Dissatisfied with local surroundings and disappointed with the world, Bad Breeding are one of the UK’s true punk voices. Born out of Stevenage and supported by full time jobs, the band have recently released their second record ‘Divide’. Since their debut we’ve had Brexit and Trump, common topics in our conversation but not upon our stereos. Where those above us want our heads down and lips zipped, Bad Breeding are happy to tell it as it is and tell it loudly. As intensity is Bad Breeding’s strong suit, you’ll be forgiven for missing a lyric. We asked Christopher Dodd, frontman for the band, to talk us through each track and give us the gist of his observations. Where many bands like mystery, We believe its essential to take note of many of the worda below and be thankful it’s in black and white.
“Whip Hand features the final set of lyrics I wrote before we started making the record. It’s a document of the dire social conditions that were drowned out from public conversation during the Brexit campaign. Much of the press focused intensely on the debate surrounding Britain’s place in Europe, while behind that misdirection the continued dismantling of our social safety net carried on unabated. The title makes reference to the old English phrase of holding the dominant position in horse-driving. It looks at the role of unchecked cruelty in the hands of those in positions of authority – the wars waged on the disabled every day, the sanitisation of space to the detriment of social housing and the incessant obsession of the current government to preside over the destruction of the welfare state. It’s sad when you hear these pretty valid arguments that suggest the Tories have conducted what is arguably the most prolonged compression of living standards since the early 19th century.”
“…the essence of this one was exploring our emotional investment in religion when the door is slowly closing on you”
“With a few songs we wanted to play with this notion of pummelling the same idea into the listener over and over again. That first started out with Anamnesis and continued on Leaving. Lyrically this is the most personal thing on the record and it stems from conversations I had with a family member about dealing with the rapid progression of Alzheimer’s – sort of looking at the concept of memory, the loss of it and the fragmented pieces that are retained. There are some slight ambiguities in places as I wanted it to relate to other overarching themes on Divide, but the essence of this one was exploring our emotional investment in religion when the door is slowly closing on you.”
“Loss deals with ineptitude and overconfidence. The first lyrical ideas came when I began thinking about the careerist motives behind an EU referendum as a manifesto commitment, but as I wrote it it became slightly less political and focused more on the notion of feigning confidence as a young person inheriting our fractured social landscape. As a band we hardly ever give ourselves the chance to experiment musically for more than 20 seconds or so, but we had a go for a good few minutes in the second half of this one.”
“…that was our intention, really – to create something that was as monotonous and contrived as the distorted media coverage of Brexit.”
“Obviously the most overtly political one on Divide. It toys with being ham-fisted and slightly overwrought in places, but that was our intention, really – to create something that was as monotonous and contrived as the distorted media coverage of Brexit. We’ve always tried to steer away from being too preachy… The lyrics on Leaving aren’t necessarily my own personal opinions, instead they’re a collage of the arguments churned out over the last year or so in relation to how both ‘Leave’ and ‘Remain’ were portrayed. Musically we sought to continue that collage idea by speeding up and slowing down takes before crowbarring them together. The cycling of sped up dialogue after the first verse is a mixture of media summations and newspaper headlines that I pulled together before recording. Our intention was to mirror that confusion and distortion in the press by chopping up takes and rearranging them as we saw fit.”
The More the Merrier
“The More the Merrier tries to look at the dangerous pitfalls of populism and explores some of the damaging tropes that have come to prominence following the recent rise of right-wing populism. The chorus line references the portrayal of British society as some sort of bastion for liberal progressiveness, while in reality we witness the continued punishment of struggling communities and the failure to provide even the most basic support to those fleeing conflict in areas of the world that the UK has arguably had its own hand in dismantling. The breakdown sections with the muffled vocals were particularly enjoyable to make. We had use of this old boat as a recording studio and were able to send out takes across the water and record what sounds bounced back from the dock wall – playing with that kind of stuff was useful when trying to create a sense of claustrophobia.”
“Again, Entrenched continues that commitment to making something discomfortingly dense and confusing. The structure of the instruments is fairly straight-forward, but there’s almost a whole other world of textures underneath. We setup a collection of contact microphones with the drums to set off sounds on some old synths and drum machines in the control room. So, for example, each time you hit the snare you got a barrage of other sounds with it. In some ways we had no idea where it was going after each round of drums, but that kind of served as a decent moniker for what the record was trying to explore: uncertainty and confusion.”
“ It made me think of somehow trying to instead look at death as more of a statement, a standpoint in some ways – finding the protest in it as opposed to the futility in accepting its inevitability.”
“This started out as a bass riff that flirted with being a play on a country song. Thematically I wrote the lyrics as a way of looking at death as a final point of protest. I read lots of Larkin last year and got a bit obsessed with Aubade. The way that poem observes the lingering fear of death and the certainty of it all is completely harrowing. Spending time with that work made me look at Stevenage through this bleak prism of suffering and indifference at times, observing how people are exploited each and every day in the knowledge that it will likely be the same right through until the end. It made me think of somehow trying to instead look at death as more of a statement, a standpoint in some ways – finding the protest in it as opposed to the futility in accepting its inevitability.”
“Given the nature of our day-jobs on construction sites or working in warehouses, we wanted to work some sort of industrial language into Divide. Endless Impossibly served as a bookend to those efforts and is an expression of us throwing everything we have at a song. It looks at the impact of automation in the workplace and makes some wider comments on how we’re starting to tread this difficult but pertinent tight-rope between human and machine-led environments. To compliment that we tried to conjure up this battle between those two constructs by having the vocals and the instrumentation in constant dispute throughout the song, until you reach that point of perplexity where the machine sounds start winning out. From a personal standpoint I reckon it’s the bleakest thing we’ve written.”
You can purchase ‘Divide’ on 12″ Vinyl here.