to wait for the mixing. We were quite careful, we got a few mastering options and we finally went with a guy called Robin Schmidt who has done the last two The 1975 records. We wanted quite a poppy master, making sure that the drums and the vocals were ‘out there’.
You’ve spoken before about the fact that you guys are constantly writing, but what is Bad Sign’s writing process? Do you get together and jam or do you work individually?
Some of it comes from that [jamming together] but the majority is me writing on an acoustic guitar first, because I read this thing that Noel Gallagher said which was that if you can play stuff on an acoustic and it translates then it’s a strong song. So I start there and then I bring stuff to the practise room and we mould it from there. There are a couple of tracks, like October, that were a jam and a lick that Jon [Harris, guitar] had so it varies. At the moment we’re still writing, we’ve started to move more advanced with our technology so I’m demoing on Logic, then sending it to Kev [Miller, drums], he will program drum parts and then he’ll send it to Jon. So we’re sending everything around at the moment in a loop for the first time which is good.
It’s good to experiment in different ways and see what works for you.
Definitely, we want to push it a bit.
The two EP’s preceding the album, Destroy and Rebuild, they interlink in regards to the theme and concept. The album title Live And Learn sounds like a continuation of that theme, does that translate in the record as a whole?
Yeah, the way I write lyrics is quite conceptual. I like to write about things that are either based on personal experience, which is most of Destroy and Rebuild, but with Live And Learn I would say that three quarters are me and the other quarter is observational. Not general observation, it’s still about people I know, so when I sing about it I can instantly connect with it. I’ve always got to sing about something that I know, I don’t want to be singing about dragons or something.
As you mentioned earlier you worked with Neil Kennedy on the record, what made you choose to work with him and how was it?
We did Destroy with him and we made friends with him instantly. When we first met him he was a vegetarian, he didn’t drink and he was very politely spoken. By the end of Destroy he was drinking beer, eating burgers and he was foul mouthed.
You destroyed him!
Yes we destroyed him as a man, and rebuilt him as a beast. He’s a real good friend, obviously very talented he’s worked with Creeper and Milk Teeth and I feel very comfortable working with him on vocal stuff. It’s a strange thing but the way we’ve previously done it is I’ve got all of the lyrics and I’ve got the melody ideas in my head but I’ve never sung them. So I sing everything for the first time in the studio, and then Neil and I work through it. He really pushes me to challenge myself and he’s very honest if something isn’t right. It’s quite a weird way of doing it but it works for us. I do think that we’ll do more vocal pre-production for the next material, because obviously we want to get better and better. Hopefully the more pre-production we can do the better for the next record.
Let’s talk about the UK music scene, arguably it’s the strongest it’s been in a while with the likes of yourselves, Black Peaks, Creeper and Milk Teeth to name but a few all doing really well. How do you feel about your peers and the UK music scene?
It’s very healthy at the moment. I think there’s loads of good bands doing their own thing which is sick, who we’re very good friends with. There’s Black Peaks and HECK, Creeper as you mentioned, and they’ve all got their own areas. I think what I like about where we are is that we’re straddling all of these different areas, so we can tour with anyone.
Another great thing about the UK music scene is that for the majority everybody seems very supportive of each other.
Yeah, we did an interview the other day and the guy asked me why so many bands like us and I had a little think about it. I think it’s because we make a conscious effort when we arrive either on the first day of tour, or at a one-off show, and we say hello to everyone. The touring bands and all of their crew, if it’s local supports, we say hello to everyone. There’s no ‘being up your own arse’ about anything, just be nice. I think that’s why we’ve developed a friendship network across the UK and now branching into Europe, and why a lot of bands from different areas take us out. There’s TesseracT so your tech-metal, Creeper who have that whole punk vibe and have a very young audience. So we’re playing to all of these different audiences and we seem to win people on different types of shows which is encouraging for me, that’s what we want to do.
You’ve just mentioned that you’re able to tour with a diverse set of bands, so where would you place Bad Sign within the UK music scene?
We’re just a rock band, that’s it. Obviously we play guitar music but even that can change in the future. There’s no limit to what we can do. If we want to bring some electronics in, which is something we touched upon a little bit in Live And Learn, we might bring more of that in on the next release. We’re not afraid to try different things, and we definitely see ourselves outside of scenes so we’re not in these grunge, or new grave little pockets that are being championed at the moment. I mean fair play to everyone that’s doing it but we don’t want to be in that scene. We’d rather look at our own thing and hopefully people will get involved with it.
One of the first things that people think of when they hear Bad Sign is riffs, but what is your all-time favourite riff?
Oh that’s hard. There are riffs that hit you hard. The one that stands out for me and I’m just like ohhh yes mate, and it’s old as fuck but it’s so sick, is Wishing Well by Free. I think it was released in ’68 or ’69, but it has this sick riff. Then more modern probably Down Rodeo by Rage Against The Machine, the riff at the end of that is a mad riff. But Wishing Well, Free – great riff.
An outside of the box choice, we like it.
You’ve got to go with what hits you. Whenever we put that on in the van, it’s like an old band as well, so for recording to be that potent, that says something.
One final thing, once the album is released what’s next for Bad Sign? Lots of touring?
Yeah hopefully just touring everywhere and getting to as many places as we can. As I say we’re also working on new music, we’d like to put new music out in some form every year whatever format that may be, and just keeping in people’s line of vision constantly. We don’t want to take a year, two years off, none of that no way. We just want to keep releasing music, keep touring and keep getting bigger and better.
Interview by: Hannah Gillicker
Bad Sign’s debut album Live And Learn is due for release on the 14th July via Basick Records, available to purchase HERE.
See the band live at one of the following dates:
Fri 21st – Amplified Festival
Fri 28th – Y Not Festival