First appeared on CLIQUE Mag, April 19 2017
Local lads from Bad//Dreems have been busily prepping for the release of their sophomore album ‘Gutful’, set to drop in just a few days on April 21. With the first two singles off the record already receiving rave reviews, we have high hopes for the future of our favourite Adelaide garage-rockers. So, get comfy and crack open a tinny in honour of the band as you read our interview with guitarist Alex Cameron, who gives us a thoughtful insight into what to expect from the upcoming album.
The first singles from ‘Gutful’ have been pretty politically-driven. Can listeners expect more of a political undercurrent on the upcoming album?
I probably wouldn’t call it political but I guess there’s an element of social commentary. Feeling Remains is more about mental illness and trying to shake off melancholy. Certainly Mob Rule and the title track Gutful are a little bit of social commentary, touching on some of the things that play on our mind about stuff that’s been happening in the last eighteen months in Australia and around the world. There’s a bit of that on the album and also songs that are more personal, about love and distance and pining.
Same as the last album, our songs are usually divided up between ones that are more observational, like from the perspective of someone else or about things that are going on, and some are more subjective, more traditional pop songs. It’s a bit of a variety. We’re certainly not trying to be Midnight Oil, not every song is about political stuff — we’re more just writing about things that are on our mind, things that we care deeply about whether that be love and loss or standing up and taking a stance against bigotry and other issues that have reared their ugly head in recent times. We don’t intend to be a political band.
Yeah, sure. It’s hard to ignore what’s happening in the world so it makes sense that it would feed into your music.
Exactly. I guess one of the privileges of being in a band that has a little bit of success is that we do have a captive audience. Young people come to watch us and it’s great to be able to have a dialogue with [them]. You can start people talking. I guess the main message of this is that we’re not politicians, we’re not trying to put forth answers but if we can get people to talk about things and take an interest in things, then that’s enough for us.
It’s good to use your platform to get that message out because people that admire you might end up changing their views and learning more about stuff.
Music’s a great vessel for that. My involvement in music has led on to not only read about certain bands but read about their stories, and that can lead onto anything — so much literature, art, design, all sorts of societal issues I’ve been exposed to through my favourite bands. For example, at the moment I’m reading a book about Midnight Oil’s tour, a book by Andrew McMillan, about their 1986 tour with the Warumpi Band in the Northern Territory. I hadn’t realised before the amount of work that Midnight Oil did for various causes and how much money they’d donate to different causes, anti-nuclear causes. This book is more about the issues and history of Indigenous communities in the Northern Territory, so the good thing about music is that it can open doors to a lot of other things.
Yeah, totally. I listened to Black Flag when I was an angsty teenager and I didn’t realise that Henry Rollins is this amazing spokesperson for social justice issues.
Yeah, he’s a great example of that. Through liking Black Flag, you get to know Henry Rollins and from that you get into poetry and his writings and then all the other societal issues that he takes on. It’s a perfect example of how music can go onto all these other things. I think people that are involved in music on the whole, especially music that is at an independent level, are fairly like-minded, open-minded, and liberal people so therefore it’s a great community to discover all those sorts of things.
Who do you draw most of your inspiration from music-wise in terms of the band’s sound?
I think the band’s sound at least in the first two albums has been rooted in Australian music, like ‘70s and ‘80s bands like The Saints, X, The Creatures, Midnight Oil, The Go-Betweens, Sunnyboys. The thing we like about that type of music is that first of all it’s been made around us. We’ve met Robert Forster, we’re playing with Midnight Oil, Mark Opitz who worked with a lot of those great bands recorded our albums, so it’s kind of tangible and you feel like you’re part of a lineage and can draw inspiration from.
Secondly, I guess so many bands of that era like Midnight Oil and Cold Chiselbecame so massive that for a long time afterwards people had a bit of a cringe factor towards them, which is normal with any type of music when a band gets big enough, a lot of people will get sick of them and not really wanna hear about them. I think a lot of the songs and songwriting from that era are a very rich, nuclear Australian sound and something that we try to emulate.
What Adelaide bands are you digging at the moment?
West Thebarton Brothel Party, Hardaches, Grenadiers. Someone played with this new band called Siamese the other day which sounded really cool. The Bitter Darlings.
Do you have any advice for young aspiring musicians, especially in Adelaide?
My advice would be just write song after song after song and record them before you even play a live show. Secondly, be part of a community. The best way to learn about being in a band or learn about the industry is to get out there and mix with other people who are doing the same thing.
The way I learned about being in a band was living in Melbourne and going to see gigs three or four times a week, and then from that meeting other bands, sound engineers, promoters, people who had labels. Some people might say it’s networking but it’s more just meeting friends and like-minded people.