Lead guitarist Max Perenchio opens up about this new band.
How did the band get started?
Bad City got started when the other guitarist Tom (Schleiter) and I were, what would you call it, high school rivals. I was in a psychedelic rock band at the time, and he was in some kind of a metal band and we shared the same circle of friends. We would sit around and debate about who the better guitar player was, but it was, kinda, written that we would eventually be working together. Then I met Jake (Serek), the bass player. Jake had this dead ringer, John Lennon hair cut and he definitely looked the part with mutton chops and could play the bass like nobody I had ever heard. Tom went to college and met this guy Kevin (Kane), who was a great drummer and a philosophy major at the time. He was studying the merits of philosophy in the same manner that he was approaching the drums with subtlety and complexity. And with Josh (Caddy) it was one of those things where you hear a guy sing and you know right away that you have to be in a band with this guy. You just knew that he knew how to lead a band. Really it was one of those things where you are trying to get the right band together and then, piece by piece, it all fell into place.
Where did you guys come up with the name Bad City?
That’s a pretty easy one because we were living in the West Side of Chicago when we were writing and recording the album. For lack of a better phrase it was a terrible city, it was a “Bad City.” It was just a crummy place to live, and it lent itself to a lot of the scenes of paranoia and an apocalyptic setting.
How would you describe Bad City to someone who has never heard of you before?
That is always a hard one. It is very much so, at its purest level, it is rock, rock 'n’ roll. Everybody in the band, we study rock 'n’ roll almost like total rock 'n’ roll nerds. I couldn’t tell you the first thing about techno or hip hop music. Rock 'n’ roll is the only thing I have really discussed with any real expertise. I am going to be working on a label and just give that answer, but for now I will just say that we are rock 'n’ roll that is knowledgeable of the entire chronological history.
Where does the band get its influences from?
What we try to do is to say, “Hey, look, there has been 40 years of rock 'n’ roll and we are going to draw from all these things.” All the way from Boston and Queen to Nirvana, Jack White, and Smashing Pumpkins. Then put all of them into a rock 'n’ roll blender and use rock music from all different eras.
As the lead guitarist, who are some of your own influences?
Just like the band, I try to take from all eras. My biggest ones would be Brian May from Queen, Billy Corgan from Smashing Pumpkins, Jimi Hendrix, Tom Scholtz from Boston, Kurt Cobain, and Tony Iommi from Black Sabbath.
Are you excited to see how “Welcome to the Wasteland” will be received?
Absolutely, man, absolutely. We have been making that album for over a year. It will be exciting to see how somebody other than my mom likes it. Just getting it out to the people and seeing people of all ages take it in and enjoy it. I am totally stoked.
What track do you think stood out the most?
Every track is kind of like your baby. We started out with about twenty tracks and they were shrunk down to ten. So already I love them all equally. Some of my favorites are “Straight to the Grave” because it is one of those songs that really blend the whole album into one song. It might be one of the most indicative songs of the whole album. So “Straight to the Grave” is a big one and it is also about the whole rock n’ roll lifestyle. “Straight to the grave, and if I stay alive, I’ll stay. Fading away, the devil on my back is riding me away.” It’s filled with those kind of lyrics. Then I love “Wildlife” which is the first song that we came out of the gates with. We didn’t have it in mind with being a hit single but it was such an extreme song that it represented the record as a whole, again, quite well. It just in your face and we wanted to start a great rock song. So I will stay “Straight to the Grave” and “Wildlife.”
What has this tour been like so far?
Well we haven’t, quite yet, started the Hinder tour. We are actually at home in Chicago taking a quick week break. We just got off with Smashing Pumpkins, which was a dream come true tour. We got to be great friends of them. It’s one of those things that the band that has influenced us, the CD that you bought when you were in the third or fourth grade that caused me to put down that hockey stick and pick up a guitar. That was one of the things that originally caused me to do that. It was great and playing the Midwest, I like playing the Midwest more than any other area, all throughout the Midwest because people seem to care more. We were basically doing that with this last tour and will be doing that mostly with this Hinder tour as well.
What should a fan expect when they go out to see this show?
I haven’t gotten a chance to see the guys from Hinder. I have heard that they are great. From Bad City, you can expect nothing but a great, wild rock 'n’ roll show. In the 21st century, I think people feel like they have seen it all so the last thing they want to see is a bunch of guys standing around staring at their shoes while on stage. We will bring the fire and bring the fury. You can expect to see most of “Welcome to the Wasteland” being played with a lot of extended jams, a lot of harmonized guitar solos, a lot of the lead singer belting high notes. Basically a big rock n’ roll party that will, hopefully, make that 30 or 40 minutes fly by like you haven’t even seen and hopefully leave everyone wanting more.
Have you ever had an off night during the tour where you wish you could go back and do it all over again?
Oh, of course, man, everybody has those nights but you learn from them. It’s one of those deals where things go wrong and equipment could fail, people can be way to drunk to even stand, or you can just forget stuff. You would be surprised that even after playing these songs a million times and hearing them three million, you can still screw it up. But you learn from it and make sure you remember that part. It happens to everybody, it happens to the best of everybody. I was watching Brian May play the “Bohemian Rhapsody” solo and butcher one of the notes. It doesn’t matter, you can play it a million times but people are still people. So, yea, there are off nights and you learn from them and just try not to drink as much the next night. (laughs)
What does Bad City do for fun when they are not on stage?
