During a period where political punk rock has reemerged into the alternative scene, Californinan Punk Quartet Bad Cop, Bad Cop might stand out the most. Since the release of their 2015 debut album Not Sorry, the band has made major waves, signing to Fat Mike’s record label Fat Wreck Chords, helping revitalise a genre of music to a global scale and promoting diversity in the music scene across the world.
Vocalist and Guitarist Stacey Dee caught up with Music Feeds — ahead of the band’s visit to Australia for Download Festival and shows with NOFX and Hot Water Music — to chat about being a Punk Rock band in a Trump Era, the diversity in ideas of feminism and equality and coming to Australia for the first time.
Music Feeds: I feel as though the reason Bad Cop, Bad Cop really stand out to me is because you’re a true contemporary Political Punk band. Over the last few years, we’ve seen this resurgence of true political messages in Punk music, which is some really exciting stuff. I’m really keen to pick your brain on how Punk has evolved over the last few years and the direction it might be going in.
Stacey Dee: I think Punk has gone into both positive and negative territory. As long as people are digging in and making sure that their lyrics actually mean something and aren’t just standard love songs, you’re doing it right [laughs].
I would say that even with our last record Warriors, there was some stuff in there that was tough to say and even tougher to stand for. It’s a pretty positive record about human beings coming together to try and figure out themselves, who they really are and how you can find a way to fight to be happy. Life is amazing even with how sad and hard it can be sometimes, you know?
I’m looking for bands that are filled with self-reflection and self-discovery and not just writing about getting fucked up with your friends or your boyfriend or girlfriend. I’ve heard that all before. I have friends that write those kinds of songs and I just think “Dude…I wrote that song when I was sixteen, dig a little deeper” [laughs]
MF: That being said, do you ever get self-conscious about truly speaking your mind on certain issues in your music? Do you ever think “oh shit, what’s everyone going to think of me when this stuff comes out”?
SD: Totally! Even going back to our first record, Not Sorry, there’s some stuff in there that’s tongue-in-cheek but our guitarist Jennie and I had to have long conversations about why it was a good idea to put it out. Lines like “Clasp your hands/get on your knees/you’re going to worship our three-part harmonies” is tongue-in-cheek but at the same time it’s like we’re not selling sex but we’re blowing your eardrums away.
It’s hard, like in the song ‘Womanarchist’ when I say “…make the whole world feminist” I am a woman, I don’t know what it’s like to be a man, but some of my best friends in the world are men. I don’t want to keep them out of the equation; it’s not about that at all. I’m a woman that plays in a man’s world but I’m not the biggest flag waving feminist woman in the world. There are many greater women in the world who are, but my thing is that I want to fight for who we really are, as human beings. Who are you really? What actually makes you happy? What can you untwist in yourself to not blame your mum or your dad for fucking you up? I use those powerful words but it gets hard to stand with them sometimes because I knew a lot of people would pick the word that summed them up the most and was the hot topic word for them, and be mad at me for that, you know? I had a friend who asked me “What’s wrong with the alt-left? The Alt-Left are Bernie supporters and blah blah blah” and I’m just thinking “Dude…you’re not even listening to the song”. At the end of the day, what do I say? I want the world to fucking get along, that’s it!
MF: You put that really well, I feel like right now social media plays a huge part in this where people get the wrong idea about the actual term ‘Feminism’. At the end of the day, Feminism is about equality, you know what I mean?
SD: It totally is and comes from a woman’s point of view, you know? Men that love women don’t want them to be excluded from that. Labels can really fuck you up, man. But that’s the thing, we grab onto these words that are just made or words [laughs] and ideals instead of really searching inside us for what we believe in, what we really want to fight for and who we really want to be at the end of the day.
It’s crazy. How can differences in people make someone so fucking mad? When it comes to online comments and everything, I don’t read anything. If it’s a review, if it’s somebody commenting on one of our YouTube videos, I just stay away from it, but our drummer Myra does and she loses it when she does. We just tell her not to read it, dude. There’s a lot more people who agree with us, and if they don’t agree, that’s totally okay! The truth is, if I someone that didn’t agree and trolled us on the internet at the mall and we started talking about real life stuff, I bet we’d have a lot more in common than we don’t. Human beings are human beings at the end of the day.
