Bad Mary: The Modern Definition of Classic Punk Rock
Okay, listen up. The easiest way to present a band is probably to just copy and paste some info off the Internet, but we won’t do that today. Well, we never do it anyway, but this time we have a really good reason not to. The particular band we’ll be talking about today is so freakin’ energetic that it wouldn’t be right to be any kind of lazy when writing about it. They’re loud, fun, fast and they literally kick ass. Yes, literally – we’re pretty sure at some point during their day they actually kick someone’s ass. If they don’t, they should, because it would suit them perfectly.
Bad Mary is a group of beautifully mad people from New York City and even though they’re definitely a punk band, it’s safe to say they’re pure rock and roll, and not just because of their strong 70’s influences. They have three releases: Better Days (2013), Killing Dinosaurs (2015) and We Could Have Saved the World (2016). Anyway, letting them present themselves would probably be the best way to go, so we should really stop talking now. Not because we’re lazy, but because what you’re about to read is as raw, as natural and as charming as Bad Mary’s music. We’ll start with Mike Staub (bass/vocals) and go from there.
Just one last thing: with Bad Mary around punk is definitely not dead.
Hey guys! Please present the band.
We’re a bit of a multi-generational mess! We’re a bit of a family! We’ve got a weird band makeup! We all sort of met at Hofstra University. Me and Amanda were students. We were in a party band at the school that was run by our guitar player David. David was Amanda’s professor at Hofstra, he teaches Theater Studies. The band was made to play at Drama Department parties with a purposely revolving door of musicians. Amanda, David, and I were in one iteration of the band, after one party I asked the band “hey do you want to keep doing this? Like after the year is done and be…like…a band?” Everyone agreed and we started playing a lot of stuff under the name Madame-X. We played mostly covers. Our original drummer left (To work for Disney) and we called Amanda’s dad, Bill to join up! He’s ridiculously good, and has been playing drums since he was about 4 years old. With the new makeup of Madame-X We played a lot of gigs all over LI, but after about a year of two of that, we decided to start writing originals. We always…”punkified” the covers we played, so we decided to take our love for 1970s NYC punk and apply it to our style, musically.
Sadly the name Madame-X is a name that had been taken by about 10 other bands, a few bars, and a painting. So after about 2 months of deliberation we changed our name to Bad Mary. We wanted something catchy, punky, and represented that we had a female singer. Bad Mary stuck and since 2012 we’ve been Bad Mary. Also somewhat related, Amanda and I got married in November of 2016!
Let’s talk about your backgrounds.
Me (Mike): I grew up on LI, and started playing music in the 3rd grade. I played trumpet, and when I was 12 picked up the bass. I went to Hofstra for Music and Business, and got a BBA and an MBA. My musical influences are heavily rooted in NYC punk rock of the 1970s as well as California Punk of the 1990s. I love bands like: Ramones, Blondie, Green Day, NoFx, Bad Religion, The Offspring, and Rancid. My ipod was always described as “The History of Punk” and while I love myself some Metal, Ska, Rock and Roll, and Chiptune, punk is always my go to. I think I like the aggression and the outcast feel of it. Punk always spoke to me for that, but I also like good hooks…so I guess I like our unique brand of “melodic punk”. I’m an avid gamer, comic reader, and all around nerd as well. I spend a lot of my free time streaming video games to the web, working on my collections of toys, comics, and games, and playing Dungeons and Dragons. I love Japanese stuff too, Amanda and I spent our honeymoon in japan, and I studied abroad there in College. So yeah…anime, nintendo, pokemon, ninjas…all about it.
Amanda Mac (lead vocals): Also Grew up on LI and was a theater kid through and through. She went to school for acting, and still acts today when she’s not kicking ass in Bad Mary. Her musical background is a bit all over the place. Her dad Bill was always a major influence on her musical tastes with great 1960s and 1970s music. Amanda’s favorite band is The Police, which is probably why we covered them on our EP Killing Dinosaurs. Amanda also loves rock musicals like Jesus Christ Superstar, Tommy, and American Idiot. Her favorite modern music comes from bands like The Shins, but loves the great punky rock from the 1970s like Blondie and Patti Smith. Amanda is a huge fan of the insanity of snacks! She’s a devout Oreo follower, and will not rest until she’s had every wacky flavor. Amanda shares a birthday with Godzilla, and loves robots.
