Hey music people. I am hella proud to present Bad Talk – a new pop punk band that will blow your mind. birthed from former Sent By Ravens singer Zach Riner and southern bass legend Jeremy Smith. I skype-chatted with these two about their new band, punk agendas, being trophy husbands and not getting stuck. They sent me the demos almost a year ago and I’ve been trying to snag an interview with them ever since. Enjoy. JS = Jeremy Smith. ZR = Zach Riner. JM = me, duh.
JM: hey guys. thank you for finally doing an interview with me! feels like months since i first heard the demos – which i love – and have wanted to show you guys to the world. can you tell me why you’re just now going public?
ZR: well thank you!
JS: since we were both in other bands and there was a fair amount of expectation on this new project, we wanted to come out of the gate strong and swingin’…..so we didn’t really want to show up and people be like “ahh….it’s just their first song; their first show – whatever”. we wanted to come out and kill it. so we waited till we felt like we could come out swingin’.
ZR: which we’re only just kinda swingin’ now. haha
JS: but better now than a year ago when we came up with our first couple songs.
JM: i dunno. i would say you buying the time has given you a bigger fan base already. no?
JS: yeah it has.
JM: it’s smart. you did that on purpose?
JS: well also, what we did was book a show when we only had 2 songs written – about 3 months out – just to kinda light a fire under our butts. i thrive in situations where we either embarrass ourselves or pull it off and sound awesome. it is still undecided which way it’s gonna go. but, we started practicing a crap load and wrote some rad songs.
ZR: i need a breath mint. i don’t wanna kill Jeremy.
JS: Zach has really bad breath. that’s on the record.
ZR: not always! just right now. i haven’t had a chance to brush my teeth yet.
JS: most of the time.
JM: i brush my teeth all the time.
ZR: i’ve been really busy preparing for this interview.
JM: are you nervous?
ZR: for the interview or the show?
ZR: not the interview; the show: yes.
JM: k. well…..look i’m glad we got to interview today, whether you have bad breath or not because Bad Talk has a show tomorrow. tell me everything about it now.
ZR: yeah….we’re playing tomorrow Friday February 22 at Snug Harbor in Charlotte. Doors are at 9:00 with the Rejectioneers and a band called Motel Glory, from Charlotte….or Rock Hill.
JS: Rejectioneers start at 10:00, then us, then Motel Glory. be there early because Rejectioneers are amazing.
ZR: yeah they are.
JS: all time favorite band. that’s not true. but they’re one of my favorite bands.
JM: hahaha cool.
JS: yeah….we’re doing our first two shows with them and probably hopefully all of our shows forever. Snug Harbor’s a rad little club and it’s gonna be a good time. I’m really excited.
ZR: i’ve never played guitar at a show before.
JS: so he’s out of his comfort zone a little…..
ZR: i’m nervous….cause i sang in a band for a long time. but i just sang….so playing guitar….is….uh…i’m gonna be nervous. i’m gonna have to have lots of drinks. on you. you’re gonna have to buy them for me.
JM: yep. what’chu drinkin’?
ZR: i’m not picky. a hungry dog will eat anything.
JM: OK! as a fresh newborn baby band, can you tell your current and future fans who you are and where you came from?
JS: we’re a little punk band out of Hartsville, SC…
ZR: called Bad Talk
JS: called Bad Talk. we’ve all been friends for a real long time and realized that we should probably put a band together, so we started writing some songs, hanging out and starting fires. it all came out of that. our goal is to put out songs we’re stoked about playing live and put out records we’re stoked about and have a good time.
ZR: i agree. you know Jeremy…..when you say talk and when i say talk it sounds completely different.
ZR: that’s weird.
JS: well, Georgia vs. South Carolina accents…
JM: uh….Zach what are two of your most favorite things in the world?
ZR: any subject?
ZR: I love….I love making french press in the mornin’. and…
JM: you love Jeremy’s hair.
JS: no….he’s jealous of my hair.
ZR: well i’m losin’ mine. it’s stupid!
ZR: let’s see…..you know those little mints, they’re pink and green and red? and they have the white sprinkles on the bottom? they’re melty mints? those are prolly my favorite thing on planet earth.
JM: yeah. those are good. Jeremy….what are your two most favorite things in the world?
JS: baseball and…comic books.
ZR: i shoulda said baseball.
JS: well, i already did, so….
