By James Adams
You might pick up that I write very favourably in each month's article and this is no different. The thing is, I choose who we feature and I’m not going to write about anything or anyone I don’t like. If it’s featured, I think it’s good. That’s the short version of every article so if you’re short of time, just see the band name and register it as ‘GOOD/GREAT’.
If you have 5 minutes, then welcome to another bias bragging article about another band I love and get to cross paths with.
I’ve been a fan of Bad//Dreems since their first single in 2014, ‘My Only Friend’. I met Alex Cameron, a shared name in Australian music and one of the band's songwriters, around the same time I was introduced to their music. He came to a Kasabian show as a guest of the support band that I was shooting, The Delta Riggs. He seemed lovely, individual and completely composed. Shortly after our first meeting, I arranged to link up with the band while both in New York City. We met up, but Alex was nowhere to be seen. He’d sent the whole band along with their guitar tech/additional guitarist (at the time), Ali Wells, to play his parts. I found this to be nuts. Who knocks back a trip to New York City with your band for the first time and instead chooses to stay at home and study? Camo does. Anyway, the band and I became fast friends and still are to this day.
Something I’ve learnt is that, when a favourite band requests your company and services while they record a new album, you know you’re lucky to be doing what you love (brag).
Bad//Dreems hit me up to photograph some of their album recording process in their home town of Adelaide, earlier this year. I obliged and linked up with the band, engineer/producer Burke Reid and Co-producer Jack Ladder, whose real name is Tim Rogers (not Tim Rogers from You Am I who co-incidentally did co-write a song on this album). This is a mess of names. I’ve got some parents to complain to.
We all hunkered down in a professional home studio during a South Australian heat-wave, to hide from the 40 degree days and witness and capture Bad//Dreems recording their third album.
I’ll be clear here. Previously calling myself a ‘fan’ is an understatement. I know all their songs and this shit is righttttt up my alley. So, I was about 10/10 excited to see the magic happen first hand. My first 2 days in the studio saw the team putting the finishing touches on 2 beautiful, slow-burning pieces of music that beg the question of "where did the sentiment come from"? What happened to inspire this emotive songwriting? I wasn’t going to ask them that and ruin the vibe, so let’s make up our own minds there. I’ll say it was free to air reality TV that inspired it.
In fact, I became so engrossed in two particular songs, that it slipped my mind - that Bad//Dreems' speciality isn’t their beautiful ballads alone, it’s their fast-paced, honesty-laden fireballs of energy that clench the fist of every listener. Day 3 saw the team move onto one such song that has literally been stuck in my head, ever since. Which is hard to deal with, as it’s not released yet so I’m unable to thrash it out of my head or hear it at all. I can only try to remember, but surely fuck-up its lyrics while humming along to its unforgivingly catchy melody. The wait to being reunited with the song again is torture.
I’ve noticed bands experiment with different variations of creative stimulants while recording. The first record is usually a booze fest and the second album is generally a little more calculated, incorporating substances to enhance focus. The third album seems to be when a clearer head is desired. Maybe it’s the curiosity of what a clear head will produce, maybe it’s knowing what had hindered the process in the past. Maybe it’s pressure.
There is never a good time to release a weak record and with Bad//Dreems’ once unique and trailblazing sound seemingly being adopted by a new wave of rock bands around Australia, it’s plain to see that the competitive landscape is more evident than ever. With singer, Ben Marwe, expecting his first child and each band member under their own personal pressures of full-time professional life, album three was destined to be a relatively sober affair - with the exception of a handful of knock-off beers, supplied by a 'surprise' Young Henry’s delivery. (Thanks).
Focus was key and abundant. Fuelled by Bahn Mi and Vietnamese (strong AF) iced coffees, the heat wave never stood a chance at stalling the process. Calming crosswords in the shade would occupy whoever wouldn’t be in the live room, exploding raw energy through the blisteringly loud amps. Ali Wells, guitar-tech and lead guitar fill-in turned full-time member, struck his first chords recorded for the band in a monumental win for the man, and the team. After multiple high-energy fast-paced takes, the band would pile into the control room to take stock, take notes, make jokes, then fire up the energy for more. More tweaking, more improvements, more energyyyyy.
Parts would be ticked off, songs would be finished and days would fly by. As I got comfortable it was time to leave with a vault of photos and a head full of hooks. Flying home I was convinced this album would change the game. I’ve felt this feeling before and have been wrong, but I know how I felt and I know what I like.
Maybe I’ll continue to be amazed when the public doesn’t feel the way I feel about a particular song. Maybe it’s nostalgia, or remembering what a certain song looked like at a point in time, which made me feel more deeply for that particular tune, but I’m glad I feel it, even if everyone else doesn’t. That's how a good band captures you.
As I said, I’m lucky.
But aren’t we all. The band just released Double Dreaming; the first single from the album and it's packed with everything you’ve come to know and unfairly expect from the band. The curse of consistent songwriting, you can’t drop the ball, and they haven’t. Social commentary, deep metaphors, historical references, musical references, sing-alongs, fast-paced wordplay that paints a twisted picture in your mind and just as you think you understand what they’re getting at, the image is wiped with the next line that paints a different picture and leaves you trying to keep up with what the fuck they’re on about.
By song's end, you think you understand, but the next listen leaves a different impression on you and you’re back to the drawing board. Thankfully, the tune is welcome in my head, over and over, making plenty of time to make sense of it my way, as I doubt we’ll ever truly know what was going on in their minds when writing this one.
With a new single we see a new tour. When the album comes out, we’ll see an even bigger tour. If this music sits well with you, I implore you to catch Bad//Dreems live. It’ll seal the deal. It’ll be true love. You like love right? Then don’t be a prude, be proactive and chase this big, bad bitch down for a horny roll in the hay. You won’t regret it.