Bad Marriage opens the Glam Slam Metal Tour II with Enuff Z’Nuff and The Quireboys at The King of Clubs on Saturday, July 29. Doors at 6:30pm. Tickets are $15.

I’ve sat through enough bad opening bands to know to do my homework before heading out to a show. There’s not a lot of newer bands doing the late ’80s/early ’90s sound so when bands from that era roll through Columbus on a packaged tour, they often will bring along a young band that sounds more modern, or heavier, or simply just doesn’t fit the vibe.

When the Glam Slam Metal Tour II with Enuff Z’Nuff and The Quireboys was announced, there was a third band listed that was unfamiliar to me. Fortunately, I pulled them up on YouTube and was met with something that pays homage to the past while sounding like the present. Formed in Boston in 2015, Bad Marriage believes in loud guitar rock and is putting the effort in to keep the machine rolling. They’ve opened for acts ranging from L.A. Guns to Last in Line, shared stages with Kix, Alice Cooper, Quiet Riot and Night Ranger and have done national tours with Tesla and Buckcherry. If this is the resume I’ve been handed, Bad Marriage is hired!

In late June, just before the tour kicked off, guitarist Mike Fitz gave me a call while the band’s tour van was being inspected. Fortunately, the van was deemed roadworthy and will pull into The King of Clubs this weekend for the final date on the Glam Slam Metal Tour.

Bands like Waltham and Damone aren’t new, but in the lineage of Boston rock, compared to the likes of Aerosmith and Extreme, they are newer. Bad Marriage sounds like it graduated from the same School of Rock as those bands. Would you say the Boston scene is rock oriented and has other bands like yours or are you an anomaly?

It’s tough when you say Boston, this always comes out because of Aerosmith, but mainly it just means bands are from Massachusetts or New England. Boston’s the city, the general hub, so we say we’re from Boston. I grew up playing in Boston. It’s funny you mention Damone and Waltham because both of those bands I’m very, very good friends with. I grew up listening to them, going to their shows, and playing shows with them in some of the younger bands I was in.

As far as an anomaly? It is what you make it. It’s not easy. Is the scene as thriving as it was 10, 15, 20, 30 years ago? No, I don’t think so. But, there’s still a scene for all genres of music. It’s just comes down to how hard you work. It’s all about self promoting now. No one’s just going to discover you one day. You got to do most of the work yourself. I think that goes a long way. So it’s good to just pound the pavement, as they say, and keep playing shows and strategically marketing yourself and getting yourself out there as much as you can. With all the digital world and streaming and video content, you got to be on top of that, too. You got to keep on creating content, but creative content, not same old shit.

You’ve toured with a lot of what I call “legacy” bands, bands from the late ’80s and early ’90s. Many of them typically take out a young band to open but, most of the time, those bands don’t really fit the bill. Bad Marriage definitely does. Do you think that’s what has opened up opportunities for you?

When you fit the bill, it’s great. And I think you’re right. I’ve gone to a lot of shows and seen the support bands where I’m like, “Wow, I wonder how they got on this?” because it’s not really the same. It doesn’t hit you the same.

I think it’s a case by case scenario with touring. There’s a lot of buy-ons now, so bands can buy-on to a tour and they might not fit the genre, but they want to go on the road or it could be favors. It could be a management company’s favor to another manager or booking agents. You never really know how bands end up where they end up on certain bills. But as far as us, we’ve done most of our extensive touring with Tesla. I think we’ve done 50 shows with them. That’s right in our wheelhouse. Obviously, Tesla has a diehard fan base. So the fact that we get to play in front of rock and roll fans like that really helps us. It puts the odds in our favor that we’ll get some fans from that because their fans are like, “Wow, these guys are new.” It’s refreshing to them to hear some new bands and new music.

There are the bands from that era that still can do arenas, but they are few and far between. Most of the bands that started in the late ’80s are playing smaller clubs or state fairs. Tesla can consistently draw 1,500 to 3,000 a night and haven’t had to resort to playing strip mall bars.

