Jake Sullivan may be just one man, but he sure knows how to rock us back in time with his neon glasses and hi-tops. BadNRad brings his weirdness, keytar, and unique flavor of rock to the 7th St. Entry tomorrow night to celebrate the release of his first EP, Bad Girl. We caught up with Sullivan to find out more about his unique live show.
Members: Jake Sullivan
Album release date: 6/10/2011, Bad Girl EP
7th Street Entry with Retrospecs and Mayda
18+, $5, 8 pm
Gimme Noise: What are you doing as a new artist to stay relevant or stand out in this saturated music industry?
I think it's more that I just plain stick out in general, rather than making a conscious effort to be different. Haha. I've always been weird, so I guess I just try to embrace the things about myself, my music and my ideas that are abnormal or unique. It's easier to do this as a solo artist because you're able to really run with your own ideas and flesh them out. But it sucks to load in for shows! Haha...
I like to think my live show is also a draw because you don't often see a guy in neon shades and light-up high-tops with a stack of synths, a keytar and a guitar shredding to crazy, funky electronic dance music while a crew of neon-clad speaker freaks and bodacious babes decked out in rad gear rock out. I also try to incorporate a lot of video and imagery which I think is essential not only live, but also as far as web presence, album artwork, flyers, logos, etc. goes.
The visual and multi-media aspect of BadNraD has always been important to me. And thanks to my graphic designer/bff since kindergarden, Matt Kamilar, my dreams are realized in the form of a righteous website and amazing BNR artwork for the albums. And if you've every been to Menergy at the Kitty Cat Klub (and at BNR shows) you've seen the Playatta Video Portal, brainchild of multimedia mastermind Hal Schuler, my partner in video-crime and BNR show staple. It's an interdimensional video-booth that transports its occupants to a universe of hyper-warped wonder (think "Magic Screen" from Pee-wees Playhouse on acid) that dancers on stage or in the audience are invited to play in. The images are projected on a screen and everyone in the audience can watch their seizure-inducing journey. And of course this provides a beautiful landscape for the music I'm melting their faces with.
But the show definitely wouldn't be complete without Minneapolis Television Network's own superstar dance-squad "Freaky Deeky," who have to be the most bizarre/colorful call-in dance talk show on cable access. They'll be helping to hype the crowd alongside some of the girls from the go go group, Bass Kandi, at the Bad Girl EP release show June 10th at the 7th Street Entry.
Unfortunately, some shows I have to perform alone but I do my best to rock out extra hard and put on a show for the audience because my goal is to entertain them. I feel if I'm going to put so much time into creating, shaping, growing, destroying, dissecting, reshaping and reanimating these songs then I'd better try to do them justice live.
Who is someone you'd love to share a stage or collaborate with?
Infected Mushroom or Chromeo would be amazing to share a stage with because I really enjoy what they're doing and they do it so well live. Plus Chromeo uses talk box (a la Zapp & Roger) so it would be a nice fit. Maybe we could do a harmonized talk boxing solo!
I'd say Daft Punk but that's almost too predictable. Teddy Riley has been a huge inspiration to me as a producer and I love the New Jack Swing style he pioneered. Then again, I love 80's/90's metal so playing with Iron Maiden, WASP or someone like Skid Row would be pretty ridiculous. Haha.
OH! Wait, I got it... Ace of Base.
Where do you draw inspiration from when writing?
Everywhere! I'm obsessed with VHS tapes and movies from the 80's and 90's. I sample a lot of stuff from my collection and am immediately inspired when watching something that clicks with me. I'll hear a line in a movie and all of a sudden I'm at my computer constructing something crazy with the sample.
But it could happen the opposite way too, often with some of the obscure music I sample from. I could be listening to a song (generally older funk tunes or metal) and something inside me says, "Holy shit...That would be perfect in this song I'm working on!" Then I'll bring it in to the project and tweak the beat to match and pitch shift it a bit so it's in the same key and somehow it works with my song.
