Interview with Bad Idols

We jumped on Zoom with Eric and Chloe from Knoxville, Tennessee based punk band Bad Idols! In this interview, we talked about how technology is changing the music industry, their upcoming split EP with their friends in Bay Area-based punk band Sarchasm, and their future plans now that the pandemic is winding down and the return of live music is hopefully on the horizon.

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What’s your go-to gas station order?

Chloe: Definitely Monster Energy drinks, and it used to be a lot of gummy bears and gummy worms, but mostly now it’s Cool Ranch Doritos.

Eric: I don’t know if I have a go-to, I’ll usually get a bubbly water or a coffee, or if I’m feeling really dangerous I’ll get a Pepsi or something, and I’ll get a Lay’s Original chips. Something like that.

Earlier this month you put out a live album including 11 different songs of yours. How has this experience felt different compared to your other projects and what do you hope listeners get out of it?

Eric: I don’t really know what I hope people get out of it. The thought process was that we’ve been a band for nine years, and I think I thought that every decent punk band has some sort of crappy live album. There is a video to those live songs that we did for this thing last year called This Year Sucks Fest, which our friends in Sarchasm asked us to be a part of. When we got all that back, we got the music mixed and mastered and thought, “Why not release it as a live album? Someone will like it.” We didn’t release it to be like, “This is awesome!”. It was just like, “This is something. Someone might like it.”

In the spirit of live performances, what are your thoughts on the current state of live shows/entertainment, particularly in the DIY scene, and do you think the pandemic has set long term changes in motion?

Chloe: I think that we all are expecting that even though it’s becoming more comfortable for people to do performances and stuff, none of us really know exactly how safe a lot of stuff is. Everyone’s on edge, I think, at least. We haven’t played a show yet, it looks like lots of outdoor shows. That’s comfortable. It’s different but it’s also fun, it’s a nice challenge.

Eric: Everyone in our band is vaccinated, but we aren’t really rushing into playing any shows. I think maybe we would if someone asked us, maybe. When the pandemic happened, we wanted to write and release some more music. We’ve just kind of kept going with that. The long-term effects on the community, that’s something I’ve not really thought about. I think people are going to keep wearing masks, and should just do whatever makes them comfortable.

The live album is preceded by your EP “Get Stoked.” What are you most stoked about in regards to this collection of songs?

Eric: I think we were really stoked to put out that EP with Say-10 Records, that’s a label that we’ve liked and respected for a long time. It was cool to get to work with them on it. The label picked the name of the EP, it was part of a three-band bundle. We’ve been working on a new album and all kinds of stuff, but Say-10 records asked us to be part of their Get Stoked bundle. I think that I’m stoked about more music and tours coming back.

Chloe: It was my first record, the first one with me on it. I was overly stoked.

“Lucas” opens with the line “Lucas doesn’t like my songs, he just thinks I’ve got them wrong”. How have you dealt with criticism from others as well as self-criticism?

Eric: I think if something is really hurting my feelings, like that song was about, I try to have the healthiest outlet I can with it, and that’s usually through art or music. My own self-criticisms, I don’t really have anything to get over that, I guess. Therapy, I don’t know.

Do you think you’re your own worst critic?

Eric and Chloe: [Laughter]

Eric: [Sarcastically] I have a lot of crazy critics, that definitely hate me more than I hate me.

You guys have been a band since 2012, which is an impressively long time. If you could share one tidbit of knowledge you’ve learned on your journey, what would it be?

Eric: Take your time. Do stuff the right way, don’t rush into something that you think is going to be really important. Don’t be afraid to let your plans change. It’s good to have some intense plans months in advance for what you wanna do for your band, and you’re all set to go, and you’re ready to do your thing next month, and then something happens. In the beginning, when plans would change, it would make me sad and feel like this is so pointless. But now that I’ve had experience with it, I understand to let things change. At least something’s happening, and something’s better than nothing. That’s my advice to anybody starting their first band. It’s okay to let the plan change.

