A conversation with the Bad Light - IN SEARCH OF SPACE #57

Deep down, I am a secret American. I want a ten-gallon hat and cholesterol-loaded food and irresponsible firearms laws. This is probably why I fill this blog with so much musical genius from that side of the pond. Here’s another American band for your dereliction. ‘Cause with the internet we’re borderless, right kids? Let me give you a little look behind the mask. I created this blog so that I could rant lysergically and while drunk about albums from 30 years ago I’m really surprised aren’t spun daily by everyone. Then Adam joined in with almost the same ambition (he drinks less). After a few posts I became convinced I’d better make it slightly less self-indulgent and also make it a platform for those up-and-coming first-albumers that really need some of that essay criticism that’s so rare in the music industry nowadays; so I’d devote part of this blog to exposing clever and different artists from around the world who have made an album recently. I’ve been getting pretty good at it, finding something every week to get really excited about, but for the last few weeks I’ve been coming up short. Perhaps because of that Brits catastrophe or perhaps because there isn’t that much good music from bands still in their first release glut... but there is. I must have just slipped off the musical grapevine and can’t find all the great heads making great sounds. I reckon I might have found this week’s entry though. Buncha longhairs noising-up Santa Cruz going by the name of the Bad Light that hit a note not heard since Kyuss back in the 90s. Not since John Garcia’s mob has there been a band you can dance to while your fillings rattle loose. The sound is called Delta Sludge, and it’ll blow your fucking mind.

The ‘note’ hit by Bad Light that Kyuss previously epitomised with which I so intrigued you with is that amazing dual trick of not sacrificing heaviness or listenability so that your music inhabits a superb cosmic state of sounding great to everyone. My parents like Kyuss and I reckon they’d probably like the Bad Light. Case and point would be the riff from Green Machine. That shit is crushing but it’s also exceptionally groovy, and the guitar tone strokes that magic sweet spot where it’ll crush you but it also makes good barbeque music. Audially the Bad Light are closer to Electric Wizard than Kyuss in terms of guitar tone. Maybe some super-distorted hepped-up Eating Dust-era Fu Manchu tape left in a swamp-hillbilly’s trouser pocket on laundry day. And simultaneously right beside it is this super-groovy summer-hit-waiting-to-happen which just builds up and demolishes riffs twice a song. All this from two tattoo artists from Santa Cruz, clearly their art exists beyond the skin, I’m getting ink in my ears! It’s quite uncanny, like the Bad Light are the Schrödinger’s cat of metal, are they live or are they undead?

They’ve also pared down the sound to the most basic, bassless elements. Just a guitar, drums and Ed Cerro’s brutal drum-skin windpipe vocals. It makes thing so Kalashnikov simple that there’s nothing to go wrong, so long as you got two firm hands on something when the groove first hits you, you’re sorted for all 35 glorious minutes of this festival of the heavy. It’s part of a big expanse of bands (including last week’s Heavy interviews) that are inspired directly by the blues, just like the great pioneers of the original heavy, Cheer and Zep to name but two, were inspired by the blues. And behold the interconnectedness of all things, the sound Delta Sludge was nominated by a humble tattoo artist going by the name of Klem, who was responsible for the Sleep’s Holy Mountain cover art. So yeah, pretty heavy pedigree for these motha’fuckers right off the bat. The band were directly inspired by R.L. Burnside “It blew my mind ball, there was a deeper darker feeling to what he was doing than your typical Stevie Ray Vaughan stuff that white people like to listen to ,and I could never quite get into, so from trying to figure out where R L was coming from I ended up really getting into delta blues and trying to figure out how to play that stuff, while picking out a song from Blind Willie Johnson it just hit me that the stuff he was doing was somehow similar to metal but slower and deeper and those crappy old recordings just had this warm feeling to them that until I heard Electric Wizard's Witchcult Today many years later ,I hadn't quite heard in the same way on any contemporary recordings and that pretty much set the tone for the sound, at least on guitar, that I try to play, just thick heavy fuzzy blankets of notes.” The guitar leads many of the songs, pounding and rolling in that same fuzz wah that consumed so much doom metal, but with a more western, blues twang. It isn’t quite like anything I have ever heard before.

And wherefore comes the singing? Like the guitar simultaneously violent and soothing, a kind of swamp moan that grinds throughout the record. “One of the problems I was having when we first started jamming was that because of all the thick fuzz coming out of my amp I couldn't hear my voice while I was trying to sing which forced me to start singing a bit higher and nasally than I was used to, somehow that seemed to work and it also changed the way I structured the lyrics over the music, when we practice and/or write new stuff we try not to pigeonhole ourselves and be open to anything that can sound more interesting so songs will stay pretty organic until we start to play them for other people and even then we've changed things when it came time to record.”

The Bad Light are looking to do some more playing and touring outside Santa Cruz, and it seems like they’ll play just about anywhere, names that were mentioned were Thailand, Brazil and Argentina, so anybody in Frisco wants so have these guys tear up a stage in the grooviest way, just hit them up. Their EP is available free from bandcamp, so please download it and enjoy it and then hit them up on FaceyB telling them how great it is. Good art can only live on when people give them encouragement.

Written under duress by Steven.

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