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“I just came into this place for a coffee,” Ben Marwe confesses, “but I just realised they do cheese platters here and I’m totally going to get one. Pretty rock and roll, right? Cheese platters. I should be at work right now but I’m not, so I guess that’s kind of rock?” Though seemingly quite affable and down-to-earth in real life, lead singer Marwe is happy to keep the outsider label going. Hailing from Adelaide, Bad//Dreems are legitimately outside the usual music landscape, and while they are hardly the sole act of note to emerge from the Festival State, South Australia does tend to be overlooked by the mainstream music circuit.


“I think we brought that label upon ourselves. For some length of time we even had it on our Facebook. ‘Outsider rock from South Australia’. Very early on in our gestation we made a conscious decision that we didn’t want to move to Melbourne or Sydney, because I think when you expose yourself to those bigger, more intense music scenes, you can lose what growing up in a more removed place like Adelaide means to you. Mostly it’s because we really are so separated from the rest of the country. We have unbelievable heat waves and bitter, bitter winds, so it does make us outsiders, but we like that. And it’s cheap,” he laughs.


To many, Adelaide remains a place of great curiosity; a city on the periphery, with a history both vibrant and macabre. It is home to the Snowtown murders and the missing Beaumont children, tragic stories that nevertheless tap into common fascinations. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the darkness below the surface has proven a strong source of inspiration for the band. “Snowtown was ­ filmed not too far from where we live. It’s interesting, these places you pass through on family holidays when you’re young. Passing Waterloo Corner Road, where John Bunting lived with barrels in the back of his four-wheel drive with human remains in them. Alex [Cameron, guitar] is pretty obsessed with the dark underbelly here, what you ­ find when you scratch beneath the surface of Adelaide over the past 60 years. These things are at your back door without you really realising. But I guess some [songs] stem from Alex’s obsession with true murder stories, and you can only really write about what you know and are exposed to. Unfortunately we didn’t grow up in New York during the ‘60s, we weren’t part of the Beat scene, so we’re not going to try and tell stories about things we know nothing about. You’ve got to write what you know.”


It’s an engaging, if grim insight into one of the band’s preoccupations, and makes you ponder if there is an even darker record lurking in their repertoire; something akin to Nick Cave’s Murder Ballads.


“Man, I love that album. We actually wanted to do a piano track on this album, but our producer Mark [Opitz] pulled the chain pretty tight on that one. He said, ‘You’re writing a rock record – don’t fuck it up,’” Marwe laughs. “Mark’s incredible, he’s a real artist. Very early on in the recording process Mark wanted to gauge who we were as people, who we were as a band, our past, our future, our influences. He implemented that into his strategies of how he was going to produce us. I love writing in that Nick Cave style. I don’t really write the rock songs very well, not as well as Alex and James [Bartold, bass]. But I’d de­finitely like to write a slower, darker album at some point in the future. One day.” Now that their ­ first EP, Dogs at Bay, has dropped after years of honing their sound across countless gigs and tours that have stretched the country, you’d be forgiven for thinking the road ahead is that much clearer now. But the realities of life as a musician aren’t so magically remedied; there are still pitfalls and frustrations, balanced out by eager fans and a record they can be proud of. “We still have those moments where stuff has gotten really hard. Trying to get everyone in the same room to jam on new material. Everyone’s schedules are all over the place. Alex has had trouble having time to tour with us over the last year, and he’s our lead guitarist, so that’s a massive headfuck. It does get rough, but we respond well to shit happening. Even if it’s down to someone being late for a Friday night ‑ flight after work so we miss a sound check, we respond well to it. At the end of the day, it’s about rock music. It’s not about perfection or being too glossy.”



Dogs At Bay is available now via Ivy League Records. Bad//Dreeems are touring later this year, for more information visit their website.