ALBUM: Language & Perspectives
ARTIST: Bad Suns
The Bad Suns’ sound has been compared to Bastille, Hot Hot Heat, Elvis Costello, and other somewhat disparate references. Bon Iver, Maroon 5, and 311 make viable comparisons as well. The fact is, Bad Suns grew up together and their sound has matured along with the boys in the band, and their music tastes. The first concerts they attended had headliners like Blink 182, No Doubt, and Weird AL Yankovich, nestling them snuggly in line with the first impressions of many LA youth. Their union came as natural as a friendship between middle school boys, and the four, vocalist Christo Bowman, drummer Miles Morris, guitarist Ray Libby, and bassist Gavin Bennett, began the start of a Californian “hook-heavy indie rock” group in 2012. They’ve noted their main goal as a group is to enhance and innovate the stage presence during performances; Bad Suns values their fans and listeners, and they form a connection with them in a uniquely musical way. The album Language & Perspective is full of poetry, metaphors, and references to oceanic waves. Their use of personal experience opens up the band’s personal feelings and anxieties, many of which are relatable and humanizing.
Bad Suns resists the confinement of one musical genera. When asked if they considered themselves an indie band, they responded by agreeing, yes, they are signed on an independent label, but the term “indie” has become so loaded over the past few years. They incorporate sounds and styles into their music that they feel sounds good. It’s that simple. They don’t strive to pigeonhole themselves under one specific genera. “I think our music is a blend of different ingredients from a lot of music that inspires us,” vocalist Christo Bowman told the Dallas Observer.
Their album developed organically; they made a handful of songs on an EP, continued the production of Language & Perspective, and felt they needed another to round out the energy of the album. The boys collected in a room with a handful of lyrics from years and years of writing with the intention to make a song that had a new sound for Bad Suns. Bennett struck the opening bass line, and, as Bowman says, they built “Dancing On Quicksand” around it.
The album’s signature symbol is a cut out of the Zia Sun on a read background. Sunset lit palm trees glow behind the cut out, illuminating the Zia Sun. This particular image found its way onto the cover of Language & Perspective after some research on “sun symbols” corresponding to their band’s name. The group was drawn to the four points distinct points of the Zia Sun. It represents so many things to them: the four seasons in a year, the four stages in life, the four sections of the day. The band is centered around the number four: there are four member, four instruments, and four stages that they envision in their lives.
To illuminate the ideology among these Californian boys and the meaning behind their album art work, a brief lesson on Eastern religion goes a long way. Under traditional Hinduism, the four stages of life are called “ashramas,” and each stage progresses the development of the individual in a mindful, spiritual way. It’s possible Bad Suns mirror this progression in Language & Perspective. The first ashrama stage of life is dedicated to learning and absorbing, called “Brahmacharya.” The second stage occurs only after the individual has practiced under a guru and has the capacity to marry and begin a family. This stage, the sweetest, and often longest stage, is “Grihastha.” Hinduism encourages the pursuit of wealth, “artha,” and romantic indulgence, “kama,” at this time, uncharacteristically welcoming the fruits of labor. Inside and out of the Hindu religion, adults find themselves lingering at this stage and finding the most joy here. The last two stages, “Vanaprastha,” to retreat, and “Sannyasa,” to wander, have now become idealistic pillars of inspiration, for living alone in the woods after the age of 50 rarely suits the modern individual.
The creation of “Cardiac Arrest,” the groups first hit, experiences the ashramas stages, in a way. The guitar lines were written by Christo Brown at the age of 13, and the chords traveled with him through his musical development, evolving into what became their most important track yet.
After piecing together the track for the span of six years, the group said good riddance and posted “Cardiac Arrest” online. Though their inaugural album dropped only hours ago, Bad Suns curated a strong following of fans due to the release of “Cardiac Arrest.” According to the reviews, fans recognize the value and sincerity in this alternatively styled, organically made group, and they appreciate it.
We put ['Cardiac Arrest'] online saying, 'This is what we've been working on for so long, hope you guys like it at least,'" he says. "We were expecting to put [Bad Suns] to rest after releasing the song, just to show what we were doing and then start a new project.
“Language and perspective shape the way we live.”