A Chat with Chris Bowman of Bad Suns

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Alternative rock is known for being introspective, heavy in metaphor, and quirky. The breakout Los Angeles-based group Bad Suns fits that model to a T.

By Paris Garnier

Chris Bowman (far left) spoke with The Campus Citizen about Bad Suns' Heartbreaker tour. (Photo from Bad Sun's Facebook page)

Bad Suns got their start touring with artists like Halsey and The 1975. They made a name for themselves with the single “Cardiac Arrest” from their first album Language & Perspective, which peaked at 24 on the Billboard 200 in 2014. Their works is consistently mellow but upbeat and earworm-catchy.

Christo “Chris” Bowman, the vocalist for Bad Suns, follows his instincts as an artist.

Following the Sept. 2016 release of their second album Disappear Here, Bad Suns will soon begin their Heartbreaker tour across the U.S.

The Campus Citizen caught up with Bowman for a quick phone interview preceding Bad Suns’ concert at the Deluxe in the Old National Centre on March 4.

Have you played Indianapolis before?

We played there once at a show opening for another band--this was like maybe two, two and a half years ago--and it was the only time we had been to Indianapolis and I just remember it being one of the best shows in the entire tour and one of the best crowds. It was one of those places where we didn’t realize anybody would even be familiar with our music, so for whatever reason it’s--our agents just weren’t sending us out there. We were kind of pushing for it just because we remember this one show that we had, and now we’re going back to that same venue and we’re just really looking forward to it, especially now that some time has passed and we have us some more music. We’re really, really excited.

I noticed on your tour list you’re going to a lot of smaller cities, is there a reason for that?

Yeah, it’s kind of for that reason like I mentioned, we play the big cities all the time, especially when we’re doing tours supporting other artists. We had just gotten off a tour doing most of the major cities in the US in the fall, so we also really wanted to go play in these places where we knew there were people listening to the music and who wanted to come out and have a good time. Those are awesome--some of the most fun cities you end up playing in, so we didn’t want to ignore them, ‘cause I feel like a lot of bands do. We’re just really excited.

What’s the hardest part of touring?

The hardest part about touring, I’d say, is just adjusting to it and learning how to make that a lifestyle as opposed to like, summer vacation or something. When you start out, at the very beginning, your first tour is going to be like a month or so long, and you’re with your friends, you’re in a van or whatever it is, and you’re going around the country and you’re doing what it is that you love to do most and it’s just awesome. So it kind of feels like a summer vacation or something. But then eventually it becomes a part of your actual life. Learning to find that balance is probably the most difficult thing, but it’s also super rewarding once you are able to figure out how to balance being a normal human and doing this kind of abnormal daily lifestyle, so it's very rewarding.

You used to tour as an opening act for Halsey and other groups. How does it compare?

We really like both, we really enjoy every aspect of what we do. But the truth be told, going on your own headlining tour--when you’re sort of the one calling the shots and the night is about your music and this and that and the people who are coming are well aware of that--it’s just … very special in a sort of sense. I think any band will tell you that their own headline show is always gonna be the most magical ... but at the same doing a tour we go out and we get to play for another artist’s fans, that’s also really exciting for us because it puts us back into the position of having to try and win these people over who maybe aren’t familiar with your music. So that is a challenge in itself and it also kind of keeps us on our toes, and it’s fun. It’s sort of like, gladiatorial, in a sense. Doing festivals or doing shows where you’re opening for other acts, it pushes you to be at the top of your game.


What is the creative process for the lyrics like? What’s the collaboration like?

Well, I’m the band’s songwriter and then we all write music together, so that means oftentimes I’ll bring a song in and we’ll work out the music together or however it is. Sometimes an idea’s more fleshed out than others. Oftentimes one of the other guys will bring a musical idea to the table and from there I’ll kind of be given the task of like writing a song around that--writing lyrics and melodies and that kind of thing. We like to mix it up in that sense, so it’s always collaborative.

So, since this tour is the Heartbreaker tour, what’s the inspiration behind the song “Heartbreaker”?

I think the idea for that song was--first the way that song really came to be was i sort of just took my guitar outside and started playing something and there was just a certain feel that, whatever the part I was playing on the guitar, it had this energy to it, which I liked. And then, for whatever reason when I was coming up with vocal melodies--and you know it’s all kind of gibberish when you’re coming up with melodies, throwing random syllables and fake words out there--but the one phrase that I kept repeating was that “heartbreaker” line that’s in the chorus and the pre-chorus and stuff like that, so the song sort of had a title immediately, and based off of that premise I kind of wanted to give a song about heartbreak the kind of--to approach it from a lighter, more lighthearted point of view and sort of shed light on how sometimes ridiculous and childish those situations can be. I didn’t want to take it too seriously with the lyrics and I wanted it to almost kind of have a comic sense to it, which I think in certain places we’ve pulled off, so that's the idea. I wanted to make light of something that people often take very seriously in their own lives.

What’re you the most proud of with Bad Suns?

We don’t really spend too much time walking around being proud of what we’ve done or stuff like that. But one thing that I have to say is really nice is just kind of being a guy in your mid twenties and being able to come to work every day and it’s at like a rehearsal room or a writing room with the three guys that you like the most, and just writing music because that’s what you do. That’s probably the most rewarding thing.

Do have any big goals for your next album? I know you’ve only just released your second one, but do you have any big hopes for it?

You know, it never feels right to talk about the future. Especially when it’s still being determined. I’m not sure yet. All I can say--and I can say this confidently--is that we’re very, very excited about what there is to come next and to elaborate would simply be pointless. At this time.

What do you think you’d be doing right now if you weren’t a part of Bad Suns?

Well, music is the only thing I’m sort of half good at. I’m not sure. You know what, I’d probably be going to college.

A couple of days ago the Bad Suns twitter account made a tweet about buying shirts to support relief in Syria, is this something you feel strongly about?

We were contacted by the people at Alt Philanthropy and we had done some work with them in the past--raising some money for Planned Parenthood--and they approached us with this idea they had put together, they explained to us what they were going to do, and we were just entirely on board and happy to be involved.

Last question: in three words, how would you describe Bad Suns?

Not that bad.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

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