Bad Girlfriend is made up of singer/guitarist Christian Owens, bassist Savannah King, drummer/singer Lyla Vander, and singer/guitarist Brianna Lance. We spoke to Lance, who’s also head designer at local It Girl fashion favorite Reformation, ahead of tomorrow night’s show at Glasslands Gallery, where Bad Girlfriend will open for fellow North Brooklynite Luke Rathborne. Read the B+B Q+A — and listen to their eponymous EP and their new single, “Feelings” — below.
Are you all based in the Williamsburg area?
Lyla, Christian, and Savannah are all in Williamsburg. I live in the East Village. But our practice space is in Williamsburg, so essentially that’s where the band lives.
What are your favorite spots in the neighborhood?
Our favorite places to eat are La Superior (the best tacos), Champs, and Five Leaves. Our favorite places to drink are Dokebi bar (very chill), Hotel Delmano (we’re a lady band so we like to be a little bourgie), and we love Gutter because it’s right next-door to our practice space.
Can you tell me a bit about each of your backgrounds, and how the band got started?
Christian Owens started playing in bands in high school and played bass with basically everyone — Cass McCombs, Bishop Allen, Rewards. She and I met playing in a band years ago and always loved each other and felt connected. Both of us wanted to play guitar and write and so we started playing together to make it happen.
We got Savannah to start playing with us three days before our first show with another band we had, called Grandma’s Boy. We needed someone to hold down the bottom end and harassed her into doing it. She started on bass keyboards and then pretty quickly after switched to bass guitar.
As for me, I played piano on and off since I was little, but started playing in bands as a tambourine girl. I started learning to play guitar and writing songs and immediately Christian and I started writing together. We booked a show before we were even a full band, and got our friend Paula to play drums and she brought Savannah in.
Bad Girlfriend basically started when Lyla joined the band. We had been playing under a different name and with quite a few different drummers, but having her join really formed the group. She had been playing drums with tons of different bands and we snatched her up. Finding the right band members is like starting a family — and we are a fully-formed, loving, dysfunctional family.
I hear you’ve been working on your debut album — what can you tell us about it so far?
We have been so lucky with this record as far as having the most incredible people work on it. Our main producer is Aaron Pfenning, of Rewards. Aaron brought in Benjamin Curtis, of School of Seven Bells, to work on about 8 songs with us. The combination of those two men really couldn’t have been better.
We also were really lucky to have amazing musicians like Don De Vore and Travis Rosen come in and help out. The album is pretty much what we do: really guitar-heavy songs with lots of vocal melodies on top. Kind of like Phil Spector 2013. As far as recording goes, we really just had this record in us and wanted to make it happen, so we just dove in. As a result, we ended up recording anywhere and everywhere, from Vacation Island Studios, to Atomic Heart Studios, to Ben Curtis’s practice space and even Christian’s kitchen.
What do you think of people’s conceptions of “girl groups,” particularly as it relates to your music? Sometimes it can be a reductive way of classifying a band, but your sound seems to identify well with the ’60s girl group vibe. Are you all fans of or influenced by other all-female bands?
We are totally pro girl groups. We really wanted to do an all-girl band when we started, because most of us had played with lots of men — and don’t get us wrong, we love the fellas, but we felt there is a certain energy when you get a bunch of strong females together. It’s like a coven. We love all those ‘60s girl groups because they were so badass, but we are influenced by so many different females: Patti Smith, the Slits, Nina Simone, Kim Deal… basically, strong babes with a lot of balls.
Catch Bad Girlfriend at Luke Rathborne’s record release show this Wednesday at Glasslands Gallery ($10, doors at 8:30 p.m.) and again at Pianos on September 26th with Rewards (Aaron Pfenning).