The Bad Rabbits are five guys from Boston whoâ€™ve been playing their own blend of pop for the better part of two years â€“ a genre theyâ€™re calling â€œNew Crack Swing.â€ The guys began back in 2005 as a co-ed â€œcollectiveâ€ of hip hop and indie rock under a different moniker.
The Bad Rabbits are five guys from Boston whoâ€™ve been playing their own blend of pop for the better part of two years â€“ a genre theyâ€™re calling â€œNew Crack Swing.â€ The guys began back in 2005 as a co-ed â€œcollectiveâ€ of hip hop and indie rock under a different moniker. After a couple years of touring, they stripped down their sound, retired all their songs (and a few members) and took a step in the direction of Top 40 radio. Theyâ€™ve since played alongside acts like Busta Rhymes, Slick Rick and Pete Wentz.
These guysâ€™ll be hitting the balcony at the Troc on Saturday, February 27 for their first headlining tour in the city. Bassist Graham Masser shared a few words with me on this mystery genre, the bandâ€™s history, and what to expect at the Troc before the guys head down to South By Southwest.
Philly2Philly: You guys have been described as playing music in the â€œnew crack swingâ€ genre. Tell Philly2Philly readers what that means, because weâ€™ve never heard of it.
Graham Masser: It’s a play on the â€œNew Jack Swingâ€ genre that developed in the mid 80s in New York. Before this, R&B and Hip-Hop were two completely separate genre’s. People like Teddy Riley, New Edition, Guy, MC Lyte and Janet Jackson started to blend the hard beats of New York Hip Hop and the sweet melodies of R&B and the fusion created the new jack style. Weâ€™ve taken a lot of influence from that genre, particularly the melodies, harmonies and huge chorus hooks. This is not the only place where our influence draws, but the culture, energy and emotion of the genre are all things we can relate to.
I guess our music is kind of like a fusion of different styles like New Jack Swing was. We definitely have a lot of elements of Minneapolis Funk from Prince, Morris Day and Mint Condition but we can draw from a lot of rock music like Led Zeppelin, Foo Fighters, Pink Floyd, Glassjaw, and At the Drive In. We also listen to tons of hip hop.
P2P: Youâ€™ve got a big tour coming up. Tell us where youâ€™re headed after Philly and what you hope to get out of it.
GM: We are doing six weeks, from March 12-April 26th, touring the whole country and a few stops in Canada. Itâ€™s a great opportunity to showcase our music to a brand new audience across the country whoâ€™ve never heard us before. Weâ€™re touring with our friends, Foxy Shazam, who are incredible. We are really fortunate to be touring with a band we love personally and musically. We also have six or seven showcases lined up at this yearâ€™s SXSW festival in Austin.
P2P: All the members of Bad Rabbits used to be members of The Eclectic Collective. What was the process like taking the same band in a different direction musically?
GM: The one-year transition period between the Eclectic Collective and Bad Rabbits was probably the hardest year for us all, personally and musically. For a while it seemed like we were really spinning our wheels, struggling to find our voice and struggling to keep our relationships and music healthy. We pretty much locked ourselves in our practice space for a full year, wrote about 11 or 12 really dark, Mars Volta-esque rock songs. The music definitely reflected what we were feeling at the time; frustration, confusion and tension.
One night we started writing a song that was called â€œVera.â€ We added this coda at the end, which was a straight up pop hook. After recording the song, we realized we had really hit on something so we decided to take that hook and turn it into a full song. That coda ended up becoming â€œShe’s Badâ€ which was the catalyst that really helped us develop our current sound.
After completing the new song, we began focusing on writing more songs in this style. We followed it up with â€œStick Up Kids,â€ which really kind of laid the foundation for where we were headed.
Ending The EC was a hard decision because we had already made some good progress but ultimately it put us in a much better position in terms of the direction of the band, the style of the music and how happy we were in general.
P2P: You began recording your new album “Stick Up Kids” in May 2009 with producer Jayson Michael. Tell us what it was like working with him, and what role he played in helping the former Eclectic Collective become the Bad Rabbits?
GM: It was the first time weâ€™d worked with a producer who really helped us hone in and concentrate on writing good songs. He was very hands-on in terms of structuring the parts and achieving the best possible tones. Basically our goal was for each part, whether it be the vocals, guitars, synths or a drum part to be catchy, memorable parts of the song as a whole. His proficiency in recording and his ear helped us achieve this. We owe him a lot for helping us really develop our sonic voice, which is extremely important for a band’s first release.
P2P: In the 5-minute short documentary on your MySpace page (Myspace.com/BadRabbitsBand), singer Dua describes you guys as â€œimmatureâ€ and â€œpre-pubescentâ€ who â€œfind doo doos hilarious.â€ Since you guys are professionals, do you think itâ€™s important to be able to self-deprecate all over your music careers? How has that mindset helped you get through gigs and recording?
GM: We are all pretty much in agreement that itâ€™s important to not take yourself too seriously and to not get caught up in the hype. We try and keep that in mind when weâ€™re in high pressure situations like gigs and recording sessions. First and foremost we want to have fun, be ourselves and make friends throughout our career, wherever it may lead us. It can be very easy to lose sight of these basic ideas when business, money, celebrity, egos, etc. get in the way. If we have fun farting, talking about doo doos and clowning on each other, then we are going to do it, no matter what the circumstances.
P2P: Tell us about your work with Karmaloop.
GM: It’s really been one of the best moves weâ€™ve made as a band. Fashion and music work hand and hand, so when Greg, Karmaloop’s CEO, approached us about working together, it was a no-brainer. Our drummer Sheel worked there for five years so we had known about the company and been friendly with Greg for a while. When he started hearing some of the first Bad Rabbits songs, he really dug it and we started brainstorming with him. That was a year ago.
Now we are really in full swing with Karmaloop. They have this gigantic, loyal following of customers who scour the sight everyday for new clothes.
These customers who are young, culturally diverse and fashionable people are a market we now have immediate access to through the website which does about 4 million unique visitors a month â€“ plus Karmaloopâ€™s mailing list of close to a million people and presence on social networking sites. Our album is available for free download on our page at www.karmaloop.com/badrabbits
Karmaloop also has a its own online TV station which we have had segments on. Weâ€™ll be doing a Karmaloop-sponsored showcase at SXSW this year. And being styled in nice clothes is a great perk.
P2P: Whatâ€™s next for the Bad Rabbits?
GM: We are dropping a mixtape this Spring through Karmaloop with Clinton Sparks. Other than that, copious amounts of touring and flatulence.
P2P: This is your chance to Tweet your Philly shout-out (140 characters or less, please).
GM: We will consume at least 600 cheesesteaks and listen to Boyz II Men entire catalog on repeat while we are in Phila.
Contact Randy LoBasso at email@example.com