When Bass Drum of Death started touring the rock club circuit outside Oxford, Mississippi, several years ago, there was a legitimate concern that the band’s appeal might be limited to fans of the garage scene. With a seemingly never-ending series of tour dates, BDoD nonetheless transformed rooms full of normally too-cool-to-rock indie crowds into a mob of sweaty, stage-diving-maniacs. Meanwhile, Madison Avenue, eager to cash in on hip cachet, took notice. Since the release of 2011’s GB City, “Get Found” has been featured in FOX promos for the NASCAR season. Rockstar Games’ megaseller Grand Theft Auto V helped to promote last year’s self-titled album. Gamers terrorized the freeways of Los Santos, living out their cops-and-robbers fantasies, as “Crawling After You” blasted through their car stereo speakers. Bass Drum of Death are teetering on the brink of reaching a mainstream audience, and Rip This is their attempt to record an unapologetic rock album for people outside their normal fan base.
In the past, BDoD brainchild John Barrett wrote and recorded all the material and toured with a revolving lineup of hired guns on drums and guitar. This time around, drummer Len Clark joins Barrett as a full-time member and collaborator. The duo began discussing plans for a new record when touring with Unknown Mortal Orchestra in 2013. Barrett and Clark then convinced UMO bassist Jacob Portrait to take on the role of producer when the band booked a session in March at Prairie Sun Studios in Sonoma County, California. With a few rough demos, Barrett, Clark, and Portrait hunkered down for two weeks and cranked out the band’s first proper studio album. Rip This retains BDoD’s trademark sorry-for-partyin’ swagger while scrapping the crackling hiss and lo-fi fuzz. The result is an record that still relies on an obliterating attack of heavy guitars, danceable hooks, and kinetic drumming, but will appeal as much to KISS fans as the music freaks and geeks who worship Nuggets. Both a challenge to music critics and a rock call-to-arms, the title says it all. You’re not going to hear many records this year that rip like this, so shotgun a beer, tune in, and turn up.