A Conversation with Alicia Bognanno of Bully
"Hearing Kim Deal and Kim Gordon sing for the first time in such an unconventional way was so inspiring to me and changed my approach towards songwriting where I could deliver lyrics and melodies in a way that felt more comfortable and authentic to me."
Bully is a Nashville based bands, combining the grittiness of garage rock and the Riot Grrrl movement in a time when classic grunge influenced tracks tend to slip under the radar. Reminiscent of the sound of artists like Nirvana, The Breeders, and Alanis Morissette, front woman Alicia's authentic love of punk music shines through in her own work, escaping the somewhat oversaturated sound of current punk influenced tracks. We had the chance to talk to Alicia about staying creative in quarantine, childhood music favorites, and the importance of supporting Black Lives Matter. Bully's new album SUGAREGG drops August 21st!
How have you been creatively adapting at home?
There are so many things I've had to learn to do differently since touring isn't an option for the foreseeable future. A big one is transitioning to record into something I can play solo. I've been messing around with a lot of pedals because of that and just seeing little things I can add to help bring the songs to life other than just playing the bare minimum. Also projects like the covers I did, I wasn't able to play with anybody else so I had to knock it all out myself. That was something that only happened because of quarantine and I ended up learning a lot from it.
What type of music was played around your house growing up?
Not much to be honest, mostly whatever was on the radio. Jewel, Alanis Morissette, Sophie B Hawkins.
How did you meet your band?
They are all people I have met throughout my time living in Nashville. Mostly through friends of friends and shows.
Who are your greatest musical inspirations?
There's not one person in particular but Pod by The Breeders was a very inspiring album for me.
You recently covered “About a Girl” by Nirvana and “Turn to Hate” by Orville Peck. What was the decision to cover those songs?
For the project I was supposed to pick songs from the Sub Pop catalog and when I was sent over a list those were the two that stood out to me. Mostly it was the vocal melodies, the vocal melody in the chorus of "Turn to Hate" is so powerful and when I heard it I was like okay yup this is going to be one of the ones I'm going to cover.
What is your favorite musical era? :
As cliche as it sounds for a band that always gets compared to the 90s I would have to say that 90s haha. I loved learning about the Riot Grrrl movement and also just hearing the straight forward two guitars, bass, drums rock set up. Hearing Kim Deal and Kim Gordon sing for the first time in such an unconventional way was so inspiring to me and changed my approach towards songwriting where I could deliver lyrics and melodies in a way that felt more comfortable and authentic to me.
In this time of financial uncertainty and overall chaos, why do you think it is of the utmost importance to support artists and creatives?
So that they can continue to create. Art is what inspires people and motivates them and gives them hope. If we didn't have that the world would be bleak.
You are sending 100% of your bandcamp sales to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and you’ve repeatedly posted about and lended your support towards the BLM movement. As an ally, why do you think that these steps are so important?
If you are able to donate you should, it's important to give what you can to organizations that are fighting for racial equality so their platforms can grow and they can receive the resources they need to fight for equal rights. That is where change needs to happen right now and that is where our money should be going to help that process move forward as quickly as it possibly can. Regardless of whether or not you are able to donate, we should all be sitting down with any family, co-workers, people we know that don't understand the severity of this issue and have a conversation doing all we can to get the point across that this world is not safe for people of color and they need to get out of their seats along with everybody else and help make that change.
Were you playing any live shows before quarantine?
Just a few here and there! Mainly getting ready for the third record release.
What do you miss most about performing live?
So much! Mainly having that outlet to release whatever negative feelings or emotions are going on inside your brain. I miss connecting with people at shows while playing and also the conversations I get to have with fans at the merch table when the show is over. They bring me so much joy and give me hope and hearing their stories and what they have to say gives me a sense of purpose. I also miss being on stage and connecting with the band and that silent support that we give each other while playing.
Do you have any upcoming projects to plug?
My new record SUGAREGG that comes out August 21st!
You can follow Bully on Instagram @bullythemusic and on Twitter @bully