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Weird Nights and Artistic Adventures with @badsuns Frontman @christobowman
To see more Bad Suns’ photos from the road, check out @badsuns and @christobowman on Instagram. For more music stories, check out @music.
Though they’re barely into their 20s, the four members of Los Angeles’ Bad Suns (@badsuns) – singer/guitarist Christo Bowman (@christobowman), guitarist Ray Libby, bassist Gavin Bennett and drummer Miles Morris – are wise beyond their years. Since forming in 2012, they’ve released an acclaimed album – last year’s Language & Perspective – drawn comparisons to Imagine Dragons and The 1975, played Coachella and Firefly and completed two headlining tours in 2015 alone. As Christo tells it, the success stems from calculated risks and years of watching musician friends run into roadblocks.
“Gavin and I were always trying to hang out with the older kids,” he says from his Southern California home. “We also kind of had a chip on our shoulder because we were younger and felt like maybe we had something to prove in order to be able to run in those circles. Just because we’re younger doesn’t mean that we’re idiots or that we don’t know how to make music. We wanted to be very smart because we didn’t want to make those mistakes we learned about from the older kids, the people who signed a bad record deal and nothing happened.”
Bad Suns was courted by a number of major record labels, and ended up signing with independent Vagrant Records because, as Christo explains, “no one there is going to lie to your face.” Rather than put all their eggs into one full-length basket, they took their time and introduced themselves to the world with the 2014 four-song Transpose EP, which included the standout tracks “Cardiac Arrest” and “Salt.” Three of those cuts ended up on Language & Perspective, released just five months later and featuring a slew of danceable, melodic alt-rock tunes.
Though he prefers being home in L.A., enjoying time at the beach and working on new tracks in the studio, Christo is still riding high after the headlining tours. In addition to sold out shows, highlights included a visit to St. Louis’ City Museum, which he describes as “a choose-your-own adventure” experience of exhibits. Aside from watching TV and movies, the band – the name of which is taken from a song by The Bravery, but doesn’t have any specific meaning to the members – tries to broaden its horizons. “We get introspective and have conversations about music,” Christo says. He also just enjoys seeing and snapping pictures of interesting sights along the way. “Sounds and vision go hand in hand, obviously. Photography is a great way to inspire and be inspired.”
That’s not to say they don’t indulge in some youthful antics. After Coachella, a cross-country, stir-crazy bus ride led to their photographer and merch guy playing a game of “nut ball,” where they threw shoes at each other’s crotches. Another photo shows their tour manager holding a gun over a pile of cash, with Christo’s caption reading “Weird Night.” A friend of their merch guy came on board the bus to tattoo some of the band members and took the gun out of his pants for comfort. Their tour manager happened to drop the band’s cash pouch, and, as Christo explains, “all the money was just on the ground. Someone threw the gun in there and took the picture and we thought it was hilarious. The only way to sum that up was ‘weird night.’”
For now, Christo is mostly enjoying some downtime in L.A., visiting his girlfriend at UCLA and working on the band’s sophomore album in between one-off gigs. “I think it’s going to be our saving grace that I was intentionally vague on our first album,” he says of the lyrics on the new LP, which is in pre-production. “I wasn’t in the place to give myself away. We wanted people to hear that album and say, ‘Man, I wonder what they’re going to do next’ as opposed to, ‘Well, I hope they don’t ever make another album again. This is all I need to hear.’ This next record is going to be a lot more personal. There’s a bit more depth to it. We’ll see.”
After all, he has a great reason to be unsure about where the new album is going: “I haven’t even heard it yet!”