They’re just one of those bands that have just such a huge dedicated fan base. And they have a catalog that is so deep and they’re just amazing songwriters. They’re a legendary group and they just draw people. They’re one of the best so people still want to go. They’re still drawing thousands of people. For us to be even associated with them is amazing.

When Bad Marriage was supporting them, on any given night we’d play in front of 1000 to 2500 people. And most of them were very receptive to what we were doing. We’re building a small army of Bad Marriage fans and the Tesla shows were a huge kickstart to that.

How do you get their attention? Did you open a Boston show and then they were like, “Hey, we like you guys,” or was there another way that you got hooked up with them?

Yeah, that’s kind of exactly how it happened. We got an opportunity, I think it was in 2019, to open for them in three places around New England. It was in Boston at The House of Blues. There’s a place in Portland, Maine, that’s a really cool venue called Club Aura and the Hampton Beach Casino Ballroom, which is ridiculously awesome. It’s a super famous place. Zeppelin’s played there. Janis Joplin. Tesla sells out that place every time.

We played those three shows and by the second show, we were loading in in Portland, Maine, and Brian Wheat, co-founder and bass player of Tesla, pulled us into a room and he gave us the whole speech. “Hey, man, really like the way you guys sound.” He said, “You know, I have a record label. I have a recording studio.” He’s giving his sales pitch, and me and him just kind of hit it off. We’ve been friends ever since. I talk to him almost every day and I learned a lot from him. He’s kind of been mentoring me about the music business. He’s really good as a recording engineer, and I do that stuff too. So that’s how it started. And then we ended up flying to Sacramento during the COVID era and we recorded and wrote our latest EP. So that’s kind of how it started, with those three shows. And then they invited us on a couple of bigger tours.

I saw your name on the Enuff Z’Nuff/The Quireboys tour poster. I hadn’t checked you out before then but decided to give a listen to see if it was worth showing up early for. After listening to the latest EP, I went back and listened to your first album from 2019. Within the first five or so songs, I heard things that reminded me of LA Guns, Def Leppard, and Warrant. You don’t sound like any of those bands but there are little things that make me think of them. With bands like Greta Van Fleet, there’s a ’70s classic rock resurgence. I’m hoping the ’80s rock stuff has a resurgence as well and maybe Bad Marriage will be the band leading the way.

That would be awesome. I love that you brought up that you hear little inklings of bands when you listen to our songs, because that’s actually a good thing to me. We definitely think we have, or at least are developing, a sound that is recognizable as Bad Marriage. I don’t think we’re a direct rip off to anybody. Some bands, you could be like, “Wow, that sounds exactly like AC/DC” or “That sounds exactly like Led Zeppelin,” but we try to have our own sound. Our singer has a unique voice and that’s super important. What we write is just a culmination of all the stuff that we enjoy listening to, whether as a kid or something modern. Hopefully some songs may have a modern twist, some songs might have an old school throwback sound to it. I think it’s just case-by-case what we’re feeling at the time and what kind of riffs we’re writing, and we just go from there. We’ll be like, “Hey, is this song cool? Did I have a badass riff in it?” And then we all go, “Yeah, let’s do it. Let’s roll with it.”

You can hear the evolution from the first album to the second album and now to the EP. You’re evolving without losing the Bad Marriage sound.

That’s the goal and it’s not easy to do. Having your own sound is the most important thing. All the best bands – you know an Alice in Chains song when you hear it. You know Rage Against the Machine when you hear them. It’s undeniable. I could go on and on. Those are the bands that we strive to be like, that have their own signature sound.

We’ve talked ’80s bands but you’ve also toured with Buckcherry and that doesn’t seem like an unusual bill to me. You can easily fit on that bill because your sound isn’t easy to pigeonhole.

