Bad Bubble - "Show me a poet who does not feel a sense of duty to his craft & I’ll show you a soldier who, when the rockets start coming in, does not move & act with passion & purpose." - Stereo Stickman

Bad Bubble “Show me a poet who does not feel a sense of duty to his craft & I’ll show you a soldier who, when the rockets start coming in, does not move & act with passion & purpose.”


Backed by a growing fan-base infatuated with the depths and details of this artistic exploration of a life, songwriter and producer Bad Bubble gears up to launch perhaps his most unexpected and poignant album yet.

Reflecting on his years spent in service for the US military, the album War details the intricacies of that experience, and of returning home afterwards, in a uniquely creative and fearlessly honest way.

This kind of bold exploration of military life, the realities of modern warfare, have not really been expressed in this way before, and certainly not through a full-length album of such versatility and ambient depth.

We caught up with Bad Bubble once again, to find out how these songs impacted his memories of War, what the writing process was like, and what his hopes are for the veterans of the future. Here’s the conversion in full.

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Bad Bubble! Always excited to catch up. Huge congrats for the well-deserved successes you’ve been seeing this year. What has 2023 been about from your perspective as an artist?

Hey!! It is great to be back!!! And thank you so much for having me!

Well, 2022 was me finding out where the bathroom is. I learned how things work. That actually took me a long time. I was a stranger to any social media. I remember asking a friend (barely, I knew her for maybe 3 days at the time) how to correctly make a Tweet! So that all took a long time to figure out. And the scams came at me hard! I should write a book on the scams alone. You wouldn’t believe it!! But 2023, I became a pro. Or at least my idea of what a professional artist is. I try everyday to get as close to that as humanly possible. It’s funny. I’ve wanted to be a professional artist my entire life and once the stars all align and I capitalize on my one opportunity to become one, I don’t know what it is. But, I’ve found that innocence to be a strength.

The War album is due to release soon, a phenomenal project, classic Bad Bubble sonics but fascinating new stories and feelings underneath. What was the first song you wrote for this album, and why tell these stories now?

The first song I wrote for the album would be track one, Our Waves Through a Winter. Originally titled Kassie’s Song. I wrote it around the same time as I wrote This is for Kassie which I released early last year.

Kassie is a dear friend I used to buddy around with while in Iraq. A remarkable girl. A good soldier. She had an aura of fun which followed her around like a shadow. And her gift was contagious. She used to catch me drifting off into one of my depressive “Zone Outs” and tell me to wipe that frown off my face. I always said, “yes, ma’am” even though I outranked her and she wasn’t an officer (Officers are called Ma’am or Sir).

No one, by the way, the entire time I was in the military, ever knew I was a writer. At that time, I wasn’t. The only thing I did then was write poetry on a little book I carried around with me. The reason I wanted to tell these stories is simply because if I don’t, no one ever will.

As I wrote the story, I knew I could not release all this material if there was no change involved. An artist has to change. Now is the perfect time as I feel the status quo, good and bad, needs to change. I’ve been non-stop. I have not taken a break and my listeners have not either. So to keep things moving forward, I had to change. So I wrote something different. It is different not so much because of any extra flavor it may have, but because of what it does not have. There is no soft piano (except purposefully at the very end). Very rare mentions of love or loneliness. No soft ballots or sonnets. Even the poetry is more…defiant and sarcastic.

Believe me when I say I came close to making this project a 7 album/7 EP cap. I thought long and hard about it. What does the war have to do with Anna? The answer is, it helped shape her father into the man he is today, whatever that may be. Another huge issue I had with writing this, and of course I’m going to be completely honest…I didn’t know how the listener would react.

Let’s face a hard truth. The United States is not looked upon in the world in a very good light. And for a year, I was its saber. That doesn’t exactly do me any favors in the hipster, finger snapping coffee shops all the world over. Where may I add, I feel at home. But in the end, none of that matters. I am my own person and I was before the war, during, and after. Some may ask, “How can a poet be a warrior?” I would answer, because both are led with love, using the heart as a compass. Both suffer unbelievable pain. Both inside and out. And usually do so silently.

I would argue a soldier makes the best poet. And a poet makes a better soldier. Show me a poet who does not feel a sense of duty to his craft and I’ll show you a soldier who, when the rockets start coming in, does not move and act with passion and purpose. Both are two very beautiful, sacred, time tested occupations and ways of life.

Let’s talk about Big Perfect – ‘I’m just the clone of future, past and present tones… for all the humble masses who had to put up with being pissed upon and then told it’s simply raining’. How did this reflection come to you, and is it something you were aware of during service, or only in hindsight afterwards? In other words, is it impossible to get that clarity when you’re first swept away on the adrenaline of the military?

