Released a couple of weeks ago, Black After Dark is one of those albums that just makes you feel. I don’t quite know what it is, but it is certainly a feeling. We thought it would be good to ask the bands some questions about all things music
Can you tell us a bit about Bandicoot? Where are you from, and how did you all meet?
Bandicoot is a rock n’roll band from rainy Swansea, Wales. We all grew up there, although we’re different ages. Billy and Rhys originally formed the band and have been playing together for years, and Tom and Kieran were in other now-dissolved bands in Swansea called News From Nowhere and Vanilla. We just got to know each other from playing in different venues and pubs, and somehow this version of Bandicoot rose from the embers. We’re all equally passionate and equally obsessed with writing and performing music, and we have a shared sensibility; so it just made sense to make music together. It was something that happened naturally.
If you had to sum up the band in three words, what would you say?
Stomping Carnivalesque Joy
You’re about to release your debut album, Black After Dark. What does this album mean for you, as a band?
It means so many things that it’s hard to process really – in fact we probably won’t understand it properly til the dust has settled. It’s the summation of years of work, and we’ve grown and evolved as musicians as we’ve worked on it. It was originally recorded back in 2019 ish, but we scrapped half of it, then went back to it after we were signed to Libertino records during lockdown and recorded some new songs. We were lucky enough to be living in a shared house together at that point, so we were able to keep writing music, creating and collaborating in a much more meaningful way than we had done before, actually. The theme that emerged was one of opposites and contrasts – black, white, light, dark. The songs explore the emotional ups and downs of life – joy and misery, ecstasy and despair. It’s an album we’re immensely proud of, a document of the last few years of our lives that represents everything about us as a band and as people. We’re so excited to share it with the world.
Who produced this? Have you worked with them before? How was working with them?
The album was engineered and produced by Tom Rees at Rat Trap studio in Cardiff. Tom is a precocious young gunslinger who is also finding success with his band Buzzard Buzzard Buzzard. We’d done a couple of tunes with him before the album, and we knew his sound fit what we were going for, so it made sense to keep working with him for the album. We recorded the songs bit by bit over a long period of time, so it was quite fragmented, rather than a focused period. He’s a dedicated aficionado of 70s glam/pop/rock production styles, and has really nailed what he’s going for. It was the right sound for us, and he helped us combine a lot of our influences while still feeling fresh. He was great to work with – energetic, enthusiastic, and tactful without fail, and full of detailed expertise and creative suggestions.
What tracks stand out as favourites for you guys?
Rhys – BLEED OUT – it’s the most collaborative of all the songs, and it has a melodic wildness which captures something central to the band.
Billy – SIREN – anything with a chuggy riff gets me going, and siren is the hard-hitting relentless rocker that does just that.
Tom – BLACK AFTER DARK – this is the title track. It’s a sad song of longing and leaving things behind. Me and rhys wrote it in Llangennith on the Gower peninsula, when I was working in a campsite cafe and he came to visit. The song appeared out of thin air, although some of the lyrics had been in our separate notebooks for a long time – I remember scribbling the phrase ‘I still dream of you in the black after dark’, not realising it would become the album title years later.
Kieran – TRAIN STATION MURAL – cause it’s a personal song about heartbreak and universal credit.
Are there any plans to take these new songs on the road?
We’re off to Austin, Texas the week after the album’s out, to play at South by Southwest, which is a dream come true – we can’t wait! We’ve also just got back from playing a showcase festival in Sweden called Future Echoes, which was amazing.
Closer to home, there’s a lot of dates coming up, mostly in Wales but some in England. Our album launch is saturday March 5th in Clwb Ifor Bach in Cardiff, where we’ll be supported by our ridiculously talented friends Mellt and Frankie Parris. We’ll be playing at Laugharne Fringe on March 26th, and in the Fiddler in Kilburn, London on April 8th. We’ll also be appearing at several festivals – Big Sesh, In It Together, the Eisteddfod, Kendal Calling, Nozstock, and the always amazing Focus Wales. So there’s plenty of chances to see us. No excuse not to really!
What is next for Bandicoot?
We’re excited to keep doing what we love and keep working on new music, hopefully getting better as we go and playing to bigger audiences. We’ve got tentative plans to record some more of our Welsh language songs in the summer and are excited to get back in the studio. Other than that, we have no idea what the future holds, we’ll just keep playing music and see where we end up! It will definitely be fun, if nothing else.
Where can we find out more about you?
We are @whoarebandicoot on all our socials. We also have a Bandcamp page, where you can hear some covers we recorded during lockdown and buy some zines we’ve made. There’s 3 so far – one each for dark too long, Fuzzy, and worried blues, and there will be a longer one for the album, as well. They’re full of collages, drawings, photos, art and writings by us.
Anything else you’d like to tell us?
We accidentally spent £300 on a bottle of wine in Sweden. By the time we realised, it was too late – the wine had been drunk.
(This interview was made before the release of the album, that’s why some of the answers may seem a bit off with timescales)