Vampires can be inspirational—at least within the context of “Spooky,” a track from Movie Night, the new EP from the Philadelphia rock group Full Bush. Movie Night, which is a November release from Brutal Panda Records, smoothly shifts from mellow rock through blasting punk and beyond, with passionate dynamics and fist-pumping intensity among the key elements defining this journey. And on “Spooky,” the vampire from 2014’s A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night occupies the spotlight.

“Her grin so wide/ Eyes with more secrets to hide/ Always a token on her chest with pride,” the song says, adding: “I wanna be like her.”

The lyrics for that track were composed by the band’s drummer, Ade, who explains that she was intrigued by the power to take on abusers reflected by the vampire in the 2014 film.

The theme is a bracing rush—vampires have often proven somehow captivating after all, and “Spooky” dives into one of the underlying factors. That’s the same kind of energy that underlies the entirety of Movie Night and the rest of the music from Full Bush.

More than once, Movie Night suddenly bursts into a cascade of startling—and exciting—ferocity, making the band’s musical rooting clear. The band express life-affirming confidence throughout their music, which often bounds ahead at an exhilarating pace. When the songs slow down, the compositions still evoke a sense of strength, like a sonic middle finger to those who’d impose shame for merely feeling your feelings. Even within the rock palette from which Full Bush draw, the band also sound danceable—the group’s swaggering bass lines are impressive, and Movie Night proves richly catchy.

In short: Full Bush sound like they’re performing punk (or whatever exactly one might call it, genre labels be damned) in a manner in which so many push for it to be played, which is an ideal not always reached. The members of Full Bush, Ade explains, are excited by connecting with their community and the interlocking support that can be found there. The band want “to not be pigeonholed,” the drummer says, “And that’s our way of doing that. Just being like, let’s just do whatever the fuck we want to do and call it a fuckin’ day.”

Below, check out more of what Ade has to say about the creation of Movie Night, including learning to play the drums on the fly, the sense of community within Philadelphia music circles, vampires, and why some of those describing music need to broaden their mental horizons.

Since Full Bush appear to be on the newer side in the grand scheme of things, how has the creative process tended to take shape for y’all, particularly in the context of this latest release?

When we first started as a band, I think it was just excitement of wanting to make music, and it was basically, like, four very different people. I was learning how to play drums, and our bassist was learning at the same time, and our lead singer and our guitarist had been playing since they were little. So, it was both trying to have a good time, and also waiting for me and our bassist to kind of figure out what we were doing, which is always a blast. I think for me and our bassist, we were like, “Ah fuck; they’re really fuckin’ good; what are we doing? I hope we don’t fuck this up for them.”

And then, now, I think with the newer stuff that we have, it changed because being in a band really does accelerate your skills. You’re put on the spot; you kind of don’t really have a choice but to kind of figure it out, especially when you have to play live music. And, with our newer stuff, there was a lot more thought that went into it. We would bring in songs that we were inspired by, and it would be like, “OK, I really like this riff; let’s try and emulate it.” But then it would be what we call Full Bush-ing it, which is basically like, how heavy can we get the bass that we can almost destroy the amp?

There’s certain things that we like to do. We actually just try and think about things a lot more, and I think that comes across because everything feels more unified, and it feels more expansive, and the lyrics make more sense, and it’s not just us saying “Fuck you!” every two seconds—which is fine. It just feels a lot more cohesive, and we have a general idea of what we want to do moving forward, versus before, where it was kind of getting our feet wet.

Are there particular things that come to mind that you’re interested in exploring next as a band?

We all listen to very different music, but I would say collectively, we’re really into metal, a lot of like sludgy metal, punk—but also, trying to combine that with our individual tastes. So,  for me, I grew up with hip-hop, like Raekwon, Capone-N-Noreaga, R ’n’ B music, and then also in college, most of my good friends were in hardcore bands and grindcore bands, and then also going to DIY, experimental shows. There’s also a lot of ‘90s alternative music going on there, and then lots of ‘80s pop music as well.

We just have our shit all over the place, and our thing is really about, how can we kind of marry all the things that we like to do? What we’re trying to do is just, what makes us feel good? What do we really like to listen to? What do we like to rage to? For example, our title track, “Movie Night,” is like both a hardcore song, but also very jazzy at the same time, and that’s kind of what we really like to do, which is, what feels really fucking good right now?

And then, I remember I was listening to Refused on the way to band practice, and there’s this one song at the end, and he’s just screaming the same thing over, and over, and over. And I was like, “We need to do that. I was like, “Kate, just do this.” And they were like, “Fuck yeah, we’re going to do this—this is great.” And it felt good.

It’s just one of those things where we always come in, and we’re like, fuck, this part sounds really fucking good. How can we make it into our style? Because our thing is also, we want to keep doing what we’re doing as women and non-binary people in a band who make music. We kind of just want to not be pigeonholed, and that’s our way of doing that. Just being like, let’s just do whatever the fuck we want to do and call it a fuckin’ day.

So, within this record, is there something particular that comes to mind sound-wise that you really wanted to touch upon within these songs?

The record is really about a lot of growing up and heartbreak and internal introspection, and so we wanted that to be the vibe—barring the first song, which is I basically wrote it watching a vampire movie, but essentially, the overall feeling is just trying to get that across—the feelings that we were feeling at the time of writing the lyrics because we all wrote at least one song.