JM: cool. next question:
historically speaking, punk music has frequently (but not always) carried some type of agenda. does Bad Talk have an agenda?
ZR: no. not really.
JS: i would say anything i contribute lyrically – i’m pretty unimaginative when it comes to it – so it’s gonna be something that’s happened to me, or somebody that i think is super lame and i wanna write a song about ‘em…
ZR: yeah….well it’s all personal stuff. that’s what makes it fun. you know? you get to write about stuff that you maybe can’t express in some other way. but as far as a specific agenda – no. will our songs involve a lot of different areas? yeah. family, politics, whatever…..well, we don’t really get into politics that much, cause we don’t really care, so….
JM: got it, but are you endorsing sex, drugs, rock’n'roll, anarchy?
ZR: we’re not endorsing them. we participate, but we don’t endorse them.
ZR: we don’t do drugs. that’s about it.
JS: yeah….well, anarchy too i guess. i mean we’re pretty far away from the whole punk stereotype, i guess. cause that whole thing’s kinda silly to me. when it comes to like….you gotta look this way…..dress this way….you know, believe these kinda things. cause what always happens (i was into bands like this in high school) with these bands is the only people who go to these shows are people that already believe in anarchy or are radical or whatever. so it’s always just preachin’ to the choir.
JS: so it’s uninteresting to me. just singing to a room full of people that already agree with you.
JM: so then, what is your purpose?
ZR: to write good songs.
JS: yeah we just wanna write songs and play and have fun shows.
ZR: we just wanna write songs that we like. that’s it.
JM: so it’s just for your own enjoyment, then?
ZR & JS: yeah.
JS: if other people like it, that’s cool. but it’s more for us to put out records we’re proud of and play awesome shows.
ZR: that’s the thing…… i think we both have been in other bands that (speaking for both of us) we enjoyed the music, but it wasn’t “us” particularly 100% writing the music. you know? so it was just a different genre, whether it be for Jeremy to just write a bass part or i just wrote lyrics; melody kinda thing. it wasn’t all of our guts into every song. so this is what WE want it to sound like.
JM: right. and while we’re on that subject, what were your “other bands”?
JS: Public Radio – i’ve been playing bass for since 2006 (i don’t know if you’ve heard of them) hahahaha and i play with whoever will have me for the most part. and then this jabronie was in some little band….
ZR: me and JJ both were in a band called Sent By Ravens for about 6 years and it’s done so….
JM: you miss it?
ZR: no. cause i’m playin’ punk rock that i want to play. i mean, i liked the music that we played, but i listen to this kind of music, so why wouldn’t i play something i enjoy?
JM: yeah man. i get that. i definitely have eaten up the demos. i love ‘em. i really do. have you gotten any other feedback?
JS: yeah i would say it’s been mostly positive.
ZR: there’s been people that were fans of Sent By Ravens, so some of them really liked it and some of them didn’t care for it, just because it was completely different.
JS: i think some people want it to sound like the stuff we were involved in before, but it’s just totally different. and if you don’t like it, that’s totally fine…..we won’t be that hard to ignore if you don’t like us. but all the feedback has been super positive for the most part. we’ve been really happy about it. this is the first time i’ve had my guts really into the music, so if someone gave someone else a bad review on a record that i played on, they’re not like “man that bass part really sucked”. so for reading all these reviews now, if i read a bad one, i just want to comment under and it be like “yeah, well what does YOUR band sound like?!” you know? i’m a little emotionally invested here.
JM: i see that. so, what would you argue if someone were to say that punk is dead?
JS: i started getting into punk rock when i was eleven; that’s when i started wanting to play music in the first place. and to me, as long as there’s punk bands putting out rad records and there’s bands playing shows – it’s not dead. that just never really made sense to me. i guess in the mainstream and the whole fashion movement – you know challenging society and all that – or punk being a huge thing on the radio, yeah that’s dead. but the fact that it was on the radio in the first place……
ZR: but it is coming back from underground scenes and things like that…..
JS: but the past ten years some of my all time favorite punk albums have come out. it might be under people’s radar, so they’d say it’s dead, but for me it’s the best. Screeching Weasels put out the best records they ever have – and bands like that. so yeah…..to me it’s not dead. and as long as there’s rad punk bands that are playing rad shows, it’s not dead.
JM: totally, and now that BadTalk has been birthed and is alive on the scene it’s a whole new world.
JS: yeah…..we’ll do out part.