First let me state it is very much possible for individuals to do great things and make positive differences in people’s lives if the original intent was found to be fraudulent. The original intent is void in circumstances of heroism and obtaining objectives which lead to a peaceful and prosperous environment for future generations.

I knew the explained reasons the US gave (WMD’S) for the invasion and government overthrow of Iraq was bullshit. I knew that long before even wearing the uniform. Not to get political this early on in the interview (I am in no way political) but at this point, both sides of the isle in the US know full well that war was bullshit. I didn’t want to make the album political. But honestly, there’s no avoiding it if I wanted this album to follow suit and be completely honest.

No one protested that war more than I did. But my family is made up of warriors. Every male in my family served during a time of war going back as far as we can go. And in the United States, we get that wonderful gift about every 30 years. That is something I wish my European brothers and sisters understood. The American people have had so much war forced on us. You’ll get the individual put in front of the media’s camera saying how “we’re in it to win it” but I assure you, the average American over the last 100 years wants nothing to do with it and feels we should not have to always do this. My father was drafted into the Vietnam War.

“My Uncle was a “tunnel-rat” in Vietnam, which is one of the most frightening occupations the world has ever inflicted on a human being. How the hell he did that and survived is so far beyond me. If you’re reading this and are interested, Google “Tunnel Rat in Vietnam”…No way…there is no way I would have done that and he did it and survived 365 days.”

Both of my Grandfathers served in WWII. Their fathers were in God knows what war and on and on and on. In America, we have many veterans. The fact that a country has veterans in the first place is a testament to human beings’ inability to wield power correctly on the world’s stage. It’s disgraceful we cannot get along with one another or greed manipulates a very few powerful people the way it does to cause these wars. But I digress.

To your question, yes, I knew full well what I was getting involved in. You could call me a hypocrite for serving in a war I did not believe in and I would concur to a certain extent and accept your statement does hold validity. But it is what we do. It’s what my family does. I hope I am the last. My family and whatever future generations come are all paid up.

I was never an “outdoorsy, gun guy”. I never hunted a day in my life. I do not fish. I do not enjoy nature. I never even shot a gun of any kind before enlisting. I was not there for the adrenaline rush or to prove any alpha male status. I simply wanted it to be over with as soon as possible. Which, by the way, is what I tried capturing in Big Perfect. Believe it or not, military life is much better in this area. Yes, there is an astonishing amount of bullshit. But rarely does anyone lie to you. We were really big on “personal integrity”. Lies do not really exist. Things like “half-truths” and “guesses” cost lives. So you either know for fact, or are completely clueless. There is no in-between. So in that aspect, among many others, army life is better than here.

Another line in the song reads, “So get up. And get mad. Don’t let the bastards win”. This is in reflection to fighting for what you believe in. I may not have believed in the war I fought. But I believed in the legacy I inherited and the job I felt obligated to perform, no matter the sacrifice or price it carries to this day. And, of course, I believed in the person next to me…no matter how much of a douchebag they were…

You said that you didn’t want War to be all about the pain and nothing else. Why did you make that decision, and what was it about Guardian Five One Medic that made it a good story to tell?

For a couple of different reasons. For one thing, dealing with any residue is a very personal voyage. And this is not a pissing contest to see which soldier had it worse. I cannot stomach that mentality. I had it worse than some, and better than others. I am not a hero and will not answer to any labels as such. That said, I knew this would be an incredibly difficult album to write because of what I did see and do.

If I would have written about all the horrible things, it would not have been a fruitful engagement for the listener, who presumably already knows war is the most horrible thing on the planet. However, what the listener may not know is there is another side to it.

A very important side I wanted to really point out and share with anyone willing to listen and it is as follows: In the United States Military, the person beside you…the person you’ve come to know as your brother and your sister…who is willing to give their life for their country and their countrymen…These people, I swear to God, are the weirdest people you will ever hope to meet as long as you may live.

“I have had the pleasure of meeting some of the most assorted cast of characters the United States has to offer. I mean that. There are some straight up weirdos in the military.”

For example, I knew a guy, Seimer, who was a weightlifter. This guy was huge. Picture Hulk Hogan in a combat uniform. He would brag about using steroids and he studied ballet, religiously. He was a character and one of my best friends. He was wounded in Afghanistan and had to be flown out by medivac. He fell off a cliff doing ballet. And oh my God, there was a guy named Prone, who used to just stand outside of the latrine (restroom/shower). He would stand there all day, every day if he could. Had a look on his face like he just found the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. And you would be surprised at the fact that it really didn’t bother anyone all that much.

