Bad Boy - 2003 Interview with Steve Grimm

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Interview with Bad Boy's Steve Grimm
Written By: Lee Bradfield
Date: July 2003

Let's face it, the moniker of Bad Boy looms large over the Midwestern rock landscape, most especially their home state Wisconsin. The legendary rockers have been scorching the scene with their brand of hard rock meets AOR since the mid 70's, putting out four LP's and an EP all of high quality between 1976 and 1986.

We'll be looking into that period, but first we fast forward to Sunday 29/06/03 and the boys have a recent comeback disc under their belts, and they're about to take the stage opening for Cheap Trick at Milwaukee's 'Summerfest' rock show in front of a stadium sized audience. They'd hired a violinist for certain tracks, and were clearly pumped up for the occasion.

After their set, Steve Grimm had this to say 'If you can't get it up for Summerfest, you better check your pulse. War played before us and had built a nice crowd, so they were ready and we gassed 'em. We chose the violin for a few appropriate tunes, and it showed a nice diversity and departure from the norm.'

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With a catalogue of 80's classics like 'Don't Pretend', 'Let Me Love You', Something Ain't Right', 'Cheat On Me' etc to draw on, the fans were revelling in the hits and radio classics - but there was also newer material from the 2002 'We Should've Been Dead By Now' CD on show, as Steve reflects.

'Although the 'Dead' CD is kinda all over the place (in terms of musical texture), they are well crafted songs. We didn't overdo it and played the right tunes, and they went over well.'

As anyone who knows their Bad Boy will tell you, frontman Xeno (who joined around '81) was the lead singer in Cheap Trick before being replaced by Robin Zander. As a result there will always be a strong connection between the two bands who shared the Summerfest stage as Steve confirms.

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'Yes, we talk backstage and they wish us luck! Way back when, Xeno had been let go by Cheap Trick, so we asked him to join - he had written some tunes that we kinda liked.'

In the mid 70's before Bad Boy got their record deal, they were called Crossfire, and were playing the legendary Midwest rock venues such as Humpin' Hanna's in Milwaukee among many others - Steve sums up that era. 'The 70's and 80's were a fertile time in the Midwest and clubs, dates and bands were plentiful.

A musician could make a living playing full time, and Bad Boy had a lot of super gigs.' As for the name change from Crossfire to Bad Boy, Steve remembers it like this: 'The name 'Crossfire' was owned by another group. We sat in a hotel room and came up with 'Bad Boy' Very simple.'

The big break came in the form of a record deal with major 70's label United Artists, and Bad Boy's first 2 albums 'The Band Milwaukee Made Famous' and 'Back To Back' both enjoyed Billboard Top 100 success. Then just as the major league breakthrough seemed likely, United Artists went belly up - leaving the boys with no record deal.

They opted for independent labels for the remaining albums, and we asked Steve why, and if the whole thing was taken as a setback. 'Yes and no' he says. 'We had other (major label) offers, but they never came up with advance for recording, so we concentrated on our own community.'

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Far from hampering Bad Boy, focusing on their Midwest neighbourhood resulted in an army of loyal fans and plenty of airplay in the region during the 80's. And they were still keeping good company on stage as well.

'We were riding the crest of the 80's wave, and anyone who needed an opener, we were it. most memorable were Fleetwood Mac, AC/DC, Journey, Ted Nugent etc - now when they play Milwaukee in particular, we are still considered.

On the airplay front, back in '84 'Cheat On Me' and 'Thunder And Lightning' were on daily rotation on several Midwest stations.' In 1998 Bad Boy fans got their first chance to hear them on CD through a 'Best Of' release. but now, through Steve Grimm's 'do it yourself' determination, all the albums are finally available on cd for the first time.

To close off, we asked him how interested hard rock fans can get hold of these treats. 'Just check out our website: www.badboyrock.com, and go to the merchandise page, it's all there.'


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