New York has a fair claim to being the home of punk, with the likes of Ramones, Blondie and Lou Reed pioneering the genre from the famous east-coast city. Now picking up the mantle are Long Island rockers Bad Mary, who harness that 70s vibe with a modern twist in their energetic, fast-paced punk.
Bad Mary began life as an offshoot of guitarist David Henderson putting together bands for end of term parties for his students at Hofstra University. One year it was Amanda Mac on vocals, Rory Levin on drums and Mike Staub, David, and Andrew Huber trading off on guitar and bass – they realised they were all going to stick around once they graduated and stayed together.
In the beginning, it was all covers in the guise of Madame-X, named after a painting David liked, in bars and parties out on Long Island and in NYC. But soon enough Andrew got really busy in the city, Rory got a job down in Florida at Disney and the band was out a drummer and guitar/bassist. In stepped Amanda’s dad, Bill Mac, who had been playing drums for longer than most of the band had been alive, Mike settled on bass and David on guitar – and Bad Mary was born.
We spoke to David this week to find out more and, starting with the band name, he said: “As we got more popular we started seeing some really weird ‘likes’ on Facebook and realised that Madame-X was the name of a really popular film in the Philippines, an 80s metal band, a club in New York and a whole bunch of other things too. Before we released any music we had to come up with a better and unique name. Oh my god, what a process.
“I don’t remember how long it took, but every time we though of something cool we’d Google to see if another band had it (almost everything!) or if the .com was still open (very important!). We had a few rules: 1. It needed to ‘sound’ like a punk band 2. It needed to not take itself too seriously 3. No other band, or anything really, could be using it already 4. You needed to be able to shout it across a parking lot and someone could understand you!”
“So many names were tried, even logos made, then one day I thought of it while driving to work and called Mike and Amanda. Mike liked it right away, but it was like 6:45am and Amanda was pissed she’d been woken up so she hated it. But by the end of the day it had stuck! I drew the logo over the next week or so with input from everyone (she had an evil grin at one point, oh, and a chainsaw!), so it doesn’t really mean anything – except it’s fun and Mary definitely has an attitude!”
That attitude definitely comes across in the Bad Mary sound. Last year’s debut album Better Days is chocked full of energetic punky angst, edgy vocals and big riffs that’ll have you nodding your head along and dancing around in appreciation, including the excellent Hangover, Space Girl and Ninja.
Check out Space Girl for yourself in the live video below:
“The NY music scene is a mixed bag. We have a good family of bands we play with a lot that hit all different parts of the punk spectrum: punk, ska, hardcore to name a few. There’s a scene here, you just need to know where to find it. It’s not as easy as visiting the lower east side, but it’s there. It’s in small clubs in Brooklyn or music halls on Long Island, basements in Manhattan. It’s bubbling beneath the surface, and it’s very much there.”
Bad Mary are planning to play as many festivals as possible this year, with aspirations to play Manchester Punk Fest and Punk Rock Holiday, in Slovenia, next year. They’re also working their next EP, with the songs ready to go and record.