bad juju

KICK OUT THE JAMS: BAD JUJU // Sweeping The Alternative Spectrum With Russ Holland

Bad Juju—they’re the Melbourne grunge rockers smacking the face of music fans everywhere with their debut EP Hidden Desires, creeping from the cracks to prove rock isn’t dead.

MORE: TROPHY EYES: The Dreamers And The Doers // ALPHA WOLF: … And Out Come The Breakdowns // OUTRIGHT: Don’t Holler Atcha Girl
REVIEWS: TROPHY EYES: The American Dream // AS IT IS: The Great Depression // PLINI: Sunhead`// DORO: Forever Warriors, Forever United

Picked up very quickly by triple j, Bad Juju have been a fixed rotation on airwaves everywhere and though they have a sometimes eclectic blend of sounds, they remain largely indefinable. There’s nothing typical about Bad Juju, all that is certain is that we like the cut of their jab! Vocalist Russ Holland has, as he says, been through a lot of tastes in his time that have impacted what his band do. Here’s just a few of the juiciest cuts that make Bad Juju drool.

IMMORTAL – Sons Of Northern Darkness

Let’s start with the complete opposite end of the spectrum to anything you guys sound like and anything else you’ve selected.

[Laughs] Yeah, I went through a massive black metal phase when I was around 18–that’s got a sound on it I don’t think has been recreated by black metal. I’m a big fan of all things black metal. Abbath [Doom Occulta] is an absolute shredder on the guitar, sings at the same time which is something I suck at doing! So I’ve always looked up to someone who can do it that well. Some of the chords he uses on the guitar, the drummer [Horgh] is an absolute freak as well, it’s just a really good listen the whole way through.

When you were going through that black metal phase, did you do the long black hair, the white face?

[Laughs] No, no, I didn’t! I definitely did the long black hair but I didn’t do the corpse paint!

So what is it about the black metal sound, particularly this album, you still love so much? Ten plus years since you went through the phase so why this album, why has it stuck with you all this time?

It’s just one of those ones that every now and then I’ll be like, ‘What do I feel like listening to?’ And there’s a couple of songs on there, one called One By One that’s got the biggest riffs ever on it. I always feel like chucking it on. It’s got a diminished minor sound to the whole album, just really evil sounding, and when you’re in the right mood for it nothing beats it.

Is there anything in Sons Of Northern Darkness you think Bad Juju might imitate in the future?

Um, I don’t think so! We’re definitely not aiming for that, but there’s a couple of us that are secret metal heads I guess. Nick the drummer and I both love Immortal and Dimmu Borgir and a few other heavy bands like that–we like a bit of everything but we definitely enjoy black metal.

 MARILYN MANSON – Antichrist Superstar

Onto our next one, and one of my favourite albums of all time, Antichrist Superstar, Marilyn Manson. What a genius, right?

Yeah, such a good album I think this album pretty much was one of the albums that changed my life. I remember hearing [The] Beautiful People when I was in grade six and my sister [had] bought the previous album [Portrait Of An American Family] and she’d shown me some of that stuff. I remember going to buy the [The Beautiful People] single for myself with my mum–it was R-18 back then, you could buy it from Sanity. [Laughs] Yeah, listening to it constantly, showing people. Some people being like ‘What the hell is this?’ other people loving it. It had such a sick video as well and ever since that album, I was really into like metal pretty much. That’s what lead me to listen to other stuff, like Immortal when I was younger.

Yeah I was going to ask you if maybe Marilyn Manson tapped into something there.

Yeah definitely. All I did from the point I became obsessed, after that album, I was playing guitar and listening to other metal bands. Growing up there was a big obsession with Marilyn Mason and similar bands like that.

I cannot believe you were allowed to listen to it in grade six! I mean, I was fighting to listen to it when I was 16!

[Laughs] Yeah my mum bought it for me, my mum’s really cool.

Yeah, right! Your mum’s the cool mum everyone wished they had!

I remember going into the shop and her being like ‘Are you sure you should be listening to this?’ and I was like, ‘Yeah!’ Yeah, it went from there. [Laughs]

But it has some confronting lyrics on it, ones that definitely caused some controversy and for whatever reason I just loved that he had the guts to say whatever he wanted to and had that really ‘fuck you’ attitude that when you’re an angsty teenager you love.

But being older now and understanding better, being able to interpret the lyrics with a bit more of a mature head on your shoulders, does it mean something different to you every time you listen to it?

Yeah definitely, there’s stuff you pick up on it that you didn’t when you were younger, a lot of things about religion, a lot of stuff about government, that when you’re younger you’re listening to the swear words and going ‘Yeah!’ Irresponsible Hate Anthem is obviously a big one, he [Manson] was angry about a lot of stuff going on in America. It’s inserting to know there was a bit more meaning than a lot of swear words!

