Britain's boisterous duo Bondax have enjoyed a meteoric rise to popularity since their humble high school beginnings back in 2012. Fellow Lancaster lads George Townsend and Adam Kaye have moulded what was originally just a shared affinity for pop icons like Michael Jackson and Prince into a swiftly swelling, wildly popular back-catalog of slick, irresistible electronic pop anthems. With the almighty hand of BBC Radio behind them, Townsend and Kaye have gone from wide-eyed rookies to seasoned gurus with their own record label (Justus) and enormous international tours under their belts. And they haven't even released their debut album yet...
Best Before's Jordan caught up with Adam and George during some downtime at their hotel in Montreal, and chewed over finding the balance between poppy and pretentious, eating authentic Mexican tacos, and playing with possums in Hyde Park.
Jordan: Hey Adam! How are you doing today?
Adam Kaye: I'm great, man! Tour is going very well at the moment, actually.
Where are you guys stationed at the moment?
AK: We're in a hotel in Montreal at the moment. We've been here since yesterday, and we were actually able drive all the way here, which was really fucking nice. It's just so much better to be able to see everything and not be stuck on a plane. I enjoy looking out the window and actually see things.
How are you finding the US crowds?
AK: It's been a really fucking amazing tour. It's been especially good to have Karma Kid with us, who is a genuinely great friend of ours. We've never actually been out on tour with him before now, though. Our next show is actually our first one on this tour without him, so that's going to be a little bit weird.
Is there some separation anxiety there?
AK: *Laughs* I think so, actually.
What does your set-up look like for this tour? What can we expect to see at your shows here in Australia?
AK: We've gone for something quite different to what we did the last time we came to Australia. We really enjoyed playing with a full band when we last came down under, but we don't think it's necessarily what our fans want. That crowded set-up wasn't quite close enough to the recordings and sound we produce in the studio. I think a lot of people just want to hear something that resembles a DJ set, so we've returned to that straight-up approach.
They just want to hear the doof doof beats.
AK: *Laughs* Yeah, exactly. Ay! George just came back.
Bondax is a constant balancing act between something that we genuinely like, something that's accessible, and something that doesn't come off as pretentious at the same time.
Ah, perfect timing! I guess I should ask, then – how did you two begin making music as Bondax?
George Townsend: Oh, wow. We met right at the start of high school. We actually originally played together in a band called Magistrates. The funny thing is, we really want to work with the original singer from that band now. They were wicked.
That would be a cool 'full circle' moment for you guys.
GT: *Laughs* Yeah, I never thought about it like that.
Was there a defining 'holy shit!' moment where you realised that you could do music for a living?
AK: I think it was definitely when we got signed. That was such a special moment and time for Bondax. It's all been quite a whirlwind adventure up to now, and we can't really believe any of it has happened the way it has. This whole experience is difficult to fully comprehend.
GT: When we first got signed, it was a bit of a relief because there were so many things that we didn't have to think about as much anymore. We had people to help us out with the little things, and that allowed us to focus on the music. It wasn't that we didn't want to do those things, it was just that the load was lifted a little bit.
A lot of people can often be needlessly dismissive of pop music. Are you ever afraid of leaning too far into that world and alienating people or losing credibility?
AK: Balancing that idea is essentially the whole dynamic of Bondax. We're both huge fans of classic pop artists like Michael Jackson and Prince, and we're certainly not ashamed of that. It's funny, because even though we both have all these mainstream influences, we're often getting told off for leaning a little too far left. We're always being reigned in by our record label. Bondax is a constant balancing act between something that we genuinely like, something that's accessible, and something that doesn't come off as pretentious at the same time.
In 2014, Adam said that "All I See" was the most commercial song Bondax would ever release. Do you still believe that?
GT: Yeah. I don't think we've made anything as commercial or accessible as "All I See". To be honest, we were probably a little bit angry at that stage. We were coerced into that direction, but there's a very long story behind that.
We're trying to cover as many bases as possible, and we want to make sure we nurture more than one style across our music.
Do you feel that your new song "Temptation" is a better fit in terms of the direction you two are heading musically?
AK: Ever since day one of this album that we've been making, we decided to do it exactly how we wanted to. We try to cover as many bases as we can, but we have to stay true to ourselves as well. "Temptation" aligns with that.
Can you expand on the creative process behind "Temptation"? How did you get in touch with Erik Hassle?
GT: We've been a fan of Erik's for as long as I can remember. We had mutual friends, so we originally started working together online, and then we eventually had a chance to meet up and record together. Initially, we went off and worked on our parts together, but it's generally better for us to be by a vocalist or songwriter's side and sort of guide each other through the process. After we'd each sorted out our relevant roles, we put the instrumental together with the vocal he'd worked on, and we were pretty happy with how it turned out.
Is "Temptation" a good indication of the sound you'll be working with on the upcoming album?
GT: Not really, actually. We're trying to cover as many bases as possible, and we want to make sure we nurture more than one style across our music. Even though a lot of people are more familiar with our sunny, poppier side, we've tried to mix that in with other more chilled-out tracks and even some RnB-flavoured melodies.Our taste is quite broad, and that definitely comes through in our production. Hopefully it won't be a confusing album.
AK: Hopefully that works out when it's finally released. *Laughs*
Do you find that certain feature vocalists directly affect the songwriting and production process for you? Does knowing who will sing the song ever change your approach?
AK: Yeah, and it really varies from track to track. From time to time, we find ourselves saying, "Ah! That would sound really good with a voice like this, or if that particular artist sang it for us". Usually, we find the best way to do it is to wait right until the end of the process, and then imagine what would sound unique or interesting in unison with the standalone track we've made.
What are you looking forward to about coming back to Australia?
AK: The whole experience last time was wicked. We especially loved touring with ListenOut because we got to hang out with all the artists and make friends with people in the same world. We didn't actually get to see much or get out a lot last time; we spent some time out and about in Sydney, but this time I'm looking forward to exploring more. I think the most fun we had last time outside of the shows was playing with possums in Hyde Park. *Laughs*
Before I let you go, I saw recently that you consider your biggest achievement thus far is eating 100% authentic tacos when you were in Mexico. When are you announcing your retirement? I can't really imagine you could go up from there.
AK: *Laughs* Oh, man! I tell you what, those tacos were amazing. I don't think there's anything else to do after that. I should just pack my bags and go now.
For real, though – what are you hoping to achieve this year besides smashing authentic Mexican tacos?
AK: We definitely want to put the album out, and we're already starting to map out what a live show would look like for all those new songs. Above all, releasing music is definitely our main priority for 2016.
Bondax are currently on tour through Australia – for information and tickets, head to their official website.