Bill Mac (drums): The greatest drummer alive (in our opinion). Bill has been playing drums for like 60 years. He’s a huge fan of old 60s rock like The Beatles and The Who, but he loves 70s bands like Led Zeppelin as well. Bill is a sucker for great drumming, and loves big sound and a lot of toms. Bill grew up in a time before punk, so he brings an incredibly unique feel to our music. In many of our songs you can hear a lot of mixture of drum sounds, from funk, to rock, to blues, to jazz. Bill has been a pro drummer for about 45 years, and beats the hell out of the skins, when we ask him to. He’s a huge part of our sound. Bill is also a voice over actor, and has one of the coolest speaking voices around.
David Henderson (guitar): The only member not from NY. David was born in Hawaii and grew up in the UK. He went to English boarding school, and grew up listening to the great UK punk of the late 1970s. His favorite bands are: Queen, Motorhead, Sex Pistols, and The Stranglers. He’s a college professor, and quite possibly the coolest professor alive. He would never think that, because like me he’s a total nerd. The discussions we’ve had about Star Wars, Space, Physics, and costumes belong on any nerdy message board. David is responsible for a lot of our graphics, as he’s a gifted designer.
Together our band may have a unique and unusual dynamic, but we’re dedicated to the band and one another. We treat our band like the family it is.
What’s the weirdest thing that’s happened to you during a gig?
Mike: There was this one time some guy tried to grab amanda during the middle of our set. Luckily my brother was in the crowd and helped the bouncer toss the guy out. It was a bit scary.
Amanda: I punched a ceiling lamp by accident during a show once.
David: There was that one time I remembered how to play all of our songs, that was pretty great.
Bill: I love to watch the band erupt in front of me. I also tend to bleed at every show, so there’s that. We played a gig, pretty early on, right after our first album, “Better Days” came out – we had a great crowd at a great club.We started in to “Space Girl” which is one of our only songs that starts out kind of quiet – and suddenly we realized that the crowd was singing along – THEY KNEW THE WORDS! We all caught each other’s eye on stage like, holy crap, this is rock and roll!
What does it take to be a successful band these days?
Mike: Consistency, Confidence, and Courage. Yeah I used three “C” words. You need to just keep doing it. It’s easy to get discouraged when you play a show with three people at it, but you have to play the small clubs to even think about playing the big ones. Bands fold up because they stop. You need to consistently write new music, you need to practice it like crazy, and you need to have the confidence and courage to show it to people. Also, ALWAYS work on your live act, be extremely present on social media, and make people like YOU as an individual in conjunction with your music.
David: yeah what Mike said. It’s about working on it every day, even if your “real job” is overwhelming or whatever, put in something to the band every single day – message people, look up potential gigs, reach out to other bands – or you know, practice. But it really is about never letting yourself slack off and think it will “happen”. It won’t. Luck is being ready when you’re given a chance, so always be ready.
How’s the NY scene right now?
The NY scene is cool. There’s a LOT going on, always. Punk, Rock, Disco, Funk, Hip Hop, Electronic, everything really. You can go to all different spots of the NY Metro area and find all sorts of music. Sometimes that makes it hard to figure out WHAT to listen to, but we’ve been working to build a great community of bands both on Long Island in within NYC. It’s like a family.
Describe your creative process (as a band).
It’s a completely collaborative experience. Everyone brings something to the table. While Mike and David will generally bring bare-bones material to the band, Amanda and Bill flesh everything out to make the songs 1000 times better. It’s often that Mike or David will have the basic idea for a song, Amanda will take vocal lines and lyrics and rewrite them so that they just shine on the top of the mix, and Bill creates literal insanity on the drums. We really love the way we write things. Sometimes it can get a little tense, as it’s a swirling pool of ideas, but we know what makes a good Bad Mary song. We will always push each other to be our best!
What have you learned from one another?
Being that Bad Mary is a bit of a literal family…we’re always learning from one another. We’re always getting tighter, always learning how to read each other on a stage, and learning how to make our live shows better. Always. As we continue to work on new songs, we’re learning more how we want to write music for one another. We know what works and what doesn’t. This past year we’ve been working together on how to master social media, which may not be as intrinsically music related, but is vastly important.
Amanda: I’ve definitely learned more about myself as a performer by spending time with these guys and writing original material. My background before this was mostly theater, and in that world you’re constantly playing different characters saying words and experiencing emotions written out by someone else (who I’ve most often never even met.) The band and this music has helped me find what my voice is as myself.
What’s next for you? Anything we should be excited about?
A lot! We’re playing a handful of big festivals this summer, and getting out of NY a little bit! We’re also hard at work on our next EP. All of the songs are written, and we’re workshopping them live now. We’re hard at work to get new Bad Mary material sometime out this summer. New music, new videos, new pictures. Keep an eye out for Glitter Bomb this year!
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