by Bad Rat?
One cold November evening, the rats escaped. My future bandmate and current roommate Claire and I scrambled to get the rats back into their cage, still half asleep. Now that they knew how to get out, though, it was only a matter of time before it happened again. And happen again it did. After a few nights of rude awakenings, I realized that to stop the rats, I would need to become something else. A worthy adversary. And thus Bad Rat was born.
Listen to the album “Strange Places” while reading the text.
Many of my earliest memories are tied closely to music. However, before this year, I had never pursued any music creation of my own. In fact, I thought it was too late. My high school fantasies of fronting a band were merely that — fantasies. How could I learn something so complicated now?
It was during the rat battles of 2017 that Claire and I wrote our first song, a short diddy entitled “No Exit.” Only 20 seconds long, the original version contained no musical accompaniment. What was important about “No Exit” was that it made us laugh, and it made our friends laugh too. I really believe that the best things in life are the things that make a person feel something. “No Exit” might have been merely a little tickle in the ribs, but it was something.
It was around this time that Claire and I embarked on an intrepid journey through heavy snow to see OWEL twice in as many nights. OWEL had become my favorite band over the course of the last year since the release of their album, “Dear Me,” and those two small-venue concerts changed our lives. We got back in the car post-concert changed. Claire was inspired to pick up the violin once again, and I knew I wanted to start a band.
Within a week my childhood best friend Ascari had joined the band as our guitarist. We set to work immediately at making music. We put out our first self-titled EP after only a few weeks of production and quickly set to work expanding it into a full-length album. And it almost looks like we succeeded if you happen to glance over the length of the tracks. Our full-length effort, a musing on our shared hatred for Willa Cather, recorded in my parent’s basement, featured Ascari’s first appearance as our guitarist, and quite a few first-draft vocals which made it into the final cuts.
All in all, it was an experiment. What I wanted to do was produce as much music as we possibly could. I had learned in my prior artistic endeavors that what really matters is making things. Pouring over a single piece for ages won’t get you anywhere, so we just kept making. I think Ascari and I recognized right off the bat that we were making some sounds that were “different” and we spent some time wondering what our genre should be. We took a short break from recording and ordered a pizza, thus sealing our fate. Ascari opened the box, and contemplated our pizza for a moment before suggesting as a genre, “Pepperoni Rock.” It stuck.
Finding Our Sound
Shortly after Willa Cather we produced a short and heavily electronic EP entitled “He Dab,” but we quickly returned to our darkly tinged experimental rock form with our second, and far more ambitious, album, “Something’s Wrong,” which began a departure from our short, quirky diddys and saw us debuting some longer tracks with more personal themes.
I found a love for lyricism in my own journey to understand myself. Inspired by artists like OWEL, Chelsea Wolfe, White Lies, A Dead Forest Index, and Bauhaus, I began to drive our music in a darker direction, and it was around the close of production on “Something’s Wrong” that I really started to feel like Bad Rat? was finding its sound.
What followed “Something’s Wrong” was a three-song EP which explored some new singing styles and soundscapes, which lead to and formed our third and most successful album “Strange Places,” released this August. Ascari rips a great solo on “Martyr,” and I pour my heart out onto the piano in “Alarm! Alarm!” in ways I wouldn’t have thought possible merely six months before.
The album also includes an instrumental entitled Rain, written by candlelight in the one-room cabin my friends and I built in the woods of Wisconsin in our youth, which marked one of our first experiments with diegetic sounds and location acoustics. That night a certain magic was in the air. An owl visited us, and his call features softly at the end of the track.
I’ve only been a musician for around seven months. We haven’t played a show, and we’re certainly not writing anything incredibly complex, but what’s really profound for me is the connection I’ve found in my short time making music, both with others and with myself. There really is a magic in music that cannot be overlooked.
We’re beyond excited to share our upcoming truly full-length fourth album with the world.
All the while we were making music, I battled the rats. Did I win? I suppose in the end it hardly matters. It’s the aspiration that counts. There’s a little uncertainty in our band’s name, and there’s a little uncertainty in our hearts. Uncertainty isn’t something to be afraid of. No, we’ve learned that it’s something to embrace.