Like some kind of sonic Pulp Fiction, Bad Rabbits fuse futuristic R&B and post-rock for a slick one-two punch.
Think Sly Stone fronting Bad Brains, and you're maybe a third of the way there. The multi-cultural Boston five-piece--Fredua "Dua" Boakye [vocals], Sheel Dave [drums], Salim Akram [guitar], Graham Masser [bass], and Santiago Araujo [guitar]--confidently struts through genres with unrestrained swagger and a whole lot of attitude. It's sexy and soulful replete with seismic falsetto about youthful love and "dirty" girls. It's bedroom music as much as it is dance floor music. It's simply American Love.
Bad Rabbits began drumming up a flurry of buzz in 2009 with their self-released EP, Stick Up Kids. Their sweaty, intense live shows solidified an impressive and devout following as they shared the stage with the likes of Wu-Tang Clan, Passion Pit, Deftones, Travie McCoy, T-Pain, GlassJaw, Common and John Legend and played the Vans Warped Tour. However, one pivotal gig with Foxy Shazam in San Francisco helped lay the preliminary groundwork for American Love in 2011.
"After we finished playing, this kid with tattoos and plugs in his ears rolled up to us," remembers Sheel. "He was pissed that he missed the show so I asked if he had a house we could play at. We grew up playing metal shows in basements, so we were down to kick it and jam. The next day, we played his kitchen. He just understood what we were doing musically, and he had all kinds of ideas. That kid was our co-producer B. Lewis."
The band flew Lewis out to Boston, and they started seriously collaborating. Over the course of 2012, they composed, recorded, and fine-tuned the songs that would eventually comprise their debut. Along the way, the group honed their style precisely.
"We wanted to bridge the gap between the two musical worlds we come from," explains Salim. "One of them is classic R&B, and the other is rock. They may seem disparate, but we tried to fuse them."
That mission is certainly accomplished on tracks like the first single and album opener, "We Can Roll". After a sultry keyboard swell, the song climaxes on an anthemic hook fortified by hulking guitars. Dua reveals, "It's like a ride or die anthem for your girlfriend or boyfriend basically. As corny as it may sound, it encompasses that feeling when you get the right person. You want the person to 'roll' anywhere and everywhere with you. It's a trap wedding song."
That theme of young love carries over to "Fall in Love", which Converse will premiere on Valentine's Day 2013. A big horn section pipes along with a swinging vocals and smooth bass. Sultry lyrics bubble up over the pulsating funk on the verse, emblematic of their grasp on 21st century R&B.
In many ways, diversity drives Bad Rabbits. The music reflects the cultural melting pot the band members embody. Sheel, Dua, and Santiago are all first-generation Americans as their parents originally hail from India, Liberia and Ghana, and Italy and Argentina respectively. As a result, the album remains all-inclusive.
"That's where the concept of American Love comes from," Sheel adds. "These diverse backgrounds forming one entity represents what America is. It reminds me of when I used to go see Deftones and GlassJaw as a kid. Their audiences weren't only into a variety of music, but they were also multi-cultural. I always thought that was so cool. We may come from different cultures, but we all bond over music."
American Love is something else that listeners worldwide can bond over. "I feel like everyone can really get to know us with this album," says Salim. "Our hope is that it will introduce new people to Bad Rabbits but also show our progression to those who have already been exposed to the band."
"We're just doing what comes naturally," Sheel concludes. "It isn't about trying to be something we're not. It's about just going with the flow ultimately. We're not forcing anything."
Sit back and fall into American Love. The album was released on May 14, 2013 and debuted at #1 on the iTunes R&B Albums Chart and hit the Top 10 on the Billboard Heatseekers Chart. The band made their national TV debut on Jimmy Kimmel Live! May 17th, followed up by a performance on The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson and The Arsenio Hall Show. American Love has received praise from the likes of USA Today, MTV Buzzworthy, Spin, Pitchfork, Alternative Press, Vice, Vibe and many more!