Then of course there was Deik, Sgt. Deikelman, who was “Guardian Five One Medic”. He made that name up, by the way. He labeled himself that when he used to ride a bike around finding adventures to get into on his downtime. This guy was a slice of pure gold. If pissing people off were an art form, Deik was Monet. I used to just sit and watch him piss people off like he was my own personal TV sitcom. There were times I would literally sit down and watch him as if I were at home on mom’s couch. He was a bonafide “Junk Man”. He would keep whatever junk he could find. Someone could have used a toothpick 3 weeks earlier & Deik would scour the earth looking for it and most likely would find it. He was absolute gold.

There’s also a ton of the world finest, most delicately curated pricks you will ever hope to meet. Especially the Sergeant Major (an upper enlisted rank, kept only for the world’s most decorated ass chewers). The Sergeant Major’s sole purpose in life was to simply walk around and prove beyond a shadow of a doubt, that he/she has their prickhood in world class, elite league status.

About ¾ of my way through my tour, I was having a very hard time and was ready to snap. And when I say snap, I mean an hour on the punching bag aint gonna cut it. I was coming apart. A Sergeant Major came up to me and started yelling at me for something. Probably my uniform, but I don’t recall. I didn’t say anything to him. I simply looked in his eyes and gave him a very convincing, “leave me alone, right now” look. He saw I was not playing with him and backed down. I never saw that man before, and haven’t seen him since. But I felt he learned a lesson that day.

“It was like that over there. You had to have situational awareness about people and their state of mind. You are far away from home. And there is a very real chance you may never see home again. So people start to chip away at reality. Lines get blurred. And people do very stupid, very emotional things.”

So walking up to someone and chewing their ass loudly and publicly is not a smart move and is a great way to find out the person you’re chewing is on the brink. The U.S. Army has unwritten codes. A way they do things and things they do. You won’t find it in any pamphlet and no one really knows about it until you get there.

One of these things is “Army Humor”. It does not contain any political correctness, whatsoever. It is an unabashed, unapologetic brand of humor used to deal with bad situations. My unit was no exception. We were very good at one thing….drawing dicks. I later found this was not just my unit but pretty much every single unit in the Army. I would bet I personally drew, with a trusted Sharpie, 11k-12k finely crafted and well produced, amateur level, free hand drawn dicks. We drew dicks on EVERYTHING. If there was an area of that country that had 3 square inches or more of blank real estate, you can bet your life if we saw it, it would soon be occupied with a freshly drawn dick with magnanimous precision. We drew dicks on walls, floors, ceilings, trees, blast covers, Humvees, desks, lamps, and even each other. Even the females in our unit got in on the action. I spoke with my brother who is still in the Army about this. He said a VIP came to his unit and had them rip apart an aircraft. When doing so, they discovered over 130 dicks on the aircraft. In regards to my unit, I would love to see the looks on the faces of the locals after we left an area…

The people who were there with me are true nutcases and each one of them made an impact on my life. And each one of them (except maybe Prone) would have given their lives for me with zero hesitation and would have asked for seconds. I love them all very much. And I miss them.

Poetry is a huge part of your writing style. Sometimes it’s simple, short lines that speak volumes. Glass of Wine is an interesting example, the title somewhat removed from the reflections within. Are there intentional spaces between your original ideas and what you present to your audience, and is that to give a sense of individual ownership to each listener, or to create mystique?

I can see your point. And I thought of that when I wrote it because the title doesn’t make much sense…unless you knew me then. Those who knew me around the time I deployed knew I was a wine connoisseur. Actually, I was a complete wine snob. I love wine. I was once infatuated with it. I can go on and on but I want you to keep your readership. However, I would be remiss if I didn’t point out exactly how much can be derived from a glass. There are people who’s palates are so in tune, they can tell you the brand, age, and what kind of wine they are drinking blindfolded. Then go on to tell you they detect pepper or strawberry or oak, etc..

I wanted to write a song like that. Where different people can tell you different things you may not have thought of. So yes, it does give a sense of ownership. However, with this particular album, I did have to take back ownership to some degree because it wouldn’t be right leaving such an important topic with so many liberties.

The main chorus, “I’ve built something…you destroyed it…I may need assistance”…I am referring to something very specific in that line. Over there, I used to think to myself about war. The entire concept of it. How human beings were given something precious. Yes, the planet, but also each other.

