The Bad Ends will release their debut album, The Power and the Glory, on January 20th via New West Records. The nine-song set was produced by Mike Albanese of Maserati and The Bad Ends in the band’s hometown of Athens, GA, a city that remains a breeding ground for all things alternative (and is the famous homebase of B-52’s, R.E.M, Pylon, The Elephant Six Recording Co., and more). The Bad Ends feature Mike Mantione of 90s Athens favorites Five Eight on vocals & guitar, Dave Domizi on bass & vocals, Geoff Melkonian on keyboards & vocals, Christian Lopez on guitars & mandolin, and in his first full-time band since leaving R.E.M. in 1997, the legendary Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee Bill Berry on drums. The debut album was recorded, produced, mastered, and manufactured entirely in Athens, GA and also features appearances from Sean Dunn of Five Eight and John Neff of Drive-By Truckers.
Today, Stereogum premiered the video for the first single “All Your Friends Are Dying,” which was directed by Lance Bangs (Jackass, Sonic Youth, Pavement). The lead single seesaws between a sinewy melodic riff and melancholic hook topped off with a shout, which Mantione likens to “dancing at the foot of a grave.” Largely shot at Berry’s home in Athens, the video also features appearances by Mike Mills of R.E.M., Vanessa Briscoe Hay of Pylon, Bob Hay of the Squalls, Frank McDonald of The Glands, a namechecked Jody Stephens of Big Star, music producer David Barbe (also of Bob Mould’s Sugar), and many more. Mantione says “The song and the video are a celebration of Athens. The song is also a tribute to Big Star and The Glands. I'm really singing it to a friend who missed this special performance of the Big Star Third album and I'm warning my friend not to miss stuff because life doesn't last very long. The cameos were just the most fun. I got to drive around Athens with so many awesome friends. We were supposed to look glum, but once they got into the van with me, laughter would erupt. Athens had an incredible, beloved local vegetarian restaurant called The Grit which closed a day before we shot the last of the cameos. We do a drive-by of The Grit as sort of a farewell nod."
Initially working up songs for a possible solo album to be produced by Melkonian and featuring friends Domizi and Lopez, a chance encounter between Mantione and Berry led to the group of friends jamming. After one particularly fruitful session, Bill simply proclaimed, “I’m in a band again.” The brotherhood between the musicians crystallized with this declaration.
Mantione says, “It was one of the happiest times, but I found myself tuning into the suffering around me and wanting to help family through their hardest times. One afternoon, a close friend committed suicide. He left two sons fatherless. He was there for me years before, and he’d helped so many other people who wondered what happened. I doubled down on getting my life together and started writing and making music with a vengeance.”
Bill Berry says, “In very early 2017, a chance pedestrian encounter in downtown Athens found me face to face with one Mike Mantione. At that point it had been over 2 decades since I’d involved myself with the record making process and here was a man Peter Buck recently described as 'the unsung hero of Athens rock and roll' offering an opportunity to play in the game again. It was energizing to once again play with top notch musicians. This record is unique for me in that it was the only one, with which I was involved, that was written, rehearsed, recorded, produced and mastered in Athens!”
Domizi says, “Emotionally, being in this band felt like a fresh start in music. It made me feel like a kid again, which is a precious thing as you get older.” Melkonian adds, “To me, it feels like it felt when we were in our twenties, young, and hungry—like the old days of being in bands.” “Mantione says, “For me, it was a journey in and of itself to get to a nine-song record. This is geared like many of my favorite old albums. It’s to the point.”
The Bad Ends have also announced their first ever live show on Sunday, November 27th at Nuci’s Space in Athens, GA. Nuci’s Space is located in the shadow of Athens’ St. Mary’s Steeple, all that is left of the church constructed in 1871 which was the site of R.E.M.’s first-ever show on April 5th, 1980. The Bad Ends live debut will be a part of “Athens Uncovered: Steeple Edition,” a day-long festival “featuring over ten acts from Athens’ storied music scene history and present” commemorating Nuci’s Space, the R.E.M. Steeple, and their one-of-a-kind music scene. The Nuci’s Space “vision is to end the epidemic of suicide and to inspire a culture free of the stigma attached to brain illnesses and its sufferers by supporting a community-wide effort that focuses on education, prevention and access to appropriate treatment.” Please visit Nuci’s Space for more information.
“I was so grateful to be able to record this album with my friends,” Mantione smiles. “I’m a bit of a fanboy of Bill’s and pretty much so is everyone else in the band. One of the crazy things is to be in a room with Bill, watch him work, and hear stories about the albums that defined everything I know and love about music. I will never forget how excited I was on the first day of recording.”
Ultimately, The Bad Ends tell timeless stories of their own.
The Bad Ends' The Power and the Glory will be available across digital platforms, compact disc, and standard black vinyl. A limited to 750 Translucent Orange edition autographed by The Bad Ends will be available at Independent Retailers while a limited to 300 Hand-Poured Translucent Green edition autographed by The Bad Ends is available for pre-order NOW via NEW WEST RECORDS.