I wrote two on the album, so we all wanted it to be very expansive, and also just like a little bit of gothiness to it, a little bit of grunginess to it, and just really kind of taking your time with going through a story, essentially, that we’re telling, and to have you feel that.

I was watching that Iranian vampire movie, A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night. And it’s so good. I was like, I love the movie. And I just thought the woman in there was just fucking cool as shit, when she’s like, “Oh, you’re an asshole; I’m going to kill you now. And just thinking about what that would be like in reality, what kind of power you would have, especially as a woman, you have this power of seeing all this fucked up shit happening to other people. And how can you make sure that you create this safe space for someone else to make sure they know that person’s never going to fuck with you again?

Branching out a bit, how has your experience been connecting with a local music community around Philly? It sounds positive.

For sure, yeah. That’s, I think, the beauty of Philly, and I’ve only really experienced this in North Carolina, where I was also really connected with the DIY scene down there with like, Network of Terror, and the Backdoor Skate Shop, where the owners used to do a lot of punk shows at their house and also at the state shop.

The only other place I’ve ever really been to is Philly that has that same connection with the community. In Philly, all the artists and even people here are so supportive of each other. There’s never really any like, “Fuck you, I’m playing this show; you go over there.”

People are always trying to pull each other up. Unless someone is truly an asshole, everyone really tries to help each other and promote them or give voice lessons, guitar lessons, drum lessons, whatever it might be. We really do talk to each other about what we’re doing to kind of help influence what we’re all going to do. And so, it’s really great to be at a show and be like, “Oh, hey. So, I’ve been a huge fan of yours forever, and you’re at my little shitty punk show. This is great and very awkward.”

But, it’s like, that shit happens all the fucking time in Philly. And it’s because I feel like there’s just this massive ego death. Like people don’t really do that kind of shit here, and it’s really nice to see.

Would you say that, for y’all as a band, the live show experience figures prominently? For instance, do you write with an eye towards things going over well live?

I think our thing is more like, if we aren’t pumped when we are playing it at practice, we chuck it. Because if we’re not pumped about it, we know no one’s going to be pumped about it. And we’ve had a few songs, where we were unsure, and then we still played it, and we were like, “We should have just listened to ourselves. At our shows, we’re always flailing around and shit.

So, it’s always going to be a good time, any time anyone goes to our shows. And so, it’s not about what it’s going to sound like live, which, I mean, now we’re trying to create what that’s going to be like more for people. If we’re not pumped about it, when we’re playing it in rehearsals, then we just say: fuck it and move on.

Looking back for a moment, what is your past experience with this sort of music like?

Everyone always looks at me like, “What the fuck is your life?” Because honestly, like, my best friends—North Carolina is, like, a massive DIY scene. Where I went to college was where Future Islands came out of, Valient Thorr, you got Maylene and the Sons of Disaster, He is Legend—so lots of like, Southern metal, punk. That’s the scene I grew up in—electronic and punk, and, like, the dubstep would come through all the fucking time.

My experience is, like, the flip side. It was like, booking and going to those shows where [some of] the best sets are climbing up and throwing all the amps at the audience and shit. The Kickass in North Carolina, who are almost like a speed punk, metal band—their drummer also would play back-to-back in his electronic dance band. That’s the shit I came out of.

Is there anything else you’d like to share?

We’re just a bunch of really weird, random people who came together because we were all just looking for something to do, and we kind of just found each other, which is really wonderful. And for how different the four of us are from our backgrounds, I think we’re creating something that’s really fucking cool, and especially something I feel like is not really happening in Philly. Not to sound egotistical, but we don’t really hear anything that sounds like us right now, which is also a pretty cool feeling and reminds me a lot of the DIY artists I grew up listening to and going to their shows.

And we’re really trying to push forward in that with creating more spaces for people who don’t usually see themselves in that way. I know for me personally—I, as a Black drummer, a Black woman drummer, I didn’t really. I loved all the types of music, but I never really saw a lot of people that looked like me when I was going to shows or anything like that. And for me, it was encouragement from all the people around me. And now I go to shows, and I see a lot of other women.

A lot of moms come up to me because they saw a Black person on the show, and they’re like, “Oh, great, now I’m going to go buy my daughter a drum kit.” That happens all the fucking time. Or just people who are like, “Oh, I didn’t think a woman could play drums.” I’m like, why not? Sheila E.—come on now! Just trying to create spaces for people to be like, “Hey, you want to create shit?” Especially in the rock scene.

So, one of our big initiatives right now is, we’re trying to find a fifth member actually who is not a white, cis man to join our band, to be a guitarist, because we want to create that space for somebody. And we’re going to take our time to find that person, not just for an expansive sound, but just to find a person of color to just kind of jump in and try something new for themselves and actually empower themselves to do something

We’re reaching out to different people in the community, saying, “Hey, we noticed that you have something that you’ve been working on. Do you want to come and work on the song with us and try something new and different?

“It’s just about creating space for other people and also pushing this idea of: if you see a bunch of people who look like women, don’t just classify them as fucking riot grrrl. We hate that shit. Like, use your words; expand your mind; expand your brain about sounds and descriptors of people and what they’re trying to do, and just be open to a new experience, and don’t just be like, “Oh, they’re a bunch of chicks onstage.” We want everyone to have fun and have a good time.

Listen to “Movie Night” here:

For more from Full Bush, find them on Facebook, Instagram, and Bandcamp.

Photo courtesy of Full Bush and UV Lucas

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