Playing upbeat but noisy indie rock with pop hooks and more than a slight grunge influence, Bully is a band from Nashville, Tennessee founded by vocalist, songwriter, and guitarist Alicia Bognanno.
Originally from Rosemount, Minnesota, Bognanno didn't show a great interest in music when she was young, and wasn't an especially distinguished student, but while in high school, she discovered that her school offered elective courses through an alternative education center located at a nearby zoo, and one of the classes was in audio engineering. Bognanno signed on for the audio courses, and discovered she had a knack for working with recording gear, and was soon working up loops and beats for friends who liked hip-hop. The experience kick-started Bognanno's desire to write and sing her own songs, and after finishing high school, while studying recording at Middle Tennessee State University, she began working on material and occasionally sat in with local musicians doing recording projects. After receiving her degree from MTSU, Bognanno landed an internship at Electrical Audio, the Chicago recording complex founded by outspoken recording engineer and musician Steve Albini. While Bognanno described the experience as "the most calming, welcoming comfortable environment for me to be in" and called Albini "maybe the smartest person I know," she was also short on money in an unfamiliar city where she had few friends. The circumstances prompted Bognanno to work on her songwriting, recording rough demos in her apartment in her rare spare time. When her internship was over, Bognanno settled in Nashville, and joined a power pop band called King Arthur while engineering at Battle Tapes Recording and handling live sound at music venue The Stone Fox. When Bognanno met up with drummer Stewart Copeland (not the former Police percussionist), she decided it was time to form a band of her own to make use of her backlog of personal songs, and with the addition of guitarist Clayton Parker and bassist Reece Lazarus, they formed Bully. Bully started playing out in mid-2013, and in April 2014, they released their first single, "Milkman" b/w "Faceblind." By October 2014, the band had signed with Star Time International, an imprint of Columbia, which issued a five-song EP simply titled Bully. After steady touring in the United States and Europe (including festival appearances at Bonnaroo and Austin City Limits, and a string of dates opening for Best Coast), Bully's debut album, Feels Like, was released on June 23, 2015. The album was recorded at Electrical Audio, with Bognanno helping to engineer the sessions. ~ Mark Deming