If any band knows how to throw a party, it’s Bath/Bristol band Bad Sounds. Composed of brothers Callum and Ewan Merrett and some of their mates, their indie-funk sensibilities are attracting the attention of audiences and music critics alike. I had a chat with singer Callum Merrett to talk musical inspiration and new tunes.
How did you and your brother come up with the idea of Bad Sounds?
“We basically have been in a band together in some form since we were about 12, 13 years old. We were both guitarists just soloing as much as possible and just having fun being a band, but it was usually together. And then I think when I finished education I tried to move to London, so I wanted to go and learn how to record bands and work with other musicians. So while I was off doing that, Ewan got really into hip-hop and making beats and stuff like that. To cut a long story short, I sort of ran out of money in London, moved back home and showed Ewan all this stuff I’d learnt about studios and working with other people and songwriting. He showed me what he was doing, making beats and beat led music so we put the two together, and that’s how Bad Sounds started.”
What kind of artists have inspired the music that you make?
“We listen to loads of different types of music, but I guess when we started out we were focusing on things like Beastie Boys, De La Soul, Beck, Gorillaz, probably the stuff that if I was going to try and describe our sound in references for someone it would be those guys. But we listen to so much, I think it comes from making beats and creating our own records to sample, that you end up actually listening to these older records. I got really into funk and soul stuff, I’m obsessed with Marvin Gaye, Curtis Mayfield, James Brown and stuff like that. So there’s that side, we just listen to loads of stuff. There’s this guy called Fela Kuti who is the guy who basically invented Afro Beat who we’re super obsessed with. He was kind of a bit of a genius musically, but not a very nice man politically or in his personal life. Kind of an interesting guy. Loads of stuff to be honest, but yeah definitely those first four.”
Which shows are you looking forward to playing on your upcoming tour in November?
“I’m excited to play all the shows obviously, but there’s always gonna be a special feeling about the home show, which for us is Thekla, which is the first night of the tour. I’m so excited. I was there the other night actually, watching Jordan Rakei, can’t wait for that show. So much fun to play on a boat as well. So yeah, that’ll be good. And then obviously we’ve got Scala at the end which is the biggest venue we’ve ever headlined, so that is equal parts terrifying and exciting, and we have some little production bits that we’re excited to try out and stuff that we’re not gonna share until the night.”
Tell me a bit about your new mixtape, Mixtape One.
“When you’re a band coming up, just the way that the industry works now, you kind of are only allowed to release singles because it makes sense in terms of progressing. Releasing a poppy single to try and get the radio to play it, and share it on Spotify or whatever. We’d never really had the opportunity to put out something that was longer playing, because it needed to be short and sweet and have impact. So this is the first time that we could sort of show something that wasn’t just a pop single. We knew that we wanted it to flow from start to finish almost without stopping, almost like a DJ set that blends one song into the next. So we have the intros and the outros and stuff, which sort of came from other demos, but it was also very intentional in the way that it flowed. Even the keys from each song flowed, and then obviously it’s the first time we’ve been able to put out something that’s a little bit slower and more chilled. That ended up being one of our favourite tracks that we’ve done, a track called ‘Enough’ at the end which Ewan actually started 6 years ago, way before we started Bad Sounds but it felt like the right moment to work on it and put it on this EP.”
Bad Sounds play Brudenell Social Club on the 15th of November, don’t miss out!