It’s 6 o’clock on a Friday evening in the centre of Manchester. Typically grey and windy, I was on my way to interviewing Glaswegian punks Baby Strange. As I reached tonight’s venue, I was greeted by frontman Johnny Madden. Wearing a black beanie and a dark blue denim jacket, Madden was in high spirits. This came as no surprise, seeing as they’ve just released their stellar debut album to great reviews. As we all bundled into the back of their tour van, we were surrounded by copious amounts of Asahi Lager and cans of Irn Bru – with the reason for the former being a story for another day.
Despite only just getting their debut out the door, Baby Strange are no new kids on the block. Forming in 2012, Want It Need It has been a long time coming. “We’ve had so many conversations about the album and it got to the point where we were like ‘is this ever gonna happen?’” Johnny says. “So to actually have it out now is a pretty amazing feeling.” My first experience of the trio was back in 2013, when they supported Swim Deep at Manchester’s Deaf Institute. Even though they only had a handful of tracks back then, an album was already on the cards. “Maybe not at the very start, but when we put out this first singles we thought ‘cool, this could probably become something else’” ponders Johnny.
Clocking in at 10 tracks, Want It Need It almost comes across as a ‘best of’ for Baby Strange. In the sense that they’ve channelled everything into one project, showcasing Baby Strange at their core. “We did have newer songs that we’d written when we were finishing recording the album” recalls drummer Connaire. “But we thought we should make sure that all the singles were on the record.” Johnny adds “I think it captures what’s been going on in the last four years. We can now use them new songs for the next thing we do.”
A new track that actually made the album is Human. The band’s most driven and developed track to date, with it’s powerful and anthemic chorus, Johnny explains the song’s creation. “It was the last song we wrote when we were recording the album. We were working on some ideas but that was the one that seemed to stick.”
Baby Strange have gained a strong following of dedicated fans over the years, especially in Scotland. Their shows have always been known for being raucous and riot inducing, but I was curious to see if they had seen any differences with the crowds since the release of the record. “100%” says Johnny. Connaire jokingly adds “People actually know the right lyrics now.” Johnny develops his point by saying “People have actually bought it and feel more connected to it because they’ve got something to hold.”
In a recent interview with Dork, Baby Strange teased fans by saying that they’re planning on releasing an EP and their sophomore record in 2017. Bassist Aidan confirms this, “Yeah, that’s still the plan.” Johnny follows up “Especially the EP, looking to do that in February. Then put out the album, maybe the end of next year.” Connaire continues “In our heads, half of the newer songs we’ve actually done because of the stuff we didn’t put on the album. So there’s a tonne of new stuff already.” In terms of a new sound, Johnny states “I’ve seen people say that Human is already a slight change for us. But I’d say the rest of it still sounds like us.” Aidan then smirks, “If anything, I’d say it’s sounding even harder.”
As well as being Baby Strange, the trio also host a club night in Glasgow called Club Sabbath. At Club Sabbath, Baby Strange put on live and DJ sets from the best up-and-coming bands around. But should more bands be doing this? “Nah, we just want all the bands to come to us” says Johnny in jest. “But seriously, I think it’s important for bands to help each other out – especially bands who don’t know how to make the next step.” Reminiscing on past events, “Rascalton were really really good, and Declan Welsh was great” says Johnny.
In the past year, Baby Strange have been playing shows with fellow Glaswegian pals WHITE. I asked if the conversation of a collaboration has ever come up. “No, but it does seem like the only thing we have left to do with them” says Connaire. Johnny continues “I’m sure it would sound cool and stuff, but if we were to do a collaboration with someone, then it would probably have to be with someone we’ve dreamed about doing a collaboration with.” Then after an elongated pause, Johnny jokingly says “Not with those wee fannies.”
As we came to the end of the interview, conversation turned onto what else next year holds for Baby Strange. “Touring will be main thing, we don’t want any big gaps. Keep the ball rolling with this album” suggests Connaire. Following up, Johnny says “Yeah, play as many shows as possible. We’ll even play at your house or living rooms. If someone wants a show, we’ll do it.”