Alicia Bognanno channeled 1997 Chumbawamba classic “Tubthumping” when it came to writing her new single, “Where to Start” — the first song off of Bully’s upcoming third album, Sugaregg (out August 21 via Subpop).
“I was listening to ‘Tubthumping’ by Chumbawamba and picking apart the melodic structure and sort of trying to mimic that,” Bognanno tells Rolling Stone. “I’m not even joking; it still makes me laugh to think about. But let’s be real, that is undeniably a solid song. ‘Where to Start’ addresses the frustration that comes along with love having the ability to fully control your mood and mental state for better or worse. It was therapeutic to funnel some lightheartedness into what can be an otherwise draining state of mind.”
“Where to Start” boasts Bully’s characteristic high-energy snarl, as growling guitars lead into Bognanno’s raspy-throated condemnation: “I don’t know where to start/I don’t know where to start with you.” Decidedly more jangly guitars then usher us all the way into the guts of the song — a mixture of sweet and sour, soft and frustrated.
The video for the track — directed by Alan Del Rio Ortiz — was shot in isolation due to COVID-19 and features sequins, blood, bubbles and Bognanno’s dog, Mezzi. It’s a dizzy breakdown in a bathroom — something we can all likely relate to at present.
The record was produced and mixed by John Congleton and Bognanno and marks a change in the way the latter makes music. “There was a change that needed to happen and it happened on this record,” she says. “Derailing my ego and insecurities allowed me to give these songs the attention they deserved.”
“Where to Start” was produced by Bognanno and Graham Walsh.
In contrast to 2017’s Losing, Bognanno says “there are more songs about erratic, dysfunctional love in an upbeat way, like, ‘I’m going down and that’s the only way I want to go because the momentary joy is worth it.’” That shift in mindset also comes from Bognanno finding proper treatment for her bipolar 2 disorder. “Being able to finally navigate that opened the door for me to write about it,” she says.
The upcoming album comes on the heels of Bognanno composing songs for 2019 film Her Smell, starring Elisabeth Moss as a fictional rock star. “People asked if I’d play those songs with Bully but the whole point was for them to not be Bully songs,” she says. “It was nice to get my head out of my own ass for a second and work on a project for someone else.”
Bully, Sugaregg Tracklist
1. Add It On
2. Every Tradition
3. Where to Start
6. Let You
7. Like Fire
8. Stuck in Your Head
9. Come Down
10. Not Ashamed
11. Hours and Hours
12. What I Wanted