Now Reading: ‘Equality, We want it now!’: An Interview w/ Punk Rock Band Bad Cop/Bad Cop


‘Equality, We want it now!’: An Interview w/ Punk Rock Band Bad Cop/Bad Cop

July 6, 20179 min read

“Hey, we’re a new band called Bad Cop/ Bad Cop and this a song from our latest album, Warriors!” yells singer and guitarist Stacey Dee to hundreds of people, many of them packed tightly at her feet. The band starts a loud guitar riff as the first notes of their song “Retrograde” fill the venue. “Stronger each day! Like a blue jay out of the gray, out of Retrograde!” they sing, as people bounce and rock their heads to the music. There’s no doubt Bad Cop/Bad Cop is here to send a message of empowerment, with raw lyrics and powerful vocals. I talked to singer/guitarist Jennie Cotterill and singer/bassist Linh Le about their music, songwriting, and the political climate today.

1. What three words would you use to describe Bad Cop/ Bad to people would have never listened to you guys before?

Linh: I would say we’re honest.

Jennie: Yeah definitely, I would also say we represent empowerment and female power!

2. Your new album is different from your last, tackling serious issues like misogyny and suicide, what sparked the change?

Jennie: Touring around the election really impacted us, realizing we had all these intense feelings. We wanted to write stuff that we really cared about and to have a voice to speak to such a mass audience.

Jennie: We’re lukcy to be able to influence and empower people, to say out loud the things people we’re feeling, to take the conversation outside of the van and into the studio.

Linh: We thought about all the problems that had existed for a while already, but were especially coming to light and worsening, even. We wanted to say this exists but this how we can resolve it; we wanted to speak from a place of positivity, not negativity. How far can you keep on complaining without doing something about it?

3. What was the songwriting process like for this album?

Linh: Well, at first we wrote two songs before Trump was elected (“Warriors” and “Brain is for Lovers”), but even then open sexism and racism was rampant. My main influence for “Warriors,” which I wrote, was an ancient Vietnamese story of the Chung sisters, two sisters who cut an army together in Vietnam and fought the Chinese invasion.

Linh: Being Vietnamese, that story had a personal connection to me and reflected the environment of strong, independent woman I grew up in. I was always told to follow what I believe in, no matter what anybody says. 

Jennie: The songwriting for this album was also a little unorthodox to the way we usually write songs. Each of us wrote each song by ourselves and then during practice, we would finish the whole song together, changing the sound a bit. I really think it allowed each person to have a chance to finish their own sentence, to create as individual human beings.

4. I love the song “Retrograde” and the way it handles the subject of drug addiction and recovery. What message did you want to send with that song and what was it like writing it?

Linh: It was hard for us to go through that as a band, seeing our friend battling that addiction. But I think the song reflects exactly how she felt after.

Linh: So many people go through that and are screwed up because of addiction, but there is always a solution.

Jennie: Addiction is something we still don’t talk about nearly enough, so that was important to us and the song came about naturally.

Linh: It’s important for our audience to know that you have your friends and family to be your bungee cord. It was tough, but it’s important to talk about it. Addiction is something you cannot help, your brain is programmed to not think outside of that. It’s not something to be ashamed of.

5. With the current animosity between those on opposite sides of the political spectrum, your album takes a less divisive tone, especially in your song “Womanarchist.” How important do you think it is now to reach across the aisle?

Jennie: We won’t survive if we don’t, we can choose to focus on or differences or we can choose to focus on our similarities. People will acknowledge differences period, but it’s how we go about it. Diversity is not a problem but only something that makes us better. 

Linh: Everybody has to work together or everything will fall apart. You are always a way happier person when you don’t spend your time just hating a certain group, being more open. I hate these feminists that don’t stand for equality but just use it as an excuse to “man hate” and criticize other women… it’s bullsh*t.

6. Jennie, your song “Brain is for Lovers” is not typical of most songs about a friend’s suicide, it’s not gloomy or slow but more nostalgic and fast paced. Why did you choose to make the song in that style?

JennieI was in a band with my friend Brian and he was really excited about what we were doing. We kind of lost touch after a while, but he was still on my mind a lot of the time. “Brain is for Lovers” did start as a gloomy song but I wanted a song that he would listen to if he were here.

Linh: I love the song, it’s very emotional. I cried the first time I heard it.

7. Do you like being called an all-female band?

JennieI understand the need for that phrase, it’s a little tricky. I feel like yes do tell them because it is something that makes us different but if you haven’t heard us you might expect something else. You might expect us to be in our early 20s and half naked on stage, which we’re not!

Jennie: I don’t like when it’s the first thing people notice about us. Like you are a woman interviewing us, so that wasn’t the first question you asked but with men, it’s always the first question. Like ‘wow what’s it like playing in an all-girl band?”

Linh: Yeah, there’s a fine line. One the one hand, it provokes people to come see us more but then people will say ‘wow, you’re great for a female band,’ which isn’t a compliment, it’s insulting. It’s even worse when females say that.

8. What advice do you have for young aspiring musicians?

Jennie: Don’t stop and don’t wait for an invitation, just do it.

Linh: Don’t let anybody make you feel like you can’t do it. It’s not easy but if you love it and you’re doing it for yourself, it’s worth it.

Answers have been slightly edited.

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Anais Rivero

Aspiring journalist, Latina woman, and film lover trying to stomp the patriarchy with my large combat boots.