BAD//DREEMS Choreographing a Doomsday Ballet

South Australian five-piece Bad//Dreems have built a reputation off wild live shows and heaving pub rock flavour. Those aspects were used to define them, but the newly refreshed outfit consider those elements mere foundations on which they’ve have constructed a more textured, art-driven and evolved sound on third
 album Doomsday Ballet. In the lead up to their huge double bill with Cash Savage & The Last Drinks hitting Rock Rover on Friday, November 8, and a date with Falls Festival to follow, ANNIE MUNROE caught up with guitarist Ali Wells to talk about about heritage, humility and reflections on a different kind of political warfare.

There are some pretty wild stories about your band’s live performances. What do you think it is about your shows that punters love?

It’s hard to say realistically, but I think from the early onset we always focused our energy on the live performance and trying to make it different to the album. It’s always really hard to translate it into a recorded product and into a live show. Our first couple of records were very much sounding like a live album. We focused really hard on bringing as much energy as we could. Ben Marwe, our front man, takes on a really crazy persona and I think that almost gears the crowd into the craziness aswell.

It’s weird though because you don’t try and go too crazy but I think from the outset, once Marwe started putting on this almost psychotic mentality on stage that it just drifted into all of us. Once he started doing it, we all started doing it and before you know, you look like a mad man up there.

You have been touring for some time now… Do you think your latest album is still a South Australian album?

Yeah, to a certain extent for sure. It’s definitely a push away from the first two records. The first album was really about getting our live energy into the record and the second one we did again. It was the same ethos. We didn’t want to put on any other instruments. We just wanted to put on a rock record. That felt very grounded in South Australia. This third record is the first time we actually recorded it in Adelaide which was quite good to do because the last two were done in Melbourne. In that sense, (this album) is very much an Adelaide record. We recorded it in a huge heat wave in a small dingy studio north of the city. This is definitely trying to be a record that is a little different for us and trying to expand what we can do musically.

If there was to be any backlash from your fans, is there anything you’d want them to know beforehand?

I think we’ve always wanted to write the way that we’re writing now. There’s still very much of this record that could have sat on (previous albums) Dogs At Bay and Gutful, but I think what people like is our ability to tell stories. It’s all still going to be there, the energy of the band, but we just put a lot more synth on it (laughs).

What it was like to work on something that was less pub, more art?

It was amazing. Having Jack Ladder and Burke Reid was such a change of pace compared to (our previous producer) Mark Opitz (INXS). Mark was obviously from a big rock background but working with these guys and the way that they craft songs and the way they want to change things really pushed us in a direction. Their ability to add these textures. A lot of the time you’re going for a sound and they find a different way to create that sound. Before you know it, it starts sounding really different and that’s what we love so much about it – that we are able to take ourselves out of our comfort zone and push for something unique.

A lot of the topics you discuss are super relevant in the current political climate, but I like that your focus is more to explore the topic rather than expressing jarring opinions. Was that an intentional decision?

I wouldn’t say it was a super intentional decision, but we never started a band to push a message. I think it was just a natural progression of our influences and the way our thoughts come through. None of us as band members are very combative when it comes to issues like that, but we are all still very passionate about the issues. Talking about it and coming from a stand point where people can make their own decisions from the lyrics rather than us just ramming it down their throat is just a really good way to go about it.

As a band, you guys got a huge amount of love from the SA Music Awards, you’ve done rage, you’ve made it on Triple J. What’s your next ambition? When will be the moment that you think, oh shit, can’t believe I’m here?

Oh, we felt that for all of those achievements. The next tune that comes up freaks you out but as soon as it happens you want to push a bit further. For us, we’ve always wanted to have some success overseas. Possibly build a fan base in another country, which is very, very hard. Touring with Midnight Oil was one of those moments which was really amazing. Very surreal.

Finally, we’ve got you guys coming on a huge double bill with Cash Savage soon, following that are you excited to be playing Falls Festival?

Yeah, really excited. We played three years ago, I think. It’s a really fun festival to do. Lots of travelling, jumping between the four festivals, taking eight or nine flights over four or five hotel rooms in a really short period of time. But we love it – being able to see the different rotations of the bands on different days and the weather is usually amazing. I’m a big Vampire Weekend fan so I really want to try and meet Ezra Koenig (laughs).

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