LA punks Bad Cop/Bad Cop give track-by-track breakdown of powerful new LP ‘The Ride’
Since the early 2010s, LA's Bad Cop/Bad Cop have been waving the flag for catchy, driving, political punk that brings you right back to the genre's explosive '90s era but sounds fresh today too. With their third album The Ride, which comes out Friday (6/19) via Fat Wreck Chords (pre-order) but is streaming in full now, they just may have written their best record yet.
Comparing the album to its 2017 predecessor Warriors, singer/guitarist Jennie Cotterill told AltPress that Warriors "was like a reaction to a lot of things. And I think this album is more like a response than a reaction." She adds, "I learned a lot about [how] to respond to things, what’s productive and owning everything instead of thinking that any problem I have might be the other person."
We spoke to the band over email, and they gave us a track-by-track breakdown of every song on the album. They talked about the musical influence of artists like Elvis Costello, Joe Jackson, The Police, XTC, and The Jam; and the lyrical influence of singer/guitarist Stacey Dee's breast cancer diagnosis, America's oppressive immigration laws, bell hooks, dreams, an eye-rolling comment by an ex-boyfriend, and a lot more. It's very worth a read, and you can do just that as you stream this killer new album in the YouTube playlist below...
Stacey Dee: Michael (Happoldt) came into my life and opened me up musically. He started getting me to listen to old stuff like Elvis Costello and Joe Jackson, The Police, XTC, The Jam.... stuff from London 1977-1979. He sent me a music chart with new chords to play. "Reggae chords," and I couldn't stop playing them when we were on tour with Frank Turner. The music felt revolutionary. I was so inspired and feeling revolutionary. When we got home from tour, I reread the book The Four Agreements, and was inspired to put the lyrics together. The song is about how we, as humans, have the power to choose the kind of life we want. To be anything we want in this life, no matter the circumstance or where we come from, that we can change our reality. That we can be powerful and happy just by being mindful of the words we choose to describe ourselves and by taking accountability. I truly live my life by these lyrics. We are the creators!
2. "Certain Kind of Monster"
Linh Le: When I wrote this, it was in direct response to a video I saw of a family that was being raided by ICE. Watching that video made my heart sink. And as much anger and hatred I have for ICE, and I wrote this song as if I were talking to an ICE agent. I've got to believe that people can change, and what is being an ICE agent? It's just a job, and you don't need to work a job that calls for these kinds of actions. If we can try and change their minds about their positions, then maybe it'll help steer the system in the right direction.
3. "Take My Call"
Jennie Cotterill: I started working on this as an acoustic/non-Bad Cop song last year. I wanted to focus my contributions to the album around themes of self-work, empathy, and accountability. It was put forward and picked up during production, and I suppose it still carries those threads: looking honestly and fully at mistakes, without qualifications or excuses. The song is a sincere apology and ownership of wrongdoing that comes after prolonged processing. I would love to start a larger conversation on how to apologize and come back from mistakes, to normalize that process instead of people flexing and insisting they're right or hiding/denying wrongdoing. If you really want to fix something—not just make it go away—you've gotta look at all the parts and see what's yours to own and resolve. This is all news to me, and I'm just happy to share it with anyone who doesn't already know. Real resolution can only come from honesty and ownership
4. "Simple Girl"
Stacey Dee: I had written some of the chords for “Simple Girl” almost 20 years ago. And when writing the song for the record, had rewritten the lyrics a few times. After a conversation and sort of breakup, I was told that "I had a complicated life, and the next woman "my guy" was going to be with would be simple," inspired me to write these lyrics. A true declaration of how I was never going to be Simple and That I was proud of who I was and what I have become. I've been through hell and come out the other end with all the good, bad and indifferent. And I am good enough for him and for anyone I choose to love. Including myself!
Stacey Dee: I found out I had breast cancer in Dec 2018, a few months after we got off of tour with Frank Turner. Again, I had written this song originally to be about how I was feeling restless and wanted new experiences in my life. Fat Mike thought it was just okay and said what about "Breastless" then apologized as he was joking. And I said... wait... if I do that right, it could be REALLY good. So I jumped in and started telling the story of my journey with breast cancer. It was terrifying. Scary. I was filled with shame and guilt, and fear. But I also felt connected to so many other women who have gone through it too. And even my grandma who died of it when she was only 62. Like the lyric... no one should ever feel embarrassed about having breast cancer or in losing their breasts or parts of their breast as I did. The song still makes me cry thinking about it all—heavy stuff.
6. "Perpetual Motion Machine"
Jennie Cotterill: This is the result of some deep digging self-work, radical empathy, wanting love, and happiness for others despite any differences or transgressions. It's about accepting control over one's life and happiness, identifying self-destructive practices like ingratitude, shame, blame, and self-made impotence. If you can find love in yourself and work from THAT place, you are unstoppable and unsinkable. The musical inspiration for the song came from two months on tour with Sam Coffey and the Iron Lungs' extra tasty '70s rock'n'roll vibes. I'd never considered folding that into my song-writing, but it's infectious and tons of fun. Vocally, I was inspired by Sabrina Ellis (most notably of A Giant Dog and Sweet Spirit.) This person's performances and delivery are so incredibly fluid and creative. After listening to their work on heavy rotation and getting to see them live, I had to acknowledge the imaginary limitations and restraints I had given myself. What better song to blow all that up than one about liberation from self-imposed psychic oppression?
