Following on from the praise they received for their previously shared offering' Winter', emerging Leeds-based outfit Bad Idea are back with their next rousing release 'Happy'.
Channelling the sounds of the likes of Snail Mail and Cocteau Twins, 'Happy' makes for a wonderfully warm and vibrant return. Filled with a textured atmosphere, sweeping production, and some beautifully lofty hooks, their latest gem sets them up for an incredible year ahead.
So with the new single available now, we sat down with them to find out more about their background and what has inspired them most over the years.
What was the first instrument you fell in love with?
Sarah - My first foray into musicianship was actually playing the saxophone, but there’s no love story in some old dude telling me to play Food Glorious Food. My first real love was bass - my Dad had an old Fender jazz knock off which is still with me to this day, equipped with a painted on Misfits skull and glitter nail varnish from teen rebellion.
Daniel - Probably the piano, even if I didn't learn it until after learning to be a drummer. My Dad was a piano teacher and on occasion a silent-film pianist so I really used to marvel at pianos.
Charlie - I played guitar growing up, but I wasn’t particularly passionate about it, just going through the motions, a hobby my parents insisted on. It’s when I started listening to Rage Against The Machine and playing along to their first album, that was like a lightbulb moment, guitar and playing music just made sense to me at that moment.
Liam - It was my first guitar: an Ibanez Gio. Proper entry level thing for playing gateway metal, but it was the perfect fit for me when I was thirteen. I learned all of Master of Puppets and thought I was the coolest kid in school (unrequited). The guitar ended up getting plastered in stickers when I got into punk, then I had to throw it out last year when my flat got infested with grain mites. It didn’t really get the Return of the Jedi-style funeral pyre it deserved, but I was pretty upset about the whole thing. I think any instrument can objectively suck and still be great for you.
What kind of music did you love as a teenager?
Sarah - I spent a lot of my early teens stuck in a Nirvana/Hole venn diagram so anything adjacent to that was so my vibe. I loved Veruca Salt, Smashing Pumpkins and The Muffs. I also had a glam rock phase which I will mention here once but never again.
Daniel - I used to think I was a true post-rock indie-kid, listening to Godspeed! You Black Emperor, Sigur Ros, My Bloody Valentine, Oceansize and the likes. I was also obsessed with Amusement Parks On Fire, an astonishingly good band from Nottingham that doesn't get enough love.
Charlie - I was a bit of metal head in my early, angry teens listening to System Of A Down, Korn,Rammstein, as well as watching Kerrang and Scuzz religiously. Then I went on to my arrogant, holier-than-thou phase where I was obsessed with anything prog rock with King Crimson, Emerson, Lake And Palmer and Genesis (the Peter Gabriel years of course). Then, after my first big break up, the angsty, existential phase where the Cure’s ‘Pornography’ and Joni Mitchell’s ‘Hejira’ were span constantly to fulfil my melancholic needs.
Liam - I was one of those annoying kids who just liked about 6 metal bands and read Kerrang every week to see if they talked about System of a Down. My taste mellowed out as I got older, but I still love a lot of thrash metal (and SOAD, my ride or die). I was also (and still am) really into Bloc Party – I’d just never heard four musicians all working at the absolute height of their skill and creativity like that, while still being totally accessible and catchy.
What is the one song you wished you could have written yourself?
Sarah - Fluffy by Wolf Alice. I used to be in an all girl rock band and Ellie Rowsell had a little shrine in all of our minds. The song has so much energy that can still rile me up, and it just sort of encapsulates the moment I stopped playing just power chords but power chords WITH distortion.
Daniel - The song 'Chinese Translation' by M. Ward. It's a "perfect" song, if that's possible; gorgeous melody, evocative production - a stunning piece of folk-Americana that transports me to another world every time I hear it.
Charlie - That’s a tough one because there are probably a hundred songs I wish I wrote but off the top of my head I’d probably say ‘Note To Self’ by Mild High Club. It’s just a perfectly written pop song with great guitar work and vocals and a great late 60s psychedelic vibe. I just can’t get enough of it.
Liam - The Front Bottoms song I Swear to God the Devil Made Me Do It. I love songs that build up from something unassuming into something that feels like it could break your heart and your bones. It just swells into this amazing crescendo, I’d love to have put all those individual pieces together. It also has my favourite lyric: “I just want this to mean something to anyone even if they don’t know who I am.” It’s not very complex or anything, but it means a lot to me.
Do you have any habits or rituals you go through when trying to write new music?
Sarah - My songwriting process is like a messy modern 8-track recording. I wouldn’t describe myself as a technophone, but i’ve no idea how to use Logic or anything of the sort. I just record myself playing through an idea, play it out of the computer, record another video on my phone and just add ideas until my phone memory screams out in pain.
Daniel - I find my environment very important when being creative. I hate trying to do anything in a messy room, and I'm obsessed with mood lighting. And I usually like to have a beer if I'm writing. So, I guess getting relaxed is my ritual!
Charlie - For me, it’s a worrying amount of coffee and that’s about it, I just force myself to write.
Liam - For Bad Idea I’m usually only writing my own lead guitar parts, which usually means turning up to practice, hearing the song for the first time, and trying to slot something in there on the spot. I usually get something in about three tries (or if Dan glares at me hard enough).
Who are your favourite artists you have found yourself listening to at the moment?
Sarah - I’ve been listening to a lot of Kitten recently - its 75/25 split between my allover desire for great pop bangers and my love for lead singer Chloe Chaidez and how much I want her to teach me how to skateboard. Also Kylie Minogue coming back is a dream, her new album DISCO is everything I need.
