There's more to a buzz band than meets the eye.
Bad Suns are a Californian quartet whose slick neo-new wave hooks earned them a deal with Vagrant Records, an opening slot for the 1975 and -- if you'll forgive the plug -- an appearance in Billboard's ever-prestigious charts newcomer alert, Tomorrow's Hits. They formed in 2012 and by early 2014, had completed a debut full length, even performed one of its songs on "Conan."
But deep down, "Language & Perspective," released June 24 (and premiered on Billboard.com a week earlier) carries the backstory and battle scars from over half a decade of trying to break through.
Frontman Christo Brown, for instance, recalls how the album features guitar lines he wrote at age 13 and how he almost scrapped the project after writing what would eventually become Bad Suns' first single.
"We put ['Cardiac Arrest'] online saying, 'This is what we've been working on for so long, hope you guys like it at least,'" he says. "We were expecting to put [Bad Suns] to rest after releasing the song, just to show what we were doing and then start a new project."
Instead, "Cardiac Arrest" inspired the industry's first real interest in one of Bowman's projects and a series of meetings with prospective labels, producers and managers began.
But they all weren't exactly bending over backwards to introduce Bad Suns to the world. One manager admitted every success he'd had in the past was a springboard off a previous band's sound and rejected the Bad Suns demo for mimicking what was already big. "You have to sound like Grouplove or Youngblood Hawke to get on the radio," Bowman recalls being told.
"No disrespect to those bands," Bowman starts, "but I don't think the world needs another Grouplove."
Of all the suitors, long-running indie A-lister Vagrant thought the world needed Bad Suns the most. To prep interest for the debut LP, they placed them on tour with roster mates the 1975 and saw quick results; debut EP "Transpose" debuted at No. 41 on the Billboard 200 and 12 on Top Rock Albums. "Cardiac Arrest" currently sits at No. 17 on Alternative Songs, its highest spot yet in an 18-week run.
As the band enters its post-debut album phase, exciting opportunities lie ahead. From July 4 (at one of Mötley Crüe's farewell dates at Summerfest, no less) to early September, they'll tour mostly as headliners, before opening for New Politics on a string of North American shows in October and November.
Looking back, Bowman playfully refuses to share the name(s) of his old, pre-Bad Suns projects ("That's one thing I won't do to myself"). Though as a wise child of the internet, he admits that he could probably never exterminate every last digital trace. He still encounters devotees who have been attending his live shows since the pre-record deal dark ages, in musical hotbeds like Edmonton, no less. You'd probably have to track down one of these stragglers in order to unearth any of the details.
At least we know they were never the next Grouplove.