BAD LLAMA (back row, from l-r): Gaz Waddell (drums), Kyle Jordan (vocals), Sam Wyatt (guitar) (front row, from l-r): Dan Houlbrooke (guitar), Lewis Hutchings (bass)
INTERVIEW by ZAK SLOMAN
Bad Llama are an alternative rock/metal quintet from the Midlands brewing town of Burton-on-Trent.
The fledgling band specialise in an eclectic sound that is diversely influenced, and can switch from soft and melodic to heavy and aggressive with ease.
The five-piece have already successfully released their debut EP ‘Shedding Skin’, and are being tipped as one to watch out for in the near future, having been championed by BBC Introducing East Midlands and respected Kerrang! Radio DJ Johnny Doom.
I recently chatted with them about their journey so far, and this is what they had to say:
How did the band get together initially?
The band formed at Burton and South Derbyshire College by Dan, Sam and Gaz who were studying music technology at the time. We started off as just an instrumental band, but soon realised that we were lacking a frontman. After a few years, we recruited Kyle, who was a close friend of Sam’s from secondary school; the two of them hadn’t connected in years, but it seemed to fit straight away. Lewis joined the band as permanent bassist only a few months later, and since then, the band has just kept on progressing. We originally went under a different name, so have only been writing music as Bad Llama since last year.
How did the name Bad Llama come about?
When the band first formed, we began our rehearsals at a small independent studio in the village where Sam, our guitarist, lives. The studio was actually a farm converted into a small rehearsal space occupied by llamas and other various farm animals. The llama connection seemed to stick with us and we named one of our earliest songs ‘Bad Llama’, and years later we decided to use it as the band’s name as it just seemed to have a certain ring to it, as well as it being a small homage to our roots.
In your own words, how would you describe your sound?
This has always been quite a difficult question to answer because of the diversity in our music. We are all influenced by so many styles, which seems to result in an overall blend of alternative rock/metal. We are very progressive and like to experiment with industrial sounds, which is quite evident in our latest EP ‘Shedding Skin’. We vary a lot with our sound, we like to mellow it out and be really melodic, but then ramp it up and be really harsh and aggressive.
The producer we worked with, Gavin Monaghan, described us recently as “Frailty, beauty and brute force“, which is probably the best description we have heard regarding our sound.
What are the band’s musical influences?
Our influences seem to be dominated by a lot of early Nineties rock. However, we are all influenced by many different eras and genres. Our influences can range from bands like the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Incubus and Pearl Jam, all the way to Bring Me The Horizon, Korn and Tool. Bands we have been likened to can be an eclectic mix of Faith No More, Biffy Clyro, System of a Down and all of the previous mentioned.
What would you say was your approach to songwriting?
Individually, our approach is quite different, but with the five of us in the same room, it seems to happen very naturally. Some of the best music we have written comes out of thin air and happens very spontaneously, usually originating from a jam, riff or drumbeat.
Sometimes, the process can be harder and some of us sometimes don’t know what we are doing for sure until we get into the studio, as that’s when you can really hear everything properly for the first time. We all contribute equally to the songwriting and we don’t think our music would be as good if we didn’t do it in this way.
Last autumn, you released your debut EP, ‘Shedding Skin’. How was your experience recording it?
Recording the EP was one of the best experiences we’ve had as a band. Every moment was enjoyable, whether everything was going smoothly or even if something wasn’t quite working. The creativity that surrounds the studio is incredible and it’s also great just to get away and have no distractions from the outside world.
We recorded the EP in four sittings, all the way from October 2015 to August last year, at Magic Garden Studios in Wolverhampton with Gavin Monaghan and Joseph Murray. We cannot say enough positive things about them both and we are privileged to be able to work with them. They are fantastic at what they do, as well as being really nice guys, and they fully deserve all the high praise that they receive.
How was the reaction to it?
The reaction has been really good since we released the EP. Our lead single ‘The Wolf You Feed’ received a lot of good feedback and was aired on Kerrang! Radio several times. Both ‘The Wolf You Feed’ and ‘Paint In Sound’ have been played on BBC Introducing too. We have had many good reviews and all feedback we have received directly through social media or in person has been great.
What is it like for the band playing live?
Playing live is probably just about as good as it gets in terms of being in a band. We definitely feel like the band comes to life on stage, and the overriding feeling of different emotions whilst playing is indescribable. We throw everything into our live performances, and our live energy is something we pride ourselves on.
What do you have lined up for the rest of 2017 then?
We are currently in the process of writing and recording our follow up EP to ‘Shedding Skin’, and we are hoping to have released this by the end of this summer.
We also have numerous shows lined up including a few at the 02 Academy 3 in Birmingham, and we also hope to release a few more music videos this year.
What is the band’s long-term aim?
Just to keep writing music that we connect with and hopefully that other people do too. Music is our lives and it would be a privilege to be able to make a living in this industry. We never want to give up, as so many good bands we have had the pleasure to play with over the years have, and it’s often a real shame. We are just going to stick at it and see what the future brings.
‘SHEDDING SKIN’, THE DEBUT EP FROM BAD LLAMA, IS AVAILABLE NOW ON iTunes, SPOTIFY AND AMAZON MUSIC.
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