Leading up to the highly anticipated first album from Adelaide band Bad//Dreems, we spoke to Alex Cameron (lead guitarist) about the album 'Dogs at Bay', the bands formation, footy and the future!
'Dogs at Bay' follows on brilliantly from the band's earlier work, making for a great first album. It incorporates familiar themes of 'being stuck in a hometown', along with new themes pertaining to the identity crisis some young men experience, and Adelaide’s bikie wars.
Established favourites such as Hiding to Nothing, Dumb Ideas and My only Friend, feature in the album, perfectly complimenting the albums overall sound. After catching glimpses of the bands spectrum in the past, we can see Bad//Dreems' superb ability to convey deep and dark emotional themes in this album. Many songs in 'Dogs at Bay' are in high contrast musically to recent releases such as Cuffed and Collared, which have had a catchy pop orientation.
The welcome appearance of seemingly darker themes has not however compromised Bad//Dreems' established pub rock sound. Working with legendary producer Mark Opitz, Bad//Dreems have captured the intensity of their live performances within their studio recordings.
It is also important to add that while some tracks on 'Dogs at Bay' have a brilliant punk aesthetic or dark quality, the sense of locality to Adelaide and the hometown experience is never at all diminished.
Later tracks also explore the bands ability to create lighter upbeat songs, still rich with emotion and that trademark sound, making you feel all sentimental about Adelaide (sometimes positive sometimes negative), even if you’re physically there.
For Adelaide locals I believe this album will strike a chord that no interstate or international band could match, as was the case with Bad//Dreems original Badlands EP.
The fun I’ve had driving around with this album in my car, knowing that Bad//Dreems fans will get their hands on it soon, is a testament to the bands uniquely emotive and engaging music, beautifully formulated into a ripper of an album.
Short of giving away too much, we promise that Bad//Dreems new album, 'Dogs at Bay' (which hits stores this Friday), delivers the goods.
We’re all very excited for the new album coming out on August 21, along with kicking off the 'Dogs at Bay' tour on September 25th in Adelaide at Jive! Cuffed and Collared is just brilliant and Hiding to Nothing seems to meld together a lot of your themes with a catchy tune. You guys have just returned from Splendour, and we’ve heard there were issues there with security holding back a lot of people trying to see you guys?
Yeah, we were playing as the first act on the main stage on Sunday, so obviously there was gonna be people still getting up or whatever, but we ran out and started playing and there was just like no one pretty much,
People were actually held up at the gates to the amphitheatre, so even after they opened the gates and everyone came in, the security guards were preventing people from coming any closer than 50 metres from the stage for some reason. We didn’t really realise what was going on at first, because we were just enjoying playing on the main stage, and there was still actually quite a lot of people watching sidestage.
Anyway, so what we found out later was that there were actually a few bobcats clearing the mud at the time. So the security guards were trying to keep people away from the bobcats. Eventually though, after a few songs people started trying to break through the security. Since it was so muddy we were just watching people run away from security guards slip over and then see the guards slip over themselves...it was like a Benny Hill film.
Halfway through the set they moved on the bobcats and people rushed forward to catch our last few songs, I really didn’t know what was happening at the time.
We’ve heard the new album was recorded with iconic producer Mark Opitz (AC/DC, The Angels, INXS, Cold Chisel), what was it like working with him?
Oh it was pretty special.
When we were thinking of starting recording the album, or even before that actually, we made a list of any producers we would want to work with out of all the producers in the world. He was actually basically at the top of that list.
I guess that was also influenced from the fact that at that time we’d all been listening to a lot of older Australian music.
He [also] had a book about his career, which I was reading around that time... I guess when you think of Mark Opitz you think of The Angels and Cold Chisel, and really that hard rock sound which we were all fans of.
Which you guys have been renowned for...
Yeah well mainly after working with him that’s what people have said.
Reading the book I actually realised he’d done many more things than just those bigger bands. He’s done stuff with The Reels, all the way through to INXS like you mentioned, even working overseas a bit.
Actually an interesting story there (he always has great stories), he actually got offered to produce the first Guns n’ Roses album, but turned it down because he wasn’t available or something.
So he was up near the top of this list but we didn’t even know what he was up to these days, or even if he was still working. After an email we found out he is still working, with his business partner Colin, and that they had a studio in west Brunswick. Plus they liked the band and were keen to start working with us and we did!
The first two songs we did with him were ‘Dumb Ideas’ and ‘My Only Friend’, which we did over the start of 2014.
We got on really well straight away and so it’s just been awesome ever since. Since then we’ve came back at different times over the last 6 months to record the album. Aside from helping us with the album he’s been a really good mentor to us about all sorts of things in music.
We’d record a song and then go outside while people have cigarettes or whatever and we’d get him talking about the time he worked with ACDC, Cold Chisel or the time he worked with Bob Dylan or Ray Charles.
Yeah he did some live work with Ray Charles and Bob Dylan. A lot of his good stories actually came from working with INXS, I’m pretty sure he worked on ‘Shabooh Shoobah’ and one other, and he was really good friends with the band. While they were touring for the ‘Kick’ world tour, while they were the biggest band in the world, he was the live producer, and was along for the ride.
