Adelaide. There’s no time to wallow in the mire.
If you do you’re just gonna get sucked away. Sucked up north through the city’s decaying fringe, past the closed Mitsubishi plant, past Snowtown, past Port Augusta and into the dry red nothingness.
Bad//Dreems know this. That’s why they got together the summer before last, sweating out their hangovers in a warehouse next to the West End Brewery.
Sure the trams stopped here in 1958 (cf. M. Easton 2013), sure venues keep closing, sure the good bands keep leaving for Melbourne and sure, you gotta keep paying the bills. But just have a bloody crack and then keep on chooglin’ (CCR 1967).
Then again, you scratch the surface here and you find another world, far removed from the leafy inner suburbs. From the port with its decaying factories and rusty Chinese tankers to the forgotten northern fringe with its salt plains and dilapidated greenhouses. The empty jail on the edge of the city. A decade long bikie war. The Family. This is the weird murder capital. The weed capital. Badlands.
It is this world, constructed or not, that Ben Marwe (vocals, guitar), Alex Cameron (guitar), James Bartold (bass) and Miles Wilson (drums) attempt to capture. A sound, which draws from the Australian underground of the late 70s and 80s, while also taking cues from US indie outsiders like The Replacements and Wipers. Mundane meets morbid; the humdrum meets the horror; nostalgia meets nightmare. Big dreams meet bad dreams.
Despite the darkness and neuroses that Badlands explores, there remains a stoic optimism. You can’t afford to wallow here. Times might be bad but there’s something better around the corner. The schooner’s still half full.
Ben Marwe – Vocals
Alex Cameron – Guitar
James Bartold – Bass
Miles Wilson – Drums
Ok guys and girls, grab a drink and strap in, it’s time for our first ever episode of “Pub Rock – The Now Generation”
We’re lucky enough to have Alex Cameron from Bad//Dreems dropping by to have a chat with us to share some of his favourite songs from pub rock bands of the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s as well as hopefully a few stories from his experiences on the frontlines of Aussie pub rock.
Miles Wilson has also said he’ll try and stick his head in for a chat at some stage if he gets a break in the traffic at the fundraiser he’s at tonight but you know what drummers are like (insert drummer joke here)…
If you have a question for Alex then jump in and ask away in the comments below.
Great to have you on board tonight Alex, thanks for stopping by. I must admit I’ve been binging on your three albums this last week or so and I can honestly say I’m now a massive fan.
There seems to be a strong influence from The Saints and Paul Kelly in a lot of your songs, especially from PK in songs like Ghost Gums & Pagan Rage. In fact both of those songs and a few more sound eerily like Paul, not just musically but a few times with Ben’s vocals…who’s the driving force musically there?
Alex – Thanks for having us Chris. This is a great group you have going here and I will definitely be hanging ‘ out here in the futures. Both the groups you mentioned are groups we hold in high regard, as well as others such as Lobby Lloyd/Coloured Balls, Chisel, Midnight Oil, The Go Betweens, The Triffids, Sunnyboys
When we started the band we were listening to a lot of music from that era and what we like about it is that it feels particularly connected to our day to day lives
In Adelaide we talk to people that were at the Largs Pier hotel, or people that knew Barnsey from Elizabeth. I often go to a restaurant owned by Paul Kelly’s cousin. And as time has gone by we have been lucky enough to play with and meet some of these great acts
You’ll already be making friends with that list of awesome bands. There seems to be a lot of locally inspired lyrics in a lot of your songs. I had to google a few lyrics to understand the connection to Adelaide and surrounds
Alex – Yeah I think we sing about our day to day lives, so those local references are bound to slip in
Yep, the lyrics are uniquely Aussie and you should never apologize for that. In fact I think it gives it a fantastic feel that so many in this group can appreciate
Alex – Thanks Chris, that’s good to hear
What’s that beer that Ben is drinking (“Feeling Remains” video)? Couldn’t be Carlton Mid so I imagine it’s Melbourne Bitter? Surely not for an Adelaide boy…
Alex – Yeah not sure who was in charge of beers that day, but a poor decision was obviously made. West end/Coopers on our rider
Don’t ever listen to anyone who says “beer is beer”…there are some ordinary brands out there for sure…
You mention a few awesome Aussie bands, Sunnyboys are a personal “new” fav for me. Any fav songs that maybe gave you some inspiration?
Alex – “Alone with you” would have been the first Sunnyboys song I heard and that is absolutely timeless. One of the things I love about that band is how they are able to combine sparkling pop with darker lyrics. We supported Sunnyboys a few years ago and Jeremy Oxley was amazing. Like he’s touched by the hand of god.
In terms of other Australian songs, we have covered My Pal by GOD since we almost started and I think that is almost the perfect rock song
Messin with the Kid by the Saints, Wide Open Road by the Triffids and Cattle and cane/Finding you by Go Betweens would be other personal favourites but really the whole catalogues of those bands are amazing
Love Sunnyboys? Oh you’re going to have a lot of friends here now
How’s Miles Wilson going? Are they making sure he’s got enough booze or is it a dry fundraiser…
Kevin – Hi Alex. If you could of played the circuit in 79 you would of killed it. Your music was made for the Lifesaver or Stagedoor.
