"These covers set the tone for these collabs to make sense." Bad Rabbits on Old Covers & New Collabs
As far as careers in the alternative music scene go, to say that Bad Rabbits have had an interesting one thus far would be a colossal understatement. From creating work many have dubbed to be pop lined R&B with both an attitude problem and a penchant for the chaos associated with hardcore punk culture, over the past decade the group have transcended the alternative music scene whilst remaining loyal to their DIY roots. Across the span of three long plays, the group have presented an evolving prismatic sound that captures the hooks and sun-blessed warmth of pop all whilst being entirely unpredictable with each passing record.
With Bad Rabbits potentially being the only band ever that has shared a stage with both Every Time I Die and Kendrick Lamar, the Boston formed group are an act that span genres commonly believed to be worlds apart. With this in mind, it’s no surprise that many are animated to hear what Bad Rabbits will provide with their forthcoming 2021 record. Will it be a gritty and ashed rock originated affair in the key of 2017’s American Nightmare, an upbeat beach trip soundtrack like 2018’s Mimi or an infectious mixture of both like their 2013 record American Love? It’s down for debate, but even before we get a glimpse of the future, the band have opted to revisit their origins with their new extended play Waves Collide.
Those long term listeners will be more than acquainted with the contents of Waves Collide, but for those new to the funk-lined smoothness of Bad Rabbits, this EP is a showcase of their groundbreaking origins. A collection of covers recorded live approximately a decade ago prior to being remastered recently, Waves Collide is both a throwback to the band initially establishing their incredibly versatile sound and a showcase of an array of timeless inspirations. Containing their own interpretations of Micheal Jackson’s ‘Human Nature, Smashing Pumpkins’ ‘1979’, Deftones’ ‘Sextape’ and The Dream’s ‘Walkin’ On the Moon’, for many this record will be a thrilling stopgap, but for guitarist Salim Akram, it’s contents where pivotal in the original establishment of the band.
“I still think they are great and something that we are really proud of but more importantly I think those covers helped people digest the versatility of the band at a very early stage in our career and allowed for us to align ourselves with associations outside of our traditional iTunes catalogue title of ‘Pop - R &B’”, states Akram on the contents of the EP. “So when we did Warped Tour, gully ass DIY shows with Every Time I Die, letlive. and tour with artists like Taking Back Sunday, Mike Posner, Allen Stone, Kendrick Lamar and Steve Aoki it all somehow worked for us.”
"The context of understanding why other people like it can inspire you to create your own brand of art that is consistent with you or your bands art.”
“I think one thing those songs all have in common for the most part is that they are classics in their own right. We always try to make something that is classic and timeless. These song choices were deliberate to kind of let people know we weren't just a band that could be pigeon hole'd into being just "a pop R & B" band. At that time we weren't particularly saying "let's do these covers so in seven years we can put a dark rock album" but this catalog of songs allowed for people to be open minded about us doing something outside the box and it still being natural and honest.”
Even with the majority of the contents of Waves Collide originating from work produced at the start of last decade, the record does contain a new gift for both old and new fans alike, one in the form of a new cover of the Rihanna classic ‘Love On The Brain’. Given Bad Rabbit’s portfolio in rabid genre dynamism, it’s not surprising to see the band tackle such a modern pop culture behemoth, and when probed on what fellow punk focused fans can learn from artists such as Rihanna - artists essentially belonging to another realm - Akram is keen to explain the importance of how different art can enlighten and influence. “Paying attention and understanding why other people like it even if its not exactly something you fuck with personally. The context of understanding why other people like it can inspire you to create your own brand of art that is consistent with you or your bands art.”
In regards to the new forthcoming long play, whilst many will be pondering what the contents of the record will entail, it’s clear that the majority are confident on the lyrical themes set to be documented. Over the course of their discography thus far, the group have used their sunny outpourings of golden rhythm to lambast the callous nature of integrated oppression, police brutality and xenophobia. Of course, given how these triptych of evils have reigned supreme in the global zeitgeist for some time now, it’s respectably understandable to perceive that the yet to be announced record will be articulating and narrating such themes in a modern light. However, as Akram is keen to point out, the record was not recorded during the strife of last year. In fact, the record has been completed for quite some time but was shelved in order to be released in times such as these.
“In traditional Bad Rabbits fashion this grip of music has been written and completed for almost 5-6 years now,” he states. “All of these songs for the most part were conceived almost immediately after American Nightmare. We've always taken our time and released music when it's for a purpose vs just releasing content to be releasing it. Whenever we've done that in the past it always just seems to get lost in the shuffle and isn't as potent as it could be.”
It was an absolute home run. The song has a beast of a soul.”
But to return to the sonics, what is known about the record so far is a number of extremely high calibre guest appearances and collabs. Whilst the album itself hasn’t been unveiled officially, it’s been slyly confirmed that it contains a guest appearance courtesy of Rou Reynolds of genre-jumpers Enter Shikari and the fretwork of Tim Henson from globally praised prog-metal troupe Polyphia. Two distinct and renowned artists in their own right and collaborative efforts that will undoubtedly turn heads and prick ears even before the art these musician guest in will make it to the airwaves. It’s an extremely exciting and thrilling proposition to even think of these two musicians collaborating with a group so dynamic as Bad Rabbits, but according to Akram and drummer Sheel Davé, the covers from their past and now present are instrumental to how fans perceive such forthcoming material.
“These covers set the tone early on for these types of collabs to make ‘sense’ and be easily digestible for our fans from the jump,” states Akram prior to Dave elaborating. “Enter Shikari and Bad Rabbits have a mutual love and respect for each other. When I sent Rou the track it was an easy "yeah i'm in, send me the track" and then he delivered his parts back to us within a week, or something like that. The song sounds like "it makes sense that these bands are friends with each other. We've fucked with Polyphia for a minute. That whole band is heat. We have a mutual friend named Shawn Carrano who connected us to Tim. When I was in LA for our Stick Up Kids anniversary shows, I went to Tim's studio and he played me what he cooked up for our song. It was an absolute home run. The song has a beast of a soul.”
Rounding off, whilst the new record and now released EP sees the band treading new tropical waters and walking in lights made anew, the central versatility and inclusive warmth within the group's soul is still set to remain prominent. When asked what they want fans to take away from Bad Rabbits this year, Davé and Akram where keen to disperse much needed wisdom from the heart and inspiration from the late great Biggie Smalls. “Take your own future in your hands and cutting out all the noise is the move. Keep your circle tight and find the people that fuck with you and your brand. Stay far from timid, only make moves when your heart's in it, and live the phrase Sky's The Limit.” It’s hard to disagree with that.