Music interview: Bully keep things real
Having just dropped their debut LP, Nashville’s Bully are heading to Australia for the Meredith Music Festival, before which they are playing an epic US tour. Courtney Dabb has a chat with frontwoman Alicia Bognanno:
Hi Alicia and thanks for taking the time out to speak with us at Something You Said. Firstly congratulations on the new album, Feels Like.
How has Nashville helped shape your music and eventual production of Feels Like?
Being around so many talented musicians in Nashville definitely keeps us on our toes and motivates us to practice all the time and to become better musicians. I don’t think Nashville necessarily influenced the songwriting or the production side of Feels Like, besides all the awesome engineering advice I’ve gotten from Jeremy Ferguson who works at Battle Tapes. Nashville has been helpful and supportive in other ways.
Does it feel satisfying and something of a vindication for all your hard work when you get recognised by prestigious media outlets like NME, who placed you in their list of 50 new bands for 2015?
Yes it’s a great feeling! It’s nice to know someone out there likes the band and can connect to it in one way or another.
Listening to Picture, do you write in an autobiographical/confessional manner or from a fictitious, third person point of view?
It’s written in a confessional manner. I have a hard time with pictures, I always have. I’m much more tolerant of it now because we have to take them all the time as a band but at the beginning it was pretty rocky.
Looking at your jam-packed tour schedule which invariably takes its toll after days and weeks on the road, do you have a release valve or any other pursuits that help vent the stress of touring?
Finding alone time is great. We are all really good at doing things by ourselves and no one ever gets their feelings hurt if someone wants to be alone. When things get too hectic and you start to feel burnt out learning how to say no to things can really save a tour or a show.
What have been some of your most memorable gigs to date and why?
Pitchfork might have been my favourite gig yet because it was packed and the crowd was really energetic and into it. Most of the time the size of the audience doesn’t matter nearly as much as the reaction from them. If they are moving around and having a great time it makes for a way more enjoyable show from the bands point of view at least.
Going from a punter and watching gigs to being an artist on stage, what have you incorporated into your live shows that derive from watching great acts and seeing unforgettable live performances?
One of the main things I take away from watching shows is to not be gimmicky on stage, that’s something that bugs me from time to time. I remember watching the replacements at ACL and it was one of my favourite shows because the band was having a really good time on stage and not taking themselves too seriously.
In forming and sustaining a band there has to be a strong vision for what you want to achieve and how you set about doing it, is there something of a mission statement for Bully?
There’s no mission statement just to try and become a better musician, a more creative person and to try and keep things real.
What does music give you that nothing else does?
A sense of relief.
Thanks for your time, all the best with the album and tour.
Bully are heading to Meredith Music Festival in December. Head to the Meredith website for tickets. They are also embarking on a huge tour of the US beforehand. Dates here. Keep up to date with Bully on Facebook.
Interview by Courtney Dabb.