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Melbourne alt rockers Bad Juju have been increasingly snapping heads with their polished evolution and modern hues woven into their previously grunge-heavy ways.
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It’s been seemingly a long time coming for Bad Juju and their debut album Blue Heaven; but there’s certainly been plenty of memorable material and live performances along the way, including past appearances with Boston Manor, Movements, Loathe, Mayday Parade, and Trophy Eyes, as well as a chance to fly the flag for heavy music at BIGSOUND in 2018.
Tracing its origin back to a time plagued with lockdowns and abundant gloom for the music industry, the pandemic years may have surrounded the creation of Blue Heaven, but it certainly didn’t halt the Melbourne group from actively stepping beyond their comfort zones. Instead, Bad Juju have emerged with an assured shift in their trademark sound, and, as vocalist Russell Holland and bassist Matthew John recently revealed to HysteriaMag.com, many other firsts along the way.
“We’re feeling a mixture of excitement and nerves at the moment,” says the band. “Releasing our debut album definitely feels like a huge milestone for us. We started writing for the album during the height of the pandemic and at different times it seemed like it may never see the light of day, yet here we are! Most of all we’re looking forward to playing these new songs live.
“This is also the first Bad Juju music to see a physical release, the vinyls have turned out super cool. Still being a relatively new band we’ve been blown away by the response.”
Balancing lyrical vulnerability alongside the core concept of observing the Earth from afar, Blue Heaven seeks to “explore the broader scope of life on this planet and what it truly means to be human. When you take a closer look, you start to see the struggles and complexities that lie beneath the surface, even though the world may initially appear peaceful.”. But alongside its girthy subject matter, the album also looked to some formative and nicher influences to shape their debut album.
“We’ve always been massive fans of Linkin Park and how they can create such a massive, iconic sound,” says the band. “When we were putting together Blue Heaven, we wanted to capture some of that vibe by incorporating synths to take our melodies to the next level and give ’em that epic feel.
“Another band that has influenced us is Green Day. Now, they’ve had their ups and downs in terms of their career and music, but we’ve always admired their talent for crafting catchy, anthemic tunes that hit you right in the feels from the get-go.
Having our music featured in AFL was a huge moment for us, especially since we all follow the sport religiously. Honestly, we probably end up talking more about AFL than we do about music most of the time!
[ Bad Juju ]
“And there are a bunch of underground bands we were really digging at the time too, like Nothing, Narrow Head, and Teenage Wrist. These guys have this killer mix of grunge and a dreamy shoegaze vibe that really struck a chord with us. Their sound definitely left an imprint on our own musical direction, and we’re stoked to infuse some of that atmosphere and mood into our tracks.”
Also lending some magic to the Blue Heaven creative process were none other than Callan Orr (Hands Like Houses, Dream on Dreamer) and Sam Bassal (Ocean Grove), with both bringing their expertise and experience to the table, while also keeping the wheels turning throughout the tight recording timeframe that accompanied Blue Heaven. And despite the strict studio timeline, the recording process also resulted in Bad Juju culling down to the final 12 tracks now lying in wait on Blue Heaven – but some of the eliminated material may very well see the light of day in the not-too-distant future.
“During the recording process, we actually ended up with a total of 17 songs that we worked on over different recording sessions with either Cal or Sam,” the band says. “As we honed in on the vibe and direction of the album, we realised that a few tracks didn’t quite fit what we were aiming for. Some of them were mixed with a different engineer and released as standalone singles, some even a whole year before the album was completed.
“While there are definitely some really cool songs from those sessions that won’t be featured on the album, there’s a good chance that some of them will see the light of day eventually. One particular track, which had the rather silly working title of Rubber Hose, stands out as possibly the catchiest Bad Juju song of all time. So, who knows, it might make an appearance in the future.”
Throughout the journey towards the release of Blue Heaven, Bad Juju have unveiled multiple singles alongside snagging increasing acclaim, with their recent single Raincoat included in triple j Unearthed’s Top 5 Songs Of The Week and a first play for Nothing To Give on triple j’s Short.Fast.Loud. But an additionally massive feather in the Bad Juju cap also recently came in the form of Nothing To Give being playlisted on the Seven Network’s Friday Night Footy playlist alongside the likes of Boston Manor, Grinspoon and Red Hot Chili Peppers.
“Having our music featured in AFL was a huge moment for us, especially since we all follow the sport religiously,” says the band. “Honestly, we probably end up talking more about AFL than we do about music most of the time! When our music was featured, we were absolutely stoked and proud. In the days that followed, we received messages from friends and family congratulating us. It was an amazing feeling, and definitely an achievement that we’re all quite proud of.”
And while plans to hit the road and tour their brand new album are currently under wraps (but “in the works” as confirmed by Holland and John), there is currently one key song on Blue Heaven that holds special real estate in the hearts of Bad Juju – and undeniably one that will bode to be extremely special in a live setting when the time finally comes.
“Mother is one of those tracks that holds a big spot in our hearts,” says the band. “Personally, it holds even more significance because of the profound impact it had on the life of one of our band members.
“When we first heard it, we were completely blown away by the raw emotions and intensity of it. It’s a track that really hits hard and has a deep personal meaning for us.”