Sam Briggs hates his job that much that he keeps coming back to write for us. This month we tasked him with chatting to Alicia Bognanno, lead singer of Nashville band Bully.
The grunge quartet are being heralded as the saviors of the 90s. Their loud, thrashy music and honest lyrics have brought them across the pond in search of audiences to relay their message to. Their rhythm is loose enough to appeal to the slackers and brainy enough to resonate with the critics.
The hard-working band have already toured with the likes of Best Coast and, quite notably, have been labelled “the best band in the world this very moment” by Taylor Swift-doting Ryan Adams.
They recently dropped their video for ‘Too Tough’ which sees the band playing in their living room (of course) before going for a lo-fi jaunt through a scrap yard. And there’s a dog, because why not.
Time differences and word schedules meant we had to do this one by email – so here it is, in all it’s pre-typed up glory.
Hi Alicia – thanks for your time. How are you today?
A: No problem, I am doing well.
Where in the world are you and what are you doing today?
A: I am in Missoula Montana. It’s a very beautiful city and our first time playing a show here. We got in last night so today we’ve have a pretty laid back day just hanging around town.
What were you listening to growing up?
A: Usually whatever was on the radio or whatever my parents were listening to at the time. A lot of Ace of Base and Motown.
You were pretty involved with music from the go, right? Am I right in thinking you did an internship at Electric Audio?
A: I always wanted to be involved with music but wasn’t really involved until I was a teenager. Yes you are correct about the internship.
How was that experience of working in studios? Do you think it help shaped you as a writer and a musician?
A: Working in studios is great, I love engineering and learning different ways to go about it. It was very beneficial for me to be able to watch other people make records before I did my own because I was able to see what I thought would work for me and what I didn’t love as much.
What are the realities of being on tour a lot? Is it as rock and roll as people imagine, or is it more hard work than it’s perceived?
A: It’s hard work. When you are touring constantly you have to figure out ways to try and take care of yourself on the road. It’s a lot of figuring out how to stay healthy and happy and mentally stimulated while spending most of your time in the van or at a venue. Often you don’t have time to do anything other than load in, soundcheck, and play. For me I just try and do whatever I can to avoid having my whole day consist of staring at a screen in the van and drinking the whole time I’m at the venue.
What do you listen to when you’re on tour?
A: Mostly podcasts. Usually Throwing shade, This American Life, Radiolab and everyone in the van agrees on listening to the Best Show with Scharpling and Wurster.
Any other tour hobbies/activities to keep you going?
A: There’s something new all of the time. Last week I tried origami and also an adult coloring book (it’s not as creepy as it sounds). Today I bought two new books so hopefully I will be reading those over the next few days. I also have a small recording set up for the van.
I’m a huge fan of Feels Like. Tell me about the process of making it, please. How did you write it / record it?
A: All of the songs on Feels Like were written over the past few years. We recorded it at a studio in Chicago called Electrical Audio. We did seven days of basic tracking, four days of vocals and then about 10 days of mixing. All of it was recorded on tape and mixed at the studio.
Did it end up sounding like the record you started to make, or did it change and evolve as you were making it?
A: I didn’t have much of an idea about how the record was going to sound as a whole until after the whole thing was done being tracked and I had a little bit of space from it.
I think it’s fair to say a few more people have heard your music since your last trip here. How different is it to play to a bigger venue and a bigger crowd?
A: It’s a much more rewarding experience to play for a crowd of people who can sing along to the lyrics then it is to play for people who are unfamiliar with your music. We have played under a lot of different circumstances and it’s usually fun either way.
Where do you see Bully going as a band?
Do you have goals you’d like to achieve or do you have a less goal-orientated approach to the band?
A: I’d like to make a second record that’s better than the first and be able to keep touring.
Bully play Leadmill on the 6th November. Buy tickets or I’ll give you a wet willy.