10 March 2022

Bad Boy Chiller Crew: “We’re lads from the estate who just wanted to be something”

On the back of announcing their first-ever US tour, HUNGER chats with BBCC’s Gareth Kelly about the band’s success and notoriety

Bad Boy Chiller Crew know who they are. At first glance, they’re everything you’d expect of a musical trio that largely raps about the “charva” lifestyle. We have to reschedule this interview three times, for example, as they were intent on doing a quad bike run first. But BBCC — comprised of Gareth Kelly (GK), Kane Welsh, and Clive (Sam) Robinson — don’t need to be more than the sum of their parts. Their unabashed celebration of their Bradford roots, and the music that comes with it, have won them a loyal fanbase and the title of celebrities up north. 

It’s not hard to see why. Alongside the boozing, banter, and general commitment to a 130 BPM lifestyle, BBCC has singlehandedly re-energised the UK’s garage and bassline music scene — which hasn’t had this much airtime since T2’s 2017’s smash hit, ‘Heartbroken’. And that’s why they don’t care about being taken seriously; their success speaks for itself. “We don’t care about what anyone thinks of us,” GK, the self-confessed “grandad” and spokesman of the group reiterates. “We don’t even care about ourselves sort of thing. It’s already a bad time we’re going through in the world, and we want people to be themselves.”

Ahead of their show at the Notting Hill Arts Club, HUNGER caught up with GK about the collective’s unlikely success, their roots, and their belief that they’re going to be an “up to date Beatles” by next year. 

Bad Boy Chiller Crew (from left) GK, Kane, and Clive

What are the different roles you, Kane and Sam play in BBCC? 

Kane is the main music man, I’m the presenter, and Clive is the actual maniac. That’s how it works. Those two switch off from the world. It’s only me who runs around like a maniac, trying to please everybody.

Congrats on the tour! Are you excited? 

I think at first, people were thinking what on earth is this… And who even are these people. I still don’t believe how far we’ve come — yeah, we’re going to Australia and America this year, and it’s like wow. Because Americans are actually mental themselves, and kind of on our level, I think they’ll enjoy it. 

How do you deal with being perceived as “laddish”?

We don’t care about what anyone thinks of us. We don’t even care about ourselves, sort of thing. We don’t really take life seriously. It’s already a bad time we’re going through in the world, so we just want people to be themselves… But we’re not saying to go absolutely mental like us.  I think the reason why we’re so loved and why people think we’re humble is because we’re literally lads from the sticks of the estate who wanted to be something. And while people were laughing at us we were chasing those dreams. Those people are still in shock. 

Coming from Yorkshire has been an important thing for you guys. How do you think your music would be different if you weren’t from the north of England?

Well, that’s exactly it. This isn’t an act, Yorkshire is who we are. We’re representing what being up north is about. A lot of the world hasn’t seen that, especially people down south. Because it’s only a three-hour drive, people can’t imagine how different Yorkshire is to London. 

The fame came quite suddenly, how have your family and friends been throughout it all? 

I don’t think they actually know how much is going on because of how mad and radge we are. At first, we were a laughing stock. Even our friends and parents were like, what are you doing? We just had a dream, and personally, I always knew that I wanted to be someone. It’s hard to give back to everyone because I’ve got such a big family and friend base. With what we’re doing now, it takes all of your energy, and I feel bad when I don’t reply and I don’t see people, but it’s going to get to that point where I’m gonna have a mental breakdown if I try to do everything. I just need to switch off and focus on this. If people don’t want to understand they don’t have to, but our true friends and family get it. 

You say you grew up hearing the kind of music you’re now playing. Are you trying to bring it back? 

The tunes that we got brought up around are now 20 odd years old — we grew up hearing garage music being played outside our houses on the estate. I’d rather go to work in the morning and listen to the radio when it’s playing feel-good music and dance rather than deep grime and rave. We’re bringing it back.

Do you think you’re giving representation to a demographic of men that aren’t really seen in the mainstream?

Definitely, and that’s what’s happening right now. We’re on the radio, we’ve got an ITV television programme, we’re all over magazines. There’s literally not a platform that we’re not on and it’s proper overwhelming. 

Can you tell me about one of the craziest performances you’ve given?

I couldn’t even tell ‘ya. Once we got a wheelchair on stage and I just rolled myself around on it wearing a bra [laughs]. There’s never a dull moment in what we do and it’s not even an act, it’s who we are and it’s what we do. If I had to tell you all the mad stuff we’ve done, I’d be here all night. 

What do you love about playing live? 

A lot of UK crowds have this slow standstill kind of dance. But with how fast our music is and how fast we rap, there’s a mosh pit with every song. There’s not an easy moment, it’s 100 miles per hour and when we get off stage, the euphoria is just mad. 

How do you cope with hangovers? 

I don’t get rough me, at all. 

I don’t believe it… 

We haven’t felt rough for ages, honestly. But when Kane has a session depression, everyone knows about it. It’s more of a hangover when we haven’t been on it. 

Any drunken fights?

Never. We don’t have arguments at all. We’re not about violence. 

Who goes to bed first?

Me. Definitely. I’ve DJd every weekend since I left school, and I’ve literally done so much partying, all those 2-3 day benders… But the other two are straight like rapid so they’re loving it, but me, I’m the grandad. 

How will you guys know if you’ve made it in music? 

Just playing international now, and maybe being an up to date Beatles. I wouldn’t say that we’re on that sort of level now but if we don’t make that kind of statement next year with all the hard work we’ve been putting in, then there’s something wrong. 

How do you want to be seen by fans? 

Just to be seen as humble and as who we are. I don’t wanna change. Not a chance, we are who we are and that’s why we got signed. It’s not even about the money, it’s about having a laugh and making others laugh. 

  • Writer Nessa Humayun
  • Image Credits Frank Fieber

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