Dublin band Badself‘s latest video is an infectious 80s parody, ‘Stay Down’, on which they draw their influences from ‘Eye Of The Tiger’ and Journey. It’s not their typical direction, which is somewhat more complex, but indicative of a group intent on having fun.
Containing former members of local indie-icons The Future Kings Of Spain, Badself are primarily about having fun and indulging, with the ultimate aim of making a splash live.
I caught up with Karl Hussey to hear all about it…
We have to talk a bit about that video to start – it looks great fun. Can you talk me through the planning of that?
When we started writing ‘Stay Down’ in the practice room, it started to feel like a modern-day Eye of the Tiger, so that’s where the 80’s reference came in.
I’m also allergic to my own ego, so the idea of a music video initially turned my stomach, but this way we could just mess around and have a laugh. No trying to look cool or manly or whatever, just take the complete piss out of ourselves instead. We also lined up the music with Journey’s Separate Ways video and it worked really well, so we used that as our main inspiration and just went from there!
Is it fair to say you’re all 80s lovers, despite the parody aspects of it?
Yes, big time. The reason I picked up the guitar in the first place was because of Back To The Future. As a child, I used to play along to the end sequence (when Marty plays Johnny Be Good during the ball), on a tennis racket. But yes ZZ Top, Iron Maiden, Hall and Oates and AC/DC, bits of it are all in there. Lots and lots of other more recent stuff too, however. We’re not an 80’s rock act. It’s really just because of that particular song ‘Stay Down’.
I think there’s something really ‘let loose’ and pure about the idea of producing songs in a style of so long ago, in that it lets go of a lot of more modern production aspects of music. Was that your experience?
It was never our intention that it would be like an 80’s rock song, to be honest. It just came out that way. Even now, when I listen to the song without the video, I don’t think it sounds 80’s. However, the feel and rhythm have a lot in common with Eye of the Tiger. The guitar style and production sounds modern to me.
Regarding the production side of things, that’s really the three of us playing live in a studio, with one extra guitar on top and one keyboard overdub. So I suppose it’s the way they would have done it 50 years ago. So yes, recording-wise it was old school.
We wanted to keep it as real and pure as possible. I’m not a fan of ‘perfectly’ produced rock. I think it sounds fake. I can’t picture the room that it was recorded in because it doesn’t exist. With the album, that’s us, and that’s the sound of the rooms. Warts and all! No vocal tuning, no drums on the grid. Just us having fun.
The album’s been out a little while now. Talk me through it…
I’d love to be able to tell you that we were all in rehab for drug and sex addiction, but the truth is not so glamorous. As I previously mentioned, I have a really bad allergy to my own ego. I don’t like any attention. Even birthdays.
In previous bands, I would never sing, and if I got nervous on stage I would just tell myself that everyone was looking at the singer and not me. We recorded the album, put it on Spotify, didn’t tell anyone and hoped for the best. When nobody heard it, I didn’t push it.
A lot of energy and time went into the making of the album. If only our friends and family ever heard it I was ok with that. However, recently the video idea came about and it grew from there. The lockdown left us with time to finish it and so now it’s out.
Which other tracks are lined up as singles?
Well, in all honesty, we’re not a singles band. I like a lot of weird music, and I usually throw a spanner in the works when songs get too catchy or simple. Even ‘Stay Down’ has a great but very radio non-friendly breakdown section which I love which lasts about one minute.
We left it out to keep the song shorter, but it’s on the album. It’s very muso. So normally if things are getting too catchy or predictable in a song, I throw something weird in to make it more interesting and challenging play, and probably more challenging for the listener too.
With the video, we didn’t have enough footage, so I decided to edit the song that way, and it kind of became very radio-friendly in the process. Completely by accident! However, if the uptake to the single is good, we do have a few ideas. I guess we’ll wait to see…
How have you found the reaction to the record?
It’s been really amazing! Again, I was going to be happy if only our friends and family got a kick out of the video, but it’s really taken off. I think people understand the band a bit better with the visuals, even though we’re not an 80’s tribute act. I like to play around a lot lyrically so that definitely comes across in the video. They can see we’re not coming from a super-serious angle and just enjoying ourselves.
You have quite the scene pedigree amongst the band. People still talk about Future Kings of Spain in particular – I’ve seen a lot of commentary about the band recently. Have things been put to bed for good on that front?
We’re all really great friends still, so anything is possible. We all went through a lot together. I think it would be great to do a few shows. I’ve always loved playing live. The decision isn’t mine though so we’ll have to see.
How have you been spending the shutdown, musically speaking?
I have a bunch of instruments. Charango, Cuatro, Acoustic guitar, three electrics, harmonicas. I’m a big blues fan too, so I often watch nerdy guitar videos on youtube breaking down famous blues solos into the night. Working on a few Badself ideas too. Missing the practice room big time. It’s just not the same playing by yourself – a bit like other things…
What are the plans for when this is all over for the band?
I’d really love to play some shows and do some demos for the next album. It’s strange to not be able to plan shows for people who are discovering us now, but hopefully, we can sort something for later this year. I think we are happiest playing live. Everything else is just a build-up to a show. That’s the pinnacle for us.