Australian Guitar - - Feature -

B.adHabits is an al­bum so hard, fast and de­li­ciously ob­nox­ious, you can al­most feel the tat­tered leather jacket hug your shoul­ders tighter with ev­ery sharp and dis­torted wail. The de­but full-length from Syd­ney punk’n’roll unit Bare Bones was a long time com­ing, brew­ing slowly in the shad­ows ever since the Au­gust ’14 re­lease of their sec­ond EP, CutThroatLiv­ing.

“We started writ­ing pretty much as soon as we fin­ished that EP,” says ax­e­man Chris Bree­don. “We wrote prob­a­bly 20 to 25 songs, but the prob­lem is that we’re all per­fec­tion­ists. We’ll fin­ish a song and we’ll go back and play it, and we’ll be like, ‘Nah, we can do that bet­ter.’”

Such com­pul­sive ideals are un­com­mon in punk, but don’t count that as a rea­son to blow their cred­i­bil­ity off: BadHabits is loose. It’s drunk, sweaty, coarser than sand and sim­ply begs for the mosh pit. But it’s also ve­ra­ciously keyed-in: ev­ery howl mar­ries the dy­namic be­tween punchy drums and bub­bling bass, and ev­ery gui­tar take is blis­ter­ingly tight.

“I think a lot of that comes down to our drum­mer Chris [Blan­cato] be­cause he was also the en­gi­neer for this al­bum, and he’s the big­gest per­fec­tion­ist in the band,” Bree­don con­tin­ues. “Like, James and I will record a riff and be like, ‘Yeah, that’s sweet’ and he’ll go, ‘Nup, do it again.’ And he’ll keep go­ing to the point where you’re just like, ‘ F***, it’s good enough! No one’s go­ing to no­tice,’ but he’ll be like, ‘If I no­tice, it’s not good enough.’”

“It got a bit heated at times,” chuck­les fel­low shred­der James Dean. “I’d be sit­ting in the stu­dio go­ing, ‘I lit­er­ally can­not hear what you’re say­ing is wrong with this!’ and he’d be like, ‘It just has to be bet­ter, you’re not play­ing it good.’ But that’s a good thing be­cause it pushes you to be a bet­ter musician, and to work more as a whole band. This al­bum was writ­ten by all five of us, whereas with the two EPs, Tom [Kennedy, vo­cals] did all the lyrics and Chris [Blan­cato] and I did all the mu­sic. Ev­ery­body has their own sort of style and their own voice in the way they play, so when you play some­body else’s writ­ing, you re­ally pick up on that – y’know, the dif­fer­ent as­pects of an in­stru­ment or the lit­tle notes they en­joy us­ing.”

That em­pha­sis on team­work led to an al­bum that feels as broad in scope as its cover art is clut­tered. Though a uni­fied sonic theme crusts the al­bum at large, no two of its 12 tracks sound alike, which – hot

takeal­ert – is re­fresh­ing when you con­sider how stilted most hard­core al­bums sound once you reach the mid­way point. As for the gui­tars, long­time frothers of the Bones will no­tice more riffs and big­ger melodies, which was the re­sult of an am­bi­tious Dean hav­ing his lim­its un­locked by an ex­tra six strings.

“This was the first time Chris and I ac­tu­ally got to­gether and wrote the gui­tar parts as a two-piece,” he of­fers. “Cut­Throat was writ­ten just as he was join­ing the band, so we didn’t have a chance to re­ally flesh that out. But this time, we were able to take the rhythm sec­tion and ham­mer in a lot of gnarly leads, har­monise with each other and play a few ex­tra so­los here and there. A lot of that was pep­pered in to­wards the end of the record­ing process, too, lis­ten­ing back to what we had and go­ing, ‘This would sound sick if we played over it like this,’ and stuff like that.”

With a few years be­hind their pre­vi­ous ef­forts, plus the hundreds of shows they racked up in sup­port of them, Dean and Bree­don had a chance to cal­cu­late what the next step would be for their com­bined artistry. “We just wanted to make the riffs bet­ter and catchier and, to a de­gree, more tech­ni­cal,” Bree­don in­sists. “When you lis­ten back to the first two EPs, they’re sick, but the gui­tar work isn’t that com­plex.”

Rest as­sured, the live shows – of which Bare Bones have a god­damn truck­load lined up for 2017 – won’t suf­fer at the hands of a con­vo­luted mix. The riffs on

BadHabits aren’t any­where close to sim­ple, but the blokes in­sist they’re no chal­lenge to repli­cate.

“It’s some­thing that we never re­ally think about un­til a song is done,” Dean says of their ap­proach to writ­ing for the stage. “But with Bare Bones, it’s in the name: I wouldn’t call it ‘basic’, but it’s not like we need to run any back­ing tracks or like we’ve got 10,000 things hap­pen­ing at once. We just plug into some Marshalls and jam it out.”

“We make sure that if we can record it, we can play it live,” agrees Bree­don. “It’s as sim­ple as that.”

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