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Why Gutful Is Bad//Dreems Most Personal + Political Record To Date

It’s been two years since Radeladian’s Bad//Dreems unleashed their debut album, Dogs At Bay and it’s been five years since they decided to quit rehearsing and start playing.

Today marks the release of the group’s hugely anticipated second album Gutful – an incredibly stirring record exploring political, societal and personal issues within the band and modern Australia today. The 11-track collection doesn’t simply adhere to the pub-rock classification, it sets a higher standard.

Gutful is apologetically raw, critically honest and Baddies most personal work to date. The vulnerability is real and the zero bullshit mentality is fiercely present. We sat down with bassist James Bartold to dissect Gutful and learn that one of their dads features on the record.

Following Dogs At Bay, what are you hoping to achieve with Gutful?

With a first record, it’s a mix bag of all the songs you have pieced together. It doesn’t always really work out. With Gutful, we wanted to have a series of songs that were specifically written for this album and put together in an order so we identify, as a band, that this is where we were collectively in this time.

There are some absolute highs and lows in there.

We picked the songs that were the best songs we had at a time, regardless of what they were. We wanted to have a narrative of highs and lows, because it’s something we all went through as a band and as people. You can’t have an album that’s just angry rock and roll because that’s not what we were feeling all the time during the making of the album. Sometimes we were just driving home, feeling a little vulnerable, thinking that the world’s been really tough this week and that’s the beauty of it. It’s something we’ve struggled to capture with our other releases but with this – the songs ‘Pagan Rage’ and ‘A Million Times Alone’ were songs that really express that vulnerable and beautiful touch we could never get.

Thematically, our first record was about being four guys from Adelaide. You know, things like living in a small town environment and dealing with people from Melbourne always making fun of us but since then, we’ve realised there’s a lot more out there. We’ve opened up our eyes to the world and how it’s changing, what’s happening across Australia that we’ve had a gutful of – not just political or societal but also personal things as well.

It’s interesting you say because Gutful has quite a broad range of opinions and perspectives. For example, “Boys will be boys” is very mature and self-reflective lyric of “typical” “Aussie” male behavior, ‘Johnny Irony’ and ‘Gutful’ are a lot more aggressive comments on society and ‘By My Side’, and ‘Make You Love Me’, paint you guys as a little bit more vulnerable. Is there a message you guys were hoping to get across or a platform you’re looking to expose with this album and Bad//Dreems?

It’s a hard one but we didn’t want the songs to be protest or political songs. We wanted them to be songs about the world we’ve lived in and how we’ve seen the world changed. The first songs and releases were about small town life in Adelaide and now we’ve grown up, looked at things a bit more and this is our viewpoint on our world. We’re not trying to send a message out there or to try and change the world – it’s just our take on what it’s like to be an Australian in the world we’re living in. We’re just saying what we want to say and what we’ve learned from playing and touring in this band.

What was it like to work with Mark Optiz again and someone that’s been so involved in Australian rock?

So many producers have their own specific ways of working and recording but with Mark and Colin Wynne (engineer), they are basically the same guys as us so everything just felt organic. Mark and Colin’s approach is get us in there, and play the music as if you would play in a rehearsal room or on stage. No bullshit. Mark is very good at capturing the “fullness” of rock music and he’s always reminding us about the “feel of the record” so what you see now is something that we as a band all felt was right for us.

Baddies have been dubbed “pub rock” – do you identify with this?

We’re pretty much just four Aussie blokes from Adelaide who grew up listening to Australian bands and it just so happened those bands in Adelaide were a part of pub rock. “Aussie Rock” isn’t something that’s been forced on us but rather, it’s what has always influenced the band. There’s been no conscious thought to sound like any other band or to bring back pub rock. We were simply influenced by what we grew up seeing, which was pub rock bands.

You guys all work full time jobs outside of this band. How do you guys find that’s impacted your approach to making music and touring? 

It’s definitely allowed us to get a different perspective on everything. Musically, we don’t have to be a band that has to continue to try to make money. We’re not under the pressure of any record labels, we do music when it suits us and we can go at our own pace and we do it when we want to do it. It’s a lot more creative and natural. We’re not doing music to make a buck or to be big, we’re doing it because we love playing together and the music we play.

So with a national tour around the corner for Gutful, what can punters expect the new album to sound like live – will tracks like ‘A Million Times Alone’ get a run?

We’ll definitely have quiet moment in the live shows but it’ll definitely be exciting to play these songs. It’s funny actually because Keith Wilson – Miles’ dad, played saxophone on that song and he’s actually our music teacher at school for all of us. He came in with his jazz shirt, pumped New Balances, asking for sheet music…and we’re planning to have him play the shows.

Gutful is out now – FFS buy it. Baddies head out on a national tour this June – see you there.