JM: well, what’s happening behind the scenes boys? you have a show tomorrow. what are you working on album-wise? an EP? a full-length? what else? tour?
ZR: we’re working on a full length right now that we wrote in the past month and a half. we just got done writing the other 6 songs in our set that we’re gonna play tomorrow night. i got done writing two songs worth of lyrics, finishing them up – last night! so…
JS: ideally we’re going to record this summer and we’d like to go into the studio with 20 songs and pick the best ones.
ZR: that’s probably the reason it’s taking so long, cause we feel like we need to have the best product at the beginning.
JM: that’s really good though…
ZR: A lot of bands can just go out…..but we’ve been in bands – we know how it works – we’re gonna take our time. people can wait.
JS: yeah exactly. that’s why we went ahead and put those other songs up, so people would at least know. but we’ve got another show March 9th in Columbia at New Brookland Tavern. so we’re just getting ready, only playing a few shows a month, not hitting the road crazy hard anytime soon. but we’re super active. keep writing and playing gigs.
JM: do you have tshirts?
JS: yeah we got tshirts and they are awesome. you can find them on all of our little social networking websites.
ZR: we won’t have any CD’s at the show, though…
JM: what’s a CD?
JS: yeah exactly. they’re dead anyway. we won’t have any cassette tapes either.
JM: hahaha too bad. ok yes…..your track ‘Make it Through’ (which i love) is an anthem of epic proportions. talk me through it……cause i am all for packing my bags and not being suffocated. so what’s the story?
ZR: let me start the story off by telling you what made us write the song. we were walking back to his house, last year sometime, from the gas station – about 3 blocks from his house – and we’re walking back and this car full of rednecks scream out the window “Go home faggots!” hahaha….
JS: ….and we’re like “we’re on our way home” hahaha
ZR: cause we don’t have big ‘ole loose jeans on or whatever – which is fine. so it made me think about us living small towns. most of us came from Hartsville or a small town in Georgia – about the same size – and….
JS: yeah…..when you grow up in a small town the thing you always run into is people who either love it, or hate it – particularly when you’re in high school you hate it regardless – but you’re just constantly surrounded by people that are complaining non-stop about …..”if i uh….lived in a big city i’d do this…..and you know….” and i’m always like “why don’t you? why don’t you save up your first month’s rent and go move somewhere?” i know sometimes there are circumstances that keep you in a place, but 90% of the time no one is locking you up except yourself.
ZR: the song is about not getting stuck, or not having to get stuck. i know you know, and everybody else knows those people who go off to college, or they stay there from high school and stay there their whole life or whatever it is…..
JS: or you get your girlfriend pregnant and start working at Wal-Mart, and that’s totally fine if that’s what you wanna do. but i know so many people that if they wanted to could move to Charlotte or move to Atlanta so easy, but they’re like “mmmmyeah……” and they have 5,000 excuses. For me, life’s too short. and if you hate your job – quit. if you hate school – …..uh…..i won’t say drop-out….hahaha i mean, i DID! hahaha
JM: careful. careful what advice you’re giving. hahaha
JS: ok….not high school. i dropped out of college and moved to Charlotte to go after music and maybe i’ll regret that when i’m in my 30′s, but right now…..
ZR: i mean look where we are! we’re livin’ it up!
JS: yeah i’ve had a hell of a ride throughout my 20′s because of leaving, so…..to me the song is about growing up in a small town – it can be awesome or it can feel suffocating – but no one locked the door but yourself – if you’re feeling trapped.
JM: i feel that. i always think too that people in those situations – if they have 5,000 excuses they probably don’t really want to leave.
JS: right, or a lot of times they’re probably gonna do the same thing they do in a small town, in a big city. i had this friend that all he did was smoke weed and play playstation. and i ran into him in Columbia last year and i was like “dude! haven’t seen you in forever! what’cha been up to?” and he’s like “ah man….just smokin weed and playin’ XBox”. that’s somethin’. but when he was in a smaller town he was like “Aw man….i gotta get outta this town.” and now that he is, it’s like “what are you even doing?”
ZR: but you know what? if that’s what he wants to do….and he’s comfortable in a new place……at least he got out.
JS: absolutely. absolutely. yeah i’m just all about making the most with where you’re at and what you got, you know?
ZR: i mean….smokin weed and playin xbox – if that’s all you gotta do in life…..there are worse things.
