Last updated on February 18th, 2022 at 09:30 pm
Chris Bowman, frontman and primary song writer of the American alternative rock band Bad Suns talks with Music In Minnesota about his ten year journey of writing tune after tune, until he struck gold. With the help of producer Eric Palmquist, they were able to identify their own sound and make quick work, climbing the charts with their hit single “Cardiac Arrest”. Listen to the full interview with Chris, below.
Bo: Where did the origin of the band name come from?
Chris: It was something I saw written down and I liked the two words sat next to each other. We considered naming the band “Transpose” but it just made more sense as a song title.
Bo: What was the tipping point when you felt this might be your big break?
Chris: For the first time, we were producing music that I wanted to listen to.
Bo: Do you feel like before you were trying to emulate other bands?
Chris: I think that might be fair to say. In a way, you always are. Especially when you’re younger. You want to be this person, and you want to be that person.
Bo: That is some good advice for other bands as well; To go with their own sounds and not try to be somebody else.
Chris: Exactly. How do you get your own sound, though? It’s not as easy. It took us so many years. You get to that point though emulation and eventually you get there. I don’t know, it’s really confusing.
Bo: You went into the studio with Producer Eric Palmquist. Was he one of the main reasons of why you finally found your own sound?
Chris: Yeah, he definitely helped. It was one of those things where we were so young and we were going back and fourth on things, several times. I had just gotten a fender Strat and Vox AC30. I was figuring out my guitar tone and he was like “Ok, lets limit ourselves to this combination.” So Ray and I both played Fender Strats and Vox amps. Eric was there to help us figure out which ideas are the good ones and which ideas maybe aren’t the best ones.
Bo: Your dad was into a lot of different kind of music and he shared those interests with you as a child. Was he a musician himself?
Chris: No, he listened to music when he was younger, then he left to become a flight attendant for American Airlines. He lived all over the world. Then he grew up, got married and lost touch with music. Then once I started to become passionate about music, he started introducing me to music from when he was younger, when he was passionate about it. It was kind of cool seeing him get excited about music again.
Bo: Is your dad a fan of your music?
Chris: Yeah he loves it. We are his favorite band and he will tell you that.
Bo: Do you remember your first instrument?
Chris: My grand parents got me this miniature sized Ovation acoustic guitar when I was five years old. I wanted nothing to do with it at the time. It wasn’t until I decided myself, when I took an interest in the guitar. If someone was going to present the guitar to me and say “Hey, you’re going to play this” I didn’t want anything to do with it. But as soon as I figured out for myself that I wanted to do it, and it was my own idea.. I was a stubborn kid in that way. I came back to it a few years later.
Bo: Do you still own the guitar?
Chris: I gave it to my little cousin
Bo: Did you take any music classes?
Chris: In middle school, we were required to have a Choir class. I did that, and eventually befriended our music teacher. Right around fourth grade I talked him into playing guitar for a song we were performing called “Pin Ball Wizard” by The Who. I was quickly manipulating the system so I could be playing guitar for all my school friends and their families. I wanted to be on stage playing for people.
Bo: Were you born in Los Angeles?
Chris: I was born in Tarzana, then I lived in Miami for the first four years of my life. Then, I moved to Los Angeles where my grandparents were. It was more practical because my grandparents lived there. My parents were both flight attendants so they were constantly leaving the house. It was good for other people to watch us when they were away for work.
Bo: Is LA the best place to be as a musician?
Chris: I think its the best place to be, period.
Bo: Do you write all of your songs?
Chris: Yes. The other guys in the band are more about their instruments, but our song creations are really a collaborative effort, as I often build on the bass parts or guitar parts they come up with.
Bo: Can you explain why Cardiac Arrest was an immediate hit?
Chris: Some people might classify it as a hit and some people wouldn’t. I just classify it as one of our songs. I don’t think its any better or worse than our other songs. I think its maybe the one that fit the radio format best.
I started writing the verse and I thought, “Oh, this sounds nice.” And then the chorus came together and I thought, “That sounds nice with that verse” and when I wrote that guitar lick I went “That sounds great.” And then I put the bass line over it and said, “I like this” and that was all. Never in a million years would I ever write a song specifically for the radio. It was very natural.
Chris’s Advice for Artists: Do whatever it is that you actually want to make and what you want to listen to. Don’t try to sound like the Mumford and Sons and write a song that’s happening right now. A lot of bands make me sick. Just try to write songs that you like.
Bo: You toured with The 1975. Would you like to comment on Matthew Healy’s stage performance of featuring booze and alcohol in front of his young fans?
Chris: I think Matty is a really stimulating character. He is an incredibly smart guy, first of all. It was good talking with him. I often picked his brain while we were on tour. Some of his choices, they really make you scratch your head. When you know that knows what they’re doing, you kind of sit back and let it be and just go, “interesting”. He’s cool and people love him.