It’s one of those things where you are on the road, you are stopping every day at dingy truck stops and run down fast food joints buying double stacks from Wendys. You are always looking for little pranks, little funny jokes to play on each other to kind of keep things real. When you are touring with six other guys it gets kind of weird. Then there is the internet where you have some much stuff to try to keep up with. You always have to be checking your site to keep it up to date and stuff like that. Also, keeping in touch with people that are contacting you on Facebook and Twitter. You would be surprised how much time that takes during the day.
While going from tour location to another, what is life on the tour bus like?
One time we had our lead singer put on women’s clothes and a wig and we all could pretend that he was a girl and we could get some alone time with him. Just kidding! We don’t really do too much. We try to keep it professional. Obviously there is time to have some fun after the show, party up, or whatever. Gives you a chance to meet other people on the tour. I think that is what really makes it worth while, actually, is the other people on the tour because we all know each other way too well. So it is fun to talk to the other people you are touring with, staying friends, and keeping in touch.
How important are the fans to a band like Bad City?
They are the blood that goes through our veins. If it wasn’t for the fans there would be no such thing as the band Bad City. We are a new band so we are still at that point where we are still reaching out and trying to expose our sound to as many people as possible. In any band, I have never met a band in the whole world that thinks any differently about their fans. It is one thing when they are following you around in the parking lot and showing up outside your hotel rooms...(laughs) Just kidding! They are great, though, and it is still fun to connect with them. Every guy in the band has been there before as fans. We have stood outside in the rain to see our favorite bands and we have waited outside and waited for them to come out so you could talk to them for split second and get an autograph. I’ve been there man, I have been there for 10 years being a huge music dork and waiting for my favorite rock bands. To see a kid come up to you and say that they have been listening to your album and it has made me want to pick up the guitar because you guys are doing such cool things. It is like a dream come true for me, to see yourself in that kid.
If you guys could tour with any band in the entire world, whom would it be?
If you would have asked me that six months ago I would have definitely said the Smashing Pumpkins. We got that tour, luckily. It is weird when an old band tours with a new band because a lot of times people don’t really care to see the new band. You are just ready to see the legend. That being said, I would love to tour with Kiss, I would love to tour with Queen even though Freddy is gone, to just get a chance to tour with some of those guys would be amazing. Right now I think it would be out with somebody like Jack White and whatever incarnation he is in currently whether it would be The White Stripes or Dead Weather. He would be a great guy to tour with. We are open to anything. We are going out on tour right now with Hinder. They are a great new young rock band that really brings it. Then we are going out with Slash, too, right after that. So we have it all. Those are all dream tours so we are really, really fortunate in that respect.
Has there been any regrets in getting where you are right now?
Absolutely not. I am not in the spot, yet, where I have lost all my friends, or lost my nose canal from doing too much coke, I am not in that spot where all my life has fallen. We haven’t gotten to that point in our little “Behind the Music” tale. I hope we never have to go through that. We have all stayed really positive. We have all stayed great friends. All of our family and respective girlfriends have all been very supportive. We still bring our friends out on tour with us. Everybody that has helped come up with us, who have been there for us from the beginning. It has been such a blessing to get as far as we have and a lot of bands, as soon as they get the taste of anything, they start doing drugs or whatever and throw it all away really quick. We are going to try to keep around as long as we can. So absolutely no regrets thus far.
Did you ever, in your wildest dreams, ever believe that you would get this far?
I have had some pretty wild dreams in my life. I think you got to have those really wild dreams as a kid to even gather up the nerve to drop out of school and leave behind the life that you should have logically followed according to the mainstream capitalistic society. To give all that up and say that I am going to start a rock band and I think I have the chops, I think you have to dream wildly. I didn’t ever think I would be touring with the people I am touring with because I figured they would either be dead or long gone by the time I got this far. We have been working so hard that I think we have always tried to get this far. The fact that we have gotten this far, and it really isn’t that far, but it’s a great start. We are planting the seeds. I am just really optimistic for the future.
What does the future hold for Bad City?
Touring, touring, touring. We haven’t even started thinking about the second record yet. I am sure we will spend a lot of time getting those new rock songs down. Right now, though, it is going to be hitting the pavement and be rocking our little silver van. We are going to be taking that all over the country, playing all sorts of festivals and shows, and reaching out to people of all ages. I was talking to Richie Sambora (Bon Jovi) the other day. I was like Richie, when you guys hit it, it didn’t hit until the third album and I was like, what advice do you have for a young band. And he was like, man you just have to get out and plant the seeds because eventually, if you keep working at it, it will start raining. In order for anything to happen you will have had to plant the seed first. Once you make it rain, all those seeds will grow into trees. So it was a very beautiful quote from Mr. Sambora and I appreciated it. So that is basically what we have set out to do. Get out there, show everybody a great time, try to meet as many people as possible, reach out our hands to all the kids and all the people that come out, and hopefully, down the road, we will be able to look back and be proud of our work.
Bad City's album "Welcome to the Wasteland" will be released Aug. 24. See them out on tour with Hinder, coming to a town near you.