in conversation // Bully

Interviews "That’s probably the most frustrating part of touring all the time, being stressed out because you aren’t working on new material."

The last few months has seen Nashville four-piece Bully slowly but surely cement their position as one of the best and brightest new talents of the year, with sold out shows on both sides of the pond, television appearances on the likes of Conan O’ Brien and a massively acclaimed album in the form of “Feels Like” under their belt.

Now the band are getting ready to return to the UK for another string of blistering live shows, including a support slot on Fidlar’s forthcoming tour, another reason 2015 is definitely Bully’s year. The tour also sees Bully play Cambridge where they rock up to The Portland on Tuesday 3rd November (further info and tickets)

In anticipation of the Cambridge show, we caught up with Bully front woman Alicia Bognanno to discuss their breakout year, sound engineering andRyan Adams…

Bully-Sept2015-PoonehGhana-8 copy

How did the Bully story start?
I had written a couple songs and played them for Stewart (our drummer) and he suggested I start my own band and said he would play drums for it. From there we hashed out about 5 songs and then brought in the rest of the band. Reece (bass) was booking for a venue that I ran sound at and Clay (second guitar player) and Stewart had gone to college together.

‘Feels Like’ came out earlier this year, how do you feel people have reacted to it?
So far I think it has been revived pretty well. I think some people are able to connect with the record which is great.

Were the songs written specifically for the record or have they been knocking around for a while?
Some had been around for a while but most of them were written with the record in mind.

Is there a specific theme or concept running through most of the songs on ‘Feels Like’?
No, every song is about a different situation / personal experience.

What was the hardest track on the record to finish and why?
‘Trying’ was the hardest to record in the studio because we had already been under the expectation that it would be the single, so I think there was a lot of pressure to make sure it sounded okay. I can’t remember what song was the most difficult to finish writing.

Musically we can hear several reference points. Was it your intention to encompass so many different sounds and genres?
No, it’s hard to tell what the songs are going to end up like until after they are tracked and you have some space from them.

You write, record, engineer, and produce your own songs. Tell us about the sound engineering process for the debut album, because you basically did everything there too?
I did it on tape at a studio called Electrical Audio. Jon San Paolo helped co engineer the record. We did 7 days of basic tracking about 4 vocal days and then 10 days of mixing. I had been in the studio before and had most of the session planned out and sent over to Jon before hand so as soon as we got there we went to work.

‘Feels Like’ seems to have really hit upon something, judging by the attention it’s received. Has the sudden increase in popularity changed what being in a band feels like?
Not really. We are in such a weird bubble being on the road all the time. It has been a change doing our own headline tour. It’s awesome to play a show and know people are there for your band and enjoy your record.

We’ve read that Ryan Adams is a fan, how cool is that?
Very cool!

Is the writing process quite democratic within the band?
I usually write my guitar and vocal part and then bring it to the band and tell them what I’m looking for or how I want the song to feel. Then we all go from there.

As a band, are you constantly working on new ideas for new material or are you going to get all the debut album touring out the way before thinking about the next release?
I’m constantly thinking of working on the new record but not always doing it. It’s really difficult for me to write on the road. That’s probably the most frustrating part of touring all the time, being stressed out because you aren’t working on new material.

Bully play The Portland Arms on November 3rd
Debut LP “Feels Like” is out now

Bully’s full touring schedule this November looks like this…

2 – Bleach, Brighton
3 – Portland Arms, Cambridge
4 – Garage, London
5 – Belgrave (Beacons Metro), Leeds
7 – Spanky Van Dykes, Nottingham
10 – O2 Academy, Bristol *
11 – The Ritz, Manchester *
12 – The Garage, Glasgow *
14 – The Forum, London *
15 – The Institute, Birmingham *

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