Ahead of BadBadNotGood’s Cork appearance Ronan Leonard spoke with their bass player Chester Hanson, one third of the formally trained group of young musicians (they are all under the age of 23) along with Matthew Tavares on keys and Alex Sowinski on drums. BadBadNotGood formed in 2011 when the trio met on the jazz programme at Humber Music College in Toronto, in 3 short years they have already released 3 studio albums, 2 live records and made a serious dent in the world of hip-hop and modern jazz. As well as creating some critically acclaimed original work, they have developed quite a reputation for their inventive covers of bands such as A Tribe Called Quest, My Bloody Valentine, James Blake and Odd Future.
Indeed they played a piece based on Odd Future’s music for a panel of their jazz performance instructors, who concluded it did not have musical value; following their subsequent success Chester doesn’t feel the urge to gloat, “we’re not too hung up on that, if they ended up hearing our stuff and appreciate it that’d be cool but we wouldn’t go out of our way to send them recordings”.
Other than that experience Chester has great memories of Humber College, “it was really cool and motivating to be in an environment where everyone is playing music all the time and constantly improving themselves. Towards the ends of my first year the three of us met up and started jamming; we decided to play things people don’t normally play, not jazz school sessions but rather hip-hop that we liked. From there everything else has just happened.”
The “everything else” he casually refers to includes collaborating with Tyler The Creator (videos of the sessions received more than a million views between them on YouTube); playing a concert with jazz legend Roy Ayers; and being Frankie Ocean’s backing band at the 2012 Coachella festival. That Coachella was a very busy time for BadBadNotGood, “we were called the ‘band in residence’ because we played a concert every morning and every night on both weekends, we were on a stage near where everybody camps so we had everybody walking by and just checking us out, it was a great experience.”
Since that festival BadBadNotGood made a new album ‘III’ which was released on May 6, Chester identifies a key change in this album against their previous work, “the instrumentation hasn’t changed but we have developed and had a big change, before we started making III we’d been practising in the Alex’s dads basement and we had to leave there because it was too loud so we ended up opening up our own studio here in Toronto. Before we had been limited by how much studio time we had and our university commitments, we found it easier to write than we had before as we had come up with so many cool ideas on the road. We were able to record on some really good analogue equipment, and it was all to tape which was something we’d always wanted to do. We took time and are really proud of it.”
BadBadNotGood have plans to use that studio for working with other acts too, “one of our long term goals is to collaborate and create records from scratch with as many people as possible, we love being in the studio and trying out ideas. In fact we have an album coming this year made entirely with one artist but I’m not allowed say much about it yet, but I might tell you at the gig!”
BadBadNotGood play The Pavilion on Friday 23 May at 10pm, the early bird ticket price is €10 via http://www.pavilion.com or at the bar.