Bad Romantics - QA and Performance Review -by Harriet Kaplan
PR. How did you choose the name Bad Romantics for the band and why? What does it mean to the band?
AG. Before the band was called Albert Garrett and The Bad Romantics. I was toying with the idea of whether I wanted to be a solo act or it be a band. I came up with a name randomly. I thought it had a cool ring to it. It sounded good. The branding of it, or point to it, more or less, if you listen to the songs, there is kind of a lot of heartbreak stuff going on in there. So it made sense. Bad Romantics are the guys that aren't so good at love. As for myself, I tend to pick the worst girls possible. I think it's a relatable name because everyone at some point has some bad romantic qualities. PR. How did the band come together as a unit? How long has the band been together and how many CDs have you released? AG. The band consists of me: Albert Garrett - I sing and play guitar; Jonny Udell is the drummer and sings; Ryan Harris plays guitar and sings and Jeff Covey is our bass player and sings. The rhythm section with Jonny and Jeff, bass and drums, I've known a long time. I used to play in a band with Jonny. We knew Jeff through random other bands. We decided to start a side project and it turned into this band. Then Ryan came aboard about a year ago. He was also in another band with Jonny. We needed another guitar player and he just fit. I never went out looking for another guitar player, Ryan just fit in really, really well. The band has been together four years but I've been focusing on this project for two years. In the beginning, we were all in a bunch of different bands. It was side thing and I was thinking I can write my own songs then. Record wise, we released an EP in 2012. That was under Albert Garrett and the Bad Romantics. It was called Love At First Sight. We have a single out on iTunes called "Falling." I'm not sure what we are putting out next quite yet. PR. What was the first song you ever played as a group? AG. Me and Johnny played together quite a bit in other bands. I think we wrote 10 songs and we used to meet up write songs before we ever played them. Then we decided which three we wanted to record for a demo. One of those songs "Say To Me" we still play it and still use it. If we put out a full length record, we would like it on there. It was the first one we really played.
PR. Tell me about the band's first show? AG. Our first show was January 2, 2012. We played at The Viper a Room and I had already been working on the project and hadn't played it out yet. We have come a long way since then, I will say that much (laughs). PR. What is the songwriting process? How do the new songs differ from the new material? AG. The new songs are better for the simple reason if you keep on doing something, you get better at it. It can be playing pickup sticks or whatever it is. I spend a lot of time on the songwriting. On some songs, I'll spend six months working on them. Like the bridge won't happen until three months later. Most of the time I write on an acoustic guitar. I was told a songwriting trick. If you can't play it on a piano, or on a guitar by itself it's probably not a good song. Any one of our songs, I can play them on an acoustic guitar and sing on it and go from top to bottom. For songwriting it's kind of a rule of thumb. Production is great, but if you can't just sit and play the song it's probably not that solid of a song. Sometimes we will write as a band and Jonny will play a beat. That's what happened with "Falling." It's based around a drum beat and the song just popped out. Usually I sit with an acoustic guitar and come up with a verse and chorus. Then I'll come back to it, and show it to the guys. It changes a little bit and I'll go back and rewrite everything literally up until the time we get into the studio. PR. Tell me about the lyrical themes of the material. AG. There's a lot of loss. "Falling," for example, is about being depressed and feeling fucking lonely. PR. What are three things/facts that you don't think your fans know about you?
AG. Jonny Udell will not eat cheese. Jeff Covey is a fantastic bowler. I'm a Gemini and I enjoy long walks on the beach. PR. If you could pick your dream lineup, what three bands would you like to tour with?
AG. Jimi Hendrix. Led Zeppelin. The Beatles. Actually I take my answers back, it would be The Beatles, The Beatles and The Beatles. I love them and they are the best songwriters ever. Even a bad Beatles song is still good. They can do no wrong. PR. Have you always played the kind of music you play now?
