(The following article was written for ARTROCKER MAGAZINE, issue #127, March 2013)
Boasting former members of Nine Inch Nails, Eighties Matchbox B-Line Disaster and Vile Imbeciles, it’s easy to see how such a term could be applied, but ….
“I don’t know where that came from,” says a rather incredulous Rich Fownes. “If this is all it takes to be a ‘super-group,’ then a ‘super-group’ we are. But we’re really just a group of people nobody’s ever heard of.”
Of course Rich smiles as he says this, obviously not quite buying into his own under-hype. He actually smiles a lot, as in fact do both Richie Corriera and Dominic Knight (the two other ‘front-men’ in this most democratic of bands) who have joined us for a chat. There is a real sense that Bad For Lazarus is a band entirely happy with where they’re at, right now.
Rich formed the band in 2009, having played previously with Eighties B-Line Matchbox Disaster and ultimately (though briefly) Nine Inch Nails. He seems reluctant to talk much of the past, especially so relative to his time with the latter.
“I started Bad For Lazarus after playing a terrible show at a festival in front of sixty-five thousand people. It wasn’t very good, mostly because I wasn’t into what I had to be doing. See, that’s the thing – if I’d been playing music I loved in exactly the same situation, I’d probably have had the gig of a lifetime. But as it was I felt like a petulant, ungrateful loser and I didn’t really enjoy feeling like that so …..”
“This incarnation of the band has been around only since about January this year,” mentions Dominic (also formerly of Eighties Matchbox B-Line Disaster.) We’ve lost members, we’ve kicked people out and we’ve now found the ultimate group of people that get on together. We can all sit in the back of the van and have fun!”
“It’s kind of stupid really; it’s like one of those romance novels where we were all friends for so long, and were really under each others’ noses all the time. But we couldn’t have got to this stage without going through the whole process, one by one …….it’s a funny old world,” sighs Rich.
Having played with ‘bigger’ bands, is there a sense of taking a backward step with Bad For Lazarus?
“No,” says Rich, most emphatically. “We’ve reached the stage where we wanted to be when we set out – it’s just taken us a bit longer to get here,” he says, referring back to the personnel changes. “We’re happy to be where we’re at.”
“It would be nice to make a living out of it. You know, I don’t think any of us want to be living with Hollywood whores or anything like that – (we’re not as extrovert and extravagant as we appear on stage) but yeah, to make a living would be nice,” volunteers Dominic.
“It goes back to what I was saying earlier about that ‘big gig.’ When you’ve actually written a song and have even just twelve people respond to it, you know, that’s a really beautiful feeling. Whereas if you’re playing a load of shit to countless people simply for the sake of it, then that becomes so negative,” Rich adds.
He continues: “So, you might have some money when you play a gig and get paid but at the end of the day when we do a practice, we all feel amazing afterwards. But when you’re getting paid to do that (like in a ‘big’ band) generally you’re thinking about just how soon you can go home. There’s no reason for us to do anything other than what we want. And luckily we all have a shared aesthetic in that we all want the band to sell.”
“That’s why we decided to do our own thing and start our ’Shit Chic’ label,” says Richie. “We’re pretty terrible at being organised and stuff like that but the bottom line is there’s nobody saying we can / can’t do this or that. It’s nice to have the control. If we suddenly want to start making different styles of music, there’s no-one there to tell us it isn’t suitable.”
Recent single ‘My Muddle’ was released on the band’s own label and billed as their ‘debut’ single – despite them releasing ‘Old Rats On A New Ship’ back in 2009.
“It is basically a debut single to us; everything we’ve done up to now is about us finding our feet,” says Rich.
So that’s why the forthcoming album ‘Life’s A Carnival, Bang Bang Bang’ has taken so long to arrive? In a New Blood article on the band in 2009, Rich was quoted as saying that the band had enough material at that point for two albums!
“We’ve now got enough for five,” he laughs. “Every time we put a list of twelve tracks down for the album, there’s always another five just ready and waiting and we think … ‘why put this out, let’s work on the new ones.’”
“We’ve just fine-tuned it to make sure we’re really happy with our first album,” says Dominic. “In a way, it’s kind of like a Compilation: there are some straight-up heavy tracks; some quieter, more ballad types – there’s not really one specific sound.”
“It’s like a mix-tape of all our personal tastes,” explains Rich.
“And as we have effectively three ‘front-men’ it’s always changing. Hopefully it’ll keep people on their toes. I think you’d have to listen to it as an ‘album’ rather than just skip through the tracks,” says Richie.
“Yeah, it definitely doesn’t have that thing where it’s similar enough that if you listen to a single on You Tube then you pretty much know what the band’s about. You’ll have to listen to the whole record to properly understand,” Rich confirms.
The mood and ‘texture,’ of the album will also change due to the song-writing input of all five band-members.
“Even our new drummer Ross has come up with an absolute belter, continues Rich. “We bounce ideas off each other and work on them together. It’s quite competitive too, in the nicest possible way – someone might send you a song and you think: ’Fuck! That’s really good! I better my game on!’”
Their music is pretty much an eclectic mix of influences that blend to create something quite unique, although in general terms if the sound and ethos of Bad For Lazarus was to be likened slightly to that of Foxy Shazam, it wouldn’t be dismissed out of hand.
“I quite like them,” says Dominic. “I can kind of see that. There’s a similarity in that their music is ‘dancey’ and upbeat – and that’s what we are trying to do.”
Rich jumps in; “Yeah, a lot of the time we’ll start with song idea – something ‘guilty pleasure-ish, something so stupid that everyone laughs. We all have cheesy musical tastes; Richie went through my i-Pod once and said I only listened to music I found funny. Which is right – I do. Y’know, there’s a massive amount of grey area in rock ‘n’roll where people take themselves so fuckin’ seriously …. we’re not trying to be a ‘party’ band, but we are trying to pay more attention to the lighter side of music than the darker side.”
And you know what? Those final words from Rich really sum up what Bad For Lazarus are all about. They are as far away from the connotations of the term ’super-group’ as you could wish for. More though, they are the epitome of a fun-loving, hard-working, hard-rocking rock’n’roll band.
Yup! It’s Bad For Lazarus alright ….. but a damned good time for the rest of us!