KNOXVILLE — Knoxville rockers The Bad Dudes have re-emerged after a three-year break, and are preparing for the release of their debut album "Mammas, Hide Your Daughters." While the lineup has changed from its initial run, the band's music and philosophy remains the same. Upon re-entry into the Knoxville music scene, the group acknowledges a difference in the landscape.
The Bad Dudes, who first performed in 2006, created a buzz for a year or so before disbanding as the original members were diverted to their normal lives. The band points out that was a period when the scene was thriving with perhaps more bands than the city could adequately support. Since that time, the number of bands and venues has thinned out to the point it was a challenge to assemble the present Dudes crew.
"It was tough starting over," says guitarist Vivian Knight. "Before it was just like a side project for our friends to mess around and try other stuff and play rock 'n' roll. We're just a few years removed from playing music, and even with our other bands, not a lot of people are playing anymore. Back then everybody had a band and there were all these high school kids playing and coming up. They're in their early 20s now I guess, and they don't play anymore."
"That was the hard thing about finding Billy (Bunny)," adds vocalist Precious Robinson of the search for its latest addition. "Billy plays lead guitar. Nobody even has any aspiration to learn how to play lead anymore."
Likely as a result of the band's original side project status, stage names and lyrical content, The Bad Dudes have occasionally been misconstrued as a novelty or joke band. In reality, the group is something of a throwback, more in its mentality than its music, opting to sideline personal emotions to write songs about girls, booze and partying — themes rock 'n' roll was founded on. The Bad Dudes' motives center on sharing new good times with its audience rather than self-indulgently projecting its own past feelings or hardships to portray some false depth.
"I think the issue is that we're not a band that's trying to be poetic or pour our feelings out," says Robinson. "Just because we're a straight-up rock 'n' roll band singing about the silly, crazy things we sing about doesn't mean we're not serious about it. We're very serious about the music; we just don't take ourselves too seriously.
"I think it's a culture thing from the '90s that's somehow held over where people still want to be selfish and sing about themselves and their feelings. It's not so much about the band as a unit. It's some guy with something to get out and make everyone else miserable, too. There's no glory in singing about how depressed you are. Life sucks enough without hearing everyone else's problems."
Next week will mark the release of "Mammas, Hide Your Daughters," The Bad Dudes' first full-length album. Recorded in Knoxville at Funk Basement Productions from February through August, the album spans the group's entire catalog up to the point of recording. Containing old favorites and newly written material, the release will be available in CD and digital format (through iTunes and Amazon.com).
"We redid some old songs," Knight says. "It was funny; we had (former Bad Dude) Biff Webster come in and sing on one of the songs, and it's changed since he used to sing it. He was messing up, but we left it in during a breakdown, because it just sounded natural. We're not choir boys, we're The Bad Dudes. It's just simple, take-it-or-leave-it rock 'n' roll. It's raw; it's natural. I wouldn't say it's humorous, but I think you can tell we had fun recording it.
"The new songs have got more boogie. Anytime someone brings a song to practice, it has to have a hook; don't bore us, get to the chorus. If it doesn't have a hook, I don't want to play it. The thing I like about Bad Dudes is, when we have a show — take our last two, for example, we had some friends from work come out, and you could tell from their faces that they enjoyed it ... huge grins from people that I know don't usually listen to this kind of music. It's because they can't get these songs out of their heads; it's all about the hook."
© 2011, Knoxville News Sentinel Co.
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