This past June, Bad Cop/Bad Cop released their debut album on Fat Wreck Chords, called Not Sorry. We caught up with the band last month when they played House of Blues Chicago as part of the Fat Wrecked for 25 Years tour. We spoke with singer/guitarist Jennie Cotterill and talked about how the group got its start, as well as what it was like recording their new record. We also discussed Bad Cop/Bad Cop’s unique sound, which combines three-part vocal harmonies, West Coast ‘90s punk and a relentless supply of energy. Additionally, we conversed about the lack of female musicians in punk rock today, the band’s plans for this fall/winter and more.
Bill – How and when did Bad Cop/Bad Cop form?
Jennie – It was about four years ago. It was kind of an experiment where we as girls in bands locally were like, “Let’s just see what happens when we play together.” It was actually the idea of Stacey, (singer/guitarist Stacey Dee) and our original bass player Jen. They were in a bunch of good bands together for a long time. They met Myra, (drummer Myra Gallarza) at a party and by then I was playing with them acoustically and from there it was just, “Let’s see how it goes!” Then Jen left the band and we got Linh, (bassist/singer Linh Le) and that’s when everybody started to kind of gel a little bit better.
Bill – Your band released its debut EP last year on Fat Wreck Chords. What transpired that led to you guys teaming up with the label?
Jennie – Stacey had been working on Home Street Home, (a Broadway musical) with Mike, (NOFX singer/bassist & Fat Wreck Chords owner Fat Mike) and she is not going to necessarily tell people to listen to her music. So we were kind of teasing her, like “What do mean you’re going to go hang out with Fat Mike again and record for another week and you’re not going to take our record?” We were just kind of busting her chops. I think she invited Soma, Mike’s girlfriend, to come see us. We had this really fun show in San Francisco called Lilith Bear that we were playing. It was like this fun, bearded drag show and us. It’s this small, weird community that you’d want to check out. So they came and had fun and we had a record pretty much already done. Mike was like, “What do you got? Let’s hear it.” Even then, we weren’t thinking anything was going to happen, but it did.
Bill – This June you released your first album, Not Sorry. What was it like recording with Davey Warsop at Hurley Studios?
Jennie – He is an angel. He’s wonderful and he’s one of my favorite human beings in the world. He helped us be a better band. He’s done three records with us and his input is invaluable. And he’s ridiculously handsome and just so charming and fun and we love him. He’s worked with a lot of great bands and I think he might actually be leaving Hurley, so if I could plug him as much as possible that would be great, (laughs).
Bill – Fat Mike produced Not Sorry. Was it at all intimidating working with him on the record?
Jennie – Yeah, I mean when you’ve followed someone’s music and career and admired what they’ve done with everything ever. I can’t separate the way that I write music and think about music from what he’s put out, you know? It was really kind of surreal, but he’s so efficient and just wonderful and quick. I love that. There’s no pussyfooting around, (laughs). It wasn’t like, “Could you maybe drop that one chord or change this word?” He’s like, “No. This is garbage. Next song. What else you got?” He just made quick changes that made everything a lot stronger. It was wonderful.
Bill – You guys are influenced by ‘90s punk, but you also incorporate your own contemporary styles. How would you describe your sound?
Jennie – That’s hard. I guess it’s kind of similar to Face to Face with all the harmonies going on. It’s really a mixture of everyone’s personal music tastes and backgrounds, and when you know the recipe it makes a lot of sense. Myra’s into rock ‘n’ roll, Linh’s into metal, Stacey is Bay Area ‘90s punk rock. I grew up on Fat Wreck Chords and I kind of did my history backwards from there and got a different record collection.
Bill – Your songs typically feature a lot of vocal harmonies. Do you tend to base your songs around those or are they more added later in the songwriting process?
Jennie – Actually it was kind of Davey at Hurley Studios that encouraged us to focus on harmonies. We went in to do our first EP and we had these like 37-second songs without a chorus. He was like, “Guys, can I suggest something? Can we just add a chorus here? Because you can all sing.” He was right. You just have to kind of play up your own features. If we can all sing and harmonize we should be doing that. So now we kind of do and we try to set aside parts in each song for everybody and have something to sing and do and be featured in a way now that we know what we’ve got.
Bill – As a newer band, what’s it like to be a part of the Fat Wrecked for 25 Years tour?
Jennie – Unreal. It’s amazing. It’s the most exciting thing ever. I love every band on this tour and I have a lot of music by everybody. I’m loving toyGuitar; I love Jack’s, (singer/guitarist Jack Dalrymple) entire catalog. Swingin’ Utters was the first new record I ever bought when I was 15 years old. I lost my virginity to Strung Out. It’s just kind of crazy. It’s crazy to see that many people in the hallways backstage whose music I love and respect.
Bill – There seems to be a definite lack of female musicians in the punk rock scene today. What do you think are some of the primary reasons for this?
Jennie – I mean, historically it’s just been male-dominated and I think people expected it to be male-dominated. But where we’re playing, mostly southern California, there are so many girls playing. We almost never play shows without other women, like lots of other women on the bill. San Pedro actually is amazing. It’s all kinds of people, all kinds of ages, all genders, it’s amazing. So it doesn’t feel strange to us, but then when we leave town and we’re the only women playing it’s kind of odd. I think it’s just turning over right now, you know?
Bill – After finishing this tour, what does Bad Cop/Bad Cop have planned for the future?
Jennie – Well, we’re playing Fest in Gainesville, so there’s a lot of touring just to get there and back. And then we’ve really got no definite plans the rest of the year. That tour ends in mid November and then we’re probably going to start thinking about writing again. We’re kind of catching up with everything right now. The record came out back in June and we were really busy with that, but we’ll see what happens. Maybe this winter we’ll start working on some new stuff.