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Spotlight Interview With Bad Rat?

An album release from Bad Rat? brings us an array of indie-pop tones and textures that get built and melded together with melodies, hooks, and production that feels freeing and so pushes the envelope just enough to get caught right up in the music every damn time.

The Center of Everything is the title of the full-length release and it's got more vivid imagery, attention to detail, and intricacies than you really notice at first.

This is due to the records almost loose feel. The beats are great, and the songs are lush and full bodied for sure.

There are songs with choruses that just suck you right in and never really let go as you find yourself humming them in your head days later sometimes.

The sounds are beautifully retro at times, and colorfully now others.

The songs are this excellent blend of alternative -pop with dark edges and hints of aggression, and cinematic pop songs that wrap themselves around you.

This album has a real deal fullness to it that feels incredibly satiating in the end.

When it's all over, you feel like you've watched a film that impacted you.

There are songs that are super relatable, and they feel like they were written for you.

Most importantly, you can hear the love this band has true love for their craft, and with that, we had to have a talk with them to find out where this all came from.

RAG: Okay so let's start with the Center of Everything album. The record had a great edge to it that made it almost cinematic! Where did this album come from?

Throughout my teenage years I was enamored with ‘Cinematic Rock.’ (A term that was coined to describe ‘Starset’ whose first album ‘Transmissions’ I spent several years going absolutely nuts about.) I could list about a hundred songs, but what it really comes down to for me, is the inclusion of orchestral elements, swells, and long stretches that build from quiet intimacy to roaring crescendo. Thats what makes the blood pump in my veins, and though many of our stylistic influences on this album came from different places and genres, that cinematic quality that I find so utterly compelling always seems to find its way into the composition.

RAG: I'm hearing some great styles on this release. Who are some of all your biggest musical influences?

Pinback have stalked me for years. As a kid my best friend had an ‘Autumn of the Seraphs’ poster in their bedroom. I loved the artwork, but never asked about it. Years later I saw that same artwork staring up at me from a thrift-store CD bin. I picked it up and finally discovered what I had been missing. This was the same week that I began writing The Center of Everything. Other strong influences on the album include but are not limited to: Brand New’s ‘Science Fiction’ (album) AFI, and La Dispute.

RAG: So how did this all begin for you guys really?

One fateful day in 2017 I said to my then girlfriend “Maybe I should become a singer.” She said “You can’t even sing!” I said “Sure I can,” and immediately recorded our first album with one of my buddies in my basement. One year and two albums My best friend Claire and I became enamored with a recently released album, ‘Dear Me’ by OWEL. We immediately went to the first nearby show and were blown away by the bands performance. We went home burning with righteous inspiration. OWEL became one of our biggest influences moving forward and inspired me to take my lyrics and production more seriously. Ten albums down the line, I wouldn’t wish it had happened any other way.

RAG: What's next for you as a band?

The big news of course is that our most cohesive and ambitious album to date, entitled “Horoscope” is nearing completion. For this album we’re taking a deep dive back into the post-punk and shoegaze roots that infused our first full-length album, (and sister album to The Center of Everything ‘The Frog House’ (2018). I’ve grown a lot as a composer, but also as a vocalist and instrumentalist since ‘The Frog House’ was released, I’m insanely excited to unveil some of the best songs I’ve ever written. Grand piano will be play a prominent role on this record, and I’m currently drilling piano parts in preparation for a live recording session at Ghost Hit Recording (MA). Stay tuned!

RAG: What inspires you to write a song?

Every lyric in every song that I’ve written is a slice of the person I was at the moment of its conception. I’m an avid journal-keeper, and the musical process is often the crucible through which the strongest emotions of the moment are fired and preserved. To ask what inspires me to write a song is to ask me what reason I have to get out of bed in the morning. (or not!) They’re letters to me. They say “come close. listen, and remember.”

RAG: What are you all doing when you're NOT working on music?

Okay, I got this far without divulging the big secret, but it’s time. We’re not really a band. Members and collaborators have come and gone, (Though I’m still currently working with Ryan Hughes) But Bad Rat? is and always has been primarily a solo project. That said I’m probably doing about three people’s worth of other things at any given time. I’m a freelance digital artist professionally, and privately I’m an artist, a gardener, and an avid aquarist. I’m also chipping away at a book, and of course, more music!

RAG: Who are you listening to right now?

Call me old fashioned, I love to listen to CDs when I’m driving. (in fact I also love to listen to them in my house, and have at least three CD payers cluttering up the place) This week I’ve been blasting Jamie T’s Kings and Queens, a wonderfully diverse album with a razor-sharp recorded-at-home edge. My rotation right now also features The Veils’ Total Depravity, which if you have not heard, is an absolute joy. Dark, strange, and hauntingly beautiful, it both lacerates and soothes. I’ve also been rediscovering Keane’s ‘Under The Iron Sea’, which was a particularly formative album for a young me, and is proving to be a well of inspiration for our upcoming album ‘Horoscope’.

RAG: Are you all doing live performances?

Not yet! I know that sounds strange for someone who’s recorded, and produced ten albums, but I’d love to preform some shows when our new album releases, by which time I think I’ll be super comfortable preforming some of my favorite tracks off the album, and a few of our older songs as well!

RAG: This album seems like a big undertaking. What kind of advice might you have for other up and coming bands out there?

You mustn’t be daunted. If an album sounds like a big undertaking, Then don’t think about the album. Think about individual songs. If that’s too much, just your next verse. Every journey is a series of small steps. I never set out with a grand plan. I love the process, and if you do too, the bigger projects will coalesce. What I’m saying is, don’t let the fear that you’ll need to write nine or fifteen great songs get in the way of you writing one great song. Once you’ve done that, all you need to do is write another.

RAG: Before we go, what would you all like to say to fans of the music?

Thank you! Truly. It’s really scary to put a piece, or in my case, many many incredibly vunriile pieces of myself out there into the world, and to hear back that they connected with someone is an incredible joy. It can be easy to forget that we’re all in this together. Through art, we are all one.

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