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Bad//Dreems have had a gutful and they aren’t being quiet about it

With the dawning of social media and increased connectivity, the public’s voices have never been louder. As the political climate changes, and the everyday citizen becomes increasingly dissatisfied with the status quo, it’s sometimes hard to know how best to use your voice. 

Affectionately labelled as pub rock, Bad//Dreems encompass so much of what makes quintessentially Australian rock music so identifiable, and with their new album Gutful, they hammer in a very political message.
 
Alex Cameron, the band’s guitarist, wants listeners to know, everyone’s opinions matter. “People may look at a band like us and assume that’s not what we’re about, and same thing with our fans. People may think that we may not believe in things like [social justice].
 
“That's a real problem in the world right now, that we tend to stereotype, generalise and over simplify things, when in fact it’s very interesting to deliver those messages in the form of a garage rock’n’ roll song.”
 
The changes to the political climate over the past 18 months prompted the band to write about this heavy subject matter. From the Trump administration to the circus of Australian politics and the ongoing debates surrounding immigration, Cameron sighs as he admits, they’d had a gutful.
 
“The motivation for the title track is being fed up with the kind of round-a-bout, futile debates that take place in our world today, and of the bullshit being spouted by these people. Other songs are about more personal subject matter, and Mob Rule about the dangers of the mob mentality – it’s an album of the times.”
 
The aforementioned title track is considered a call to arms for those feeling underrepresented by public figures.
 
“You don’t need to have a PhD in humanities or political theory to be able to talk about these things. Obviously they’re very complex issues, but they can also be very simple. It’s an interesting exercise to write about issues which are very prominent in Australia right now. What better way to explore those issues than within a presumption about the genre?”
 
Their sophomore album was never something the Adelaide rockers were terribly stressed about. “We didn’t want to change the type of songs or the type of music we were playing – it was about becoming better songwriters.”
 
The band’s subtle evolution since 2015’s highly praised Dogs at Bay has seen their recorded sound accurately reflect what they do on stage, where their sound reaches its full potential.
 
“We’re happy that it’s a reflection of our live show which, at the moment, is what we’re trying to do – straight out, guitar rock’n’roll, designed for a live setting. This album has a pretty good handle of what we want to do in the future, expanding those boundaries.”
 
The band becomes all the more impressive when you take into account the fact that none of the members have given up their day jobs, including Cameron, who is a surgical registrar in reconstructive surgery.
 
“For all of my adult life, I’ve been doing medicine and music. It took me until I was 30 to come to terms with how they fit together, because they’re so different to each other. If I was to do music away on tour I’d be feeling guilty that I wasn’t studying and doing the right thing by my medical career, and if I was in the hospital for days on end, which I often am, I’d think I was missing all these opportunities to do what I really love, which is music.
 
“I learned to stop worrying about it, and somehow those things do fit together, and what I’ve concluded is what they have in common is people.
 
“In medicine, you have the privilege to meet a great range of people who you might not otherwise meet as patients. For the last six months I worked up in Darwin, and I worked with people from Arnhem Land and other communities, which was life changing. And music, it’s a form of communication, and a form of telling stories. “In a practical sense it can be very challenging and stressful trying to combine the two, but that’s just the way it is.”
 
By Claire Morley

Bad//Dreems will perform at Corner Hotel on Saturday June 10 with The Creases. Gutful is out Friday April 21 via Ivy League.