by Simmons Records

If Beck and Bob Dylan had a baby boy, and raised him spoon-fed on toxic waste, they would name him BAG.

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Every once in a while an artist comes along that breaks the mold, an artist who fails to fit into today’s cookie cutter world, an artist unwavering in his fierce commitment to creativity and unyielding in his refusal to compromise. That artist is BAG. An extraordinary collection of quirky and twisted musical tomfoolery, BAG’s self-titled debut is the inaugural release on KISS founder Gene Simmons’ recently activated Simmons Records/Sanctuary imprint.

Having received thousands of demo submissions for his new label, Simmons found one artist that stood out miles apart from the pack—BAG. “I first heard BAG, when a beautiful woman told me about him,” recalls Simmons. “The first song I heard was, ironically enough, ‘Blown Away.’ I was.” Quickly making BAG the first signing to his newly re-launched Simmons Records label, BAG states that “the only reason I have a record deal is because of Gene Simmons. He got my tape through a mutual friend. He loved it and two days later he flew me down to meet him and then I got signed to Sanctuary. My music is definitely not mainstream. It’s left of center. Gene was one of the few people that got it, and championed it.”

Known simply as BAG, the artist reveals the meaning behind his unconventional name remains a constant source of speculation. “People ask me all the time about my name, and here’s the story that I’m sticking with. It means Bad and Good, Boy and Girl, Beelzebub and God, and Brainy and Gorgeous.?

Immensely versatile, BAG’s debut release is a consummate tour de force effecting a collision of playful musical hi-jinx, idiosyncratic lyrics and trippy grooves. “BAG is a one man band,” says Gene Simmons. “He writes his own songs. Sings them. Lead vocals and background vocals. Plays all the instruments. Produces, Mixes and in almost all ways, seems to have avoided the pitfalls of being in a band. Chances are this ‘band’ won’t break up because of internal conflict. This one may actually stay together.”

The son of a psychiatrist, BAG was born in South America, and currently resides in Canada. His most notable past musical achievements include penning two songs for Gene Simmons’ Asshole and producing four cuts. “It was terrific fun working with Gene, and a fantastic learning experience. He’s a great guy to work with.”

Recorded in BAG’s home studios, The Mole Hole, and Rambambi, the record was tracked using standard recording gear, pro-tools and ADATs. “When you’re a singer/ songwriter, producer, engineer, you quickly switch hats as you’re writing a song, says BAG.?You go, ‘Ooh, I’ve got the perfect bass part for this’ or ‘I’ve got a killer lick’ or ‘what a killer groove’. Every single song on my record was written differently and has a different origin. When you’re writing, the key is to never lose sight of what the song is trying to do or say. The character of the vocal and lyrics are your foundation. With that as your backbone it becomes much easier to place things around it. It’s trial and error. When something is out of place it becomes obvious and when something feels right you just know it.”

Like a demented musical troubadour, BAG?s colorful personality infuses the album?s 14 tracks. It’s party time on the opening cut, “Uh, Uh, Uh, Uh? The song is a paradigm of simplicity, its finger-pointing message delivered by a repetitive chorus of five words, “Uh, Uh, Uh, Uh, Uh” but somehow it all works. ‘A lot of my songs are imagery. If you sit down and channel surf and you don’t need to turn the volume up, you get these images. We all go, ‘I hate that’, ‘I hate that’, ‘don’t wanna watch that’. ?Uh Uh Uh Uh? and ?Blown Away? are pretty critical of the media and the beauty myth, meaning how the media is telling us our self-esteem is based on what we look like. If we don’t look the part we’re kinda screwed.”

Next is the powerful musical salvo “I Hate You, BABY”, a track which evokes the sometimes suffocating power of all-encompassing, obsessive love. The song sails on a delightful series of surprising musical twists and turns, adorned with an anthemic chorus that wields more hooks than your local fish & tackle shop. “I remember sitting there for about twelve hours trying to write a song and everything I was coming up with was crap,” BAG recalls. “Then I remember suddenly getting the melody and chorus line ‘I hate you, baby’ and then away you go. The biggest challenge as a songwriter is knowing when you’ve hit a great idea and filtering through the shit. Once I had the idea, I wrote the rest of the song in a half-hour. I don’t think it?s overly cynical; the guy’s madly in love, we all hate our lovers at one point or another. So that’s all it is, you have a beef with your lover, your partner and you end up hating each other just for a moment or two.”