Toys are also an inspiration for me. When you're a kid (especially one that grew up in the 90's) there was so much color and energy so I like to borrow a lot from things that stimulate my inner-child.
Pee-wee's Playhouse is a prime example of the colorful, childish, hyper radicality that inspires that part of my music. Recently, my girlfriend and I (another huge inspiration for me!) were at her parent's house digging through some of her old childhood stuff when she pulled out a box for this girly slumber party board game called "Dream Phone". It's basically a game where you call hunks (or dweebs if you're not so lucky) on this big neon pink phone to get clues about who's got a crush on you. It says all kinds of ridiculous things with an odd sort of robo 'tude. So I took my favorite one "He looks cool in whatever he wears..." and basically in a day created the song, "Too Cool", based around on Dream Phone samples.
Back in the Y2K days though, I was going to raves and really started getting into electronic dance music which changed my life and lead me to where I am now. I started making really cheesy songs on this sequencer/synth beat box and I continue to embrace that part of my musical past because it's how I started out. Well technically that's a lie. I started out by playing around on Casio keyboards as a little kid and would fall asleep to the crappy little demo song which I think worried my mom. But hey, I turned out ok! Sort of.
What comes first, the lyrics or the music?
It's almost ALWAYS the music. Like I said, you're talking to a guy who spent his early youth rocking out to Casio demo songs and 8-bit tunes while his older brother played Nintendo.
One of my favorite "real" songs as a kid was "Tequila" (thanks again Pee-wee for your Big Adventure) which is about as minimal as you can get lyrically. But I definitely try to get as much in lyrically as I can these days without compromising the instrumental aspects of the music. My song "Bad Girl" is basically a Casio "Rapman" keyboard preset jam that I layered synths over and came up with a catchy hook for. Once I had the hook I just went all out with the lyrics for the first time really and ended up with a sexy summer anthem. Sometimes the "lyrics" are samples from a movie though, like in the song "Zombie Bitchez".
My favorite movie is Return of the Living Dead and there's a million good lines in it so I use a ton of them in the song. I feel like that gives it more depth than if it was purely instrumental. One thing that becomes obvious after listening to a few of my songs is that I mainly use a talk box hooked up to a synth for my vocals, which I then play with a keytar. There's a surprising amount of expression you can get from that combination and I like to come up with lyrics as I'm writing the melodies on the keyboard.
Name a song that you wish you would have written and why?
There's SOOOOO many!!! That's a tough question so I'll just throw a few out there. "Dream Weaver" by Gary Wright because, damn, that is just a solid song.
"Candy" by Cameo, that's an amazing jam that makes me feel happy every time I hear that bass line.
WASP's "Animal (F*ck Like A Beast) because I'd kill to have Blackie Lawless' voice and I think that song would be amazing to perform live (he doesn't play it anymore due to his...religious beliefs).
Pendulum's "Slam" just because it blew my brains out the first time I ever heard it.
"Dance Floor" by Zapp and Roger is classic and a huge inspiration to me because of the fantastic talk boxing. I would be so proud if I had made that. Haha. I don't even know, there's an endless list!
Do you have a favorite local band?
There's a lot of rad bands around here these days like Phantom Tails, Retrospecs and Mercurial Rage. I really like what Bloodnstuff is doing too, they have an awesome and original sound. Especially for a two-piece! And Mayda is helping keep the funk alive which I always respect and I'm proud to say we'll be playing together at Bad Girl EP release party together along with Retrospecs.
Finish this statement: "Never have I ever..."
This is a weird question haha but here goes:
Never have I ever...
-Played a real cathedral organ. They seem so powerful and would feel amazing to play!
-Stopped singing/whistling my favorite cartoon theme songs on a daily basis (X-men, Denver the Last Dinosaur, Captain Planet...etc.)
-Made a song without a bassline (Prince's "When Doves Cry" pulls it off though)
-Touched fake boobs