I sit down with the Merrett brothers, Ewan and Callum of Bath quintet Bad Sounds in the backstage room of the Hare & Hounds as we discuss why their music is just so unique.
It’s the eighth show of ten on their UK tour and it’s a sell-out on the night. But, I get the impression that Ewan is being very modest about the amount of people love and support their band. “We thought it was gonna go like we showed up to every venue expecting there to be ten people in the audience but every show has been rammed so far, so no complaints.”
He adds: “One thing I think we’ve realised on this tour that the crowd of people never look the same and it doesn’t seem like we have a specific fan base do you know what I mean.” I think I understand where he’s coming from. You can’t really put Bad Sounds down to a specific genre of music. With influences of hip-hop, soul and RnB, the band’s sound doesn’t really fit into a category.
I delve deeper into how they brought all of their influences together; “Well we don’t have a completely different taste in genre but we definitely started the band when we were coming at it from different angles.” I learn from Callum. “We’ve taught each other a lot like before we started the band Ewan had got into making beats and hip-hop and stuff, where I was totally new to that world and I sort of spent a lot of time recording other bands and working with other bands and learning to write songs and stuff like that.”
When you have a listen to their music it is all about the groove and how the music flows, rather than worrying about what genre they fit into. “We don’t identify ourselves as an indie band to be honest, in fact, if anything we kick against it a bit.” Callum explains, “We’ve always sort of wanted to prove ourselves as something that’s a bit more beatsy. I mean there is a lot of guitars in our music and stuff like that, but I would be upset if someone thought we were a guitar band. When I think about what we prioritise when we’re recording and stuff it’s more about the groove and the bass and drum relationship rather than the guitars and making sure something is really brash.”
It’s clear that different people have different things they like about their music, but what is the reason people put Bad Sounds into that ‘indie’ category. Ewan believes he has the answer: “I think it’s more just when you show something to your friends you want to have something it to reference it to and I don’t know maybe it’s because like traditionally the type of music we make wouldn’t be played by a band as much.
“If we were just like a DJ and MC no-one would question the fact that it wasn’t a band but because we play as a band, everybody would we’re not a rock band so people put us in ‘indie band’ which is like the vaguest concept of all time.”
It just goes to show that there aren’t many bands out there that have a similar set-up to Bad Sounds. With their unique style it seems to be pushing through the ranks – and were even featured as Annie Mac’s Hottest Record in the World last week – but if they could make their own genre what would it be? They both laugh to themselves and Ewan simply puts it as: “I’d just name it after myself.”
So there it is, welcome to the new ‘Ewan Merrett’ genre of music – a groovy masterpiece that will spice up your music playlists.
Getting down to the gritty stuff, of course a debut album is on the table. Callum tempts: “I mean that’s the plan, that’s what we’re hoping to work towards but like we’ve been saying it’s quite important to us that the album isn’t the next 10 or 12 songs that we write. We’re going to keep writing as much as we do and then pick the songs that fit the best together.”
The flow is of course, pivotal, and affects which tracks make the cut. “I mean we did that with Mixtape One as well, where it was just really important to us that the three proper songs on it flowed into each other and we wrote those interludes and skips in between. We’ll do the same of something similar on the album for sure.”
Bad Sounds have broken the generic genre barrier and have created something that is quirky, special and extremely groovy. And people seem to love it, even people that you wouldn’t expect to like it. Their audience is endless, they just need a big enough stage to share it.
Photo by Charlotte Patmore
Words by Alex Pearson