“I’m a mess, I’m a leper in heat. I wish I could take you home and show you my porno collection. Do you think this retched body would pass your inspection?” sings BAG on the provocative ?Aye Mi Amore (I?m so fuckin horny)? a song guaranteed to make Tipper Gore blush three shades of fiery red. Framed by brash, Spanish tinged acoustic guitar, it’s an unapologetic stew of musical filthiness. “That song is reality to me,” asserts BAG. “It’s how most guys feel when they’re trying to pick up a really pretty girl. We feel ugly, and you’re going out of your way, throwing out line after line and she’s coming back at you with excuse after excuse for why you can’t hook up. In the end what I love about the song is the guy wins. She gets the popcorn and she’s gonna go home and watch his pornos with him.”

“Starlight”, in direct contrast, commandeers BAG’s tender and sensitive side replete with tinkling keyboards, and cushions of finely contoured acoustic guitars, imparting the message that “you’re not alone.” Boasting a gorgeous melody, “Love Is What You Make It” mines BAG’s own lyrical wisdom and packs a mighty hook.

He lays out his big empty soul on the desolate track, “Wasted”, which captivates the listener with world-weary interlocking vocals, ethereal keyboard textures and a ghostly whistling hook while big drums, a razor sharp distorted guitar riff, and Middle eastern exotica power “Pavement.”

One of the album’s standouts is “Afterlife”, a hypnotic ballad, which finds BAG in introspective mode asking the eternal question, “now your life is over was it worth the pain? Or was it just a just a waste of effort all in vain?” BAG reveals, “That could be my favorite song on the album. It’s just so close to my heart. We work so hard in this life and when it’s all said and done, you’re standing in front of the jury and the jury is yourself. I don’t buy the story that you stand in front of God, I think the jury is yourself. That’s when you ask yourself the question, ‘was it worth the effort?’ The metaphor I use in the song is hunger, because we’re always craving and I don’t think it ends. They can play that at my funeral and I’ll be happy.”

Almost all of the songs on BAG’s record are based around vocal and guitar. Mining a cross-pollination of influences, the album displays an eclectic, genre-hopping sensibility. BAG reveals that as far as influences go “it runs the gamut, from Pink Floyd to Beck to Moby to Bob Dylan, Eminem to Frank Zappa. There are pieces of them all in my musical makeup. They’re all originals and what’s more inspiring than an original? Nothing. I’m attracted to artists that consistently break the rules. “

From the cheeky musical bookends, the infectious “I Can’t Stand Your Face” to the groove-happy “I Can’t Shut My Mouth” to the Dylan-esque “The Ballad of Johnny Eunuch”, one can’t help but be impressed by BAG’s musical imagination. “I had a ton of fun writing and recording this record. I find my best material is when I write for myself, not to impress someone. I really try not to regurgitate my own material. I simply pick elements that grab my ear and use them. I take whatever’s in the cupboard that I haven’t used and throw it in the pot.”

BAG’s CD truly sounds like no one else, his DNA occupies every groove, every rhythm, every guitar riff, every lyric. “I’m not trying to deliver any kind of message with my music,” BAG explains. “I’m just expressing what everybody else is feeling. We’re all confused, we’re all pissed, we’re all hungry and we’re all in love. I want my record to trigger emotions, a little bit of thought or just make you laugh.”

Gene Simmons pinpoints what makes BAG special. “I’ve always believed in being an individual….in cutting your own swath…in ignoring what fashion and fads dictate. It’s true for the band I’ve been proud to be a member of for thirty-two years and if I may be so bold, it holds true for BAG. He respects the musical scene, but refuses to bastardize his vision. Melody is king and if the current music scene doesn’t recognize it, BAG does. Music needs BAG.”

  • BAG
  • by Simmons Records
  • Published on October 1st, 2005

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