Real rock 'n' roll: Bad Dudes ready to take their singular swagger beyond K-town

With out-of-town gigs and a focus on new material, the Bad Dudes are set for a busy summer.

Photo by Liz Aaron

With out-of-town gigs and a focus on new material, the Bad Dudes are set for a busy summer.

To the delight of rock fans who miss the egos and depraved personalities of rock bands past, Knoxville quintet The Bad Dudes continue their assault on subtlety and good taste through exaggerated ’80s glam/hair band decadence. Championed by its forefathers, guitarist Vivian Knight and vocalist Precious Robinson, the act is gearing up for the next phase of its rise to power despite the recent makeover of its rhythm section. With a LiL iFFy collaboration in tow, the Dudes look to spread the word to surrounding areas. And the word is debauchery.

With only two of its founding lineup remaining, The Bad Dudes have seen a number of iterations, including its current roster, which boasts Chris Howler on bass and Turq Von Nasty on drums. While the outfit has, at times, been a revolving door as members leave to fulfill emerging life obligations (in the most recent cases, marriage and fatherhood), The Bad Dudes remain resolute. With an extended network of honorary Bad Dudes, complete with official stage-ready pseudonyms, the band always has a ready dude on deck.

“Life just catches up with you sometimes, and it’s hard to put your all into something, like playing music, when you have other responsibilities,” says Knight. “Chris has been an honorary Bad Dude since day one. He’s been a close friend of the band for a real long time and is also the bass player for La Basura Del Diablo, who are also good friends of ours. ... I don’t know where Turq came from, but we’re glad to have him. Both of them are about as reliable a rhythm section as you could ask for, and I don’t think people understand how hard it is to find a rock-solid bass player or drummer that isn’t flaky.”

With out-of-town gigs and a focus on new material, the Bad Dudes are gearing up for a busy summer.

Photo by Liz Aaron

With out-of-town gigs and a focus on new material, the Bad Dudes are gearing up for a busy summer.

To up its dynamic, The Bad Dudes sought out another high-energy local musical caricature in “wand-core” wizard rapper LiL iFFy. Collaborating on an old favorite, the partnership entered the studio with a “Walk This Way”-style remix in mind but produced an alternate version of one of its fan-favorite songs. Bad Dudes and LiL iFFy currently are preparing a music video for the track.

“(The single) is one of the very first songs we ever wrote as a band, and somehow it and ‘(Expletive)ville’ have kind of turned into our anthems,” Knight explains. “LiL iFFy is another real close friend of the band. Precious and I thought it would be a lot of fun to do a crossover with iFFy. ... Every time we perform it live people love it.

“When we went into Soundlair earlier this year and recorded the track, we didn’t really know what to expect. We didn’t even know what the lyrics were, but as soon as iFFy spit the first line ... I was sold. We really wanted to pay homage to Run DMC/Aerosmith, but I think the song surpasses any expectations we might have had. It really reinvented the song. Plus, it feels good to get out there and cross-promote another local artist that we really believe in and hopefully have people that normally wouldn’t be exposed to iFFy’s brand of hip-hop expand their horizons.”

Looking to sink its teeth into other markets, The Bad Dudes will add to its out-of-town show regimen with regional gigs. The in-your-face stage show Knoxvillians are familiar with seems to carry over in other cities as well. When asked if their usual confidence and cocksure swagger is affected by unfamiliar settings and faces, the group tells that its poise comes in recognizing the accessibility of its hard-charging songs.

“We had a group of people who frequent shows in Nashville tell us that we were the first ‘real’ rock band that has played Nashville in a while, which I find funny,” Knight recalls. “Everyone tries to label their type of music or fit in a genre. The thing what’s so great about us is that we’re rock and roll, period. Even to a bunch of hipsters that are into whatever it is they like, we struck a nerve. When you ask someone what kind of music they listen to, they might say; ‘I don’t like rap,’ or ‘I don’t like screaming’ or ‘I don’t like techno or country.’ I can guarantee you no one has ever said, ‘I don’t like rock and roll.’ That’s why I feel we might be on to something.”

Saturday night The Bad Dudes will take the stage at The Well for a show with Pick Up the Snake and Belfast Six Pack. The show is set for 10 p.m. with a $5 cover. The show may be the band’s last local performance until mid-summer while the Dudes build on their repertoire and broaden their gigging radius.

“The show will be our last local show ’til probably July, unless something big comes up,” says Knight. “We’re going to be focusing on playing out of town mostly and writing new material. We’ve got some big things in the works that we’re waiting for confirmation on, but this summer is shaping up to be pretty exciting for us.”

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