Bad Books, the collaborative product of a friendship struck by folk singer-songwriter Kevin Devine and Manchester Orchestra frontman Andy Hull after a few tours together, is bound together by these songwriters' love of simply working together
"I think the best thing about Bad Books is that its existence is entirely predicated on us just wanting to do it. It's not a careerist impulse, which kind of insulates it from some of those pressures," the band tell Fuse. "It's gravy. So as long as it stays fun and feels like it's growing, we'll come back to it."
While their debut album bristled with off-kilter pop hooks and sharp lyrics, the first taste of their upcoming sophomore album Bad Books II—"Forest Whitaker"—is a surprising change for Bad Books. Bouncing along a synth riff and boasting some expert whistling, "Forest Whitaker" shows that Devine and Hull (along with other members of Manchester Orchestra) are gradually expanding their palette together.
"The song stands alone sonically as compared to the balance of the record," they tell us, describing it as "a bit more hi-fi, poppy." Bad Books also explain why they named their buoyant tune after the Academy Award-winning actor. "The story is about this couple who break up and she meets this biker and they have a kid. They name the kid Forest Whitaker. It's supposed to imply that this is a hippy weirdo who is strange enough to call her kid the name of the actor."
We also asked Devine and Hull to fess up and tell us how long they spent coming up with the name Bad Books II for their second album. The answer? "32 years. 'Greatness needs time FOR GESTATION & MATURATION,' as Malcolm X said (might've been Pauly Shore)."
And if you don't buy that explanation, Devine probably doesn't care. "Bad Books is the one outlet where I really don't have to worry if anybody likes it except for us," Devine says. "It's very freeing. It takes a load off of my shoulders being able to write songs with somebody and collaborate until we are happy."
Check out "Forest Whitaker" below and keep an ear out for their new album, due October 9.