After earning the title of best band in the Pilbara at the North West Festival last weekend, Hedland locals The Bad Influence are getting ready to move to the big smoke.
Yet for lead singer Brad Hall, no matter where the five-piece ends up, they will always be a Pilbara band at heart.
The Bad Influence came together by chance last year in a backyard shed and, between its five members, a fair part of the Pilbara and the rest of WA is represented.
Hall and his nephew, guitarist Noel Taylor, hail from Marble Bar, drummer Fabian Walters comes from Yandeyarra, and lead guitarist Derek “Dingo” Winmar and his brother Mervyn, who plays bass, moved to the Pilbara from Bunbury.
Despite all five members being indigenous, Hall prefers not to think of The Bad Influence as an indigenous band.
“When we were picking the name for the band people said we should go with an indigenous name, and we said no, because we’re not an indigenous band,” he said.
“Even though we’re all indigenous it doesn’t make us an indigenous band – we’re a band for everybody. I don’t want the band to be looked upon by the way we look.”
Hall describes the band’s sound with an expression known well to locals – a Pilbara special.
“It’s a nicer way of calling a breed of dog when you don’t know what’s what and it’s a bit of everything,” he said.
“It’s like our music – it comes from all directions, from all over the place, just a bit thrown in from everywhere.
“We call it country rock but it’s not, it’s a mix of all sorts and definitely from the Pilbara.”
The band’s sound impressed judges of the Best of the North West competition, held in the weeks leading up to the inaugural North West Festival, with The Bad Influence finishing ahead of 20 other Pilbara bands and securing their spot opening the festival stage.
Hall said the band felt right at home on the international-standard stage.
“The stage guys were great; they’re guys who are dealing with Hilltop Hoods and Living End and international acts, and here they were making a little Hedland band feel at home,” he said.
“Our gear at home’s got red dirt on it, the drums’ got beer can marks on it, it’s small, garage band stuff.
“Jumping up on the big stage with that gear is awesome – it makes you think if we keep on pushing, we can make it to that level.”
Next month the band will move south and take a shot at cracking the music scene in Perth.
But for Hall, pushing Pilbara music will always be the band’s focus.
“I remember when I was in my teenage days you’d hear bands playing every weekend, the campers would have their guitars out playing somewhere,” he said.
“Somehow it dropped off. I go up to the Kimberleys and everyone says the Pilbara’s a dead-zone for the arts – it would surprise people to know how many musicians come from Hedland. We see it locally but we need to promote it outside, we need to be able to go to the Kimberleys and stick it to them, us Pilbara people.”