From Brain Surgery and Guitars to Giant Badgers and Cigars

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I don’t know what gets you through the day. I know that I must hammer my guitar, let off steam and let my imagination run riot. I do not have a choice I am compelled to do it.

Post punk, rock, blues, acoustic, electronic – yep the whole melting lot whatever makes the song work. I need  lyrics to be direct, punchy and a little twisted.

I am Hal, aka Barry the Badger . I am the founder of Kangaroo Kourt (an artist-led collective) and BADgertRAP the band that grew from it. I originally trained as a painter and have played the guitar since I was seven years old. I taught myself keyboard and a whole host of digital tricks since then. I get off on good tunes, lyrics with ideas and shows that make you feel like you’re in a surreal dream. I use a giant badger to get me in the zone.

I have needed brain surgery twice to prevent paralysis. The music got me through it.  I know that the people who help you really matter and the threat of not being able to do my thing simply releases more of my passion to do more. To bring my form of comical anarchy to the world that is full of controls and frustrations.

I grew up in London but left to form a band with ex-Chronics frontman Jimmy Barnett in Bristol (South west UK) . The man was a pure post-punk maverick and had supported Jimmy Pursey’s Sham 69 back in the day. He represented my sense of freedom. He made me think I could do anything I wanted.We got in all sorts of trouble…

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We setup a perverse gambling company called The Flying Foal to fund our music.

After some initial success Jimmy started to suffer from increasing delusions and paranoia. It turned very sour and when Barnett was eventually taken into care, I set up an arts space in 2002 called Kangaroo Kourt where I started to record and paint in a floor-less loft studio.  We helped develop a new performance scene with local poets and graffiti artists- Banksy being Bristol’s famous export. Bristol has a rebellious history and a very independent culture .

Typically the bands in Bristol were seen as being too experimental for the record industry and BADgertRAP hits that mark with its quirky lyrical take on the everyday weirdness of human behaviour . The likes of Massive Attack, Portishead and Tricky had broken through with the new music of trip hop. For those that don’t rap or do only guitars there was no way through. So BADgertRAP stuck to DIY punk principles and used Kangaroo Kourt to set up its own label and got recording and touring.

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I get a rush of adrenaline when I have just committed myself to a gig I know is going to be bloody difficult. When the BBC played our music on radio I was impressed they took that risk. I look forward to that part when the badger head is finally off and i can dream about the next time I put myself in front of a bemused crowd. I love the cold beer that meets my lips as I finally sit my arse down after zipping up the final bag and stuffing in the van. I like the way smoke flows from my nose to my mouth as I take another drag and breathe in the feeling of satisfaction. I can’t wait for that compulsion to make that commitment again to get up and give the audience a night of confusion, disbelief, rocking heads and sporadic bursts of laughter.

428757_364181850271841_248442608_nBADgertRAP works hard to get fans and they stay fans forever. We hope you will join us as we continue to be ourselves. We want everyone to find their inner maverick with their own brand of anarchy. As I said to Tim Rutilli from the band Califone “if you get Andy Kaufman you get us”.

One fan said one day to me when I had finished hacking on my kick drum – what’s yr band’s name again. I said, “BADgertRAP it’s written on the drum-kit” . He said “the sign is not big enough. And where’s your badger?”

I thought:  I’ve played a guitar with my head stuck through a television and my arms in stocks, sawed in half several women and a punk rocker and jumped off a 12 ft ladder on stage into a bed of rotting flowers. Why not turn into a giant badger ?

And so Barry the Badger was born – he took over BADgertRAP and things well took off. He instantly caught people’s attention and helped set our live show apart. For me it was the end of a long journey to find the means to unleash full comical anarchy. It was the start of the shambolic glory that became BADgertRAP’s hall mark.

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In a lot of gigs Barry turns up in the final throes cajoling and improvising with the audience. This badger gave us attention and a big break in the BBC and Endemol’s multimedia broadcast of Upstaged. Acts performed against each other in glass boxes. Only in Bristol! Then came live radio performances, a mention in the Sun newspaper, various magazines and festivals.We did a tour up to Edinburgh using a tandem bike. We picked up people on the way to play whilst on the bike. We went to Berlin -there is footage from this still not released as the badger broke into Universal Records to hand in a cd as a joke (we’ll share that another time).

And all because one total stranger made me do the obvious for a change and finally reach the surreal comedy that comes naturally.  I sent the fan an email and he said I think I can see your badger now and what you are trying to do!

You, yes, you. You make the difference and BADgertRAP is a band that listens to its fans who are clearly more creative than most.

I guarantee if you ever drop me an email, your message will carry just as much weight, and that you’ll get a reply. BADgertRAP fans are like us. The bottom end art crowd – lofi eternal optimists who make art because they have to or just simply care about others. They challenge people to dare and to think and do it yourself. We want all our fans to feel liberated from the expectations of others.  Click here to listen to BADgertRAP’s most recent recording, ‘Man Shed Head Crisis’.

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BADgertTRAP today are Andy Brown (long time percussionist, samples and a bit moody )and Steve Dunk (baritone horn , organ and wicked gentle humour) Steve who said of his first BADgertRAP gig in an outdoor venue covered in ivy “this is the best gig i think i’ve ever done”).

Maybe Steve that is because you’ve never done a gig in a mud pit inside an ex railway ticket office overgrown with ivy and covered in graffiti. And then there’s me Hal Camplin who’ll do just about anything to get  a buzz and a fix out of a song.

BRock ‘n’ RoLL is not just for kids!

sssssssSee you soon –  / Hal and Barry the Badger ( a brock )

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