You have to respect a band like Bad to the Bone. It can’t be easy to write and perform songs that constantly express themes of despair, alienation, and existential angst. I guess such artistic expression may provide a kind of therapeutic relief for some, but speaking personally, I’m happier observe it from a safe distance than have to experience it for myself. That said, there is still something irresistible that draws me to their music, something about dark side of human existence that can’t be ignored.
Bad to the Bone were formed in 2015 from former members of two post-grunge/trip-hop/psychedelic/alternative bands, Far From Answer and Be Right. Their songs, which are sung in both Mandarin and English, can basically be described a bluesy style of post-punk goth rock. There are immediately recognisable influences from Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Joy Division, and Einsturzende Neubauten, but Bad to the Bone aren’t a band stuck in the past. They also claim inspiration from recent UK bands such as Fat White Family, Filthy Boy, The Amazing Snakeheads, and Family Rain.
Lead singer Nuo Lin (林諾) has an Ian Curtis-like baritone voice that is well-suited to the dark, heavy, thumping, rumbling, sound produced by the band, namely: Chui-ssu Ta (吹斯達) on guitar and synthesizer, Cheng-Kai Hsu (徐承鍇) on bass, and Cheryl (雪莉) Lin on drums.
While the word ‘bad’ in the band’s name may have connotations of something spoilt or rotten, it’s actually more philosophical than that. ‘Bad’ here refers to a gloomy sense of alienation that never goes away. And gradually without one even being aware of it, the badness seeps into your bones until eventually you have no choice but to give vent to it in a mumbling, howling stream of dark poetry.
You are spellbound by this feeling of alienation
The beloved world is too remote
Side by side, we move towards the dark side
Singing the praises of loneliness, while falling*
(from the song, Dark Star)
When I saw Bad to the Bone for the first time in a suitably dark basement in Pingtung a few months ago, I was really impressed, so I’m looking forward to their tour to the south of the island again later this month.
The opening act for both these gigs is Nina Hagen Band sound-alikes, 寞子宮 MoZiGon.
Tickets for the Kaohsiung gig are available through IndieVox
10 songs are available for download (PWYW) from INDIEVOX