JS: there are worse things. hahaha
JM: yeah but you might not get so far….
JS: yeah, it’s true.
JM: ok……next question. what bands do you compare your sound to? what are your biggest influences?
JS: i feel like we all – while it’s in the same ballpark – i feel like we all have pretty different favorite bands. like we all like the same stuff but everything Jody and i write musically is gonna be very pop punk, traditional pop punk: Ramones, Bottlerocket kinda stuff, and then we also like melodic hardcore punk, like Hot Water Music, old Alkeline Trio and stuff like that…..
ZR: that’s more of the kind of stuff that influences me….
JS: so it’s really cool. i think if we could sound like anything, it’d be like a good middle of the road of that. like a gritty, poppy skate-punk music. but you know we’ve been writing a lot, and it’s cool having everybody’s ideas on the table. but typically if Jody and i write a song we stop and say …..wait…..that’s a Bottlerocket song….crap….
JS: whenever we come in with an idea we all just flesh it out and go into a practice to figure it out. it’s the most fun i’ve had writing songs – for sure. you know we’re not afraid to say “that sucks” or “that works…..let’s add this to it…..” or…..
ZR: we’re all best buddies, so that helps.
ZR: we hang out all the time anyway, so it’s not…..i mean, we’re already hanging out so we may as well be writing songs… hahaha
JS: most of the time band practice turns into us getting gear out of cars then sitting around, starting a bonfire and then realizing oh…..i guess we need to go home now. but as far as influence goes i think we’re influenced by those bands i said, and i think you need to sound like someone, but if you sound like a bunch of random bands put together, you won’t sound exactly like anyone else – you know?
JS: if your two main influences are Gwar and David Bowie – you’re not gonna sound like anybody else…you know?
JM: HA! yeah. but isn’t that with every art form?
JS: that’s true, it’s the whole fake it till you make it. or people have been talking about it a lot more these days, about “steal like an artist till you can figure out your own thing”….? steal from an artist you want to be like until you can figure out your own thing. and you know…..the Ramones started out because they were trying to sound like the Beach Boys, but they couldn’t play their instruments right and they just did it really fast and then that started everything for them. so, there’s nothing wrong with that….
JM: i love that. well, tell me about all your band members. who’s in Bad Talk? who are you guys?
JS: Jody King plays guitar – he’s one of the coolest dudes in the universe. JJ Leonard who was the guitar player in Sent By Ravens, plays drums and he is a beast and super fun to play with. I am Jeremy and i play bass. and sing a little bit – whenever Zach will let me….hahaha
ZR: and i’m Zach and i play guitar and sing….
JM: look at you…..first time for everything.
ZR: yep. hahaha
JM: glad we got that on the record. how do you two take your coffee and waffles?
ZR & JS: oh…
JS: well i take my waffles….here’s a fun little recipe from the kitchen of Bad Talk. cook up some bacon and put it in the batter….
JM: come. on.
JS: then you have a waffle, injected with bacon and it’s just the greatest thing you’ll ever eat.
ZR: then cover said waffle with cookie butter…
ZR: then it melts in the little traps. uh….
JS: if you don’t know what cookie butter is, then google it, and you’ll thank us forever. but yeah, a good chocolate chip, bacon waffle – or a little cookie butter on it, you know – that’s startin’ your day off right.
JM: and your coffees?
ZR: i take my coffee cream no sugar.
JS: i’ve been goin’ black these days. just because we can never keep half and half in our house. well…..i never remember to buy it, so i just started drinking it black out of desperation and now i kinda like it.
ZR: i like half and half in really, really strong coffee. that’s it. i don’t like sugar in my coffee though.
JS: is this amateur hour?
ZR: i had a friend tell me that half and half pollutes your coffee…..the other day….
ZR: he’s a little coffee snob.
JM: strong words.
JS: you gotta deal with that sometimes in our line of work.
JM: apparently. well speaking of your line of work…..everybody knows that music does not make enough money to survive, what else do you do? what does your non-punk-rocking life look like? what do you do? garden?
JS: i think Jody does.
ZR: he’s got an old swimming pool that he filled in and he grows tomatoes in it.
JS: i help run a coffee shop…..my wife’s coffee shop, and i play bass with who will have me. i got a lot of rad people that hit me up on a regular basis. and JJ works for a uniform rental service. so he’s out there working a big boy job for the first time in his life. and….
ZR: i tour manage a few bands and we’re both trophy husbands.
