UK shoegazers bdrmm just released their second album, I Don't Know, which is also their first for Mogwai's Rock Action Records. With this one, they've grown beyond the standard signifiers of the genre and have figured out their own sound, incorporating elements of dance music, krautrock, trip hop and post-rock. It's leaps and bounds over their very good 2020 debut and you can listen to the whole thing below.
We asked the band to tell us more about the album, and guitarist/vocalist Ryan Smith -- who has come into his own as a singer on this one -- takes us through all eight songs on the album, along the way telling stories about touring with Mogwai, the pandemic, the influence of Slowdive, Duster and Radiohead, and more. Read that below.
bdrmm - 'I Don't Know' Track-by-Track
Alps was written whilst on tour with Mogwai. We were driving through the Swiss Alps (hence the title) and I was inspired by a mix by Thom Yorke for CRACK Magazine. I started with the percussion and went from there. The theme of the track is one of despair. While driving through such a beautiful place, but still being plagued by the constant feed of negative news coming through from back home. I don’t think we’d ever regard ourselves as a political band, but it’s hard not to escape the constant depression that has been imposed on this country this year, and how I feel we’re all just trying to cope but are seemingly forever moving backwards.
Be Careful was written during the pandemic. (I said I’d never write the P word again, but for honesty's sake). I had set up a little studio in the back of my garden and would often take myself there on evenings with numerous bottles of wine. Inspired by Portishead, and the bassline owes itself to Radiohead’s Nude, this track just came so naturally. It’s about taking care of yourself and realising when you need to change. I’ve been guilty of indulging too much and I definitely noticed myself becoming somebody I don’t like. When realising that, it felt important. Trying to be a better person is hard when you don’t know you’re doing something wrong.
IT'S JUST A BIT OF BLOOD
Most people who have seen us tour will recognise this track as ‘Picky New’, essentially based on its guitar picking introduction and that it was a new song at the time. The more we played it, the more we realised it was becoming something special, and an integral part of our set. It stems from my recent mental health awareness. I’d become depressed and very social anxious, I really felt like I had changed and didn’t know who I was. I am lucky enough to be surrounded by 3 of my brothers within this band (one literally by blood) and have always been able to be myself with them. I guess it’s just about realising what you have and remembering that when you can’t see it.
WE FALL APART
We Fall Apart is probably one of the last tracks that was written for the album. It is a nod to our admiration of Krautrock. We have always been huge fans of NEU! and Can, and I think that kind of got touched on with the first record, but we wanted to try and make something as pure as organic as it seemed they did. Stripping back the effects and trying to make it as real as possible. The vocals are about a relationship. Trying and trying to make something work and it still failing. You want it to happen so much that sometimes you don’t realise that it’s impossible. It’s important to realise that moment.
This is another one of those tracks that was written on the road during the Mogwai tour. The piano parts were created using generative processing in the van, inspired by Brian Eno experiments with the delay line method in his Ambient series. I defined the parameters and then glued my favourite parts together into a cohesive piece that I subsequently learnt and recorded on the piano back at The Nave. Similarly, I sampled some drum recording that Conor did from the “Be Careful” sessions and reworked the takes into a 16-bar phrase, inspired by Boards of Canada and DJ Shadow. Writing for the band is something I’ve always wanted to do, yet constantly dissuaded myself from. Ryan, Conor and Joe were all so supportive and encouraging during this period so it’s appearance is owed to them.
This was the final song to be finished on the record, and to be fair, it nearly didn’t make it. We started and stopped on it so many times it seemed like it was doomed, but the final week, we approached it in a completely different way and it’s now become one of our favourites on the record. This track is about reflection. I was technically homeless when I was in the midst of recording this record, and I was going through a tough time internally. Living in the mistakes that you’ve made in the past and falling into the same situations. Sometimes you don’t know when something is wrong, but when you come out of the other end, it’s good to reflect on that time to not let it happen again.
I remember the exact day that we wrote this track. We were in the practise room, and I just started playing the first 2 chords, incorporating the bend as if I was literally winking at Kevin Shields, and Conor just looked at me like, “This is the one”. I think we finished the track on that day. It’s amazing when those moments happen, and it reminds you of why you do this. It’s so obviously the Shoegaze adoration within us.
A FINAL MOVEMENT
This track has been flying around for years. When I first wrote it, it was influenced by Duster, it was a VERY slow-core, emphasis on the bending of the notes. From there, it’s taking many forms, when we performed it live, under the moniker ‘Drug’, it was definitely indebted to Slowdive’s cover of Golden Hair, but from there it’s taking a brand new route. Being avid fans of Oneohtrix Point Never, the opening chords are inspired by that of Chrome County. The way they come in just grab you instantly, and as soon as Jordan opens the track, I know the track has reached its natural home. The lyrics come from a place of understanding. It’s a very cathartic track and to finally release it, and to close the album with it, feels very special. It’s been a long journey, but it’s good to finally be here.
BDRMM - 2023 TOUR DATES
Friday 30th - Leeds - Jumbo Records
Saturday 1st - London - Rough Trade East (SOLD OUT)
Sunday 2nd - Brighton - Resident Records
Monday 3rd - Bristol - Rough Trade
Tuesday 4th - Nottingham - Rough Trade
Wednesday 5th - Monorail - Glasgow
Wednesday 23rd - Genoa, Italy - Mojotic Festival
Saturday 2nd - Manchester - Manchester Psych Fest
Sunday 3rd Edinburgh - Edinburgh Psych Fest
Tuesday 17th - Belgium, Bruges - Cactus Club
Wednesday 18th - Tourcoing, France - Le Grand Mix
Thursday 19th - Belgium, Antwerp - Trix Bar
Friday 20th - Netherlands, Rotterdam - Left of the Dial
Saturday 21st - Netherlands, Rotterdam - Left of the Dial
Monday 23rd - Germany, Hamburg - Molotow
Tuesday 24th - Denmark, Copenhagen - Loppen
Wednesday 25th - Sweden, Stockholm - Hus 7
Thursday 26th - Sweden, Malmo - Plan B
Sunday 28th - Germany, Dresden - Kleinvieh Klub
Tuesday 30th - Germany, Berlin - Privatclub
Wednesday 31st - Germany, Cologne - Helios37
Thursday 1st - Milan, Italy - Arci Bellezza
Friday 2nd - Bologna, Italy - Covo Club
Saturday 3rd - France, Paris - Point Ephemere
Sunday 4th - Netherlands, Amsterdam - Paradiso
Monday 5th - Netherlands, Nijmegen - Merleyn
Friday 12th - Glasgow - The Classic Grand
Monday 13th - Birmingham - The Hare and Hounds
Tuesday 14th - Salford - The White Hotel (SOLD OUT)
Wednesday 15th - Nottingham - Bodega
Thursday 16th - Leeds - Stylus
Saturday 18th - Cardiff - Clwb Ifor Bach
Sunday 19th - Bristol - Thekla
Monday 20th - London - Scala
Wednesday 22nd - Cambridge - Mash
Thursday 23rd - Bedford - Esquires
Friday 24th - Brighton - Patterns
Sunday 26th - Dublin - The Button Factory