Success is not something easily quantified — especially in the music industry. But for the four young twentysomethings of Bad Suns, there’s no denying they’ve had a landmark year. In June, the budding indie rockers released their full-length debut, Language & Perspective, via Zane Lowe’s Vagrant Records. Since then, it’s been full steam ahead: packed schedules, national tours, and festival dates with rock ’n’ roll luminaries like The Black Keys, The Flaming Lips, and Queens of the Stone Age. Before the summer comes to a close, frontman Christo Bowman and bandmates Miles Morris, Gavin Bennett, and Ray Libby will embark on a statewide headlining tour in support of Language & Perspective. The band lands at Velvet Jones on Friday, August 15, with tour mates Kiev. Below, we catch up with Bowman on a rare day off in Portland, Oregon, to talk about the band’s early days, recent leaps, and next steps.
Starting from the beginning, how did you guys all meet? Me and Gavin had class together on the first day of 7th grade and we just decided we were going to be friends, but we didn’t start playing music together for another three years after that. Then Ray I met through the Cobalt Café — we had friends in bands we all knew, but we didn’t know each other, and then when we were looking for a guitar player, he kind of offered himself up. And then Miles and I met in the middle of all that. We were hired guns for this other thing and immediately hit it off and started leading the charge on what we wanted to do.
Were there music, artists, or albums that you guys originally bonded over? Yeah. I grew up with my dad showing me bands like Elvis Costello, The Smiths, The Cure, Tears for Fears, U2, Depeche Mode. That was the kind of stuff I always enjoyed, but I didn’t know how to make music like that. I started playing when I was 10 years old, so it was easy to turn to bands like Green Day, which were just power chords, drums, and bass. As I grew older, that stuff that my dad showed me started appealing to me more, though, and through falling in love with that music and having four musicians to play with, it kind of started coming together. I still love Green Day, though.
Where does the title of the record derive from? It comes from a lyric in the first song on the album, “Matthew James.” I think the idea was taking what you’re given and deciding what to do with it. You’re born into this world with language — the cell phone, the Internet was always there, English was the language taught to me. But perspective is about what you decide to do with it and how you use it.
You guys are well on your way to closing out a pretty huge year. Has there been a moment of pinching yourself and thinking, ‘Is this really happening?’ yet? There are a lot of moments that come to mind, but, you know, a lot of bands work to reach a certain point — “I want to sign a record deal” or “I want to be on the radio.” With us, I think we reach one goal and we want to move on to the next. There’s always something more to do in my eyes. But I’ve been really proud of the choices we made. And holding the album in my hands for the first time — that felt pretty good.
Bad Suns play Velvet Jones (423 State St.) on Friday, August 15, at 8 p.m. with Kiev. For tickets and info, call (805) 965-8676 or visit velvet-jones.com