by Shanell Dupras
Positive. Moving. Vibe. These are the three words Ontario jazz trio BADBADNOTGOOD (BBNG) – Alex Sowinski (drums and sampler), Chester Hansen (bass), and Matt Tavares (keyboards) – used to sum up their new album, III.
“All we wanted to do was to make an album that was front to back truly what we wanted to do and that we had the time and the ability to execute it the way we wanted to,” said Matt. “Maybe it’s not a record you would play all the time, but when you put it on it went somewhere.”
BBNG started when Alex, Chester, and Matt met while in college studying music. Alex said they bonded over their love for hip hop. The three started playing together and released their first self-titled album, which was a compilation of different – mostly hip hop – covers from artists like Gucci Mane, Kanye West, My Bloody Valentine, and Tyler the Creator. But these aren’t your typical covers. BBNG rearranges the originals into a kickass modern twist of jazz infused with hip hop elements. The three dropped out of college to pursue a music career with BBNG when their first album of cover songs started to take off online thanks to the help of Tyler the Creator, who met up with them and shared their video on Twitter.
“School would always be there and we could always come back to learning and studying, but you don’t always have opportunities to travel all these different places, so we all left school and tried to take the band idea and push it as far as we could,” Alex told Stylus.
BBNG keep pushing the band forward, with III being their first album on a record label, Innovative Leisure, and the first with all original material. With Innovative Leisure, BBNG decided to take a risk with putting out all original material, and not the covers they’ve become widely known for.
“We were like, ‘Cool, let’s try and do this. See if we can progress as a trio and explore some different ideas, experiment, and create an album that’s a representation of where we’re at musically.’ It was a push to keep going and step forward,” said Alex.
Being on a record label gave BBNG the time they needed to come out with an album they were truly happy with, without any constraints.
“All of the other albums, we just borrowed free studio time from friends,” Matt told Stylus. “We couldn’t put a whole bunch of time in the physical recording and execution because we didn’t have enough money. For this one, we had our own studio rehearsal space, so we were able to rehearse a ton before we even went in and recorded it.”
III has been in the works for nearly two years due to changes in rehearsal spaces and a long recording process. The band originally started rehearsing in Alex’s dad’s basement, but couldn’t stay there because it was an apartment building and the band often got too loud. BBNG ended up splitting a studio space with a friend, and then took time to renovate the space. After that was all said and done, BBNG still had to write and record the new album. III made its way into stores on May 6 and was the first BBNG album to be released with physical copies.
Since releasing the album, BBNG have left Canada and are now touring around the world, visiting places like Japan, Russia, and Ireland.
“Any new place that we go to that we’ve never experienced before is always awesome,” Chester said.
“Just to be over there and just be amazed that all of these people in this city where we’ve never thought we’d be are coming to check out our show because they like our music. It’s just really, really cool.”
Of all these experiences, the band couldn’t decide on one favourite moment. Matt said that although there are some downsides, they’re engulfed by all of the great things and opportunities that have come with being in BBNG.
“There are just so many fucking amazing things. Each month there’s a new best thing. This month we got to play a show with Ghostface Killah. That was pretty amazing being his backing band. We just like meeting a lot of our heroes.”.
BBNG have also been the backing band for Frank Ocean and Odd Future at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in 2012.
The band will be heading back to Canada in August to play shows in Saskatoon, Edmonton, Calgary, Vancouver, and Winnipeg. They’ll be playing at Union Sound Hall on August 6. Matt also said to keep your ears open for some new projects in the near future.
“There’s a bunch of different little tidbits of music we’re working on that should be released soon. Can’t really talk about a lot of it. It’s all under wraps.”
Tickets are available for August 6th at Urban Bakery and Music Trader.