January 25, 2016
Bully is a powerful, grimy four-piece out of Nashville, TN. Their debut album Feels Like was released last June, written, produced and engineered by vocalist Alicia Bognanno. Let’s take a moment to fully appreciate Bognanno: she started off looping hip-hop beats for friends in high school, got her degree in audio recording, then landed a Chicago internship at Steve Albini (yes, The Steve Albini) studio, Electrical Audio, all before Bully was a gleam in her eye. Driven, unhinged, and possessing the hands-on technical training of the music industry, Bognanno is an absolute force to be reckoned with and should be treated as such.
OK, so back to this killer band, Bully. Kicking and screaming, the machine gun rally of drums on album opener “I Remember” slaps the listener out of any apathetic state of cool and gets right down to it. The spinning song retches memories in a haze of bleary-eyed and regretful morning-after nostalgia “I remember my old habits / I remember getting too fucked up / And I remember throwing up in your car.”
The album toes the line between anxious saccharinity and angry charm. Bognanno’s growling, charred voice riots over sometimes fuzzy, sometimes screaming guitars and the ever-beating heart of drummer Stewart Copeland. The music is powerful and wild like a whiskey-binger in and of itself but its Bognanno’s visceral and thoughtful lyrics that give Bully the organically compelling element to their songs. For instance, on “Six” she describes feeling devastated about unintentionally breaking her sister’s arm when they were young. When Bognanno fell off a slide years later, she slept on her own broken arm for a week in an effort to finally even the pain-score. That kind of anxiety can’t be fabricated and Bognanno uses Bully as a way to finally get this internalized ball of nerves off her chest.
We had a chance to chat with Alicia Bognanno of Bully.
CLTure: Your lyrics are very open-book and honest which can be nerve-wracking to put out into the world. Where are you constantly drawing the strength to stand up and scream out your personal experiences without ever feeling drained or self-conscious?
Alicia: I think it’s the other way around, for me being able to scream our personal lyrics every night is (as corny as it sounds) something that gives me strength and keeps me going. It forces me to find self acceptance in a positive way.
CLTure: What is it about the analog engineering methods that you’re most attracted to?
Alicia: I like the sense of commitment that comes along with the process of analog recording and also it feels like a more physical process than tracking digitally. It has always clicked with me a little easier than pro tools.
CLTure: What superpower would you like to possess? (sidebar: this question is only applicable if you aren’t actually already Wonder Woman)
Alicia: I’m not sure if this is a super power but it would be cool to never be exhausted from lack of sleep and to be able to stay awake as long as I wanted.
CLTure: What album have you recently been absolutely floored by?
Alicia: Dilly Dally – Sore
CLTure: Not really a question, but we heard you like Thai food. When you come in to town, be sure to check out Lang Van. It’s actually Vietnamese, but I promise you won’t be disappointed.
Alicia: Great, will do!
Feels Like is an intoxicating, shattering album of raw honesty and exhilarating rock. Catch Bully with Palehound on January 26th at Snug Harbor.
Listen to “Trying” from the debut album Feels Like by Bully