The Badlees Archives

'Parade' keeps The Badlees moving

Badlees guitarist and songwriter Bret Alexander talks candidly about the band's new indie release, the status of its record label, and the group's return to area clubs

by Alan K. Stout
Times Leader Staff Writer

July 17, 1998

The Badlees new EP, 'The Day's Parade,' is available now.
The Badlees new EP, 'The Day's Parade,' is available now.

The title track from the new Badlees' EP, "The Day's Parade," is, in reality, an oxymoron.

The title — and the song — create pictures of laid back characters with laissez-faire dispositions.

The EP itself is the result of a band feeling just the opposite.

The five-song recording was not in the group's plans for 1998, but is the result of the delayed release of the band's second major-label album, "Up There, Down Here."

When the group wrapped up work on the new album last fall — which was recorded mainly at the legendary Bearsville Recording Studios in upstate New York — they'd hoped to have it in stores by June.

After a few more tracks were recorded in April at the Sound City and Royalstone studios in Los Angeles, the fall seemed like the best time to release the record.

Then came "The Sale."

In a blockbuster move which raised eyebrows throughout the entertainment industry, Polygram Records — the parent company to The Badlees' label, Polydor — was sold to the Seagram company in a multi-billion dollar deal.

As a result of the sale — which recently cleared anti-trust proceedings — impending changes loom in Polygram's corporate offices. Executives and personnel likely will be reshuffled, and MCA Records, which Seagram already owned, will likely merge with Polygram.

It's big-time stuff, and many of the artists on the Polygram labels — which also include Mercury, Island and A&M Records — have been affected by the move. For now, most projects have simply been put on hold.

A summer vacation for The Badlees?

Forget it.

Rather than let the summer of 1998 quietly pass by, the popular regional band has gone back to work. The result is "The Day's Parade," a stirring, stripped down, acoustic-based EP featuring the newly penned title track and a reworked, banjo-fueled version of "Diamonds In the Coal."

There's also a driving cover of Bruce Springsteen's "Atlantic City" and re-recordings of "Last Great Act of Defiance" and the rarely performed "90% of the Time."

Badlees guitarist and songwriter Bret Alexander says the EP should help tide fans over until the developments at the record label are settled and the new record is released next year. It also proved to be therapeutic for the band.

"'Up There Down Here,' as the name implies, was so hard to make and was such a roller coaster, we wanted to do something where we just got in the room and played," says Alexander in a conversation with The Times Leader.

"We wanted to set up a situation where we could move quickly and record a bunch of stuff and see what flew, rather than slaving over a couple of songs and trying to make them work. With the EP, if it didn't happen quick, it didn't happen ...

"It was kind of like a back-to-basics thing," he adds. "We really didn't have any preconceived notions as to what we were going to put on it. The ones we used just sounded the best."

Early reactions have been favorable. Selections from the EP are garnering radio play in both Harrisburg and Reading, and sales have been brisk. Alexander says that, considering the developments at Polygram, the band isn't bothered by the delayed release of the major-label record.

"A lot of people, not just us, are going through this," he says. "The overall vibe everybody has is that its sucks that you're in this situation and are on one of the labels that's going through this, but the only thing that could be worse was if your record was out right now.

"Everybody's in flux. ... Nobody's worried about pushing a record if they're not going to be at the company in a month. They've explained to us why we shouldn't release it, and by talking to other people in the industry, we've found that it's pretty sound advice.

"It's hard," he adds. "There's so many horror stories in the music business... I honestly don't know how it's all going to pan out, but I do know that we shouldn't put our record out now."

What they should do, they've decided, is play. In addition to the recording and release of the new EP, the band has remained active by returning to Pennsylvania nightclubs and performing here on a regular basis for the first time in more than three years. Alexander says The Badlees members — which also include vocalist Pete Palladino, guitarist Jeff Feltenberger, bassist Paul Smith and drummer Ron Simasek — see this unexpected time off the national road as the opportunity to reconnect with local fans.

"We've kind of been out of the loop for a while," he says. "We were actually curious to see who would come out, or if anybody would come out ... So far, things are going really, really well. We played Harrisburg last weekend and had 1,800 people there. ... You see a lot of familiar faces and you see a lot of new ones as well.

"It's cool that people are still interested."

Alexander says the decision to release the independent EP and hit the Pennsylvania clubs again was simply a matter of realizing that while the dust settles at Polydor, the best thing for the band to do was to get back to doing what it's always done best.

"Here we are in the middle of this huge corporate takeover, and we have no control over that." he says. "There's nothing what we can do. But we know what we can do, because we've been doing it for years. We know we can play, we know people will come out to see us, and we know clubs will have us. We know if we can release something small — and people don't get it confused with being the record — people will still listen to it.

"We just took a long hard look and said 'This is something we can control.' This is what we do. We're musicians."

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