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INTERVIEW: Joe Appleford – Bad Sign

Sharing stages with bands such as WHILE SHE SLEEPS, BLACK PEAKS and FEED THE RHINO in the last few years, BAD SIGN have really made a name for themselves as a young and exciting UK band to keep an eye on. Their highly anticipated debut record, Live and Learn, drops on July 14th and we caught up with Joe Appleford, the man behind the huge bass riffs and mammoth vocals to discuss the record and what to expect from the band going forward.

Firstly, how are you doing?

Joe: I’m very good thank you, I’m very good! We were rehearsing yesterday with 2000 Trees at the weekend and we’re hoping to get some of the new stuff into the set to make it a special sort of thing, we want to make a real event out of the festival.

That’s great to hear man. With your 2000 Trees appearance in mind, would you say a festival is the perfect place for a band like BAD SIGN to play? You’ll get the chance to test out some of the new material as well as playing to some people that might not have listened to you before?

Joe: Yeah, definitely! As we’ve only been about for around 2/3 years in total we’ve done festivals here and there like Hit the Deck and ones like that in the past. Festivals really are something that we want to hammer into throughout the rest of this year and next year. We really like to have to work for a crowd you know, we want people to look at us and say “come on then, show us what you’ve got”, that’s where we thrive I think, it takes us back to when we first started and played floor shows. We’ve got that kind of mentality, we have to win people over and prove that we’re a good live band especially at a festival where people have a lot of choice, this will be us going full tilt and hopefully they’ll choose to watch us, that’s the aim I guess.

So it’s under a week now until Live and Learn drops, how excited are you to get BAD SIGN’s debut album out for everyone to hear?

Joe: Massively excited, I mean it’s something that we’ve written and recorded over the past year you know. We’ve got day jobs so we’ve had to work everything around these and it’s the climax of a lot of work from ourselves and the team behind us as well. It feels like an eternity really, getting it out so I can’t wait to get it out! We’ve already started working on our next release, we want to put out music consistently and constantly, I mean we’ve already started demoing new tracks so we really want to get Live and Learn out there, hopefully people like it and then next year we’ll be back with more, we plan to really keep the pressure on.

How was the writing and recording process?

Joe: Writing isn’t a hard thing for us, we don’t have to stress over the writing and stuff. It’s more the logistics of recording. I mentioned we’ve all got jobs and you know they’re very understanding, they let us have short notice time off for tours and stuff like that so with recording we had to dip in and out into various sessions, Kev would come down and track a few days of drums and then I would come down, track a few days of bass and rhythm guitar and Jon would have to come down as well and then there would be a few days that we were all there at the same time so it is quite a different way of recording but it’s how we had to do it. Basick have been really supportive as a label and although we would love to take a month of work to record, we can’t afford to do that but hopefully that time will come if Live and Learn does its job and is the magnet that we want it to be that will take us to that next level.

So, how did the title Live and Learn come about?

Joe: I write a lot of lyrics and I wouldn’t say it’s a concept record but I do write conceptually and that tends to get the best out of me in terms of lyrical continuity and making sure that you know I’m very passionate about what I’m singing and that you know I do care about it. It’s either personal experience or observation of people that I know so yeah. Destroy was sort of our first release and that was us talking about some of the negative and more dark things in life and it allowed me to get some weight off of my shoulders, talking about difficult subjects whereas Live and Learn is more talking about my past experiences in the last sort of 5/6 years and whether good or bad, I’ve managed to live through them and learn from them and that has shaped me into who I am and what I do now. It’s sort of a mark that this is the end of this chapter for the band and the next chapter will be talking about different things and things we’ve experienced in the last two years I guess, since we started writing for this record. It’s always going to be personal, that’s how I’m always going to write lyrics.

I was going to say, lyrically the album does sound very personal. Tracks October and Intermission especially and with the title in mind, would you say that since releasing Destroy BAD SIGN have learnt anything that has helped with the new record?

Joe: Well yeah, I mean with Destroy we didn’t put any restrictions on things, we were still trying to find our sound and I think we still are you know. I think on this record we’ve homed in on it a bit more, we blend so many different influences as we all love such different things, bands like RADIOHEAD and SLAYER, RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE and DESTROY was a bit of a melting pot for that and we ended up with some songs that were six and a half minutes long, the closing track is nine and a half minutes long and we just wanted to get it out. What we wanted to achieve with Live and Learn is to make the songs more in sync and more to the point. You know Dave Grohl’s catchphrase “don’t bore us, get to the chorus”, well we wanted to make the songs sound like us and our sound but at the same time we want to make songs to the point and to hit people with what the core of the songs are really about, lyrically and musically, we wanted to become more concise.

I would say that this is a great time to be in a new, young and fresh UK band. Bands such as MILK TEETH and CREEPER as well as BLACK PEAKS that BAD SIGN have supported have all made huge names for themselves in the last 2/3 years, is their success something you and the rest of BAD SIGN are hoping to emulate?

Joe: Yeah, most certainly. I mean that is the goal for us, if you say to us at any time whether at a festival, show or at a bar we will all say the same thing, we’ve got big ambitions about what we want to do in the next few years and beyond that. We’ve got such a great team behind us, our management team, our PR and our booking agent, they’re all on the same wave length with our short term and long term goals. We definitely want to be considered in the crop of young and exciting British bands that are about at the moment and you’re right, there are so many amazing bands and some are good friends of ours, obviously BLACK PEAKS and CREEPER, bands like EMPLOYED TO SERVE in the heavier areas, there really are so many good bands coming out at the moment. Then on the more Indie side of rock you have bands like FIZZY BLOOD, so there really is so many good bands coming out across all areas of new British music so I hope that we can fall into that category and that people get excited about what we’re doing.

Lastly, what would you say that the next year has in store for BAD SIGN? Live and Learn is out on Friday but what are your hopes and what are you guys going to be up to?

Joe: Our hopes really for the next year are to get in a hell of a lot of touring, we’re going to be out there hitting up as many shows as we can and once the record is out that’s going to allow us to do a lot more on that front. We’re writing at the moment, we’ve already got a few demos and hopefully we can record in October time, we’re certainly looking to put out some new music next year as well. We’re ideally looking to put out some new music every year, to go back to the old school days like when LED ZEPPELIN used to put something out every year, maybe not an album but a record of some sort. So the plan is for new music and to tour intensively, I think that is our biggest thing, we pride ourselves on being a strong live band and hopefully we can win over as many new supporters as we possibly can. We just want to take things to the next level, ideally moving to that point in the next year or eighteen months where we can become full time musicians. We’re very realistic about everything, we understand that we won’t be earning a lot of money but we’re quite happy to eat bread and drink water if we have to just to tour, that’s what we want to do with our lives. The aim is to raise the level of what we’re doing across the board, the output, what we release and our shows, we really want to step up.

Live and Learn is released on July 14th via Basick Records.

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