Bad Mannequins: "We like to play with the tensions of everyday life"

A promo shot of bad mannequins

Glasgow-based garage-rock two-piece Bad Mannequins are premiering the riotous video to their new single I Hate You exclusively with TeamRock. The track, taken from their upcoming EP Deny Til U Die - Part I, blends tongue-in-cheek songwriting with a garage-punk guitar tone which would’ve made The Strokes proud.

Below, we catch up with frontman Ross Hamilton about the track, its video and what’s next for Bad Mannequins.

What’s the story behind the song I Hate You?

“Whenever we’re writing a song, the aim is to have a stupid storyline on the surface with a bit of substance in the subtext to keep it interesting. I Hate You is about two flatmates who were originally good friends but have let each other’s idiosyncrasies get under their skin to the point where every little thing provokes a disproportionate reaction of hatred. It seems like we’re all a bit OTT these days. Your phone loses signal for 2 seconds and you’re like ‘I HATE this piece of shit!’”

The video’s pretty riotous. What’s the story there, and how did you come up on the concept?

“We approached the director (Stuart Breadner at ShootBack) about doing the video for I Hate You and he liked the song. Within a couple of days he came back to us with his violent vision and we loved it! It really suits the song in the way that it plays with the tension beneath the surface in every day life. Something small can escalate quickly and sadly for us humans that normally ends in violence. For the most part though, we thought it would look cool to go apeshit in slow motion.”

Who’s the poor sod who gets a cake to the face?

“Ha ha! That was our stunt-coordinator and fight choreographer. He’s an MMA specialist and pretty much the only person on the shoot capable of taking the cake to the face! Top geezer, don’t mess with him.”

You have a new EP coming up. What sort of themes do you cover on it?

“Our new EP Deny Til U Die – Part I is the first in a trilogy of EPs we’ll be releasing throughout this year. The songs on this one are mainly about how we portray ourselves on the surface versus what’s really going on inside. That sounds pretty serious but it’s mostly told in a tongue in cheek way. Under The Glass is about someone leading a double-life online and the constant tension it creates day to day. That ties in quite well with the tension created in I Hate You and the shallow fakery of T-Shirt Collection. Buzz Killer Skinny Gene is about a young guy everyone perceives to be a star but who’s really just an insecure misfit putting on a good show.”

What drew you to those themes?

“We’re a planet of voyeurs now since the rise of the ubiquitous smartphone and social media so I guess it makes sense for a writer to tap into that vein and create little vignettes of societal misfits and give listeners a glimpse into their lives, fictional or otherwise.”

What’s your favourite story or anecdote from recording the EP?

“We weren’t technically recording at the time but we were rehearsing in the studio for our first show of the year. We thought it would be cool to run the lights and the water-based smoke machine for a bit of atmosphere… As it turned out the smoke detectors in our place were laser sensors and we set off the alarm in the whole building. Over a hundred people were evacuated and the fire brigade turned up. It wasn’t great explaining our vanity project to the fire fighters and it cost us nearly 300 quid to get the sensor fixed.”

How would you explain your sound to people who’ve never heard you before?

“We’ve been described as a combination of The Ramones and The Strokes finally gone apeshit, with playful, flamboyant vocal delivery. I guess that does the job?

Our newest song has a Runaways meets Status Quo vibe, which sounds bad as we say it, but it’s the song we’re most buzzed about right now!

What are your key inspirations when it comes to making music?

“Every musician gets inspired by hearing what other great bands are doing, but there’s always more than just listening. Tarantino movies had a big influence on our band. The way his dialogue flows and the way he uses songs is always killer. From a rhythmic and storytelling point of view, American authors like Jack Kerouac and John Steinbeck are big lyrical influences. A great idea can come from anywhere, so it’s good to keep your eyes and ears open.”

What do you hope people will take from your music?

“I hope when people hear our music they get a sense of how much fun we’re having. When a band is playing exactly what they want to play, there’s a sound to that. When you’re doing your own thing, no one can tell you that you’re doing it wrong.”

What’s next for Bad Mannequins?

“We’ll be filming another video for the single from our second EP and we’ll be playing some shows to get us in front of as many people as possible. We really want to make a video in New York for our third EP this year so fingers crossed we can swing that!”

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