By Jason Sendaula
Boston-based Bad Rabbits have been playing together, in one form or another, for six years. Their original venture, The Eclectic Collective, was an indie hip hop group. Two years ago the band restructured their lineup, retooled their sound and re-launched as Bad Rabbits. They began headlining their first national tour starting on March 12th with shows coast-to-coast, as well as in the Great White North. Members Dua Boakye, Sheel Davé, Salim Akram, Graham Masser and Santi Araujo played in Philadelphia on February 27 at the balcony at the Trocadero and spent a few minutes before the show in Chinatown with Origivation.
Origivation: So how are you feeling about starting your first major tour?
Dua Boakye: This is our first National Tour as the Bad Rabbits. We’ve toured before but this is more official. We’re excited, we’ve got good music that we want everybody to hear. What we’re basically trying to have is a party every show. That’s what our music is and exactly what we’re going to do.
Origivation: Where does the name Bad Rabbits come from?
Dua Boakye: It came from a friend of ours, Gavin Castleton. He has a song called “Bad Rabbits” and we actually toured with him as The Eclectic Collective.
Sheel Davé: We toured with him as his backing band and loved playing that particular song. We came up with a list of 50, 60 names and that [Bad Rabbits] was the only one that didn’t completely annoy us.
Origivation: How did you guys meet in Boston?
Dua Boakye: We met in college. It was planned. We bonded through music and that’s where our relationship started.
Sheel Davé: We had a lot of dissimilar tastes at first when we were The Eclectic Collective trying to figure out shit as far as the sound goes. It was all over the place. It’s more cohesive now. As far as ethnicities go, we just went to college together and college is a melting pot. I guess some colleges aren’t.
Graham Masser: Boston in general has a lot of different people and that’s one of the things I really like about it. I grew up in a pretty much all white, affluent suburb. When I got to college there were a lot of different people and experiences, like being in this band. I go to Sheel’s house and his mom will cook us this amazing Indian food. Dua’s parents love telling us about Africa.
Dua Boakye: And that’s kind of how me and Sheel bonded. We’re both first generation Americans. Actually, Sheel’s not first generation, he has to pass that test. But me, Salim and Sheel all came from predominately white areas and we listened to the music that was pushed into that area. You know, as a black person, I was expected to be listening to R&B and hip hop but I was listening to punk and rock.
Sheel Davé: Metal and hardcore music. Boston has a huge hardcore music community. We definitely listen to a lot of R&B but, like, Dua played in a hardcore band, I played in a metal band, Salim used to play bass in a rock band.
Origivation: What’s it like prepping to hit the road?
Graham Masser: We’ve been prepping for two years.
Sheel Davé: We’ve been on tours before so we’re used to this lifestyle. All we’ve got to do is get a toothbrush, toothpaste, clean socks. But as far as mentally preparedness goes, I think everybody is anxious to go.
Santi Araujo: It’s more fun to be on the road than to stay home.
Graham Masser: It’s cool just traveling and meeting people and having different experiences in every city. We’re going to Vancouver and I don’t think that any of us have been there.
Dua Boakye: I’ve never been to California.
Origivation: Where is the last stop on the tour?
Dua Boakye: As of now it’s Lawrence, Kansas, but I think a couple of dates have been added so the last date might actually be somewhere in Pennsylvania.
Origivation: This is still the first Quarter of the tour for you guys, right?
Graham Masser: The first date of the tour is March 12th. We’re starting in D.C. and then we drop down to South by Southwest in Austin, TX. It will be our first time there as a band and we’ll be doing six showcases there. Just hustling, trying to do as many shows as we can and also give use some extra exposure to what we’re trying to do.
Origivation: Has there been a time when you were surprised by your notoriety?
Sheel Davé: Yeah, especially with co-signees.
Dua Boakye: We played with Slick Rick at B.B. King’s in New York and Busta Rhymes comes up to me and Salim and was talking to us. I’ve listened to Busta Rhymes and I didn’t know what to think. It was humbling.
Origivation: When did you guys realize you wanted to play towards getting better as opposed to just playing out for fun?
Dua Boakye: When we wrote our first song.
Graham Masser: That’s why we changed bands from The Eclectic Collective. We were getting to a point where we were just spinning our wheels.
Dua Boakye: We were a college bar band.
Sheel Davé: We’re a party band right now.
Santi Araujo: We’re a little more original, a little more mature.
Graham Masser: We’ve learned a lot from our years with Eclectic Collective and applied it to starting a new band that will be more successful. Our mentality and chemistry as friends really isn’t too much different. It’s just that now we are writing better songs is basically what it comes down to.