While Bad Doctors might need a technical support team to set up all of their gear, one thing they don’t help with is crafting catching songs. Burning City sounds like a lost tape from Factory Records or an unreleased Manchester band from the mid-‘80’s full of brooding hook laden pop written much the same way New Order and mid-80’s The Cure did played with the energy of Devo. Bad Doctors may play basement shows with the punks, but that doesn’t seem to be the last stop for this new wave machine.
Interview by Ed Stuart
Who’s answering the questions?
This is Luke, Matt and Dan.
Where is the band from?
We're from Philadelphia.
Who is in the band and what instrument do they play?
Luke mostly plays bass and synth, Matt sings and plays guitar, and Dan has a drum kit. We all do other stuff too.
How did The Bad Doctors start?
We started about 8 years ago recording demos into a boombox, just a whole lot of tapes. At some point that’s hard to pin down, we started writing The Bad Doctors on them when we were done. Distractions was the first demo (not committed to tape) that was good enough to be released, but there’s a stack of old recordings buried in a military ammunitions case somewhere.
What bands were big influences on the sound of Bad Doctors?
Big Influences: AFX, Wendy Carlos, John Wesley Harding, Andie Oppenheimer, Introspective, “Sweet Lips” from Monaco’s Music For Pleasure, and the t-shirts of Sean McBride.
What is the scene like in Philadelphia? I read Bad Doctors played a lot of house parties and basement shows to build an initial fan base. Is this typically the way bands get fans in Philly?
The punk scene is definitely the most active crowd in Philly, so we immediately gravitated towards it. We wanted people to listen to us and we wanted to get them dancing. A lot of shows we played with (indie) bands would be empty, and if people showed up they definitely wouldn't dance. In the punk community, kids showed up and listened. They either loved us or hated us, but they supported us either way: they let us keep playing shows, and sometimes they danced. There's a lot more going on in Philly, but that's where we grew up in the city.
To piggyback off the last question, there is a quote from Radio Static stating, “In terms of DIY venues, it depends more on whether or not we can fit all our electronics in the show-space than anything else.” If you’re playing house parties and basement those shows must have been pretty cramped. Did you ever worry about bringing all those electronics to those shows?
Yeah, it’s a huge problem. We need a technical support team, to be honest.
What are some Philly bands we should be looking out for?
Sgnls, Crazy Bull, Psychic Teens, Void Vision, Pat Martino, Charles Cohen.
How did you come into contact with FDH Records and eventually decide to release Burning City with FDH?
Colin at SIT AND SPIN RECORDS made Matt buy a Destruction Unit record which FDH released and made Eric Hansen, who founded FDH, buy Distractions. It was a pretty devious play by Colin to get us in touch with each other, but it worked.
Do you think music can still be a vital force in such a disposable age?
Well, if we're talking vital forces, Trismegistus would say that fire is the element of change, and fundamentally the only vital force in existence. All other forces are illusory. We’re just musicians trying to communicate as honestly as possible.
There is a quote in The Styrofoam Dome that describes Bad Doctors as “The band has crafted a hybrid of post-punk, new-wave, dance, and indie that keeps you in a modern time frame while also sounding eerily like a record that could have been in the vaults of Factory Records.”
50 years ago people used to buy music and get their water for free, now people pay for water and get their music for free. How do you think this affects music in any way?
Steal your water and buy our music.
In an interview with Radio Static, there is a quote stating “We put out Distractions in 2010, but we’d been making a lot of bad music for years before that.” Some of your fans might disagree with this quote. Is this case of a band being harder on themselves then they should or does the band honestly believe that? What were some of the main differences when approaching Burning City then when writing for the older material?
Anyone who was around in our early days watching and listening to what we were doing wouldn’t disagree with that quote. The songs were decent, but we had no idea how to perform them. We made a lot of people watch us learn how to perform our songs. We used to write songs and the idea would be complete, the song would exist in its own little universe, but for Burning City all the songs were written in a way that would establish a structure to hold a much larger idea. It was a much longer and more deliberate process.
Who did the artwork for Burning City? What was the initial concept?
Michael G. Haddad, a Canadian guy, did the artwork. We had some ideas in terms of style and he knew exactly the vibe we were going for. If you look at his work on the Teledrome Lp or the Zebrassieres “I am Human” cover, you’ll see what we mean. He does fantastic work. Conceptually, we wanted a cold, minimal labyrinth; that’s what he gave us.
Where can people hear The Bad Doctors and what’s next?