nashville band bully feels like teen spirit
Along with her drummer boyfriend Stewart Copeland and best friends, guitarist Clayton Parker and bassist Reece Lazarus, 25-year-old Alicia Bognanno is Bully.
During music collage Alicia Bognanno, singer in Bully, interned at Steve Albini's Chicago studio, Electrical Audio, where, according to the legendary producer behind Nirvana's In Utero, Alicia was "a fucking joy to have in the studio." Post studies, she moved to Nashville and formed Bully in all its grungy rock glory. Favouring analogue recording over digital, the frontwoman took her dream team back to Electric Audio to lay down their debut LP Feels Like (out 22nd June on Sony) that she wrote, recorded, mixed and mastered herself. Time and time again, Alicia's raspy vocals have been likened to those of Kurt Cobain, with her catchy melodies certainly reminiscent of early Nirvana. Both on stage and off, she's casual and cool; her messy bleached hair hanging down over her red kimono and old T-shirt. Having now been on the road for what seems for forever, and with another six months of touring to go, we catch up with Alicia on the London leg of Bully's European tour to talk UK bands, Montage of Heck and missing her dog.
What have you been listening to as you gaze out at the beautiful English countryside from the tour van?
We actually all listen to our headphones and then everyone can listen to what they want all the time. I've been revisiting a lot of British bands since I've been here. I was listening to Morrissey again the other day. It's more fun to listen to now we've been here.
What emerging UK bands are you listening to?
Palma Violets, I've been listening to that song, I wanna be your best friend. That's pretty good. I like the band Yak too. We just played with them in Leeds and Glasgow. We hung out afterwards and they're awesome. In the States a lot of the bands we play with, we hear all the time anyway. But here we don't really know them so it's really cool.
I saw you played a couple of shows with Drowners in New York.
Yeah we did like a whole month tour with them! And we just hung out with them in New York too, they were awesome.
I'm guessing you like rock documentaries?
Yeah, have you seen Montage of Heck?! I'm so pissed it came out in the States and I tried to see it but my computer won't let me do it. I've been waiting to see it for so long! Actually, when we were in New York, I was supposed to see it with Matt from Drowners but I couldn't. He said the main message was basically DON'T DO HEROIN.
Yeah pretty much.
Shit! I'm watching it tonight, for sure. I can't wait! I'm so excited!
Are you a huge Nirvana fan?
Yeah I guess. It's kind of weird though; Kurt Cobain died when I was four so I wasn't really around for that. People always put us in that grunge category so I find myself learning more and more about it and it's something that's really interesting to me.
So you're just discovering it all now?
Well since everyone compares Bully to it, I know about all of it. So now I'm a huge fan.
Word on the internet is that you have an awesome dog?
Yes! Want to see a picture of her?
Yeah I really do. What's she called?
Her name is Mezzi and she's six now and super cute. I got her when she was a little puppy. The only thing that sucks about touring is that I miss her all the time.
She's really big now isn't she?
She's huge, 75 pounds. She's a German Sheppard husky mix and she's the best.
Yeah, she's really smart. I almost wish she were a little bit dumber. When I was trying to train her and she was about two, I had this big screened-in porch and I would let her play in there when I went to college. And there were times when I was on my way there and she would have followed me half the way and I would be like, how did you get out of the house and how do you know where I am?
She's magic. Just wondering, do you remember your dreams?
Oh god, yes. I have crazy dreams. Last night I had a dream that I walked into a bar and I fell over and my boyfriend helped me up and I wanted to leave but nobody else wanted to. Then I was suddenly walking along a sandbar, and the sand came up around me and then a huge wave broke through and I had a cut on my foot and I was so scared that a shark was going to get me. And I was like, 'I could have died'.
Well according to your lyrics, you used to be a shark?
Oh yeah! I actually have a lot of shark dreams.
What's that song about?
When I wrote it I had just come out of a really awesome internship and when I first got back to Nashville I just didn't want to be there, I wanted to be back where I was. I had to finish collage and I remember feeling like 'what the fuck am I doing?' So it was kind of one of those songs.
But you escaped!
Yeah I escaped… and now I'm in the UK.
Finally, what do you know now that you wish you had known growing up?
I wish I knew that just because people are older it doesn't mean they can treat you in a certain way. You never really know to stand up for yourself because nobody teaches you that, they just teach you to respect adults. That's important, but it's also important to stand up for yourself and know that it's ok to do what you want to do - no one ever really tells you that.
Bully play Brighton's The Great Escape today, 15th May
Text Francesca Dunn