Bad Sign - Live & Learn: Exclusive Album Stream

Hard-hitting riff-heavy three-piece from Croydon stream their debut album Live & Learn in full 3 days before its official release exclusively with The Independent

Remfry Dedman
Tuesday 11 July 2017 10:30 BST
Bad Sign, from left to right, Kevin Miller
Bad Sign, from left to right, Kevin Miller (David Emery)

“I don't think we sound like anyone else, I think we've got lots of different things going on with our music. But most magazines just want something they can easily identify and put in a neat little genre box. They don't seem to know what to write about us.”

Joe Appleford, the BFG bruiser who spills his guts and provides deep, guttural, continent-shifting low end for Croydon three-piece Bad Sign, is not in a good mood. When we meet on a beautifully sunny heat-wave-haze of a day in South London, he’s irate over a review that he feels has been cobbled together with little astute insight. To be fair, Appleford has every right to be somewhat miffed; whether gate-crashing summer festivals and playing barn-storming sets or supporting a cavalcade of diverse bands such as Black Peaks, Creeper, Heck or Tesseract and winning over initially hesitant crowds every time, Bad Sign have constantly proved themselves worthy of your attention. They’ve just come up with a superb debut album of riff after riff after melon farming riff that is all set to prove the sceptics wrong. You can form your own erudite opinion by pressing play on the stream below and listening to the debut full-length Live & Learn three days before its official release through Basick Records on Friday 14th July.

Bad Sign have been described by Appleford as an "outspoken band that refuses to conform to some of the standard band attitudes to releasing music and fitting in with scenes and genres". Their status (in some corners of the British music press) as bridesmaids but never the bride has been a fairly constant source of frustration since their formation in the summer of 2012, especially when you consider that ordinary folk (the ones who actually pay to go to gigs or buy a t-shirt) have taken to the band like a pig to s**t. “Every time we play a live show and whatever bands we're playing with, we get a great reaction" says Appleford. "That fuels me and I know that given half the chance we could do such solid things. I've heard some obscene amounts of money being spent on records lately for other bands and if you gave us a 16th of what’s being spent on those records, we could do something really special! But we need to understand that certain things aren't going to come easy for us in the way that they do with other bands.”

With a British music press more obsessed by a band’s ‘story’ rather than the quality of their music, the likes of Bad Sign are in danger of disappearing amid a ghostly haze of guyliner, sob stories and appalling haircuts. Bad Sign are as no-nonsense as bands get; working class lads who marry Metallica’s love of the riff with Oasis’s unwavering self-confidence. It’s a combustible combination that detonates with all the power of a thermonuclear warhead. On tracks like “Liars & Lovers”, “Intermission” and “Attrition”, it’s clear that Bad Sign don’t need to bother fooling around with anything as trivial as gimmicks. “I think some of these magazines might be taking the easy route” says Appleford “and in a way, I don't blame them because they've got to sell copies. But then you have a band like us, it feels like people don't want to invest the time to figure us out or imagine where we can go in the future with a bit of support. I could write pop songs, it'd be a lot easier to do that than what we do now and I'd almost certainly earn a lot more money doing it, but I choose to do something that I see as a little more worthwhile. It’d be nice sometimes if the press felt that way too.”

Bad Sign are a particularly tricky feral beast to surmise, with traces of alt-rock, savage metal, furious punk and blistering hardcore all wrapped up in their sonic assault. But they are unquestionably idiosyncratic by design. “All three of us like very different bands and we wanted to try and pull influences from as many of them as possible and put them into Bad Sign. It's quite hard to do that in an honest way but we don’t want to be lumped in with any one genre; the grunge revival or nu-grave, all these things that are being pushed on people now. We're very happy and proud to be outside of those confines. I never want to be involved in a ‘scene’, because scenes die.”

The band aren’t strangers to hard graft either, well versed as they are with the dilemmas and hardships that face a touring band that play uncompromisingly heavy music; their tireless work ethic has meant they’ve barely been off the road since their formation five years ago. “Our first tour was 26 dates in 30 days; we booked the whole thing ourselves, threw our gear in a van and went out all over the UK. We were sleeping in the back of a transit, showering at service stations but every night was like a big party. We've got this real loyal underground network from doing that which I believe is going to be the basis for how we elevate ourselves going forward. A lot of these bands that blow up overnight, the reason they collapse is because they've not done the graft, they've not done the hard work and so when something difficult comes their way, they crumble. I can already see the pressure getting to a few bands but that won't happen with us; we thrive on pressure. The more you throw at us, the tougher we get.”

Appleford has lofty ambitions for Bad Sign and a strong sense of self belief which never slips into arrogance; his grass roots upbringing safeguards his ego from ever running rampant. A plan is in place that, if executed successfully, will help Bad Sign realise their dreams of headlining big venues across the country. Stranger things have happened; Biffy Clyro come up multiple times in our conversation, a band that were adored by the people and tolerated by the press for three albums and several years before signing to Warner Bros and blossoming into the arena rock behemoths they are today. Appleford’s aspirations echo the Ayrshire trio’s career trajectory.

“Everyone used to take Biffy out on tour,” he says “and I think we're in a similar place to where they were before they released their first album (2002's Blackened Sky). Bands like to take us out on tour and Biffy had this great following, people liked them and I think people like us as well. We're a band of the people, we come from nothing but we’re trying to make something of ourselves and it’s key for us to keep pushing forward as a band. We’re not writing songs for the press, we’re writing songs that we want people to love and that warrant being sung back to us in a 10,000 capacity tent or at Brixton Academy. And that’s just the first big step we want to hit, eventually we want to be playing the likes of Wembley and The O2 Arena, we have those high ambitions. It’s all about visualising these things and then putting the hard graft in behind it.”

Live & Learn, the debut album from Bad Sign, is released Friday 14th July and is available to pre-order through Basick Records

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