The Bads

The Bads

 Auckland, Auckland, NZL

“ a flawless country-indie-rocking-popping blend"


Neil Young, Dusty Springfield, Iggy Pop, Patti Smith, Jimmy Webb, David Bowie, Simon & Garfunkel, Bob Dylan, Elvis Presley, T-Rex, Led Zeppelin, Husker Du and Willie Nelson.
Those were the names given by Dianne Swann and Brett Adams as early musical interests. It doesn’t mean that all of those artists inspired the music of The Bads, but it does mean that those legendary names made a crucial impact on the musicians at a crucial time.
Dianne Swann and Brett Adams have worked together since 1992. From The Julie Dolphin, as the pair first called themselves in London, to Boom Boom Mancini and now to The Bads.
Things went pretty well for the duo in London, they received great press, including NME single of the week, tours supporting Radiohead (Dianne sang with Thom Yorke on a song called “How Can You Be Sure” which was on the Japanese version of “The Bends” and a B side for their release “Fake Plastic Trees”).
Says Swann, “It was pretty magical when Brett and I started writing together in London when we wrote the stuff for The Julie Dolphin...we had this kind of telepathy which was exciting”, the pair often write separately, but always with the collective project in mind. Adds Adams, “what we do now is quite different to what we did in The Julie Dolphin, a lot less noisy anyway but it does not feel like any radical change to me”.
The thing that is not different is that the song comes first. So Alive, the new album by The Bads is filled with gorgeous melodies and pop songs that shimmer with a country vibe, with indie intentions, with straight-ahead rock; clean guitar lines mixing with quirky ideas. Pitch-perfect harmonies sitting inside precise rhythms – each song feels like a mini-masterpiece that has been worked at, honed, cradled, loved, learned and forgotten then learned again.
“It probably falls in to the rock/alt-country label”, reckons Adams. Or, as Swann says, “Rockin Poppin Altin Country!”
So Alive certainly feels like that – and it feels very alive too. Where previous album Earth From Space had a majestic sweep to it and a grace that was felt across several listens as songs made themselves known, the tunes that make up So Alive have an urgency, whether it’s the Bic Runga-of-Birds-like ‘Pack Your Demons’ or the country shuffle of the title track.
Both Adams and Swann are not concerned with being identified as “NZ musicians” – but they are Kiwis and the good music of The Bads is made here. Swann says it started out “as just a kind of antidote to the disappointment we experienced in the UK. We recorded Earth From Space at home mostly...and were not even really serious about putting it out...then once we put it out on a small label and thought ‘bugger why didn't we make more of this?’ Earth From Space found fans, among them Smashing Pumpkins’ Billy Corgan who introduced the band to an Australian audience on TV and raved. Music from the same album was used in American TV Series Kyle XY and The Unit, and also lead to the band composing for the NZ TV series Hunger For The Wild. (The title track from the new album falls out of that work.)
Right now the band is right into playing live again and the new songs do have a more live feel to them. “I guess also we have just given into the fact that we love Alt country or country rock or what ever the hell you might like to call it...and we are not holding back!” says Dianne.
The not-holding-back will see twists of the duo’s shared love of Wilco (‘Gracious’) mix with the melodic/harmonic sweet simplicity of the first Goldenhorse record (‘Say Your Goodbyes’).
The feeling that The Bads has moved from a good project to a great band is clear on every track of So Alive, and there’s certainly no shame in it being a Kiwi album – as ‘Helensville’ very much celebrates, taking Split Enz-y mandolin and the feel of George And Queen to create a bit of country-bumpkin busking.
There is a sense of childlike wonder, of discovery, in the songs created by The Bads. And there’s also a feeling of actively adding to the canon of song, of taking a melodic idea and placing it down not only for people to listen to but for it to be part of a larger something – part of this thing called music that we all love.
There’s also a modesty to The Bads who, as The Julie Dolphin, opened for Green Day and collaborated with Radiohead. Dianne has some strong memories of unique experiences (“seeing Frank Black in the audience when we played at the 100 Club in London” and “collaborating with Tom Yorke [Radiohead] on The Bends Sessions and playing keyboards on Street Spirit at the Astoria would have to be up there”). Brett has tales of playing with Tim Finn and The Mockers. But what is most important – to both – is playing strong songs. That comes, as Dianne sums up, “by being inspired by writing, by wanting to write the best songs you can”.
2009 has been a fun year for the duo they released their album “So Alive” and received great reviews and also have impressed with their live show – they s


So Alive

Written By: Dianne Swann

Fell in love with a mountain
Fell right in with the sea
I looked to the sky I was mesmerised
By Toka Toka peak

Feel so alive
Feel so Alive
Its about time
I’ve got a hunger for the wild

Stripped right back
I was driving
To see what I could see
By highway 12 I introduced myself
It felt ok to be me
To be me
To be me
Just me

Feel so alive
Feel so alive
Its about time
I’ve got a hunger for the wild

All those great expectations
Watching them fall
Loving the in-between stuff
Thinking so small

Feel so alive etc.............


The Bads
Earth From Space 2005
So Alive 2009

The title track So Alive received good radio and TV play in New Zealand, and achieved top 20 Status on the NZ airplay charts.
It also features in Australian Film My Year Without Sex.

They have just released First Night, which is starting to get radio platy on commercial radio.

Set List

So Alive
Off The Rails
Bushfire Sunset
Say Your Goodbyes
45-mins to 1Hr set