Stacey Dee: This was one of those songs as a songwriter that woke me up out of my sleep. It was 3, or 4 am. I woke up and heard in my head, "my community is always there for me." I grabbed a guitar and wrote it then and there. The first round of lyrics was cheesy - so I dug in and wrote it about my friends. We recorded gang vocals on my birthday, where we had The Bombpops, Fat Mike, Johnny, Yotam, AJ, and so many other friends singing on the song. Even had Eric Melvin scream the last lyrics "everything I need" to finish it all out. Such a fun song. It's a testament to our friends and the people that have always supported me.
8. "Pursuit of Liberty"
Linh Le: "Pursuit of Liberty” comes from trying to understand why refugees have to do what they do to seek a second chance. The experiences that my family did have to face have helped mold me into the person that I am today. It's taught me a lot about what people would put themselves through to get themselves to a place for a second chance. I don't think I'll ever know what it's like to flee my country to survive through the obstacles to get to my destination while watching other people die trying to do the same thing. But I'm forever grateful that my family got the help they needed eventually. There are a lot of people in the same predicament that aren't so lucky, and I don't understand why. What made my family so different from others that are now being held in cages or deported?
9. "The Mirage"
Jennie Cotterill: “The Mirage” is based on a vivid existential dream I had near the end of 2018. I had been wound up, dissatisfied, and struggling with getting "there" –wherever that is and whatever that means. Overlooking the value of the exact place I stood: the present-- in search of some imagined goal or end. My subconscious served this up as an irrefutable wake-up call: there IS no "destination," only the ride. You can waste this trip on delusions of free will and MAKING IT, or you can look around and live it because that's all there is. Any imagined paradise or destination is a sham; all we have is this moment. Better get to living it.
In searching for a name for the album, The Ride seemed to be the umbrella under which all these songs fit: LIFE! The Human Experience. The ways we get twisted up and miss it, the misguided things we do to each other under the banner of Law, the temporality and fragility of the whole trip, learning to see and love and appreciate it for what it truly is.
10. "I Choose"
Stacey Dee: Again, this started out as a cheap little love song. I decided to change it when with Fat Mike and Johnny [Carey] during a recording day. Mike and I sat down to work out the structure and were singing the harmonies together; it was so fun. That's what is at the beginning of the song... I asked Mike if we should put a bridge in the song, and he said, "I think that's the song right there." Short! But the lyrics are powerful. "I'm not a victim of what happens to me,"... I genuinely believe that. Everything is a learning lesson, and bad shit happens to everyone. But how do you walk through it? I choose the way I walk through my life. I choose happiness. I choose to be strong. I choose to be someone in this life!
Jennie Cotterill: This song comes from frustration over people judging and criticizing other's lives and decisions, popular on (but not limited to) social media. It's arrogant to think one's opinion about another's decisions is in any way relevant, and it's lazy to spend this life complaining about things that do not affect you in any way. This is a bullshit hobby used instead of really living and making decisions that matter. Mind your own business, and make something you DO like out of your own life. Considering all the REAL things going on that deserve attention, I just have no patience for it. Even worse than just a waste of time and energy: it's psychic pollution. Get that trash out of my face and clean it up!
Musically, I love that this song features lead vocals by all three vocalists. Which not only makes it an excellent choice for a fast soundcheck, but kind of plays on the dialogue aspect of "gossip." Also apparently worth explaining: "Chismé" is the Spanish word for gossip. Living in the part of the US that was once Mexico, there is a marriage of the two languages that I forgot is specific to this region. Now you know. Use it in a sentence today!
12. "Sing With Me"
Jennie Cotterill: Stylistically, I never imagined this song would make it onto the record — Lucky for me, Mike and Johnny saw something they liked in there and took it in a more theatrical direction (muscles they have been flexing on Home Street Home together for years). “Sing With Me” is an open invitation to the empowerment and freedom found in creative expression. Our collective mental health crisis is directly linked to the devaluation of art and music. Both of which are coping mechanisms and sources of self-love that can cost nothing and give so much: self-esteem, catharsis, an opportunity to connect with others, a community, hope... The minimization and even removal of these programs in schools seem misguided at best—and at worst, another cruel method of oppression. I was very inspired by bell hooks' delivery in Feminism Is For Everybody: keep it clear and simple if you really want to proselytize. Make it inviting and easy to understand. From there, people can take those ideas and build on them. Just like the songs I played when first learning to play the guitar.
It's an on-ramp and a way to get to know yourself and have fun (actually super important to quality of life btw). It's the same intention found in art therapy programs for incarcerated people, in the Rock and Roll Camp for Girls, in the Sidewalk Project bringing art supplies and instruments to skid row.