Bad Suns has had a pulse on the music radar for years, starting out with the iTunes ‘Single of the Week’ in 2014 for Cardiac Arrest. Comprised of Christo Bowman (lead vocals/guitar), Ray Libby (guitar), Gavin Bennett (bass/keyboard) and Miles Morris (drums), Bad Suns is known for songs like Salt and We Move Like The Ocean. With many years of writing and playing music, Bad Suns finally made it to Washington, DC on the Love Like Revenge Tour to play their fifth show at the 9:30 Club. While they have visited the venue in the past as an opener, this time it was their turn to headline.
For those unfamiliar with the live music scene in DC, the 9:30 Club is a legendary venue that prides itself in their unique support for well-known and up-and-coming artists by making them feel at home. Not only has the venue created a remarkable atmosphere to experience your favorite artists, but the 9:30 Club also revolutionized the live music community. If you have seen social media posts while a band is on tour, you are bound to spot a roadie sporting a 9:30 Club shirt: “Yeah, the 9:30 Club has the reputation which sort of precedes it. It’s like every festival you go to, especially when we were starting and didn’t really know about all this stuff, you’d always see 9:30 shirts everywhere” says Bowman. Bad Suns has sold out the Rock & Roll Hotel many times in DC. Playing the 1,200 person room of the 9:30 Club has allowed more listeners in the area to come enjoy the show. “We have a lot of really great fans in the DC area and Baltimore, so I feel like having the 9:30 Club is just a good opportunity for anybody who wants to come and be apart of it.”
“We have a lot of really great fans in the DC area and Baltimore, so I feel like having the 9:30 Club is just a good opportunity for anybody who wants to come and be apart of it.”
Armed with their successful debut record and dedicated following, Bad Suns explores self doubt and love in their second release, Disappear Here. In tune with a catchy chorus and iconic bassline, Bowman brings emotion to the forefront with deeply introspective lyrics. On the theme of vulnerability, Bad Suns decided to release This Was A Home Once this past October. An attempt by Bowman to fit in all of his emotion, the song chronicles the changes he experienced in his family following the take-off of their band. Although it was one of the first songs written for Disappear Here and didn’t make it onto the record, This Was A Home Once has served a greater purpose on it’s own for listeners to resonate with. The tricky side of being transparent with your audience is what kind of door you’re opening. Will boundaries be respected, or will an artist suddenly get stormed with intrusive questions.
Teal Magazine: A lot of people connect with your music, specifically [the] lyrics, whether they identify with it or they can take something from it and use it in their own life. Because of that, they become more interested in what’s going on with you personally. Do you ever feel the need or responsibility to live up to that and share more than you want to?
Bowman: I think that’s just starting to set in now. This Was A Home Once was kind of a step in that direction to where there were some butterflies before releasing that one cause it was so deeply personal, you know, and it’s going to be received one way or the other. But I think if anything, it’s been reassuring to see that people embrace that. Yeah, I’m still kind of making sense of all that.
Libby: It is really encouraging to have a song that is so deeply personal and have people really react and respond to it, you know what I mean? I feel like that’s something that’s really important with a lot of great art is honesty and just saying how you feel. It’s the most honest way you can go about it and it’s just really encouraging to see that people can relate to it or you know I’ve heard a couple people say like, “Oh my god, my parents got divorced”, or you know “This song describes my life." I mean, that’s what got all of us into music. I know the four of us have songs that we listen to when we're bummed out, or songs that will make us all stoked. So it’s cool to be able to be on the other end of that.
Nowadays, going to shows is no longer just a pastime, but more of a culture that people live. Bad Suns has been a key player in creating a supportive and friendly environment amongst fans. What is uniquely theirs is the true effort put into making real connections with fans. During the Love Like Revenge Tour, Bowman would spend time hanging outside after each show with those who would wait. This opportunity for connection is vital to creating long lasting support and a space that feels inclusive for all. “I think it’s kind of like breaking that barrier of like 'Hey look, you know we’re just having a good conversation. It’s cool we’re all friends here. We get to do this because of you guys, like this is cool.' So I think that’s just kind of the vibe that we try and put out. It’s really really fucking sweet you know, that’s kind of what you hope for and not most bands can do that. So we definitely don’t take it for granted. We just try and have it be as positive of a community as possible” says Bowman.
Bad Suns have toured their fair share, both for themselves and other artists like the 1975 and New Politics. As with anything, there is a learning curve in practicing your craft and making your show even better than before. “You know, spending not only [your] time but your whole day revolves around the show and putting on the show. It really makes you think about what you can do and make sure nothing goes wrong. There’s no better way to learn than to do" says Libby. Bad Suns have played in local bands for many years, often recounting their beginnings with the guys in HUNNY and The Neighborhood. From playing a show once in a while to being accustomed to sold out shows is something different to get used to. “We’ve been kind of lucky [having] such a gradual building process. It kind of seems like when our first record came out, we were like star players on the junior league team and now we’ve kind of gotten to that point where we’ve entered the NFL. We’ve kind of been just learning the whole way and it feels really rewarding” says Bowman.
While touring allows bands to bring their music to life and live what some have dreamt of since childhood, it is nothing to be glamorized. At the end of the day, artists are getting paid to do their job. Days spent sleeping, sound checking, press and playing a show becomes their norm. While artists do what they love with people they hopefully enjoy the company of, being on the road for weeks on end can be physically, mentally and emotionally taxing.
Teal Magazine: When you’re on tour it kind of just becomes your life, you get used to it. It’s just what you do every day. Is it hard to adjust back to like the normal life you have at home?
Libby: I mean it’s not hard, it’s different I suppose. It just kind of feels like all of a sudden you’re almost kind of waking up from a dream or something.
Bowman: It’s hard for me sometimes. I struggle with it, personally. Every time I get back it takes me awhile, like I have weird mood swings. I don’t know it’s just really tough on me for some reason.
The Love Like Revenge Tour filled hearts all across the United States just in one month. Bad Suns have come full circle with their headline at the 9:30 Club and never miss an opportunity to express their appreciation for the lessons along the way. As musicians continue to grow and reach new listeners each day, being humble and open to vulnerability is essential to staying at the top of their game. Long story short, Bad Suns is in it for the long haul.