Story by Kendall Bistretzan
Photo by Will Geier
When local rock band Bad Animal had their first gig in the basement of Commonwealth, they weren’t expecting much. After all, it was their first live performance; would there even be more than eight people in the room?
According to the band, that first show had an astounding turnout, and as the group began to gain momentum and play larger venues, they’ve realized what makes a good show and the sacrifices that come along with it.
Bad Animal has been an influential part of the Calgary music scene over the last several years, but lead vocalist Ben Painter and guitarist Trevor Stoddart started making music together as teenagers. After three years of jamming, they recruited a few more members and Bad Animal was born.
The group today includes Painter, Stoddart, guitarist Sean Doherty and bassist Josh Saunders. Influenced by classics such as The Clash, Sex Pistols and The Beatles, this punchy, punk-garage band puts their heart and soul into creating music.
“We always loved bands that sparked that sort of, like, youthful punk-rock thing,” explains Painter.
For these rockers, creating music is a never-ending endeavour, and that’s all because of the space they use to create it.
“You need to see the house these guys live in,” says Doherty of his bandmates impressive home. “It’s like a mission critical, ‘Oh my God, we need to record something right now’ station.”
Saunders describes the house as the ultimate workplace: amps plugged in at every corner, drums taking up most of the jam space, and a mixing board plugged on his nightstand.
“The studio just kind of, like, amalgamated the whole house,” Saunders says with a grin.
And it’s a good thing, too – the band has some hefty goals as to how they want their music to evolve in the future. In fact, they’ve already undergone major changes within the last year. Formerly a group of five, Bad Animal lost three members due to life’s circumstances.
“We wanted to move forward and progress,” explains Painter, “which I feel like if you stay stagnant and try to write the same kind of thing for a single, album, record, it’s just gonna get boring.”
The loss of those members did not come without setbacks; after all, one person had a heavy hand in song writing. But Painter mentions that this was their chance to get experimental: try new melodies, fresh tones, and give every song they write individual attention.
One thing is expected to stay the same: the thrill behind seeing the group perform in concert. Bad Animal’s live performances are like snowflakes: no two are ever the same.
Painter and Stoddart explain how the band will aim to make each show a production and switch up the set with each gig. Bad Animal strives to offer their audiences performances unlike any rock show they’ve ever experienced.
“We want people to dance and just feel what we’re feeling on stage,” says Doherty with a smile. “We’ve had so much fun at rock shows our entire lives; we wanna make that happen every time we play.”
The group will be taking a break from live performances to record their second album in British Columbia, with renowned producer, Colin Stewart. It will be an immersive experience: 18 days on Vancouver Island to work and record, but, most importantly, to grow as artists.
“We’re really putting all of our eggs in one basket having a professional producer take a look at our songs and maybe teach us,” Painter explains. “We’re really looking forward to it.”
“We don’t look to move one step forward,” adds Doherty. “We’re gonna take ten steps every time.”
Though there is no official release date yet, Bad Animal’s new album will be out later this year, accompanied by a release party, which Painter is certain will be their best show yet.