But aside from all that it was really the first time I’ve worked with a producer and they haven’t just been like an engineer only doing technical things, He really understood the song writing process and brought his own creative bent to what we were trying to do
For us, like I don’t know how much you know about sound production, but a lot of it these days can have all the takes chopped up and edited so they’re in time, which is useful... but it also tends to sap the life and energy out of stuff, which for our type of music which is pretty basic. It's all about trying to keep the live energy.
So did you manage to keep that energy in the new album?
Well yeah that’s what he was able to do very well I think, I mean sometimes we weren’t even set up properly for our first take but that would be the take we’d end up using for the album aside from maybe the drums and bass, and that was honestly a great way to work for us. I cant really speak high enough of the guy and the whole process.
Also the offsider Colin was great with his experience. Colin was the guy doing all the technical stuff and editing. So yeah we just got along with them really well and love them basically.
That’s really exciting! I’m sure for fans to hear that the new album maintains the sort of soul and presence that was in the original EP.
We loved the recording of Bogan Pride for the Half Stop Sessions in the states and think a studio recording of it will be a highlight of the new album. We heard you weren’t available for that recording?
Yeah nah I couldn’t go to that tour over to America. So we’ve got a kind of fifth member, Alli Wells, who’s a really good friend of everyone and a great guitarist. He’s also done a bit of work producing the West Thebarton Brothel Party EP. Often I can’t go overseas because of my job, so he kind of fills in, and now we’ve even begun to play as a five piece a bit, you might have seen in Adelaide he came on; so that’s something which we’ll probably be doing a bit more of in the future.
‘Bogan Pride’ has clearly got edgy or punk themes in there, do you think the new album takes your music to a new direction, as we can sort of see in the recording of 'Bogan Pride'? Or is it very much reminiscent of the Badlands EP?
Well no I wouldn’t say we’ve changed direction at all, Bogan Pride is actually one of the oldest songs for the record that we’ve had. We do have a spectrum of a lot of songs that are quite traditional 'pop structure' versus the more punk structure...
I think when you’re always just putting out singles, or our EP which was kind of a collection of singles, it’s hard for those other songs to get out there as much. The good thing about doing an album is that now everyone can see the range of things we do. From some of the more pop songs like 'Hiding to Nothing' or 'Cuffed and Collared', through to songs like 'Bogan Pride' and another one on the Album, 'News Boys', which is again more heavy than some of the other songs.
'Bogan pride' was also an important song in the bands development. I suppose a lot of where it was conceived was this one time four or five years ago now, one of my friends was playing at Stereosonic or one of those dance festivals. I went along and was stone cold sober while I waited a couple of hours for him to play.
As I waited for him, I was standing around seeing all these guys with their tops off, obviously on pingers or ice or whatever. I was kind of disturbed by it because I was just like 'what the fuck this so weird', these guys that are just out of their mind on amphetamines and they’re all jacked up on steroids, strutting around with each other almost to impress each other.
It was also around the time of the Cronulla Riots actually, which showed a lot of underlying racism and nationalism in the community. That song [is] kind of built on that and how young men can be very confused about what their identities are and who they are. The song itself is actually written through the eyes of one of those guys on a night out, and the mixture of aggression, sexuality and stuff that comes with that. Actually, the build up from Ben to the really cathartic part of that song at the end is great and its really fun to play live as well.
For many of your listeners your openness to your love of football can make your music easier to identify with. We’ve always been curious which football club you all met at?
Ah yeah, it was SPOC (Saint Peters Old Collegians).
We all went to that school actually, but I was always like 6 or so years older than Miles and James who were in the same year, and then Ben was younger again, so I didn’t really know them in school. It’s after I moved back to Adelaide from Melbourne where I’d been living for like 7 or 8 years playing in a band which finished up, that I moved back to work and stuff. I mean I had basically decided to stop pursuing music as a serious pursuit, but I was just out there playing football and I met Ben. We started writing stuff before the other guys heard and were keen to have a jam, and yeah that’s how it started.
Is anyone still playing these days at all?
We might play the community cup in a couple of weeks. Actually it’s worth mentioning that Ben was probably the best footballer out of us all. He played I think when they won their premiership a couple of years ago. He was a gun footballer but he did his knee at the start of last year.
I think we all like to play but it's hard now because we’re always travelling and stuff, and we’re a bit fat and unfit... well I’m fat and unfit. It’s a weird thing because I actually played football all through my 20s, but music and football were never easy bedfellows so I’d be a bit embarrassed to tell my music friends that I was playing football and my football friends that I played in a band. It’s good nowadays, there seems to be more of a coming together of those things where one side isn’t uncultured and the other isn’t anti-sport.
[For example] when I was younger in my old band it seemed like people were trying to act really edgy. Like a person who does heroin and what not sitting around discussing rubbish. Whereas from the start with this band we just said fuck it we’re from Adelaide, we’re just gonna be ourselves and concentrate on writing.
We don’t really care about trying to put on a facade or pretense, and it seems a lot of people who come to the shows seem to be the same in that they love footy but they also love music as well so it's good that you see that.
Awesome. Thanks for your time Alex, we couldn’t be more excited for the upcoming album!
Been a pleasure, Jason.
Dogs at Bay hits stores and online on the 21st of August.
Stay tuned for an upcoming album review of Dogs at Bay!