We would do a million shows with them if we could because their entire camp is just really cool people. Their work ethic is amazing. We look up to them for that. They are another band with a signature sound. When you hear Josh Todd’s voice, there’s no one else that sounds like him. When you get to tour with these bands, like the Tesla camp is such a well oiled machine as is Buckcherry, you just learn a lot. Seeing them perform every night, you look at yourself and are like, “We have a lot of work to do.” But it’s a good thing to be able to see because a lot of bands don’t get it. They don’t really realize how much work is put into it until you see it operate night after night after night. And it’s been really good for us, helping us get better and keep raising the bar.

You’ve toured with Tesla, you’ve worked closely with Brian, Jeff Keith sings backing vocals on the EP. Do you consider those guys to be more like brothers or mentors?

We call Jeff “Uncle Jeff” and Brian is “Uncle Brian.” But, I’ve also referred to Brian as my big brother. It just depends on the day. But, yeah, they are also 100% mentors. Just watching them, they don’t even have to say anything, when we’re on the side of the stage every night on tour is like you can’t help but absorb and learn.

And now former Tesla guitarist Tommy Skeoch is touring with you guys.

We’ve very excited about that. Obviously, Tommy hasn’t been in Tesla for a while. I became friends with him last last year on the Monsters of Rock Cruise. I just went up to him and started to introduce myself and we started shooting the shit and we hit it off about Marshall Amps and Gibson Les Pauls and guitars and stuff.

We just became friends after that, texting each other, calling each other on the phone. And then I had posted a video of me playing a certain guitar riff on one of our new songs, and he had really liked it, so I just ended up sending him that whole track and said, “Why don’t you play some leads on this?”

That’s just kind of how it started. And then he visited me a couple of months ago here in Massachusetts, and he learned all the Bad Marriage material, and so we had a jam, and it just clicked. It sounded really good. So he’s coming out with us for the entire month of July. And the plan is for him to stick around. So as long as everything goes well, Tommy is going to be our guy, so we’re really excited.

How did you get on the Glam Slam Metal Tour II bill?

Bad Marriage has kind of been my baby. I started it and handpicked all the guys and stuff. I do all the booking and managing and a lot of the recording. In this case, we don’t have a booking agent so I do all the booking and networking and just we had a show with Chip and Enuff Z’Nuff a couple months ago in Boston and I just asked him, I said, “Look dude, Bad Marriage is hungry. We need to get on the road, we need to stay on the road. We just got off the road, we need to tour.” And he said, “Oh dude, love you guys. I think we got something coming.”

Me and Chip started going back and forth as his agent started bringing dates together and Chip went to bat for us to be one of the support bands and that’s just how it happened.

For those coming to the show at The King of Clubs, what’s your merch game? What are you bringing out on this tour?

We love that game. I have nine boxes in my car. I just picked them up this morning of a whole new run of stuff. We have two full lengths on vinyl. We have our full length on CD, Bad Marriage II. And then we have our brand new EP, which we have on CD as well. So two vinyl, two CDs. We have hoodies, we have girl tank tops, we have t-shirts, we might have some baseball sleeves, and we got a bunch of different designs. We really like that stuff and we always are coming up with new, really cool stuff because again, that touches on the bands that we used to listen to and love. It’s just the same as when you got an old album or cassette tape or a CD and you love looking at the cover and opening it up. Everything about that, we want to carry that on. And when people spend money on stuff, it’s hard-earned money, so we want people to be satisfied with it and go, “That was worth the $10 or the $20.” We try not to skimp on that stuff.

What’s your plan after this tour?

We have some other dates. No extensive tour runs like that yet, but we have some odds and ends dates that are booked throughout August, September, October. We got a show with Dangerous Toys here in Boston in October. We’ve got a few shows in New York in November. The plan is to go forward with Tommy and start writing. That song I told you that he played leads guitars on, we’re going to button that up and probably do a video for that. It’ll be really cool to release that single with a video so you can see Tom in the video.