AG. No. That is kind of one of the things about being a musician and growing up, most people go through phases. At one point, I wanted to have an acoustic guitar and be a songwriter. Then I wanted to be in a hardcore metal band. There has been a general maturing of the sound as I get older. It's a little less ego and punk rock than it used to be. I'm a huge Tom Petty fan. If you watch his interviews, he says "don't bore us... get to the chorus." If you're trying to write a hit song, you're trying to write a hit song. I don't think our band is that mainstream. It's not what radio wants to hear lyrically. Radio likes fun songs. That has never been my forte as a songwriter, I'm lucky I get to sing about my problems. PR. Who or what has influenced your music most? AG. This band is a conglomeration of different sounds that I adore genre wise. There's a 50s doo wop thing if anyone listens to the early Beatles like "Wait a Minute Mr. Postman" (Garrett sings). Then there's some 70s Petty pop rock type stuff. Then it's crossed with alternative/grunge 90s Nirvana and Green Day. Then the new school indie rock. I'm a big fan of all of those genres and don't listen to much music outside of it. Also a little bit of country. I like Imagine Dragons. The Band of Skulls is awesome. Arcade Fire. PR. You're an independent musician with quite a bit of experience in the industry. Can you tell me how that came about and how you made those connections? AG. Most of the music licensing has to do with a Bruno Mars song I co-wrote on his first record. It was random and it had to do with luck. Before he was famous, I was friends with his engineer. I accidentally walked into a session. The thing about the music business that is really fucked up is you have to get lucky. As far as my résumé goes, Bruno Mars is the biggest name I have on there. It's been a big learning experience as to how publishing works. PR. What advice would you give to musicians starting out today? AG. I think the most important thing to do is work as hard as you can. Practice your instrument and go to band practice. Work on songs. You have to get lucky in this business, but you also have to be prepared, and if you're not, it doesn't matter. PR. Do you have any tips for the best way to get new music noticed, for example, have you noticed that certain social networking sites are better for promotion for musicians than others? AG. YouTube is the biggest. I like Sound Cloud quite a bit. They have a clean set up. Instagram is awesome. Facebook I feel is slowly going the way of My Space. But it's so big, can it die? I'm not a huge fan of Facebook for music but it does have its purposes. It's good for people getting in touch with one another. And, if you wind up with a huge fan base you can do a lot of damage with Twitter. PR. What's next for the Bad Romantics? We just signed up with a company called Red Light Management. The plan is to keep writing and playing shows in L.A. Once we have a clearer picture regarding a label I can have a better answer on what we are doing. The band is working on writing the best songs we possibly can.
Like a great three-minute rock song that ends all too soon, L.A.'s Bad Romantics' brief 30-minute set came and went just as quick, but left a strong, memorable impression with a taut, muscular performance at a recent show at The Viper Room with no frills or filler. Each of the nine numbers played from start to finish: "Bittersweet," "Honeybee," "Say to Me," "China Doll," "Back for More," "Follow you Home" and "313 "(both new); "By the Sea" and "Falling," were all very good and sound poised for indie radio airplay. Influences like Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers, Nirvana and Green Day can be found along with a doo wop sound offering up big harmonic, rousing choruses ("Falling"). The potent combination of power chords, forceful rock leanings (Ryan Harris on guitar and vocals) with sharp, dynamic base (Jeff Covey in bass and vocals and Jonny Udell on drums and vocals) were the driving foundation and hooks to set up the thematically nature of the songs. Love gone wrong or the potential of it is an oft ruminated topic. The introspection is sometimes reflective, sensitive and melancholy and at times, sarcastic and with tongue planted firmly in cheek. Singer/songwriter/guitarist Albert Garrett is the voice and conscience of the band. His fractured and tormented psyche is felt and on display in each song as he bares his soul grappling with longing, loneliness attempting to fill the void inside. The Bad Romantics touch your heart and move you emotionally with irresistible music you can't shake or get out of your head.
Q&A and Review by - Harriet Kaplan