Bad Mother Nature have been on a tear of sorts over the last year. What was supposed to be a year filled with lots of live shows and touring ended up being a year in the studio hunkered down, working on new tracks. That time and dedication to their recording game has certainly paid off and is evident especially with the release of their seventh single in the last year, yes you read that right seven singles in one year. The latest track from the Sacramento band, “Mad Oklahoma”, is due out March 5th, and if you’ve ever wanted to know what it would sound like for your favorite rock band to score a 1960’s Western then this is the track for you. Today we talk with the boys in the band about how they’ve managed to be so productive over the last year, what they are most looking forward to when live music comes back, and the tasty new beer that’s been named after them.
Mad Oklahoma is the 7th single you’ve released since the beginning of 2020. Clearly you guys have been busy in the studio. What does the recording process typically look like for you?
For the last two albums we’ve basically been recording everything in house. Literally in our house. Since we were all living together we created a pretty efficient little studio that we decided to dive right into last February once we realized we probably wouldn’t be playing shows anytime soon. Drums were the only thing we had to record in a pro studio because, well, you know how recording drums can be. Once we had all our stems, we shot them down to L.A. for mixing and mastering. As for the 7 singles: we felt it would be silly to drop the whole album right in the middle of the pandemic when we can’t even tour or promote it very efficiently, so we decided to trickle them out instead. That way we can blast every release and accompany it with a good looking video.
Mad Oklahoma has this beautiful Spanish/classical guitar piece in the intro and all kinds of obscure and interesting instrumentation follows suit. Where did the idea for such a unique tune come from?
We’re big fans of Spaghetti Westerns, and there was always an interest in making some sort of song or score or something that would have a very Spaghetti Western feel to it. Axel had that repeating intro guitar trill floating around for a while but we didn’t know what to do with it, until we came up with a song idea that it would be appropriate for. The other instrumentation like the cassannettes, ocarina, and vibraslap are definitely a bit unusual but we just researched what instruments made Spaghetti Western songs sound the way they did, and then from there it was a lot of experimentation until we heard something from them we liked.
When the song transfers from the intro into the main body of the song there’s a significant speed increase. How difficult was that to achieve in the studio? Seems like a tricky bit of playing for Jon on the skins.
The speed change was a little tricky, but that’s the only one in the song. Jonny is able to adapt really well so we don’t really remember it being much of an issue. It’s only about a 15 BPM difference, but we liked how it sounded.
You mentioned that this song was inspired by some folk rock legends like Crosby, Stills and Nash, and Neil Young as well. We haven’t heard a whole lot of this style in the last couple of releases from you. Was this song written at a different time than the rest of the album, or was it just meant as kind of a stand out piece?
This was actually the last song written on the album, and one of the last recorded. Over the past year we really dove into experimenting with vocal harmonies, which you hear on “At the Gates of Olympus” as well. Crosby, Stills & Nash obviously had their vocal parts on point, which I guess inspired us to make an entire song where the vocals are harmonized. We wanted “Mad Oklahoma” to be the first song on the album because it has such a cinematic feel to it. It was certainly meant to be a stand out piece in that sense. And “ATGOO” is the last song, so we liked the contrast of beginning the record softly, and then ending it with rippin’ guitar and smashing drums on Gates.
This song is so reminiscent of those 60’s spaghetti western’s that are embodied by images of Cowboys on horseback riding through endless desert, and your last music video was shot in the desert and was about running through lifes’ desert. When most people think of Sacramento I don’t think the desert is the first thing that comes to mind. Why do you think that imagery has been so prevalent in some of your music as of late?
Ryan: Corey and I are from the Owens Valley (Where “Rest of Me” was shot), and Jonny is from Foresthill (where “Mad Oklahoma” was shot). As a band we have a lot of roots in the middle of nowhere, and we really like to draw back on those roots in our music and videos. We all ended up in Sacramento, and that certainly benefits us from a musical standpoint. If we had tried to start a band back home we’d just be playing to cows and goats. But like you said, we’re big fans of Spaghetti Westerns and cinema so we like to incorporate as much of that style into the band as we can. Plus we already have a video for our first single, “Follyman,” where we’re marching around Sacramento like an old traveling minstrel show. You can only use a city setting so much I suppose.
It’s been almost a year now since the pandemic shut down all of our favorite venues and live music. What have you guys missed the most about playing live?
We miss exactly that – playing live. That’s the whole reason anybody starts a damn band in the first place. You want to shred in front of a bunch of people, then have them come tell you how cool you are afterwards – those are the rules. It’s just fun getting to travel around and meet new people. Plus playing shows usually helps us figure out which songs people are into or not. Writing during a pandemic hinders that slightly, so maybe we’ll just be putting out a bunch of terrible music that never got road tested. But I guess we’ll soon find out.
What is the first venue you want to book as soon as things start to feel safe to play again?
We had a show booked at Ace of Spades in Sacramento right before the whole world shut down, so that would certainly be a fun one. There’s another legendary venue in Sacramento called Harlow’s that would be a great spot for a big comeback show. But if we’re being real, we might want to get our feet wet with a smaller gig first just get our bearings again. There’s a fun little spot in Folsom called Powerhouse that we love playing at. It’s this gimmicky little bar with a great stage and great sound. It’s a fun place to work out sets and material.
I’m sure that you guys are gearing up big time for when things begin to open back up again, are there any big plans on the horizon for the band as far as touring goes?
Right you are. We had a good chunk of a seven-state tour booked for May of 2020 before everything shut down, which really shifted our focus. Once things get back open we’ll probably want to tackle something similar and release the album around the same time. It will all just depend on how venues will be operating in different states.
As we mentioned at the top, this is the 7th single you’ve released since the beginning of 2020 and all of these are in anticipation of a full length album called ‘Heavysong’. Do you have a set release date for the album yet?
Unfortunately it’s still a bit up in the air, but we suspect that May will probably be the month of the full album drop. It definitely won’t be released after June, but it’s a matter of trying to time when things can start opening for some shows, plus deciding if we want to maybe trickle out one more single after Mad Oklahoma or not. We really are playing it month to month at this point.
I hear you guys have a new beer named after you. Tell us a little more about that? What kind of beer is it and where can your fans grab it? Which songs go best while sipping on it?
Oh yes, we have a tasty little brewski named after us called “Bud Mother Nature” – a highly original name from our marketing department. But the “bud” part is derived from the hoppiness of it. It’s a West Coast dank IPA with hints of citrus, lemon candy, ginger and fresh
oregano. We partnered up with The Brass Tap in Rocklin, CA, which is a fairly small-scale operation. Since we aren’t playing shows we figured why not dabble in something outside of music that can still help us promote the band? Well, everybody loves beer, and no one more than us, so that’s how she was born. At the moment, we can only produce enough to sell in-house at The Brass Tap, but we’ve had a handful of venues and bars reach out to us inquiring about getting kegs or bottles. We’re going to look into it, but it will certainly cost more money and time that we might want to dedicate towards music. So as of right now, the ONLY place you can drink it is at The Brass Tap in Rocklin. Ryan even made them a custom tap handle out of a guitar neck. Travel far and wide to support them. They’re fantastic.
As for the song you should listen to while sipping on it, “Once a Dark and Lonely Night” from our first album would be best. The song is 18 minutes long and one could comfortably smash a beer in that time.