Alex – We are certainly envious of bands from that era – getting to play two or three shows a night 5 nights of the week. Would have made things a lot easier financially. Those bands also become phenomenal musicians cos they played so much. Not sure about some of the crowds back then though. I hear it used to get pretty rowdy
Kevin – I was a stage roadie for Radiators and Eurogliders to name two,very hard working, big production etc. The crowds were fine, a couple places had bad rep. With Rads we could do, 7 day week, 3 single nights,2 doubles and then a triple. Recording of “Feel the Heat”, we would do a show load out, put stage gear in studio, collect next day for show. We even took gear out of Trafalgar then overnighted to Melbourne via Canberra uni.
Alex – Oh wow, two great bands there. They don’t make roadies like they used to. Brendan Callinan’s son Kirin is actually a successful solo musician, he recently had a “viral hit” with this song feat Jimmy Barnes. He’s a very unique character.
Kevin – Thats because most road crew worked for the bands they loved as well as the job itself. It was a inclusive family type of thing. All your time was working or grabbing some sleep but more than happy to do it. Brendan is very supportive
Alex – Absolutely Kevin. I love getting the chance to work with great people like engineers, producers, stage techs. Often unheralded but nothing could happen without them
I’ve got to ask…I see on your facebook page that under “awards” you’ve listed “Walkerville FC U/12 Most Improved Runner-up”…who was the strapping young fella who snagged that one?
Alex – I think my friend Andrew Fry may have won that!
Kevin – In the clip for “Hoping For” how close did the sparring come to getting out of control.
Alex – hahahhaha. That was Miles (drums) and Ben (singer). I think we were all taken aback with how hard they went. But it didn’t get out of control at all. They are probably the two most non-violent people you could meet!
Kevin – This song is so good (“My Only Friend”). I love it, one among many gems
Alex – Cheers Kevin. That is actually Robert Forster from the Go Betweens favourite song and we were lucky enough to play it with him at Splendour in the Grass this year. We played his song Spring Rain too. Definite career highlight! You can see the footage of it in this clip (“By My Side”)
Kevin – Go-Betweens have one of Australia’s iconic LP’s, “16 Lovers Lane”.
Alex – Superb album
Kevin – Here is a great old song (“Snowblind” – V Spy V Spy)
Alex – Yeah cracker there. Did you ever work with Matt Finish Kevin? Love this song (“Short Note” – Matt Finish)
Kevin – No but they shared the bill with Radiators many times so got to see them. A very good band. John Prior still has them playing and he gets on these pages.
Alex – We were introduced to by Colin Wynne, the engineer who we recorded our albums with, alongside Mark Opitz
Kevin – Mark would be a fountain of knowledge on the Aust recording industry. Alex does the band get a lot of live work? How is the live music in Adelaide? Going overseas?
Alex – He has been an amazing friend and mentor to us. A person who really showed faith in us. He has amazing stories. It’s almost unbelievable to think of the iconic songs and albums that he has had a hand in: from AC/DC and John Paul Young (with Vanda and Young) through to Angels/Chisel/Reels/Models/INXS/Hoodoo Gurus. Sometimes I reckon they should rename Triple M Triple M. Opitz FM. Oh I missed the Divinyls too
That’s right, Mark Opitz produced your Dogs at Bay album didn’t he? Did he help with “Gutful” as well?
Alex – Yep. He did both, along with Colin Wynne
Kevin – I don’t listen to radio, my ipod is three-quarter filled with what i want, about 80 gigs. So does the band get airplay?
Alex – We get played mainly on triple j and a bit on triple m and the community stations
Kevin – I’m glad you are getting played. Get the word out.
Alex – We play a lot around Australia and have been to US and UK
Kevin – The good thing about the US is it’s so big you only have to do well in parts of the country to make it financially worthwhile. Did you find the US like this?
You blokes have any upcoming shows that guys and girls here could pencil in to go along to?
Alex – We are just making our third album so no gigs at this stage but any updates will be straight up on facebook
For anyone looking for some great Aussie pub rock make sure you check out these guys on their website. Or you can listen to them on spotify.
These guys are carrying the torch for us with their music so make sure you jump onto their sites and support an awesome present day Aussie pub rock band
Thanks Alex for stopping by and sharing some of your fav music with us. We hope that this exercise can throw a few more new fans your way. Your music is absolutely awesome and deserves a place in Aussie pub rock history and looking forward to your next album. Don’t be a stranger, feel free to jump in and like/share your fav music in here as much as you want…we all do…
Miles – Hey guys, Just chiming in quickly here. Apologies I couldn’t get on last night. But I’ve had a good read here this morning and all the banter and info is absolutely fantastic. Thanks again for thinking of Bad//Dreems!