JS: yeah we’re mostly trophy husbands – me and this guy -
ZR: instead of saying house husbands, we say trophy husbands, cause that’s basically what we are.
JS: i mean….we’re both really good looking and we haven’t been formally employed in 5-6 years
JM: (i am laughing so hard i can’t speak)
JS: Jody runs a bar called Apple Annie’s, it’s really cool. so thankfully he can find time to squeeze this little band into his life. Me & Zach watch a lot of Netflix.
ZR: we drink beer and get together and write songs. that’s about all we do.
JS: about everyday we watch TV, write songs….you know…
ZR: but wait we clean our houses. we clean and we cook for our wives sometimes….
JS: right right….do laundry.
JM: woah! you do laundry?!?
JS: yeah….sometimes hahaha trophy husbands!
ZR: trophy husband’s a strong word, you gotta know what we do
JM: Trophy Husband is new territory for me. i am unaware of such a title.
JS: we’re pavin’ the way….
ZR: you see though…..when you don’t bring home much money, you gotta have some kind of work to do….
JS: we go to the gym a lot. try to keep ourselves in shape. can’t get too flabby or we’ll lose our title. better keep it tight.
JM: (still laughing) alright, alright. you play sports?
JS: we watch baseball a lot.
ZR: i watch hockey.
JS: no i’m not very sporty. my parents bought me a bass when i was eleven….i think mostly so they didn’t have to enroll me in any extracurricular activities. i skateboarded and started a punk band growing up. i’ve always enjoyed sports but never been too proficient, you might say.
ZR: i play golf.
ZR: well…..i enjoy it. you can say whatever you want.
JM: i won’t. so guys….how much time and money do you invest into Bad Talk?
ZR: most of it. we don’t have very much money, but we have lots of time and we put all of that into it.
JS: yeah, it’s the kind of thing where like me and him (Zach) are on a tour, and all the guys are working their butts off to pay the bills, but when we’re back i’d say 90% of our free time goes into Bad Talk. Money-wise we haven’t put a ton into yet, because we’ve been scheming about making the record….
ZR: we bought shirts.
JS: yeah, we did buy shirts. so financially it hasn’t been a huge investment yet. we’re trying the get the bank roll going: playin some shows. but a lot of time though for sure.
JM: how often do you practice?
JS: lately twice a week for the past few months. and at the least once a week. and if Zach’s gone, than Jody and i will get together and write some stuff. or try to have once a week where we all work on music.
JM: i know you said you’re working on a full length, but do you have other goals near or far?
JS: doing a band like this has been a dream of mine since i was kid. i think what happens with punk rock a lot is that once people get good at their instruments they don’t like to play it anymore, cause it’s simple, but when you have really good musicians doing it then that’s what the awesome bands are. because punk rock is so simple, but when it’s done right it’s one of the best music forms – to me. so for me, it’s been a personal goal of mine for a long time to find guys like this and put out a record that my guts are in. so the main goal right now is to put out a record; a vinyl.
ZR: are you gonna come to the show tomorrow?
JS: & ZR: hahaha
JM: alright guys, last question: what advice do you have to give to your fans about music, life, love, anything?
ZR: do what makes you happy, and be smart about it.
JS: i would say, for the people that are coming that like one of our other bands…..keep an open mind and don’t take it too seriously. because….if you don’t like what we’re doing, that’s totally fine, but you don’t have to write me a really long email about how you don’t like some of our lyrics or something we said on twitter.
ZR: because we don’t really care. and we’ll talk junk right back.
JS: don’t take it too seriously. this band’s not a career move, it’s something we’re doing because we just really want to. so if you don’t like it – that’s fine. but you don’t have to write us really long emails.
JM: exactly. and you already said that your biggest priority is just to make music that you enjoy anyways….so if other people like it – or get it – then sure that’s an added bonus! if not….
JS: yeah….if not, then you do NOT have to follow us on facebook.
JM: you know guys, but i would say too – to the nay sayers and even to those who were huge fans of Sent By Ravens – give it shot. just give it a shot. because you never know. sometimes different is better.
JS & ZR: yeah!
JM: well, thanks for your time guys.
ZR: you’re welcome for our time.
JS: absolutely. thank YOU!
listen to Bad Talk’s demos here
come out to the show tomorrow night: Friday February 22. Snug Harbor in Charlotte. Doors at 9:00. see you there.