Punk band Bad Sports started eight years ago. Bassist Daniel Friend and guitarist Orville Neeley had been in a band together previously, but one day, Neeley showed up with demos of new songs.
“It was way better than the band we were in,” Friend said, “so we decided to do that instead.”
Bad Sports met in college at the University of North Texas in Denton. As with a lot of college towns, Denton purportedly has a burgeoning music scene. But Friend said, when it comes to punk music, that isn’t necessarily true.
“That’s kind of the weird myth that people have about Denton,” he said. “Where there’s a lot of good bands that are from there but they’re all the same five people. You switch out members. You do new things. People think there’s a hundred bands all at once, but it turns out it’s just like a couple of guys.”
In 2009, the band released its selftitled album, which it followed in 2011 with Kings of the Weekend, a classic punk affair on which half the songs don’t even reach the two-minute mark. The fast, thick chords; dirty production; and impossibly catchy melodies led to inescapable Ramones comparisons.
It was the sort of punk music that made you forget that Blink-182 ever existed. Hell, it made you forget that the ’80s ever happened.
But the band comes by this sound honestly.
“It’s definitely just because that’s how we all grew up,” Friend said, explaining that he learned the bass playing along with Ramones records. “And years later, I’m playing on records that sound like Ramones records.”
He said it’s a sound that, by this point, is inescapable for him.
“No matter what I do, even if I really tried to make like a pianopop album or something like that, it would always just come out punk,” he said. “There’s a filter that’s in our bodies that just wouldn’t let us do anything different.”
Though their newest album, 2013’s Bras, retains certain undeniable punk aesthetics, there has been a distinct change. Sure, Neeley still shouts “Hey!” as if he were singing the intro to “Blitzkrieg Bop.” But a Bad Sports song like “Free Spirit” hearkens back more to Lou Reed than anything.
This might have to do with the fact that the members of the band have been widening the breadth of the music they listen to.
“Over the past couple years, we’ve all been really good about researching everything and just finding old records that we haven’t heard before,” Friend said, “really being students of the game.”
He pointed to ’70s European band Ivy Green, British band Blitz and the late ’70s Australian band The Saints.
The band’s growth is certainly evident, but the slowed-down version of their sound might not last long.
“I think our next album’s probably going to be a lot faster,” Friend said.