If you are a music critic (or just a rabid fan), December’s the time when you’re recalling 12 months’ worth of album and stream releases, gathering up your entire year’s bests, and making Santa Claus-ian lists for various publications.
And while it all seems easy to include Adele, Tyler, The Creator and Nic Cave atop the Best Albums of 2021 list, all of a sudden, in came Full Bush, Philly’s still-new-to-the-scene hardcore punk quartet whose sonic blasts, in a live setting, have so far been run through with rushing elements of soul, pop and easy breezy balladry. Incendiary yet balming, Full Bush threw a wrench into all the Best of 2021 lists by dropping their dynamic EP, “Movie Night” (Brutal Panda Records) into the end-of-year schedule, and hosting its release party at Johnny Brenda’s on Thursday with UgLi and Kelsey Cork & the Swigs as the event’s headliners.
Along with “Movie Night” featuring the gauzily delicate melodic thrills Philadelphia has come to expect from Full Bush, there are also surprise slabs of wonky jazz and many genuinely emotional slice-of-life stories on the art of growing up and coming into one’s own. One of Full Bush’s songwriters, the mononymous drummer and rhythmic centerpiece Ade spoke to Metro about the promise of Movie Night, the local scene that Full Bush calls its family, and vampires.
Ade, you’re from North Carolina, yes? How and why did you make your way to Philadelphia and how did this particular group of people decide to get together? Were there shared interests among the four of you beyond making dynamic-rich punk rock?
A lot of my friends from North Carolina moved to Philly. When I lived in Washington, D.C., after graduating from college in 2009, I’d visit Philly all the time and got to know a lot of the people involved with the DIY music scene back then like Danger! Danger! Gallery and all the other DIY spots in West Philly. A lot of the people I hung out with were also musicians and artists frequenting these spaces. Philly just felt like a continuation of my life in eastern North Carolina. Full Bush got together within that because our bassist, Cassie, was looking for other cool folks to jam with. The fact that we all have similar music tastes, goals in life, and ambitions that drive us – as well as a shared sense of community – makes this band mesh really well.
Lyrically, Full Bush pack a lot into the rush and scope of one EP. Outside of using metaphorical vampires, there is a sense of personal recollection and rumination, as well genuine sadness and heartbreak. What can you say about the songwriting process? I know you write, as do all members of Full Bush. Whoever is writing, are they taking into consideration the full band and its stories? Are the stories isolated to one member?
There is very definitely a palpable sadness to some of our songs. We all have been going through sh** the past few years. Songwriting is a way of exploring those feelings, the situations that have arisen, and how we have – or haven’t – made peace with them. What we’ve learned. How we grow. How our band-mates connect with the lyrics (is all part of being Full Bush). We all have been writing a lot more now, versus our first project (their self-titled cassette) where Cassie wrote the majority of the songs.
Considering that shared lyrical expression, was there one song that perhaps was more challenging to get through?
Personally, “One Second,” would be it for me, as it’s about my anxiety, depression, not being accepted as I am by my immigrant parents, and the way that my ex-husband and friend gave me closure with that. Mental health is always a toughy. Everyone wants to be seen and loved as they are.
I hear jazzy breaks on “Movie Night.” I also hear slips of soul, too. Some of which I have witnessed during your live shows. Some not. Point is, the album is never just punk/pop/hardcore. Is there a delineation of who likes what within the quartet or are you all just listening to music 360 degrees?
Yeees! We like to go with whatever feels good. We are all huge music nerds and it shows. It is never ‘Let’s put some R&B thing here.’
It’s an organic process.
It is just whatever comes from jamming together and trusting each other. I’m heavily influenced by grindcore, East Coast rap, DC go-go music, performance art. Me, Cassie and Jay are inspired by hardcore, metal, pop punk, emo a la bands like AFI, At the Drive. Collectively, we are into ’90s alt rock.
Where do the four of you live in relation to each other in Philly, and what has been your impression of the performance/recording/communal scene. I’ve been here forever and notice that bands — having nothing to do with Covid — seem kinder and gentler and more willing to share than the scene once was?
Oh, most definitely. People are caring and kind and always willing to share with each other. Philly’s music scene is quite beautiful like that, and always supportive. We wouldn’t be anywhere without our community and we are forever grateful.
On the song “Spooky.” I wouldn’t assume what it is about, but its use of a vampire metaphor is pretty rich. Can you please discuss the song’s origins and what you needed it to say?
I wrote the lyrics based off the Iranian vampire noir film, “A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night.” About wanting to be this amazingly chill human who goes after others who are causing grief for woman and what it is like to be her. To be a vampire.
Beyond “Movie Night” and the upcoming release show at Johnny Brenda’s, what is Full Bush most looking forward to… locally, nationally and beyond?
We are writing the rest of our new album in January and February, touring hard, looking for a POC/Black non-cis dude to be our fifth permanent member, and continuing to have fun.
And what is your personal motto going into 2022?
Don’t be a d**k.