Bad Rabbits is one of the few bands that when I see live, I always believe that no one can match their fun demeanor. Every time the crowd disbands, you see smiles and hear the repetitive phrase, “That was THE BEST show I have ever been to!” Bad Rabbits is based out of Boston, but New York knows how to roll out the welcome mat for this innovative “New Crack Swing” quintet. Bad Rabbits brings funk, soul, rock, and pop to the table that will be sure to get your hips swinging, feet moving, and singing along. We caught up with Salim Akram and Graham Masser during their tour to discuss album themes and their organic progression into the mainstream eye.
Cliché: You took a part of the Parahoy Cruise back in March with Paramore, Shiny Toy Guns, Tegan and Sara, and more. What was it like to venture someplace new with these acts?
Salim Akram: Parahoy was the third one that we had done on the Sixthman Cruise series. We did one with 311, and it kind of just set the tone for what to expect on a cruise ship, because I had never personally been on a cruise ship for vacation. From what I have heard, it is a very different experience. A regular cruise is just family and a bunch of people, but the cool thing about the band cruises is that everyone is there for a common theme: music. They dynamic is more of a party on the water as opposed to people going to lay in the sun and other things. The main pool on the cruise is drained out and it is the main stage where all the bands play. They put down a wooden plank and it becomes this stage. The dynamic is different, but we definitely had a good time on those cruises for sure!
You guys are from Boston, but you frequent New York. What draws to you to the various regions of New York, specifically Long Island?
Graham Masser: I would say that New York has become our second home and it happened that way because of the proximity to Boston is only a couple of hours, so we have been playing in NY forever. Also, the NY crowd tends to be open-minded and diverse. A lot of the crowd is from all over the place, like from Long Island, Brooklyn, Westchester, Manhattan, or wherever. The people always appreciate the music. Long Island is great because we were fortunate to make a name for ourselves and make good friends from Long Island, like Envy on The Coast, Glassjaw, and Taking Back Sunday. That was our start. We opened up for Envy on the Coast for their last couple of shows and that was really the start of our buzz on Long Island. From there it just moved on really quickly and now we filmed our video for we can roll on Long Island at Revolution. It was nuts. People love that video and it kind of became our lure, so to speak, for Long Island. We have been really fortunate here.
The band recorded an acoustic album, Dusted, which featured older original songs. What inspired this album?
Salim: It’s a couple of things. Initially we had just talked for years about wanting to do an acoustic set and we just never came around to doing or having a reason or platform to do it. However, on our headlining tour last year, we were approached by this company called Audio Tree and when they first started they were a lot smaller, but now they are more of a household name. They have done a lot more bigger acts and came with a lot more notoriety. For us, it was kind of like an excuse to finally assemble it together. It was like, ‘alright, let’s stop screwing around and put together this acoustic set!’ We kind of went in there, rehearsed the songs and changed the format a little bit over the summer, before that tour when we were in Nantucket. We put together the general format and kind of rehearsed it as it went on, then we did Audio Tree and a bunch of acoustic events at the Renaissance Hotel brand across the country on that tour. It kind of just came into this thing where it was like, “damn man, that shit is kind of tight! We should continue and evolve this!” Just before Warped Tour, we were booked to do the Acoustic Basement Tour, but we didn’t have any acoustic content for anyone to purchase. It kind of just made sense with the natural progression where we had done these acoustic sets. It’s evolved and now we are playing an acoustic set every day on Warped Tour, and now we need for people to take this home and to enjoy it in a different format. I personally loved it because, well, I’m sure everyone did, but it just gave the band and the music a stripped down format where you cannot hide behind effect pedals and reverbs. For the most part, it is just really raw in how we recorded it.
Graham: It’s cool because it launched that off for us — you know, to do an acoustic interpretation of our music. It is something we will continue to do, to keep releasing songs we have done before in an acoustic way because it is really fun for us and we love the way it came out!
Like every other band, Bad Rabbits has been compared to a few artists, but you are your own original sound, as you have many elements composed into your works. How do you find ways to bring these elements together without sounding forced?
Graham: It doesn’t sound forced, because it isn’t. We have all generally come from different backgrounds. Dua, our singer, had started in church and singing in the church choir. So, that’s very natural for him to do all those types and tones and singing styles. Salim and Sheel both grew up playing in metal and hardcore bands, so there is that element. For me and Santi, I came from a jazz background and playing funk, ska, and punk music. We all grew up in garage bands playing all different types of stuff. We have been playing together for a while and it molded into something more cohesive and tangible.