The Underground Sounds Of America: Bad Moves
Welcome to the latest installment of U.S.A.: The Underground Sounds of America, our series that shines a spotlight on the most underrated rock, metal, punk, and hardcore bands in the United States. Each week, we ask one band member to answer five unique questions so you can get to know them better. Because if you aren’t already a fan of the artist featured below…you should be.
Washington, D.C. is a paradoxical town. The capital of one of the greatest republics on Earth is also dealing with a higher level of income inequality than any city in the country. The home of some of the best restaurants and bars in the U.S. can also boast the most drug abuse in the nation. The District was established to govern; yet it can barely relate to its citizens. There’s a reason why the political epicenter of the world also happens to be the birthplace of hardcore punk rock.
So perhaps it’s also fitting that D.C.’s Bad Moves play pretty power pop tunes that lyrically tackle some fairly weighty topics. On their upcoming debut full-length, Tell No One (due out September 21st on Don Digovanni Records), the quartet touches upon themes of vulnerability, insecurity, and regret – but not without a bright and shiny glimmer of hope! Recorded at Philadelphia’s Headroom Studio by Joe Reinhart (producer and guitarist for Hop Along), the follow-up to the band’s 2016 self-titled EP is a sweet, catchy album with an edgy punk rock spirit – an indication of more amazing things to come for the deceptively straightforward band.
As personal as the songs may be, however, most of the band’s lyrics aren’t attributed to any one member. Emma Cleveland (bass), David Combs (guitar), Katie Park (guitar) and Daoud Tyler-Ameen (drums) all contribute vocals to the record — whether trading off, in harmony, or in unison with one another. The patchwork of voices only serves to make Bad Moves’ tunes more relatable and universal, in a way few bands manage to achieve.
Having already toured the U.S. and U.K. with the likes of Jeff Rosenstock, The Spook School, and Martha, the band hits the road once again later this month with a wide range of headliners, including The Obsessives, Lee Bains III & The Glory Fires, and Nana Grizol. Before they take off, we thought we’d ask guitarist Katie Park five questions to get to know her and the band a bit better:
1) If you had to play one Bad Moves song to someone unfamiliar with a band as an introduction, which would you choose and why?
I’d play Cool Generator, from the new album! We all sing lead vocals, trading off lines, and I love when people can hear all our voices together. And — as a pop song about how the world profits from the culture of those who are most oppressed by society and the state — it fits with a common theme of the band, which is that we play cheerful bops about some depressing stuff.
2) Can you give us an example of a real life experience that may have inspired some of the emotional themes of the new record?
A few of the songs on the album were written at a time when I was reflecting a great deal on my queerness, and how confusing and conflicted those early teenage years were. I had a religious upbringing, and it wasn’t until I was an adult that I came to understand how that environment shaped — and maybe misshaped — my queer identity. I based the song Spirit FM off those experiences and tried to envision a relationship that felt jubilant and subversive in spite of its dogmatic surroundings.
3) Name your five greatest musical influences.
5. Bad Moves Has No Influences
4. Nor Any Predecessors
3. For We Are Forged Of A
2. Singular And Unique Sound
1. Carly Rae Jepsen
4) The band’s appearance on the Cartoon Network series Craig of the Creek was pretty incredible. Can you explain how that opportunity came to be, and what it was like for you to voice your own cartoon avatars?
David and one of the show’s creators, Ben Levin, have known each other since they were young, so it felt like a natural collaboration between friends. …Or maybe that’s called nepotism? I don’t know. It has definitely exposed us to a whole new audience of cartoon nerds, which — if we’re being real — is the best audience. We all had a blast voicing our characters. Especially Daoud, who was about ready to quit his day job and pursue a new career in voice acting, he was such a natural.
5) What’s the worst experience you’ve ever had on tour?
We were extremely bummed when we had to cancel a show in Nottingham during our UK tour last year. We got stuck in traffic for five hours on a little country highway – at one point, traffic was diverted to a one-lane, two-way bridge – and wound up at a complete standstill surrounded by fields of sheep. On the plus side, it gave us plenty of time to step out of the van and take selfies with the sheep.
WORDS AND LIVE PHOTO: Ethan Fixell
PORTRAIT PHOTOS: Emily Chow