Although Nashville usually gets the credit for being a major music city, what can you tell us about the scene in Knoxville?

Chloe: Best scene in Tennessee, are you kidding me?

Eric: Yeah, it might be. We don’t have the ego that Nashville has. And that’s not to say that every artist in Nashville has it, it’s just there’s so much stuff there.

Chloe: It’s just oversaturated, you know? At least in Knoxville it feels like the communities that we’ve been a part of and have built up over the past few years, it’s a strong network of a family. And that’s what a community should be. All the bands and the bookers and the promoters and the people that run the venues, most of us are on the same page about looking out for each other. I think that’s an important thing to have in your local community.

Eric: I agree. And I would imagine Nashville is sectioned off into several communities. They’re much larger than our city, I agree with everything Chloe said. We’re tight-knit, very supportive.

When we interviewed Sarchasm, they mentioned releasing a split EP with you! What can you tell us about the sound of the upcoming release? What was the recording process like?

Eric: I think it’s our best stuff, we’re gonna go film a music video for one of the songs after this. I just think it’s our best, it sounds like our band. Controlled chaos at times, catchy stuff, and really fast.

Chloe: I think for the first time, since I’ve been in the band, we’ve always been juggling going on tours and recording stuff and releasing stuff and playing local shows and trying to book stuff, it was kind of nice for this past year for us to really just sit with songs and let them mature. I think that’s a word we’ve used a lot. The sound is maturing more as we have. It’s a nice change-up from what most people have come to expect from the band.

Sarchasm are from the Bay Area, which is quite far away! How is technology bringing people closer together changing music?

Eric: At least with what we’re doing with the band stuff, I can’t imagine being in a band twenty years ago and not having Facebook groups to network with people, making phone calls, working with zines and stuff. I can’t imagine what that must have been like, booking tours without Facebook. I think technology has made it much easier for traveling on tour and finding like-minded people, bands that would be good to play with, that stuff. I met Mateo from Sarchasm the first time we ever played at 924 Gilman. Long story short, it’s a bunch of Facebook messages. Like, “Do you know how I can get in touch with these people?” or “Yeah, we’re friends with these people.” It’s super convenient. I can’t imagine not having Facebook, as crappy as it is for just about everything else. It’s very convenient for traveling and music.

Chloe: A year later and stuff, virtual shows aren’t the same as being next to your friends and you’re all sweaty and breathing on each other and stuff like that. But just to see the amount of effort that people have put into doing things, to watch how they’ve gotten progressively better and more organized and more professional over the last year, it makes me feel great. There’s so many creative, driven people that are like, “There’s a pandemic, we can’t do this, so we’re gonna do this.” It helps you meet a lot of different people in a lot of different ways.

Eric: Going off of what she just said about livestreams and stuff, I think that’s gonna be a long-term effect. When shows come back, I think there’s still gonna be awesome live shows and professionally filmed sessions and stuff.

Now that the pandemic is winding down, what are some of your upcoming plans besides the EP?

Eric: I’m going to start booking us a tour for January. We’re probably gonna go out West. I brought it up to Sarchasm, maybe doing some shows with them on the West Coast to promote our split. We live so far away there’s not really a convenient spot to start a run with them, so maybe we’re just gonna meet with them out there if they’d like to do it, and we’ll go up and down the coast. I think touring is a big one for us, we’ve released quite a bit of music since the pandemic started and the plan is to record a full-length album by the end of this year that’ll probably come out sometime next year. Just really excited to get back out there. I felt like we were really good at touring, and for a really long time we were just busting it out for a few years.

Chloe: Always.

Eric: We did really well, and then had to take a break. Which was okay, I’m actually kind of thankful for it. I feel like I was kind of burning out there for a second, and the break was good for me. I’m really excited to get back on the road and tour more.

Chloe: See all of our friends face-to-face once again. Hug people. You take that stuff for granted until it’s gone.

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