Words/Interview by Sam Townsend – Melting Wax Photography
Bad Juju entered the music scene with a bang in 2017 and quickly set about making quite a name for themselves. Since then, Bad Juju have had a stellar couple of years with the release of 2018’s EP ‘Hidden Desire’, a slot at BIGSOUND, feature artists on triple j Unearthed, and a sold out single launch at The Gasometer.
In 2020 Bad Juju are back with new single Disappoint, which was recorded, mixed, and mastered at Avalanche Studios with Callan Orr (Dream on Dreamer). Hot on the heels of the 20 May release (my review of which you can find HERE), Bad Juju were kind enough to have Russ Holland and Abe Miller answer some questions I had about the new single, their sound, and what we can expect next from Bad Juju.
I understand Disappoint is about the grief of losing a close friend – I’m sorry to hear this – can you tell us a little bit more about Disappoint?
Russ – The song is about dealing with guilt and grief after losing a friend you wish you could have saved. Unfortunately there’s a lot of people who could relate to it and have gone through it. You go through a lot of emotions and some of the verse lyrics explain how it hit all me when I went through it and the weight I carry with me to this day.
What was the creative process like for Disappoint? How has it compared to previous releases?
Abe – We tried to broaden our sound a bit for Disappoint. The song itself came together easily and the songwriting process was enjoyable, a combination of writing as a group and then jamming it out. When we hit the studio we experimented with different modulation effects for the guitars, pickup combinations, and lots of different vocal ideas too which we wouldn’t have tried last time. We learnt a lot from tracking ‘Hidden Desire’.
Have you found the creative process for the band changed recently (or how has it been adapted during these challenging times)?
Abe – When we were writing Disappoint we didn’t really stray too far from process we had used to write ‘Hidden Desire’ but we found that the experience we got from doing that first release translated over. We tried things we didn’t do last time, we learned a lot from playing those songs live and then poured all that into ‘Say It’ and ‘Disappoint’. As far as our present day approach during COVID we have been extremely productive at home and bouncing ideas off of each other via email. We’ve definitely been trying to make the best out of a bad situation.
Disappoint has a depth of emotional vulnerability to it; a slightly different sound to what fans of Bad Juju have heard before. Is Disappoint the first indicator of what fans can expect from future releases?
Russ – I think we have gotten better at writing emotional songs that are easy to sing along to but still powerful in their message. We’ve had some very emotional tracks like ‘Healer’ and ‘Bloom’ on our first EP as well, but we’re really happy with how we’re delivering the message behind our songs in what’s to come.
Who are your main influences when it comes to finding and designing your sound? Is there anyone in particular who inspires you to keep pushing forward?
Abe – When we started the band we drew a lot of inspiration from the stuff we grew up with in the 90s. Bands like The Offspring, Nirvana, Smashing Pumpkins, and the Foo Fighters all played a part in what we wanted Bad Juju to sound like. From there we tried to create our own thing and now the motivation and drive is to keep that going and keep creating better music that we’re proud of.
Has music always played a significant role in your life? What drew you to the music industry?
Russ – Yeah definitely. My older sister used to listen to a lot of grunge bands and soon enough I became obsessed. I started a band and joined my local Freeza group to organise gigs in my hometown. I don’t think I’ve stopped playing gigs for 10 years since then and I don’t see myself stopping for a long time!
Whose music are you really enjoying at the moment?
Russ – I know the other guys are loving the newest Teenage Wrist, Hundredth and Boston Manor records a lot. We always go back to listening to older stuff like The Smashing Pumpkins, Nirvana, Blink 182 and early Offspring records too. As far as Aussie music we’ve been loving the new Violent Soho, The Dead Love and Loser tracks.
What are you looking forward to most when shows/touring can resume?
Abe – We really love playing live, I can’t name a band that doesn’t. It makes all the hard work and time that you spend into creating music worthwhile. Meeting people that are connecting with your music is awesome too, we’ve made a lot of friends along the way.
What advice would you give to other bands during these strange times?
It’s definitely a great time to get creative and come up with new ideas to interact with fans of music. I’m sure a lot of bands are working hard at writing new tracks so they can come out stronger when we all finally get to play again. It’s going to be a huge party when it all kicks off, so they’ll be ready to hit the ground running.
Finally, what can we expect from Bad Juju next?
Abe – We have plenty to reveal over the next few months which we are very excited about. All I can say for now is watch this space.
Listen to Disappoint HERE.
Bad Juju are:
Russell Holland – Vocals
Abe Miller – Guitar
Armarin Saengsri– Guitar
Drue Herring – Drums
Matthew John – Bass
Follow Bad Juju:
With thanks to Habit Music Co