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A Quietus Interview

Bingo Bastards Break Out: Heads Down With Bad Guys
Matt Ridout , July 3rd, 2015 09:16

Ahead of supporting Ten Benson at the Lex on Saturday, Matt Ridout gets serious with East-London's premier metal pranksters

Photographs by Monica Staniaszek

The concept of this interview is meant to be straightforward: I meet up with Bad Guys and we go to a play Bingo, take some amusing shots of them surrounded by the blue-rinse brigade and then engage in the serious business of talking about their latest record, Bad Guynaecology. Unfortunately a major bingo chain had other ideas and baulked at the sight of our camera. The locals didn’t look too happy at our appearance in their shadowy world of week night bingo either. So instead we were forced to reconsider our plan entirely.

Those familiar with the band will probably know the folklore from their earlier days. Guerilla gigs attended by members of the Melvins, playing a set on the fourth plinth at Trafalgar Square, playing naked for a life drawing class, crashing ATP festivals with impromptu performances in front of art galleries and more outlandish spectacles characterised their inception. Fast forward to 2015 and you have a completely different prospect, with an impressive live reputation and two great LP’s for Riot Season under their belt.

Yet, from those early days Bad Guys seem to be lumbered with the tag of pranksters, or that their satirical aesthetic is simply a joke, an idea they are keen to shake whilst being unapologetic about their humour. In lieu of an interview in a bingo hall, I sat down in a pub with Stuart London (vocals), PJ Mountford (guitar), David Silver (guitar) and Tamas Kiss (drums) for a serious chat about their latest LP, being a ‘joke’ band, and LSD school buses.

The new record, Bad Guynaecology, was recorded with a new engineer, Gomez at Orgone, Why? Were you looking for a new take on your sound?

PJ Mountford: we wanted someone to kick our ass a bit

So did he kick your ass? What was his input into the recording process?

Stuart London: He was a bit intimidating.

PJ: Yeah he was brutal and just told us if it was shit, or to do it again, or to break for lunch.

David Silver: Gomez was great, but he wasn't scared to kick our asses. I think it made a huge difference

Tamas Kiss: We didn't know him that well and I think we were all scared of him a bit.

Tamas, as the newest member of the band, how did you get involved in the group? Obviously you play with Hag and have played with Notorious Hi-Fi Killers before but what made you want to join Bad Guys?

TK: PJ asked me if I’d join Bad Guys when he'd found out Notorious Hifi Killers was finished. At first I was reluctant and thought maybe it would be too much, but we really locked in on the first few rehearsals.

What did you think would be too much?

TK: At that moment Hag was quite busy, and I was worried I couldn't do both bands, but I liked Bad Guys.

When you joined the first bad Guys LP had just been released right?

SL: Tamas joined just before it was released. We put his picture on it though. I don't know why

That particular image on the back cover of your self-titled LP of you all on a horse is great though. Bad Guys seem to spend a lot of time developing interesting imagery, whether those are photo ideas or the videos for ‘Witness A New Low’ and 'Prostitutes'. You seem to put a lot of effort and personal time into things that other bands may not bother with at all these days?

PJ: Its probably because we have other creative skills. Stu and I work on film and TV stuff so we like to explore those avenues with the band too. Making that video along with the album art has kept us working solid for months.

SL: I think the philosophy is to do our own stuff and the time factor is just a ballache on top. I don't like other people fucking with my shit. Even if they might do a better job, I don't trust anyone. So if we need something, one of us should be doing it.

Your approach to your imagery and videos does open you up to criticism from some quarters though, I think some people might assume you are a band that revels in taking the piss?

SL: We are taking the piss though.

PJ: It’s a bit annoying when someone dismisses it without really listening but the response to this album and video has been generally well received.

DS: I think a lot of people just write it off as a joke band instantly. We are simply a band with a sense of humour.

Is it frustrating to be criticised for the thing that makes you quite unique: your approach to the visual identity of the band, the satirical nature of some of the lyrics, and the band aesthetic

SL: It would only really piss me off if it was someone whose opinion I gave a shit about.

DS: If you are in a band called Bad Guys, and you write a song called 'Prostitutes (are making love in my garden)', I think criticism is a natural reaction really. People aren't used to it.

TK: Yeah I didn't know what a prostitute was at the beginning.

SL: Yes you did Tamas, cheeky boy.

PJ: We're still torn between listening to the criticism and just doing what we think is entertaining. I think. It would make our life a lot easier if we just made serious music, especially when it comes to the metal scene.

Do you think you are heavily scrutinised for including satire with your music? When you look at a band like Pissed Jeans for example, they have a similar approach to their lyrics and videos as you but have managed to avoid that same level of critique.

PJ: if we were an American band we wouldn’t even be discussing the lyrics and humour. As Stuart once pointed out, Sleep has a lyric ‘proceeds the weedian’ and no one bats an eyelid.

SL: Maybe on the next album we'll go serious and I'll sing about weed and elves and Satan. And people will finally take us seriously.

Despite that scrutiny, the album has been receiving some great reviews so far, are you happy with the way it’s all turned out?

SL: Nope

PJ: 3/4 of the band is happy with it

That’s a good ratio

SL: I keep telling these guys they need to be more negative

Have you begun writing material for the next LP?

SL: Yes we have.

PJ: We have two new tracks or is it three?

SL: One really violent one. Three total.

Do you think you'll head back to Gomez for the next one? Or is it too soon to say?

SL: He's booked up

TK: Gomez is booked for the whole year.

PJ: we'd love to do another one with Gomez but we probably can't afford him now and he’s booked up forever. So we will look at other options.

SL: I don't know anything about recording and producing, but I reckon we should do it on my zoom portable recorder and save money. People pay a lot of money to get that raw sound man. Just use the zoom.

PJ: This is why Stuart doesn't make the recording decisions.

SL: I can't tell the difference

PJ: This is why Stuart doesn't make the recording decisions.

SL: I can tell the difference in price.

Prior to doing this interview I had an odd dream that David had been kidnapped, and the kidnappers were demanding a ransom of £80. We were all struggling to figure out a way to pay. I take it if Stu was in charge Dave would be in trouble?

PJ: Yes, I mean I love Dave but money’s too tight too mention at the moment.

DS: If I get kidnapped you guys will have to take on my debt though. So I think you should pay the £80.

SL: I was thinking that.

DS: It's a long term investment

SL: I'd get PJ to pay.

DS: I'm finally worth something

PJ: how about £60?

TK: 80 quid is not bad. I can ask my girlfriend to lend us some cash?

PJ: can we at least negotiate?

I woke up before I found out, but we were seriously hoping they would reduce the price

PJ: This reminds me of The Big Lebowski. Are we certain Dave didn't just kidnap himself?

SL: That's the trick. Wake up and the whole thing is over without having to pay a penny. Sorted

So one last thing, why bingo?

TK: It's fun

PJ: We wanted a serious place to talk about music

DS: I used to work at a Bingo hall for spare cash as a kid, I have an advantage

SL: Hark at him 'spare cash'!

That was when you were growing up in Canada?

DS: Yeah. Actually interesting fact: a school division back home decided to change its name to the Lakeview School District and they then painted all the School buses as LSD School District. Loads of yellow school buses with LSD painted on the side.

SL: I would go on bus trips with that school.

Bad Guynaecology is out now on Riot Season records. Bad Guys play live at The Lexington on Saturday July 4