As Boston’s Warped Tour rain curse manifested itself in the form of torrential downpour, one band’s remarkable energy brought the sunshine… and I had the distinct pleasure of getting an interview. I caught up with Dua, Sheel, Salim, Graham, and Santi of Warped Tour newcomers Bad Rabbits to talk recording, hometown heroism, and Gold Bond.
MEB: You were able to get Chino Moreno to work with you in the studio recently. What was that like, considering you’re pretty big Deftones fans?
Sheel Davé: It was surreal. A few of us have been listening to Deftones since we were 15 or 16. He walked in that day and we were just like, “Is this really happening?” and we just became cool. We were like bros. He just brought his guitar and said, “What up?” The song we created together was awesome too. It’s going to be on our album that will be out next year.
What did Chino bring to the recording process that was different from how you approached it before?
Sheel: It wasn’t too different, actually. We were used to that way of writing with each other. We would be listening to a beat and he would kind of hum melodies out. We were trading back lyrics and melodies with him. It was cool because I got to jam some old Deftones songs with him. But as far as writing goes, it was pretty much what we were used to. The way Deftones writes is very collaborative and that’s the way we write. He fit right in to our writing process.
So it was a natural collaboration?
Sheel: Yeah, very natural.
Stylistically you guys definitely stand out from the majority of the bands here, and a lot of the kids here are used to moshing or skanking or what-have-you. Do your Warped Tour audiences respond to your music differently?
Dua Boakye: We want them to respond. We want them to dance, we want them to mosh, we want them to do whatever they feel. I like to see them dancing. We played a show last Friday and we had all the bands and crews moshing and starting a wall of death and a circle pit to our music. We don’t discourage it. We actually encourage doing whatever you feel. I like to see people dancing and doing whatever they feel, and I think my band would feel the same way.
Salim Akram: I think because it is Warped Tour, there are a lot of kids just kind of standing there and observing it. I mean, we start our set dancing ourselves, and a think a lot of kids are used to seeing bands doing the same, I guess Warped Tour moves, or band moves, or metal moves, or shit like that. To see dudes smile and looking like they’re having fun on Warped Tour, they’re kind of… skeptical, for lack of a better term. So it’s been cool. I mean, some kids are waiting for the band that plays after our set and they get into ours, but the people that come to see us have been receptive.
Sheel: It’s also a blessing and a curse, because we’re different. We’re proud of the way we’ve separated ourselves musically, but it’s a curse because kids come to see the bands they want to see and they see bands that sound like them and that’s all they want to do. They don’t want to hear anything different, so there’s a lot of close-mindedness. But there are open-minded kids who come and are blown away, and are grateful that there’s a band like us on this tour.
Graham Masser: We’ve definitely run into some people who come to Warped Tour to see the same shit, and then some who have really just come to hear new bands… to be exposed to different shit.
Every Warped Tour, there seems to be one or two bands that are completely different from the herd. Do you feel that you are one of these bands? If so, do you consider it a positive or a negative to stand out that way?
All: It’s definitely a pro.
Santi Araujo: You could compare us to Gym Class Heroes on this tour. You know, the kind of indie hip-hop band. They stood out and did really well on this tour. You’ve got Larry and His Flask this year, which is the kind of music you were explaining earlier. But us, we kind of stick out like Gym Class Heroes. I feel that’s the best comparison.
Dua: We’re definitely different than most of the bands on Warped Tour, and that’s what attracts people to us. But I also think that although we may look different, some of us are similar to the other bands when it comes to style and the music we were raised on. We all came from [the Warped Tour scene], and we all wanted to do this type of tour when we were growing up. To finally do it just makes sense. So when people say that we’re different, I like it, and I guess it’s a pro, but it also gets under my skin a little. That’s just personal.
Graham: We all used to come here as kids for sure, so regardless of whether kids are feeling it or not, whether they want to hate us or whatever, it’s still an honor to be here.
You compared yourself to Gym Class Heroes. Did that come through in the studio when you worked with Travie (McCoy) on “Girl I’m Like Damn”?
Sheel: He was our friend from shows in the past, before they blew up, so we’ve always had a mutual respect for each other’s bands. We actually sent him the track and he did his verse in the studio, I think maybe even in Miami or New Jersey. We weren’t in the studio with him, but we all respect him a lot as an MC and an artist. We trusted him with whatever he wanted to do with it and he came out with the perfect verse for it.
You guys are locals at this stop of the tour. Do you feel the hometown hero effect, or is it just like any other show?
Dua: It’s a little different. We definitely do have a little hometown love here. Walking through to get here, people were like, “Oh, Bad Rabbits!” I think we got lovin’. I mean, I was just onstage with Grieves and when he introduced me, when he said, “How many of y’all know Bad Rabbits?” his whole crowd exploded. And then when I came onstage, everybody was going crazy. I think people know who we are, and they know that we’re here and they want to see us. I think it’s a hometown hero show.
Sheel: It’s not a typical club show, so a lot of the kids who might have come to our show at a club but might not have seen other bands on this tour might opt to see those bands as opposed to seeing us because they’ve already seen us. It’s a different setting, but it’s got the hometown feel.
Warped Tour bands are renowned for forgoing hygiene. Have you successfully maintained your personal hygiene?
Salim: The unspoken hero of Warped Tour is the fucking shower bag. The solar shower. The motherfuckin’ shower bag, nigga!
Dua: And the athletic underwear…
Dua: The Tri-Stars, Gold Bond, baby wipes… Keep yourself clean at all times. Hygiene: we wash our hands, feet, dicks, my nigga’.
Graham: I keep it grimy, straight up.
Dua: Just look at him… Oh, you can’t look at him.
Santi: No, we’re on a bus this time, so it’s a lot easier. You can brush your teeth every night.
Have any of you discovered any new bands on Warped Tour this year that you particularly like?
Dua: Moving Mountains, I really like.
Graham: Winds of Plague, Enter Shikari…
All: A Day to Remember…
Set Your Goals…
Dua: Yeah, Grieves is a new guy. I had never seen A Day to Remember before. It was everybody’s first experience seeing them. It was amazing.
Last Question. What would you say to a person who has never heard Bad Rabbits?
Dua: Psyche! (Laughs)
Graham: It’s the American Dream.
Salim: A Day to Remember with a bunch of niggers in it.
Dua: (Laughs) Yeah, what he said…
Many thanks to Bad Rabbits for taking the time to talk with me, and be sure to check them out on the Skullcandy Stage at Warped Tour this summer.