MF: A big thing for me that stands out for Bad Cop, Bad Cop is that when you released your first record Not Sorry and in between the period when Warriors came out, there was a big election, which concluded in Trump going into office. Do you feel as though Bad Cop, Bad Cop went through a mental change after the election?
SD: I remember that we were on our first seven and a half week tour with this great band named The Interruptors and we were out on the road being raw, vulnerable and just being weird the whole time, when your on the road, shit just changes, you know? You’re like this dirty, homeless kid; it’s rad [laughs].
But we were driving through America and you take for granted living on the coast in California or in New York and these other progressive cities, you kind of live in this bubble, whereas the rest of the country is very different. It’s very conservative, it’s very down-home, it’s very “I own a farm and grow my food and want to be left alone”. So as we were driving through the States, we saw Trump signs everywhere and we didn’t see any Hillary signs anywhere, we really took it for granted, man.
We were in Washington DC the night before the election and we were walking around and people were going out with signs and protesting and we stopped to talk to people and we asked them “what do you think is going to happen?” and they were so confident that Hillary had it in the bag and that no one was worried. Then the next day, we were in Atlanta, Georgia which is a Red State, Deep South, Conservative kind of place. A place where white people hold the idea that they are superior, it’s some bad shit down there. So we were playing there and thank god the kind of punk rock that we play isn’t going to entice a bunch of Nazis to come. We couldn’t believe that the election was going down the way it was and Jennie is someone who’s very concerned about womens’ rights and the fight to be something equal, she’s just so open about this stuff. I’d like to [be], but maybe systematically I’ve just been so conditioned to think that, who knows? So Jennie was just crying and she was so upset and it was just a dark place and we couldn’t stop talking about it for days. We were just bummed out in the van, I had a breakdown where I cried and we were fighting all the time and we just stopped and asked, “what is this?”. But without that happening, I don’t think this conversation would have started, this fast, you know what I mean? Him being elected became the catalyst to this conversation needing to be had. When I was listening to things that he said like “We’re going to make women have had abortions do prison time” and it’s just like “…no you’re not”, we’ll fucking fight until the death. I’ll die fighting that fight. We created this mindset that we need to protect ourselves as women, we also need to reach out across into the world and let people know that we’re here and we’re ready on the frontlines if we have to be.
MF: That’s why to me Warriors is such a powerful record, the timing of its release couldn’t have been better.
SD: Yeah, it was the first Punk record release kind of right after the election, it was this Post-Trump election record [laughs]. Our producer Davey Warsop and Fat Mike asked us “What do you want to say in this record?”, and one of the things Davey asked us was to text him the things that were going on in our heads as we were travelling across the country, I sent him the line “My life/My vagina/My Great Wall of China’ and he thought that it was hilarious. So that’s how our song ‘Womanarchist’ got its start, from that kind of stuff.
There’s also songs on there that are about self-reflection and taking accountability and asking “Who am I really? Am I going to be a woman that’s made by society or a woman that’s going to dictate how I live my life”. So that’s why I feel like the record is pretty cool [laughs].
MF: You guys are heading to Australia this March for Download Festival along with some shows with NOFX and Hot Water Music. This is also your first time in Australia, so how does it feel to do that and align with one of the most prestigious alternative festivals in the world?
SD: We are just completely grateful to be asked to do that festival and the fact that it’s also our first time in Australia is just really cool. That fact that our music has made it to your continent, which is so far away on the other side of the world is just incredible. We aren’t taking it for granted in any capacity. Even if just one person listened to our band once from over there, it’s still like “Oh my god, really?!”. So we’re just over the moon.
Also Australia has the most beautiful weather and beautiful people that it seems like the Californian England, you know? [laughs] I’m just so excited that I get the chance to go and meet some rad new people and make new connections on this planet and bring people closer together.
NOFX 2018 Download Festival Australia Sideshows
Supported by Hot Water Music, Bad Cop/Bad Cop and Dad Religion
Tickets on sale now
Thursday, 22nd March
Tickets: Select Touring
Friday, 23rd March
Hordern Pavilion, Sydney
Tickets: Select Touring
Also performing at Download Festival Melbourne 2018