At the top of the year, New Bedlam went into Maze Studios with Ben Etter to record a new EP titled Steady Diet of Bullshit (released June 18). Later, singer and guitar player David Bair, bass player Tyler Davis, drummer Mike Walden, and guitarist Michael Parrish returned to the studio to film live performances of each of the EP’s five songs.
Recently, Bair and I made our way to El Myr in Little Five Points to talk about the group and the latest EP while knocking back a few Grizzes — four and-a-half Grizzes each, to be exact. What’s a Grizz, you ask? It’s a pony-sized bottle of Corona with a shot of well Tequila dropped in, and a lime placed atop so you don’t spill too much on the way back to your table.
This is part 1 of our conversation. Keep an eye out for part 2 coming soon.
What brought you to Atlanta?
Me and our bass player Tyler were in a band called Bully Pulpit. We moved here from Charleston in 2016. Danny, the kitchen manager here at El Myr, was the frontman for that band.
We were touring up and down the East Coast, putting out records, and bought a van. Charleston just wasn’t a good place for our headquarters. We had some homies living here, so we moved. … Moving four guys into a house, who didn’t have jobs, and had never really lived with anyone else before … It fell apart pretty quickly. Me and Danny and Tyler stayed. We put a lot of time and money and energy into this band, and that’s what pushed me to pick up the guitar again and start writing music with a new band. Nothing will happen if you don’t try.
It’s taken three years to get the word out about New Bedlam. The songs are there, the sound is there, now we just need to get it into peoples’ ears.
Having some professionalism in our work ethic, staying on peoples’ asses, doing the live videos on Youtube is only going to help us.
The new EP is called Steady Diet of Bullshit … Clearly a Fugazi reference?
Yes! Tyler is a Fugazi nut. Originally, jokingly, we were going to call it Steady Diet Of Pizza, but that was too much. Obviously, Fugazi is a huge influence on us and we’ve covered “Merchandise” before. It’s that DIY ethic: If anyone’s ever seen a Fugazi show in person or on the internet, you’re going to church. You connect with it immediately when you’re watching those motherfuckers play. So the title was a clever way to give them a nod, and to signify that if you come to one of our shows, you’re going to leave with something new in your life.
I’m not on stage just because we’re some band on a bill. I’m here because we’ve culminated this with our homies, and wrote these songs to hopefully send you home in a way more positive mood than what you showed up with. We want it to be something that’s fun and exciting, something you hadn’t experienced before.
Let’s talk about some songs — “End Transmission”.
We had a bunch of songs in the can and everyone was like, “fuck it, let’s go record them.” At first, it didn’t make any sense to me when we recorded. But now, hearing them together, whatever the songs mean to the user makes sense. They all mean different things to me, they mean different things to the boys and the band. “End Transmission” is more personal. To me it’s about parents and childhood and shit like that.
The idea with Steady Diet Of Bullshit is something that me and you deal with every day. Something that everyone in Atlanta deals with everyday — the mound of bullshit you are constantly navigating to be happy, or to have a positive mental attitude, or just to keep your bills paid. People relate to that because it’s everyday life.
“Lurch” is a heavier song. Some of the other songs on the record are more punk oriented. “Lurch” has got more atmosphere, but when we hit the chorus it still punches you in the gut. It’s about how we’re always trying to move forward so fast — society, technology. But my personal experience is that we’re just lurching in one way or another, trying to get through whatever.
As much as I love Fugazi, I never detected much of a sense of humor in the music. A lot of bands wear the Fugazi influence on their sleeve, but calling the album Steady Diet of Bullshit is a new approach … And it’s a funny way to pay homage.
Yes! And even with our other EPs, there’s always a cynical quality to the music. You could take some of the lyrics seriously, or not. There’s always a light side of me saying some pretty heavy shit. So naming it Steady Diet of Bullshit is my way, and the band’s way, of bringing humility to the music. We’re all pretty humble people, but we’re still vulnerable.
It’s refreshing to be in Atlanta, and to hear this level of anger in a newer band. Atlanta is the music scene that you’re part of, but these songs resonate with a bigger picture that’s aligned with Melvins or Unsane.
We were learning “Scrape” not too long ago, just to have a fun cover to play! Dude, that kind of feeling that you get from listening to Unsane is what we want — that’s us in a nutshell. The way it makes you feel when you listen to it — that nasty, knee-buckling shit — when you hear it, however you relate it to your world, we’re in the same boat. 100%
Part 2 of our conversation is coming soon.
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