Toronto, Canada, is home to a diverse volume of upcoming talent. Ever since a couple of months ago, when like a set of dominos, bands and artists abandoned their pandemic debuts and mixtapes due to circumstances, the city has been itching for something to drop that's potent enough to leave a memorable mark.
Well, as if the stars aligned, and the gracious powers above planned it themselves, the life-long party-going mates making up BAD HOLIDAY land on the music scene like a prayer that's just been answered, and it couldn't have come at a better time.
With a combination of 90s inspired garage-punk, nerd-rock, and pop-punk fathering top-lines, their debut album, 'Nineteen,' presents untarnished from the dismay festering of a pandemic age, frequently gaining leverage from the nostalgia of the past, and heavy introspections of everything surround that tender age; from finding yourself, haze-inductive partying, and experiencing juvenile love.
The four-piece party-rockers pay to tribute their rock ancestors with "Watery Eyes," with that feeling of wanting to march up to your crush and tell her you're head over heels, while whirling organ synths, a hook howled with adolescent harmonic yields and a swaying cadence that floats like a canoe on a buoyant current leads the ways into a shuffling love-torn anthem.
It's a texture that BAD HOLIDAY can't avoid in their music, encapsulating the best parts of what makes that genre of rock 'classic.' It's already part of the artistic intuitions that led them to their upbeat debut's aesthetic.
Whether it's the anthemic nature behind 'This Ain't Love,' and its contributions to the debut's rock fueling juices, or the existential nostalgia they encounter on 'While We Were Cool,' BAD HOLIDAY perpetually serves to entertain with riffing guitars, husky-sounding drums, and a pliable sense of looseness behind their garage-inspired performances. It's a refreshing sonic encounter as you're chaperoned through a 41-minute collection of youthful buzz, good-vibes, and energy-packed accounts of retired days, which is plainly a part of what makes this debut one of the most entertaining and memorable of the year.
From a youth spent bobbing between band practices, or partying away the daylight and making memories with your punk-brat friends, BAD HOLIDAY shuffled through it all as a unit, establishing their past as the running theme for their youthful and carbonated narratives.
Every influence they extract from—pop-punk concerts, youthful-filled romances, summer-reminiscent daydreams, or detox hazes after a night of partying—is manifested sonically through their charming high-energy approach; faithfully implementing whacked-out drums, grilling electric guitars, and raspy vocals of the best punk variety.
"Can't Control" tightens its brawn in a show of aggression and ruminates over its own urges, "I don't think that any of your bright ideas are better than my own, I wanna rip right into the atmosphere and out into the unknown!" The number is really a "pedal to the metal" driving tune, with all its grueling hot-blood gesturing swallowing everything in its path besides scintillating guitar solos, thrashing cymbals, and potent synths. "Shoulda Never Gone" concentrated on a relationship constrictive and toxic in nature, crooning over a chugging hook that prospects at being their debuts most magnetizing sonic function.
Here, BAD HOLIDAY serves us PUP-meets-Remo Drive, conversing with sonic squeals and a discernable rasp from the lead vocals ("She said, you shoulda never gone, I packed the things I moved along,") and exposes the rapture of moving on.
The agile, melodic embellishments that highlight "19" produce humid carport fumes over the pop-punk hook, as the band cruises with a unifying roar that carries the revenants of college parties and nights out with the boys to an exacting accuracy. The concept of youth and nostalgia, from high-school to college, from pop-punk to classic rock, and all nerd alternatives alike that ribbons and connects throughout 'Nineteen' never feels like it's kitsch or like an obvious cliché; instead, it's a collection of vivid projections into those adolescent moments, and the emotions they produce through nostalgia.
The album's closing portions burst with "Just Wanna Be," a scantier, rock anthem mirroring love-song that leans on a falsetto garnished top-line and guitar riffs that ooze their most enthusiastic melodies yet. Then, in the terminal moments, BAD HOLIDAY devastates listeners with a love-sick ballad. Between the reverberated squalls of "You Don't Love Me Anymore," our lead finds himself being driven to the ends of his mind within the relationship. Facing outward, the narrative chronicles the domino-like outcomes that lead up to losing your heart, beckoning back to the frustration of "This Ain't Love": ("well now you're gone, and I'm let chasing my tail around, even though you drive me crazy, this ain't love.")
