Boston's Bad Rabbits Create Their Own "Post-R&B" Lane

Salim Akram talks really, really fast. As the guitarist for Boston's Bad Rabbits, a five-piece self-proclaimed "post-R&B" act with a reputation for a boisterous live show, Akram has a lot to say about the medley of influences and the band's unique background, and rightfully so: Many music outlets aren't quite sure how to categorize them.

Currently touring behind their first full-length release, American Love, out now on Bad Records, Bad Rabbits possess cross-cultural appeal that places their sound somewhere in the midst of modern-day funk and R&B stylings juxtaposed against the weight of hardcore. It's not an easy balance to find.

"We came from a similar background, whether it's a first-generation family or working class," Akram says.

"How it lends to our diversity is that we all have very diverse musical backgrounds -- for instance, our drummer plays in a metal band called Irepress in Boston, I've played in a rock, metal-ish type band in high school, and our singer sung in a hardcore punk band, and our bass player played in a ska band."

With those influences lined up, Bad Rabbits begin to make a bit more sense. It takes a few more elements to understand the band -- something that's proved to be a struggle over Bad Rabbits' six years together. While they're able to play with acts from letlive. and Every Time I Die to a nationwide campus tour with Kendrick Lamar and Steve Aoki, reception to Bad Rabbits centers around their formidable stage presence.

"We've always tried to be performers, and we've always tried to put that first, especially if people want to give you their hard-earned money to come to a show and try to create an experience that they'll want to talk about and that's memorable, because that's kind of all the shows that we grew up with," Akram says.

But reaching that comfortable fulcrum between sheer musicianship and a strong touring act took time, self-doubt, and a willingness to forge their own path.

As Bad Rabbits possess massive R&B swagger, thanks to frontman Dua Boakye's vocal gymnastics and bassist Graham Masser's driving rhythm section, they "can't be pushed in an urban market just yet because it's not 100 percent urban, but it can't be the rock lane because it's not 100 percent rock," Akram says.

That rock braggadocio can be seen in the video for the infectious American Love track "Can't Fool Me," in which the last half of the song is a stage-diving affair that looks more like an impromptu Warped Tour stop -- a touring grind Bad Rabbits already has under their belt.

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Whatever market they're best placed in, it's as good a time as any for Bad Rabbits to gain traction, with labeled R&B acts like How To Dress Well and The Weeknd attracting major label attention. The formula for their success, however, requires turning time-honored tradition on its head.

"We're not necessarily like the Usher, the traditional R&B role where you get five dudes onstage with their shirts off," Akram laughs. "We're the band aesthetic because we didn't have a lane to be in -- we had to create our own."

Bad Rabbits are scheduled to perform Wednesday, July 31, at Martini Ranch in Scottsdale.

Like Up on the Sun on Facebook or follow us on Twitter for the latest local music news and conversation. Follow K.C. Libman @KristianCLibman.

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