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Catching Up with Bad Static at Arlene’s Grocery

In less than a year, the Brooklyn-based riot grrrl quartet Bad Static has rapidly captured the attention of the local scene with their abrasively acidic thrashers inspired by horror films and biting she-punk legends like the Runaways and the Anemic Boyfriends. In less than ten months, the band has already received thousands of streams and even won the emerging artist award from Deli Magazine.

Bad Static’s debut EP Cherry Cyanide explores the duality of the sweet and the sour with hair-raising screams and descending power chords. The name Cherry Cyanide comes from a chemical compound found in cherry pits called hydrogen cyanide, which is so poisonous that ingesting as little as 0.1 grams can kill a person.

On June 9th, Bad Static took the stage at Arlene’s Grocery on a bill with Friend, Public Circuit, and Midnite Taxi, where they packed their set with several of their hard-hitting singles, including the anti-creep anthem “Peach,” the invasive and violating “Ectoplasm Nightmares,” and covers of the Runaways’ “Cherry Bomb” and MARINA’s “Bubblegum Bitch.” Lead vocalist and rhythm guitarist Nicol Maciejewska sported a white tank top, ripped fishnets, and an aqua-blue Jackson strapped across her chest with the words “ABORT THE COURT” emblazoned on it in silver lettering. Bassist Kelsie Williams and lead guitarist Mario DiSanto provided the noise factor that bolstered Maciejewska’s blood-curdling screams, and Squelch’s Amanda Fortemps filled in for Demetrio Abikkaram-Ricardo on drums.

A Grrrl’s Two Sound Cents caught up with Bad Static, along with their playwright collaborator Mo Zelle, to discuss their joint project The Cherry Pit Demos, as well as the band’s response to the overwhelming support they’ve received in such a short period of time.

You started in 2021 and have already been labeled a “buzz band to watch” by several publications. What is it like to process all that attention so soon?

Nicol Maciejewska: It was definitely surprising, especially since I’m very new to music. We didn’t even get to play any backyard shows before we went straight into playing venues.

Kelsie Williams: It’s definitely really cool that we’ve gotten such amazing feedback from the start.

Maciejewska: I was expecting a lot more people to be really mean. It just comes with the territory. People are just always so critical of music, especially in punk. People always have something shitty to complain about, whether it’s the sound of the recording or the vocals, but we haven’t really gotten much of that. We’re still waiting for it.

What made you decide to repackage “Bubblegum Bitch” as a punk song?

Maciejewska: I honestly just wanted to scream the word bitch! I’ve always liked MARINA and I wanted to sing a song that wasn’t traditionally punk. We’re used to covering “Cherry Bomb,” which is more aligned with our sound and we thought it would be fun to do something unexpected.

Williams: Even the way that we grew up in the Tumblr sphere, the people who were more alternative might have narrowly missed MARINA and gone straight into Arctic Monkeys. We often get really mixed reactions when we play that song live because the punk kids don’t really know it and the pop fans are totally bamboozled that we’ve stripped the song of its original melody, so it’s always interesting.

Nicol, I’m so used to seeing punk kids with Strats. What made you decide to go with the Jackson?

Maciejewska: It was actually a Christmas gift. I would have either gotten that or the Fender Squier, cause those are the cheapest ones. But everyone already had the Squier and I think it’s fun to stand out, even with gear. I like playing punk on a classic metal guitar. I also went with it because of the whammy bar, which I barely use, but I think it looks cool!

Are there any influences on the ‘Cherry Cyanide’ EP that people might not expect?

Maciejewska: It’s funny you say that, because a lot of people assume we were inspired by ’90s riot grrrl bands, but we were actually looking a bit further back. Our two major influences were The Runaways and Anemic Boyfriends, which is a much more niche band. I found one of their 45s at a record store called Rebel Rouser, and I became obsessed with their vintage rock vibe. A big influence on our horror-themed songs is the band Jack Off Jill as well.

Williams: We’re obsessed with horror, especially old horror. Our name is a Frankenstein reference, so it all circles back to horror.

Speaking of horror, “Ectoplasm Nightmares” is one of my favorite songs off your EP. What can you tell me about writing it?

Williams: I came up with the lyrics “exorcise my brain, perform a lobotomy,” after a breakup. I was going through the stage where it’s impossible to remove the other person from your thoughts, even when they’re not physically in your life. It feels like the only cure is to stab an ice pick through your eye and forget it all.

Mo, what inspired the two songs you wrote for the band on the Cherry Pit Demos?

Mo Zelle: I wrote a play in my senior year of college, and I interviewed 34 different drag artists across the country for research. I wanted to talk to everyone about who they were and how they wanted to perform, and it opened up my eyes up to different forms of performance art that I wasn’t exposed to before. I really started to think about the idea of queer people being on display for other people to look at, similar to the concept that George C. Wolfe explored in his play The Colored Museum. I collaborated with a variety of different artists who could really deliver the sound I envisioned for those songs. One of the songs is called “Dirty D. Ike,” which is based on an experience I had in high school where my ex-girlfriend’s mother violently dragged me by the ear and called me a “dirty fucking dyke.” It was a really traumatic experience, but I’ve reclaimed it as a namesake for myself whenever I perform. Nicol and I are very close and it was really special to see and hear Bad Static give that song the life it deserves.

What else can we look forward to from Bad Static in the near future?

Mario DiSanto: We have an album coming soon, which I’m producing. The sound is going to be very gritty and reminiscent of early punk, so stay tuned for that!


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