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Bad Books a Lighthearted Break for Hardworking Musicians

Published: Thursday, October 11, 2012

Updated: Wednesday, October 17, 2012 12:10

Bad Books

Harrison Hudson

Kevin Devine and Andy Hull

Manchester Orchestra and Kevin Devine are letting their hair down with side project Bad Books. Their second album, Bad Books II, is everything one hopes for in a collaborative record. It’s fun, quirky and incredibly lighthearted. According to Bad Books and Manchester Orchestra keyboardist/percussionist Chris Freeman, it’s exactly what happens when friends want to get together and jam.

“Being in the studio is a really good excuse to be able to spend time with your friends,” Freeman said. “It’s a good excuse for us to all come together, hang out and on the side make some music.”

Bad Book’s self-titled debut came together in a matter of days. Freeman said the process was about the same the second time around. Usually solo writers, Devine and Manchester Orchestra’s Andy Hull not only wrote but sang together on the album.

“Andy and Kevin definitely got better at collaborating together,” he said. “We continued to do the same process we did last time, which is bang out as many songs as we could in a week. […] It was pretty easy.”

This fast and loose approach doesn’t exactly result in any scrap tracks or B-sides.

“I think we kept all the [songs] we did,” Freeman said. “It was like, let’s see how many we can get and then we’ll put them all on the record.”

Bad Books seems to be a creative vacation for everyone involved.

“It’s a fun experiment for Andy and Kevin to write with another songwriter, and it’s fun for all of us to do things we might not be able to do within Manchester or Kevin with his solo stuff,” Freeman said. “It’s fun to play live, too. It’s sort of like a very energetic different vibe than what we bring with Manchester or Kevin on his own.”

Manchesterhas been taking some time off lately, and Freeman said it’s the longest they’ve been in one spot for the last six years, though the studio sounds more like summer camp than work.

“Kevin’s kind of a wildcard as a human being,” Freeman said. “When we’re in the studio he’s a strange dude and he makes a lot of sounds. He squeaks a lot. So that interspersed with actually really great songwriting is usually how the day goes.”

The band only played a couple shows prior to Bad Books II, and touring together only adds to the summer camp feel of Bad Books.

“We haven’t been on an extensive tour together in years,” Freeman said. “Going from a bus to a van is nostalgic and fun. There’s a lot more talking that goes on when you’re in a van together. It ends up being more fun than the way it was when we first had to do it.”

Freeman equates the band to a runaway train.

“We just try to figure out how to play these songs live and then we turn our guitars and keyboards up, hit the drums harder and try to make it work live,” he said. “It always seems to come together and people seem to have a good time.”

Bad Books w/The Drowning Men, Harrison Hudson, Crescent Ballroom, October 12, 8:30 p.m., $14 adv, $18 dos

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