Sounds from big (and small) rooms: Bad Indians’ new music and the ARBCO Co-Op

. May 24, 2012.

I’m always apprehensive about such phrases as: “new favorite (band),” but damn it all if I hadn’t said the same thing about Ypsi’s Bad Indians.

The thing is, I said that dubious phrase almost six months ago and, still, I return to the serrated shimmy and reverb-roiled tumbles of their Don’t Hang That (On Me) cassette album on a regular basis. Which is heartening, firstly because it seems so many “new favorites” fail to stick-to-the-wall in the impermanence of the internet-music-world; secondly because I’ve gotten a chance to establish a reference point for their sonic sensibilities in time to dive into their next vision-quest, Sounds from the Big Room (currently available online, and at Café Ollie’s Ypsi Music Shelf).

“We really aren’t a punk band,” says singer/guitarist Jules Nehring, “but I guess we’ve got some punk songs.” If anyone asks? Bad Indians are rock n’ roll. (myspace.com/badindians)

The thing is, each member, Autumn Wetli—drums/vocals, Erin Davis—bass/vocals and Ian Lannen—guitar/vocals) contributes to the songwriting process, each bringing their own approach and their own influences. Thus, their coalescing sound arches from swirling, scorched psychedelia, to spookily fuzzed-out blues, to deluges of reverb and hazy vox serenades mutating garage rock with bubble-gum pop. One constant, thus far, has been their preferred means of recording, via their humble 4-track, often self-produced at their cramped recording space. “I’d really like to record on a reel-to-reel 4-or-8-track,” Nehring says. “It doesn’t always sound that great, but it works best for us because it isn’t any different from how we practice or play a show.”

Nehring shrugs off the gloss of big budgeted/premier productions, opting to listen to “a 4-track bedroom recording any day. I think recordings can be treated as almost-an-effect-unto-itself, to bring something new to a song. Reverb is a big part. I really like it and if we could practice or record in a cave, I would.”

The band formed, loosely, in early 2008, born from a trio of young players of whom Nehring is the only surviving-founding member. “It didn’t seem like a whole lot was going on in Ypsi or Ann Arbor at that point,” Nehring recalls, during which time the band rarely practiced and wound up eventually adding Lannen (who played in punk duo the Mahonies over in Detroit) and releasing Live from the Burial Mound. Nehring and Wetli moved to New York in 2009, where Nehring taught her drums while the band continued to write and perform. After a dizzying fluctuation of members, songs and potential trajectories, Wetli and Nehring wound up recording as a duo (the first proper cassette) and moved back to Ypsi for Halloween, 2010, having added Davis that summer.

The band has a 7” single forthcoming on Ypsi-based Ginkgo Records, as well as yet-another-cassette album on Ann Arbor-based Life Like Records.

ARBMore and more, dedicated/DIY enterprises like ARBCO Records are demonstrating  the feasible future of local music. ARBCO Presents is a joint-venture spurred by A2-based ARBCO Records aligned with dozens of bands under the banner of cultivating the future of independent music through vinyl preservation. Participating bands perform monthly (or bi-monthly) showcases, raising funds (from door covers) into a collective pool to facilitate each other’s future pressings of LPs. Plus, fans benefit with an ARBCO punchcard that, after 12 punches, entitles them to a 12” vinyl record from ARBCO Records. Arbcorecords.com/#artists. The bludgeoning metal/punk dragon-slaying quartet Blue Snaggletooth releases Dimension Thule this summer – seek it all at the next ARBCO showcase (Arbcorecords.com)