It was all one glorious accident. The indie pop project known as Bad Veins began as something of a low key solo project for multi-instrumentalist Benjamin Davis—an outlet for him to document his kitchen sink-symphonic, theatrical-pop compositions in the privacy of his bedroom studio. But when his musician friends came knocking in need of an opening band, he found himself onstage in front of thousands with a drummer and a 1973 reel-to-reel recorder.
By the third gig, Bad Veins were showcasing for indie labels in New York City. “When this whole thing started, I was just shooting for the moon trying to get the biggest sound possible. I never intended to play this music live,” Benjamin reveals.
The Cincinnati, Ohio-based project is best described as an opulent hodgepodge of sounds and aesthetics, including warm analog ambience, busted electronic textures, symphonic and choral bits, and stately arrangements and compositional conventions that recall indie Charlie And The Chocolate Factory as much as they recall the blissed-out orchestral indie-pop stylings of producer Dave Fridmann’s iconic work with Mercury Rev and the Flaming Lips.
Bad Veins has toured extensively with Two Door Cinema Club, Walk the Moon, Frightened Rabbit, St. Lucia and We Were Promised Jetpacks, to name a few. The Bad Veins' track "Gold and Warm" was featured on the Chronicle film soundtrack. Previously, the band was associated with the tastemaking indie label Dangerbird Records (Silversun Pickups, Fitz and The Tantrums, and Minus the Bear).
Davis began his musical explorations fumbling around on a guitar his father kept behind the couch and using his dad’s trusty reel-to-reel recorder as an amplifier. Eventually, his father, a Vietnam vet, gave him the reel-to-reel along with his sergeant army jacket. That gesture would be an artistically formative one in many ways. The military imagery to this day presides over Bad Veins with their use of megaphones for vocals, decaying warzone-esque imaging in sound and in vision, and in his fan-named appreciation community, Bad Veins Army.
The reel-to-reel became a key musical ally when Benjamin received that first call to play live. “I remember looking across the room and seeing that reel-to-reel and realizing I could dump all the tracks onto that, it opened up the possibility of playing this music live,” Benjamin recalls.
The most profound Bad Veins experience for Davis (and Irene) and their fans is the show. Onstage the band is cathartic, visceral, and vulnerable, stretching songs into sweaty testifying-at-church-on-Sunday rave-ups with the crowd egging them on. Not only is the show a chance to bring the music to life, it’s a chance for a community, the Bad Veins Army, of equals to convene. Benjamin says: “The connection means so much. There’s so much hope and positive emotions coming from all of this. These aren’t really fans, they’re our friends, and they’ve had such a huge effect on us as people and musicians.”
It was all one glorious accident. The indie pop project known as Bad Veins began as something of a low key solo project for multi-instrumentalist Benjamin Davis—an outlet for him to document his...
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