Dylan Owens is a different breed of punk. Bad Blonde’s twentysomething frontman is an anti-millennial –– confident with an air of positivity yet unfazed and unaltered by the typical narcissism and sense of entitlement that tend to define his generation. Along with his two bandmates, bassist Derek Harper and drummer Mike Surdel, Owens creates music that harks back to the glory days of grunge without sounding derivative or uninspired.
Bad Blonde was formed in the most modern-day fashion imaginable: via Craigslist. Surdel, a transplant from Connecticut, posted an ad on the site looking for like-minded musicians to jam with, and in no time Owens, who was also searching for collaborative partners, called him up. The two discussed their influences and each other’s artistic visions. Before the phone call was over, without actually knowing if the other guy could even play, the two decided to form a band.
A few days later, Owens and Surdel got together to run through some songs and feel things out.
“I went over to [Surdel’s] place, and we ran through [Nirvana’s] ‘Come as You Are’ without a hiccup, and we just knew,” Owens said. “After I left, I got about three minutes down the highway, and [Surdel] texted me asking what I wanted to name the band.”
Owens didn’t want to press his luck on Craiglist, so he reached out to longtime friend and former bandmate Harper. The trio assumed the moniker Homebrew and started writing songs and playing shows around town.
Owens and company decided it was time to make a record. They reached out to Grammy-nominated producer Chris “Frenchie” Smith (Jet, Toadies, Meat Puppets). The threesome’s debut recording, the EP Caffeine Daze, was laid down in four days in March at Smith’s studio, The Bubble, in Austin. Before heading back to Fort Worth after the recording session, the guys got a word of advice from Smith. The name Homebrew simply wasn’t going to work. It sounded more like a few dads who get together on the weekends to bash out Zeppelin covers than an original, grunge-inspired trio of young men.
“Bad Blonde” was birthed over beers at a taco shop. Sitting at Fuzzy’s one afternoon, Owens and Harper were messing around on their phones when they came across an old horror movie. Its name? Bad Blonde.
“We knew we had it,” Owens said.
When it dropped in June, Caffeine Daze received a lot of positive press and social media love. Before playing their first show with a new name, Bad Blonde was nominated for Best New Artist in the 2015 Fort Worth Weekly Music Awards.
While the EP is a great representation of the band’s sound, a live setting is where Bad Blonde shines. Huge Nirvana-esque riffs soar over a rumbling rhythm section, setting the backdrop for Owens’ whisper-to-a-howl vocals, with lyrics centered on the positive things in life.
“I like to remind people that no matter how fucked up things get, maybe you hate your job or whatever is going on in your life, it is OK to just say ‘fuck it’ and find a way through the negative,” Owens said. “We have all been through tough times, and there is no reason the songs we play or listen to have to remind us about how shitty things can be. If I can connect with one person in the crowd and make them realize that shit gets better, it makes it all worth it to me.”
The trio is writing songs for a second album and booking shows more frequently. Owens knows “making it” in the music business is not easy, but he isn’t going to let his lack of experience or limited resume slow him down.
“I’m a firm believer [that] if you want to do something, you’ve got to go out there and fucking get it,” he said. “No one is going to give anything to you.”
Sat, Jan 16, w/China Kills Girls and Moon Grave at The Grotto, 517 University Dr, FW. $7. 817-882-9331.[/box_info]