'Nineteen' takes you back to growing up at its most glorious, peaking at the ripe age of nineteen, and enveloping listeners in all the attached emotions—especially in ones that are tightly strung around love.
The brilliance of BAD HOLIDAY's debut is in how it achieves the nostalgic impression of youth over twelve tracks that traverse between pop-punk and garage. Why try to reminisce about the past when you can jump head-first into the nostalgia-inducing journey this Canadian band renders-up like punk veterans over their debut LP?
Hello BAD HOLIDAY and thank you for catching up with us at BuzzMusic. Can you run us through how you made 'Nineteen' happen during a pandemic? Where did record you record the LP, and what was that process like?
We actually got lucky in that regard, as the entire recording, mixing, and mastering process was completed before the pandemic struck. The recording was smooth as can be as we all had a lot of time to work on exactly what we wanted. As for the location, it was a dream.
Our drummer Ryan Schurman, got lucky when he was asked to look after an incredible property in Elizabethville Ontario. A converted church, this place was ideal acoustically to record an album, and that’s just what we did. Starting from demos written by lead singer and rhythm guitarist Edward Kennington, the band holed up at the church and laid the whole thing down piece by piece. Ryan led the charge with engineering and recording and we simply allowed ourselves all the time we needed to get the album that we wanted.
Bass player Curtis Crook was the most professional and efficient as he banged out all twelve tracks in a single day, and as you can tell from listening to the album, those bass parts are not only perfect but essential to every track. The drums were laid down by Ryan, who painstakingly figured out the best sound in the massive room, with perfect mic placements for all of his parts.
Ed laid his rhythm guitar fairly quickly as well, and then spent a bit more time on his vocal tracks, also taking full advantage of the church’s vibrant acoustics.
Our lead guitarist Johnny Keith was the final member of the quartet to record and since the lead guitar is what shines the most, we really took our time on those parts, making sure that everything shone to perfection. After that, we added some additional sounds to the album with some friends of the band really helping us out. Jake Epstein really brightened up the album with some incredible synth, piano, and organ tracks, which are key components to their respective songs, Graeme Gerussi was essential in adding beautiful harmonies all over the record and last, but certainly not least Mimi O’Bonsawin also provided some killer backing vocals and even a lead part on This Ain’t Love.
What were some of the emotions and motifs you found yourselves really channeling into for the entirety of 'Nineteen?'
Love, youth, and the loss of both of those concepts is the central lyrical theme of Nineteen, with a few stream-of-consciousness tracks thrown in for fun. The album explores new relationships, strained old ones, and a desire to just get drunk or stoned and have a great time. Musically, it’s all straight rock, with some pop and punk peppered in, and we’re just trying to have some fun with the type of music that we all loved growing up.
Were there any particular songs that proved to be a challenge in curating for 'Nineteen?' What guided you through your song placement decisions?
We originally started with 13 tracks. An unrecorded song called “This Is One” was dropped during the early guitar tracking as it just didn’t fit the vibe of the album. Otherwise, for the most part, it was smooth sailing. There were a few areas of technical difficulty as with all recordings, but like the pro that he is, Ryan managed to overcome all of these.
The tracklisting actually came to us quite naturally as we listened to the rough versions more and more. We always had plans to release the album on vinyl and so we took that into consideration when putting the 12 tracks in order, with a “side one and side two” mentality. We knew that we wanted the album to start with a catchy, quick tune, and so “Pretty Lady” seemed like the obvious choice from the start. As for the finale, we were trying to figure that out for a while, but Jake made the decision for us when he improvised that beautiful piano section that finishes off “You Don’t Love Me Anymore”. Once we heard that, we knew that it was the only way to finish the album.
If you could give your audience a few words that would act as a prologue to the experience you intended behind 'Nineteen,' what would you say and why?
We wanted to capture that “eternal youth” and “endless summer” type of vibe and we’re quite confident that these twelve tracks will take you right to that place. Grab a drink, or smoke, and crank those speakers. Dancing is strongly encouraged.
What's next for Bad Holiday?
Like most bands right now, we are just waiting for the green light to start playing shows. We are aware that it may be quite a while before that’s possible, so getting back into the studio has become our top priority. We’ve already got enough tracks for a second album and we want to get that started right away. After that, the sky’s the limit. As soon as we can play live, we will be jumping into the Bad Holiday Bus and rolling across Canada!