GALLOWS – Grey Britain

Moving through the evolution of alternative music, heavy music, whatever you want to call it, we’ve got Gallows, Grey Britain–have you every been to Britain?

No, I’ve never been! I’d love to go.

So what is it about this album’s very anarchist undertones, very raw metalcore–I mean back when they released it metalcore wasn’t really as mainstream as it is now–but what is it about this real raw ruff and gruff element that we do have tiny little hints of in Bad Juju that you love?

When you listen to Frank Carter singing on that album you feel every lyric he punches out there, he absolutely means it. I feel like he’s saying a lot of things people wouldn’t want him to say. He absolutely is intense throughout this whole thing. There’s some really cool parts on the album where vocally he does things I would never think of, like there’s parts where all the drums and guitars stop for 30 seconds and he’ll have a melody of his own you can chant along to–you remember it because the lyrics are so full on. He sounds like, once again, he really means it. The pure anger in his voice is what’s memorable for me.

That’s a very attractive quality in Frank Carter, isn’t it? This particular album recorded ten years ago, and yet with Frank Carter And The Rattlesnakes it’s a development of character you can maintain he has that raw aggression.

Yeah he definitely does. There’s something about how political the Grey Britain album is. He’s obviously fed up with how things were in London where he was living–I’ve read some interviews where he said London was fucked, where he was living was messed up economically and things like that, and this is just a reflection of how things felt around him. Everything was spiralling and this was him saying something needs to change, we need to rebuild or it’ll be too late, which is a scary message from him. But yeah, once again, it sounds like he really means it and I just love that he said what he thought.

I remember hearing a rumour about him having the option from the record label to go to a big studio to record to his vocals but declining that, or he started doing that, and ended up producing the rest in his bedroom, because when a thought came into his mind he wanted to be able to run over and record it, and the record label hated the idea of him doing it but he did it anyway, and it worked out, for me anyway, as one of the best vocals on an album out there.

REFUSED – The Shape Of Punk To Come

Keeping within the punk vein, well, this is odd for me because this is feeling a bit like a journey through the spectrum, hey–The Shape Of Punk To Come by Refused, which albeit is a brighter version of punk than Gallows but still punk in its own right.

They put on one of the best concerts I’ve ever seen at The Metro when it was still going in Melbourne not long ago–after seeing that I haven’t been able to stop listening to it. It was such an amazing stage presence, and I remember thinking ‘That is a band.’ The guitars are extremely technically, some of the drum beats on there and things I would, when writing, I feel not many people would think of, they’re quite intricate and disguised as a punk band. They’re probably some of the more schooled punk musos out there.

And for all they are Swedish, because you say ‘punk’, British punk, more pop-punk from the Americans, Refused do it really well and I feel this album is where we can start finding a little correlation between Bad Juju’s sound and some of your influences.

Yeah definitely. All the lyrics by the singers are saying what they think and I’ve always loved the quality of vocalists that do that. The sound is always intense in parts of the album that then know when to take a back seat for a second and chill out. We definitely want to have some songs on our releases that are full on in parts so people can see we mean what we’re singing about and what we’re playing for.


Coming neatly round to Citizen, this choice surprised me big time because Youth, their debut album, is very hard to define and yet when you listen to it, it surprises you at every turn.

Yeah, I can’t get enough of it. It’s my go-to. I put that on, it’s got amazing lyrics, once again I love the sound of that album, they really experiment a little bit and that came out of the studio was amazing. You can hear a little bit of their influence on our EP, it’s definitely a little bit channelled from Citizen I think.

And definitely Bad Juju are nodding toward an itch to scratch in terms of experimentation–I’m not gonna say you’ll do the same thing as citizen but would you agree that if you were gonna branch out in any way it would be in this style, like Citizen surprising at every turn.

I hope so! We don’t want to be a band scared of experimentation, we don’t want to put out cookie cutter songs, we always want to try and surprise people, always pushing ourselves musically to make something that sounds fresh and sound like Bad Juju rather than any other band. Obviously we’ll have our influences in there but Citizen’s’ albums past this one, every album is sounding more mature so we’re hoping we can do the same thing, but at the same time, make some fun songs for people to bop along to as well!

Hidden Desire EP Tour:

Friday 17 August // Foxxy Dolphin // Melbourne
Saturday 18 August // West Thebby // Adelaide
Thursday 30 August // Manly Bar // Sydney
Saturday 27 October // Halloween Hysteria Festival // Brisbane (tickets)

Tickets available here.

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