The re­turn of pub rock

IT WAS ONCE A TIME OF CHISEL, AC/DC AND TH E OI LS. NOW, ADE­LAIDE FOUR-PIECE BAD// DREEMS ARE TAK­ING THE CLAS­SIC AUSSIE MU­SIC GENRE AND UP­DAT­ING IT FOR A NEW GEN­ER­A­TION.

GQ (Australia) - - BRIEF -

Don­ald Trump, the credit crunch, racist jokes, the cow­ard punch, Aus­tralia Day and the USA are just some of the things Ade­laide rock band Bad//dreems has “had a gut­ful of”. It’s a state­ment made in ‘Gut­ful’, the ti­tle track of the band’s sopho­more al­bum, which dropped in April this year. “It’s not meant to be di­rected from a spe­cific side of pol­i­tics to the other, it’s more a global state­ment of how pa­thetic ev­ery­thing is at the mo­ment – on the left, the right and ev­ery­where,” ex­plains gui­tarist Alex Cameron. “We’re try­ing to cap­ture the feel­ings of peo­ple like our­selves and write di­a­logue that’s just the av­er­age per­son speak­ing about is­sues that are im­por­tant.” Burst­ing with an­tipodean grunt and ob­ser­va­tional angst, ‘Gut­ful’ aims to catch the anger, frus­tra­tion and dis­il­lu­sion­ment sim­mer­ing in the world – tack­ling chau­vin­ism, vi­o­lence, gen­der iden­tity, racism and re­li­gion, and topped off with a pub rock­sound­ing stamp. De­spite the fact the ‘pub rock’ la­bel wasn’t par­tic­u­larly wel­comed by the band at first, it makes sense. Bad//dreems has been work­ing with pro­ducer Mark Opitz, the god­fa­ther of Aussie rock (AC/DC, INXS, Cold Chisel, The An­gels) since al­bum num­ber one. “It cer­tainly wasn’t what we felt were the tra­di­tions we wanted to be in­volved with,” says Cameron, not­ing the rough con­no­ta­tions of the genre. “But it ba­si­cally just de­scribes a genre of mu­sic in Aus­tralia when most of the venues were big beer holes, and the crowds were rowdy and those crowds wanted driv­ing and drink­ing mu­sic.” But by rag­ging on cow­ard punches, Aus­tralia Day, white pa­tri­o­tism and sex­ism, Bad//dreems are look­ing to re­ject the genre’s ma­cho un­der­tones. “Truly, what bet­ter way to ad­dress the cru­dity and the chau­vin­ism that you’re talk­ing about than from within a genre that is ma­ligned as be­ing such a thing?” he says. “And the other thing is, it’s a way to ex­plore the com­plex­i­ties of be­ing Aus­tralian and a genre that is seen as a cul­tural cringe.” Let’s not for­get, be­hind the beer­swill­ing, rum-and-coke-fu­elled fights that de­fine many peo­ple’s ideas of pub rock, Mid­night Oil wrote about Abo­rig­i­nal land rights, INXS ad­dressed racism and Cold Chisel of­ten echoed the dis­il­lu­sion­ment of the ‘Work­ing Class Man’, not to men­tion the Viet­nam War. Cameron laughs: “The joke is on the per­son that put that la­bel on, be­cause they ob­vi­ously haven’t re­ally lis­tened to [Chisel song­writer] Don Walker’s songs and seen the sto­ries he tells.” Bad//dreems joins a sling of Aussie bands who have ei­ther bro­ken through with de­buts, made it big overseas or re-emerged of late. Think DMA’S, The Smith Street Band, Strangers, Vi­o­lent Soho, Jet, Grin­spoon, Mid­night Oil and Fren­zal Rhomb, to name a few. Are we done with DJS? Or is it an­other way we’re flip­ping that hard-yakka, cul­tural cringe on its back? See also: the resur­gence of GQ’S 2016 Iconic Artist Ken Done and Mel­bourne duo Client Li­ai­son, who’ve made bi­cen­ten­nial-chic cool again. “I hate to think that any­thing we do is seen as any sort of ironic ges­ture. What rock and roll is all about is tak­ing what’s come be­fore, build­ing on it, and mak­ing it your own for the time and place that you’re in. Cer­tainly we do take ref­er­ence from some gi­ants that have walked be­fore us – es­pe­cially in Aus­tralian mu­sic.”

MU­SIC

BAD//DREEMS ARE TOUR­ING BRIS­BANE, JUNE 8; SYD­NEY, JUNE 9; MEL­BOURNE, JUNE 10; PERTH, JUNE 16; ADE­LAIDE, J UNE 17; BADDREEMS.COM

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