Spiritus Mundi. The source of all inspiration, where art exists before artists are granted the spark to bring it into the world. Spiritus Mundi – it’s how Nat Rufus formed The Bad Signs.
How else can you explain a West Virginia hillbilly going goth-punk at the bad luck age of thirteen? How else could his second-hand cassette collection be comprised of nothing but his father’s Elvis and Patsy Cline tapes, and his cousin’s bootlegs of The Misfits and The Cramps?
Inspiration begot inspiration. Nat and his twin brother, Rob, started a punk band later that year. Nat sang and played guitar. Rob played drums. Both wrote songs. Their punk dualequency sent shockwaves through Appalachia and beyond. By the time they were seventeen, they’d garnered national attention and slots on the Warped Tour.
Then tragedy struck. Rob was diagnosed with Stage Four cancer. The years that followed were spent in cancer wards and operating rooms. But after years of treatment and surgeries, Rob learned to play drums again . . . Nat started writing songs again . . . the boys were back.
The Twins moved to Nashville and formed Blacklist Royals. Three albums, four EPs, hundreds of shows, and a decade of international acclaim, TV slots, and punk-rock success followed.
In 2016, Rob immortalized their coming-of-age struggles in his memoir, Die Young With Me (Simon & Schuster). The book was a critical and commercial success. Rob was asked to adapt the book for Netflix with VMA-winning director Emil Nava. The crescendo hit in 2017 when Rob was awarded the American Library Association Medal.
The book threw the door to their past wide-open. Nat stepped through it.
He re-lit the spark: Those corrupting cassettes, Elvis, The Cramps, Patsy Cline, Misfits . . .
The idea for a new band was born. It would be a collision of first loves, a hillbilly goth-punk’s ode to all that is cool. It would be as pure as music could be, as bad as music should be.
It would be THE BAD SIGNS.
Nat began writing and honing the vision. Rob was behind the kit, co-writing and co-conspiring. But a piece was missing . . . her name was Samantha Harlow. She tended bar and sang at Robert’s Western World, the rowdiest honky-tonk in Nashville. A punk singer and a haunted honky-tonk angel may at first seem unlikely co-vocalists, but their voices blended eerily well.
The trio began playing shows and recording. Things clicked right out of the gate.
Nat produced their debut EP, Black Magic Moments. The vinyl was a 2017 Official Record Store Day Release. Their follow-up, Live at Sun Studio, broke Top 10 on College Radio. The band toured nationally with a wide-range of artists like goth icon Peter Murphy, punk legend CJ Ramone, singer-songwriter Cory Branan, and psychedelic darlings Ringo Deathstar. Their latest EP, The Baddest, features the single “Dial 6-6-6,” which Rolling Stone named ‘One of the 10 Best Country Songs You Need to Hear Now.’
2020 brings new chapters to The Bad Signs. Rob’s new book The Vinyl Underground (Northstar Editions) will be released in March. The band recorded a companion track for the book titled Vinyl Underground which is streaming now at all the usual outlets worldwide. More new tracks will be released in May and the band will begin touring.
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