Daniel - I'm generally trying to listen to as much relaxing stuff as possible, so funky jazzy artists like Moonchild and Kamasi Washington are getting a lot of my time. I've become obsessed with Kahdja Bonet recently whose compositions and vocals are completely enrapturing.
Charlie - I have slightly regressed in my music listening recently, U.K.’s self-titled album is currently being played every day at the moment, I think prog is my comfort zone and I clearly haven’t grown up since I was 15.I am also enjoying a good amount of Psych Rock too with King Gizzard And The Lizard Wizard, SLIFT and Derya Yıldırım & Grup Şimşek in regular rotation.
Liam - I recently got really into Grandaddy about 20 years too late. When I listen to them, I feel like they have this struggle of wanting to write slow, melancholic music while also just wanting to be Weezer. Me and Sarah have that struggle with Bad Idea all the time. They also manage to capture this very specific Web 1.0 aesthetic through music which I find quite fascinating.
How many of your songs have you written about people in your life?
Sarah - I mean all song writers have written songs about their past loves, but I get to date someone who I share a stage with, called Daniel. Quite a few of our songs are love letters to him, such as Date Night, Date Night Pt.2 and Peach which is such a lovely thing to take out on stage and celebrate together.
Liam - I only contribute the guitar bends, but each one represents someone who has denied me a job interview.
What has been the funniest or most unusual moment in your career so far?
Sarah - I always remember our first city festival slot, a band had pulled out due to illness and they called us to fill in. We got the call mid shift at the pub while being more hungover than we should’ve been. We sort of rolled out of bed and were given a slot supporting Ezra Furman at a festival? It’s funny and sad because we were too hungover to stay, we ate a slice of pizza and went home!
Daniel - One of Bad Idea's first shows was a house-show in York, back when we were a two-piece. It was an absolute mess, and will probably be the closest I'll ever feel to being 'rock'n'roll' in the old-fashioned sense of the word. We played in a friend's back garden, where they even had a small lighting rig set-up. A home-brewed beverage was passed around which earned the affectionate moniker 'No-No Juice' as it was both revolting and deadly. The whole evening is a wonderful, terrible, messy blur. I miss house shows.
Charlie - I guess one of the most cringy memories I have of Bad Idea is recording them when it was still just Dan and Sarah a couple years before I joined the band. We did a night session and I remember being nervous and not really knowing what I was doing and totally screwing the song up.
Liam - I think it’s the way that I both did and didn’t cross paths with the band before I joined. The band started with Dan and Sarah when they lived in York. I also lived there and would go to shows Dan put on, but never interacted with them. Then we moved to Leeds around the same time, and I missed a Bad Idea set where they played with my friend’s band. Dan just existed as someone I recognised from my suggested friends list on Facebook, and we came so close to meeting on so many occasions. When I finally joined it just gelled nicely because it felt like we’d known each other years, and had unknowingly sat in the same screening of the Lego Movie or whatever. It was just this weird cosmic thing that was meant to happen.
If you could open a show for anyone in the world, who would it be?
Sarah - It would have to be Paramore, more specifically Paramore circa 2005-2010. I will never get over that phase.
Daniel -My favourite band to this day is Into It. Over It. so probably them, or maybe Broken Social Scene.
Charlie - Rammstein, their live shows are just completely insane in the best possible way, I don’t think I could sum it up in words, it’s just insane.
Liam - Manchester Orchestra have been one of my favourite bands for a long time. They basically came up through DIY roots and crafting these really rounded songs that balance soft and heavy elements, so I think we’d be similar enough that it wouldn’t be weird to see us supporting. I get terribly starstruck by musicians I respect though, so I’d probably have to lock myself in the green room or something.
If you weren’t a musician, what other path do you think you might have taken?
Sarah - I mean by nature I’m a bar grafter like any other musician with a pipe dream. I think I’d definitely still be in something creative, possibly the arts? Seen as I did a Fine Art degree which I’ve let gather dust to become a rock and roll star.
Daniel - Well, like a lot of musicians I'm currently travelling down 3 paths at once. My great passion is filmmaking, though I've only started pursuing that very recently, and then to fund all these prohibitively expensive pipe-dreams I work full-time at a pub.
Charlie - If I wasn’t a musician, I still think I would be involved in music or sound in some way. Maybe as a sound designer or studio/mix engineer, still contributing towards music but not necessarily in a specifically musical way.
Liam - We all work in other jobs to fuel our love of music, but my other love is writing. I still write for a career but in a pretty corporate environment, so I’d love to take that love and translate it into writing fiction and non-fiction again. I used to do a lot of that, but life and work and worldwide pandemics killed it for me in the last few years.
And what is the best piece of advice you have received as a musician?
Sarah - I tried to ask my Dad to give me advice retroactively as if I was a teenager and that didn’t work out but my old childhood neighbour once Barry saw me play and said if I kept chugging away on my bass I’d be the next Lemmy Kilmister and I think i’ve definitely achieved that.
Daniel - I can't remember, which is probably why I'm so bad at being one.
Charlie - My dad gave me some good advice ‘If you’re doing something you love you should try and hold on to that as hard as you can’, I try and remember that when I’m having doubts about being a musician.
Liam - My guitar teacher when I was a kid was this gnarly dude who lived in his friend’s garage. He was such a great teacher and so different from the accredited people you get in school. He would always give me this tongue in cheek advice like “never get a girlfriend, it’ll make you worse at guitar”. He was right – now I’m much worse at playing, but at least I’m happy!
Bad Idea's new single 'Happy' is available to stream and download now. Check it out in the player below.