Interview: Bad City
Mon, 23 Aug 2010 06:58:37
Bad City's Welcome to the Wasteland exists in a space between Queen's A Night at the Opera and Fallout 3.
There's no shortage of post-apocalyptic imagery to sink your teeth into, and there's also a masterful execution of theatrical hard rock. Wasteland's epic nature originates directly from the album's operatic guitar symphony and larger-than-life choruses. Bad City's Wasteland is just the spot to visit for real rock 'n' roll, especially when most modern music feels more barren than a Nuclear waste site…
Bad City lead guitarist Max Perenchio sits down with ARTISTdirect.com editor and Dolor author Rick Florino for an exclusive interview about a dream-come-true tour with The Smashing Pumpkins, post-apocalyptic stories in Welcome to the Wasteland and so much more.
Stream Welcome to the Wasteland in its entirety here!
Wass touring with The Smashing Pumpkins a dream come true?
Honest to God, it is. I've been listening to The Smashing Pumpkins since I was literally in third grade. I've always been a fan, and I've seen so many of their shows. For a first tour, this is a dream come true to say the least.
Did Billy Corgan hear your music? Was that how it came together?
That's exactly how it happened. You can't really pull a favor that big [Laughs]. You can essentially submit for just about any tour you want. After we finished our record, we submitted for Pumpkins almost like a humorous submission. I sent Billy the record, and I wrote him a little letter. The next thing I know, I wake up and my manager calls me saying, "Hey man, check out Billy Corgan's Twitter." I was like, "Why would I do that? I don't follow people on Twitter." He said, "Just check it out." Billy Corgan had tweeted about our band! Not only did he hear and like it, but he was compelled enough to tweet about it, so that was awesome. Our manager also told me, "Billy just invited you on the tour!" It was amazing. There's a little bit of Pumpkins in our record. We try to throw together all of our favorite bands in a big pot and stir it up. There's a strong Pumpkins influence. Billy said our music reminds him of the energy and passion of early Pumpkins. We do have a lot in common as bands. We're both from Chicago, and we both have a big love for rock 'n' roll of all ages. It's like a comprehensive look at the genre from the '70s until now and we love mixing things from all those eras together in strange ways.
There's a psychedelic side to Welcome to the Wasteland as well.
Yeah, I figure it's the 21st century, and there are only a few things you can do as a rock band and still be considered "rock." There's not a whole lot of room for completely reinventing the wheel without sounding pretentious. We're rock 'n' roll nerds. Our record collections span all the way back to the '50s pretty evenly, and there's music I love from every era. It's fun to mix that psychedelic '90s sound with something that seems almost counter-intuitive like '80s arena rock. They're two things that don't seem to mix, but it's what we enjoy.
There's a Queen element to your music too.
Brian May is probably my favorite guitar player of all time. He's easily number one. I'd say Billy Corgan is right around number two or three. Brian May is a big influence on all of us—those theatrical, over-the-top, those big Queen melodies and harmonies. We like to think of the music we liked as kids before we knew any better and were cultured. There's this over-the-top cartoon quality to it that anybody could like. That's Queen in a nutshell. They're so much fun, and fans of all ages can love Queen.
If you were to compare Welcome to the Wasteland to a movie what would you compare it to?
Great question! This is the kind of stuff we love talking about—comparing music to movies or books! I would definitely say post-Apocalyptic movies like Waterworld, The Warriors and Mad Max really inspired the songwriting, vision and style. It's that imagery of wasted cities that have crumbled and surrendered into martial law. That lends itself really well to arena rock. It's very decadent almost. I'd say The Warriors mixed with Mad Max would be the movie to watch Welcome to the Wasteland to. That's something I do all the time. I love putting on a record and watching a movie. When two things complement each other, why not?
Is there a story behind "Straight to the Grave?"
That was actually the first song I wrote for the record. It evolved in an interesting way as the recording progressed. We've been paying our dues for the last five years playing to fans of all different styles and genres. There are all of these songs about sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll. I think the sterotypes cheapen it because there are some awesome, elegant, borderline beautiful themes that lend themselves to living on the road and living the rock lifestyle—not just sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll. That's what "Straight to the Grave" tried to do. It's the bookend as the last track.
What's up with "Call Paul Stanley?"
John and I were going through this KISS kick. I love KISS with a passion. Way more than Gene Simmons, I think Paul Stanley's the most underrated frontman in rock 'n' roll history. He does not get the credit he deserves. He's a great songwriter. We were talking about ploys to meet him. We were like, "What if we wrote a song and used his name in it?" We laughed about it. It's funny because we eventually had this song and it's not even slightly about Paul Stanley. It's essentially about a wannabe rock star—a guy who's going around for the first time and making the same mistakes people always do, thinking he's the next big thing. There's this one line that this rock star somehow stumbles upon Paul Stanley's phone number and calls him in the middle of the night. That line happened to be the catchiest in the song, so we decided to name it "Call Paul Stanley."
Which records shaped you?
I'd have to say Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness. That was one of the first contemporary rock records that straightly mixing genres, putting '70s rock with '80s rock. On that album, there are elements of David Bowie, T. Rex and even techno. I feel like we're doing that same thing in a 21st century context. I'd also say Queen A Night At the Opera. That had pretty much everything on it, mixing show tunes, metal and punk. I've always enjoyed albums that were pretty shameless in their ambition—the ones that didn't really care about being ironic. They wanted to display their love for the cabaret, not with a modern day hipster detached irony but in a genuine appreciation for all of these diverse forms of music.
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