Bad Skin stronger than ever after pandemic related uncertainties

Montreal punk girl band take on a new genre in latest album

Punk girl band Bad Skin stronger than ever as they tackle a new mainstream genre. Courtesy Emmanuel Gagné

Lead singer of punk band Bad Skin, Tamara Galdames-Morales, also known as Dope, put together the band back in 2016. She started it with one goal in mind: to play music on stage.

It sounds like a simple goal, but after years of playing in bands with men, Galdames-Morales was sick and tired of putting up with the sexism she experienced from her bandmates.

“I used to be in other bands with guys and the only thing they wanted, you already know: sex,” she said. “I was really serious about it. I really wanted to have a band and play music. So I said, ‘Fuck it, fuck those guys. I’m going to make my own girl band so they don’t look at me differently.’”

Galdames-Morales printed out posters and began posting them all over the city, in studios, CEGEPs, and anywhere else she thought people would be making music. That’s how she found Caroll-Ann Joseph, lead guitarist, and Aurely Caron-Parent, bassist. Drummer Christine Bouchard joined later on.

Since 2016 the band has seen many ups and downs, including a huge setback because of the pandemic. Still, Bad Skin has managed to release three albums since coming together in 2016. Their latest album, Live Fast Die Punk, was released earlier this year.

As COVID-19 cases rose and the city was confined under a tight lockdown, the band felt uncertain about their future. Jam spaces were closed and the group didn’t meet for almost a year. 

“We couldn’t see each other, everyone was scared,” said Galdames-Morales. “It was difficult at the beginning. At one point I was like, ‘Is this the end? Are we going to continue?’”

Galdames-Morales’ passion for music and for the band held strong, but she began to lose motivation. “I felt like I was less into it,” she said. 

But as restrictions lifted, Bad Skin began practicing again, reigniting their online presence with photoshoots and a new music video for their loud, punk-enthused anthem “Grey Day.” Last year, they participated in two online international music festivals, reaching new crowds as far as Spain and Ecuador.

Bad Skin embraces their imperfections and believes anything is possible. Courtesy Emmanuel Gagné

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Galdames-Morales, who has eczema, explained how the band name originates from embracing imperfections. “[In] the society that we live in, everything has to be perfect. When you’re young it’s pimples, when you’re old it’s wrinkles, so [the band name] is like a ‘Fuck that,’” she said. “Be yourself, and fuck what people say about your skin. You’re beautiful and keep on rocking.”

For Bad Skin, songwriting is a collaborative process. A member comes up with a melody, and then the band jams it out together before breaking off into pairs of two to exchange ideas. “We always start the four together and then we come back with more ideas to pull us through,” explained Joseph.

“If you have a dream, and you want it, you have to push it 200 per cent and you can make it.” — Tamara Galdames-Morales

The band explained that most of their songs are about breakups, love, things that make them mad, and anything else that is important to them. In true punk fashion, some songs are a riot against control and authority. “Your voice is important, so if you have something important to say, say it,” said Joseph.

“It’s important that we pass messages through the songs so we can get to people. I think that’s the most important thing,” said Galdames-Morales. “[We write about] girl empowerment. In all our songs, it’s like, ’Girl, you can make it!’”

Bad Skin’s previous albums have been rooted in punk rock and grunge, but their newly released album Live Fast Die Punk is different from what they’ve done before. They’ve gone more mainstream by adding a pop flair to their raunchy punk sound and introducing new instruments like synthesizers into the mix.

“When we started at the beginning we used to play in bars, we wanted to have the more powerful songs and sound, and be as strong as guys and play as trash as guys because we wanted to prove that we can rock as well as them,” said Galdames-Morales.

Galdames-Morales explained that now that they’ve drawn a loyal following the band is branching out to new audiences with their sound.

“We’ve all grown and evolved as music creators, as songwriters, and I think that the sort of pop or mainstream direction that we’re going is just an evolution of that,” added Caron-Parent.

Bad Skin has a lot to look forward to in the upcoming year, including a 2022 European tour. 

“We started from nothing. We used to play in a shitty studio and now we’re playing POP Montreal. Everything is possible,” said Galdames-Morales. “If you have a dream, and you want it, you have to push it 200 per cent and you can make it.”