Badmouth on Badmouth
Every now and then, I Google myself — which is not as dirty as it sounds — and I am always amazed at the other John Marcottes out there. There’s John Marcotte the social policy expert for the Urban Institute; John Marcotte the Director of Research Data Services at the University of Pennsylvania; and the John Marcotte IMDB lists as a grip on the 2007 Joaquin Phoenix movie, Reservation Road.
But since 1999, “Badmouth” has been pretty much all mine. (Except for that dillweed spam-lord who owns badmouth.com.) But all th
at is about to change as a new Badmouth hits the international scene: Badmouth the Swedish heavy metal band.
After paying their dues in Europe, Badmouth is poised to release their self-titled debut album on September 29, 2008. Recorded at Fortrocks Studios in California and working with the legendary producer Paul Sabu (Heart, Madonna, David Bowie, Alice Cooper), Badmouth is poised to kick ass and take names.
I recently spoke with Badmouth bassist Chris LeMon about digital pirates, the impotance of ABBA, and heavy metal music from the land that invented the umlaut.*
*Editor’s note: I have no idea whether Sweden invented the umlaut.
Q. How did you come up with your name, and is there any chance you owe me a licensing fee?
A. The name actually came to us…(laughter)…you wish!!
Q. You’re a Swedish band, but you sing in English. Why?
A. (It) just feels natural to sing our music in English. All the music we grew up on were in English, and of course we aim to succeed outside Sweden, too. We are talking world domination. (laughs)
Q. How does producing for an international audience change the way you create music?
A. It doesn’t. We create music we love, and if people love it too then it’s great. The size of the audience doesn’t matter. This is BADMOUTH!
Q. I suspect that many of the names of IKEA products are actually dirty words in Swedish. Is there any truth to this rumor?
A. (laughs) I have never heard that before, actually, but I promise none of those words are dirty words. Well, that’s if the products have the same names in the U.S. as in Sweden.
Q. You are promoting the album’s availability on services like Napster and iTunes. How important is it for you to make your music available electronically?
A. Well, first of all we work with an independent label, Romulus X Records. For us, the importance with this is the music and we wanna work with people that love the music. Everybody knows that artists don’t sell as many albums since before the Internet with illegal downloads, etc. We think downloads are the future of the music industry. The sales of hard copies decreases every year and the music industry is having problems — especially the major labels — and also to sell hard copies on the Internet instead of the traditional music store. I mean, how hard can it be to purchase your music on the Internet and get it delivered to your house or downloaded to your computer within minutes? Of course, there will always be illegal downloads but hopefully there is enough music lovers out there who realize that if artists dosn’t get paid for their music, artists can’t go on creating music full time.
Q. What bands or musicians are your influences?
A. All of us have really different influences. I think the only bands we have in common are Guns ‘n Roses and, of course, Elvis Presley. I guess that’s what makes us Badmouth: we all bring in different influences which creates a unique sound.
Q. What was it like working with Paul Sabu on your debut album?
A. It’s been totally amazing. We are very honored to have worked with Paul on this album. He is a great guy — very open minded and down-to-earth and, of course, extremely talented. I couldn’t think of a better producer to work with. He’s the best.
Q. On The Muppet Show, there was a popular character named “The Swedish Chef.” Was he just called “The Chef” in Sweden?
A. Actually, he was called “svenska kocken,” which means “The Swedish Chef.” (laughs)
Q. Pop artists from other parts of the world are often introduced to Americans by analogy: “He’s the Malaysian Michael Jackson” or “She’s the Slovakian Britney Spears.” What band would you compare yourselves to in order to introduce your sound to American audiences?
A. Hmmm…it’s very difficult to say ONE artist. Like i said earlier, we have a very unique sound. It’s very hard to compare our sound to another artist or band, but if you like Guns ‘n Roses, Aerosmith, The Ramones, Kiss and that kinda ’70s and ’80s music, you are gonna LOVE Badmouth.
Q. What’s your take on the online piracy issue? Has it affected how you distribute?
A. I started talking a little about this earlier. Of course, there will always be illegal downloads. Let’s hope that our fans realize that they will have to download it legally if they want us to make another album. (laughs) But nowadays, I think it’s even more important to be on tour, have great merchandise and to release special limited items and albums — you know, the kind of stuff you can’t download. Then again, I think a real music lover and fan of a band or artist will pay for the music. Maybe I am wrong, but that’s how I feel. I am a music lover myself. If records weren’t as expensive as they are today, there wouldn’t be as many illegal downloads. So lets push the independent music forward!
Q. When you ask Americans about Swedish music, I think they immediately think of Ace of Base, Roxette and — of course — ABBA. Why does Sweden produce so many happy pop bands?
Maybe the Swedes are too happy?? (laughs) Well, I guess it’s about time for the Americans to discover some ass-kickin’ rock music from Sweden…here comes BADMOUTH!
Q. You are NOT a “happy pop band.” What experiences did you have that prevented you from wanting to create the next “Dancing Queen”?
A. We write music that’s close to our hearts — what feels natural. Who knows? Maybe we will write the next “Dancing Queen” for our next album? That’s one good thing with Badmouth: you never know what’s gonna come next. If you listen to the 10 songs on our album, you can hear 10 different songs. It’s not one song made in 10 different ways.