God (or who/whatever anyone deems to be a creator) gave us many things which are precious. And throughout history, people have just fallen over themselves to destroy these things through war. That is among many nodes I detected when sipping that glass of wine. And that is a very powerful and pathetic human trait. One I am ashamed to be ashamed of in the first place.

War is pain and misery and it is stupid. War, in its very essence, is the waste of our most precious resources. Our planet and the youth who always seem to be the ones who have to engage in it. Our very innocence. A child’s innocence is thrown aside with such ease by our “leaders”. I always think of the passage in the Bible, “Forgive them oh Lord, they know not what they do”. That is the truth of war. Those who wage do not know what they do. And if those who begin these wars actually do know what they do, meaning they are a veteran and have seen firsthand the idiotic and stupefying waste it causes, then shame on them.

“War is ridiculous. It is mind boggling just how much damage it causes.”

Some argue war is necessary because tyrants come to power. I’m not naive enough to think against that but how many wars, especially U.S. involved wars, have been absolutely necessary? That is what I detected from the glass which I volunteered to sample. And I may need assistance moving forward trying to cleanse my palate.

Explosion is heavy, stylistically quite brilliant. How difficult was it to take yourself into these memories and recreate the moment with music?

Explosion was the most difficult, yes. It involves something I have not come to grips with and I do apologize if I do not elaborate. Just please know I am trying.

Explosion was among the first written for this album back in October, 2021. I was worried the voice would not be accepted. But I got over that pretty fast as I made my peace with the prospect this entire album may not be accepted. That said, Explosion is one of the more surreal tracks. The engineer did a fantastic job with it, as he does with all tracks. He really made this one cook up.

It’s funny you mention “memories” in the question. I didn’t realize how protective the human mind is of itself. The human mind can and will “pick and choose” what it wants to display to each of us individually. The mind, out of nowhere will show us what it has held back until it thinks we are ready to view again. Explosion is a case study in this behavior as I still have difficulty wrapping my head around it, no pun intended. But I wanted to convey that to the listener. “I’ve got the answer…you haven’t the patience”…My mind knows what I can and cannot take. And I trust it will reveal what it wants me to know in due course. I am certain of it. I hope I did justice to the scene I experienced.

Above all, I did not make an album for those who served over there. Quite the opposite. I didn’t want to create a “feel” that veterans would hear and connect with, even though a venture like that is needed. I wanted someone who hasn’t been there to get not only an idea but to know it is one person’s take. It’s the sounds I felt in my own head. Ask someone else in my unit to do the same thing, I’m sure it would sound different. However, the more of a sore thumb this album is to the story, the better.

“I wanted this album to stick out different from the rest of the story. Because it was an experience which stuck out and did not fit in with any other experience involved in this story.”

War should never “fit in just fine”. It should stick out and not belong.

How does Underscore tie into the stories of War, so much so that the closing track reflects her indifference?

This was a last minute addition. The listener must keep in mind I am telling a story of the things which happened to me a very long time ago. In this case, circa 2011-2012. I added The Indifference of Underscore as the last song at the very end of the album, simply because the war was over. No more explosions. No more Sergeant Majors. No more world class drawn dicks. No more wine tasting. That’s it.

I thought it would be perfect to add a soft piano at the end of a mess of fractured emotions and flying debris. Because when you come home from over there, it’s insane. On Monday, you’re in a dangerous place where anything can happen. By Saturday, you’re back home in America, where you are among your beloved devices.

“I wanted the listener to realize the track does not belong on this album. Because when you return home, that’s how you feel. Like you do not belong. And as much as your friends and family will desperately try, they will never understand.”

You will be all alone and you will have to navigate life again, but this time, things are very different.

In regards to Underscore. When I returned, she was very different. I felt like I didn’t know her anymore. She became distant and indifferent to everything about me. And I never knew why. It was me over there, but she was the one I felt had changed. There is something she once had which was brilliant and one of a kind that made her just light up & it’s gone. Indifference took its place. I haven’t seen it since then.

I’ve tried explaining it to Anna when I talk to her. I want her to know that side of her mother. That was where her essence was. The sad reality is when we lost Anna, that part of her went as well. And she wasn’t the same. I tell Anna it’s not her fault, because it isn’t. It’s just that her mother loved her that much. Perhaps I changed too but no one was around to tell me.

The project’s artwork will be familiar to your fans – how does this album link to All My Friends, and why is the house empty now in terms of the timeline and your experiences?

The artwork, for albums only, are of a man inside of a house (albums 1 & 2), and a woman inside of a different house (albums 3 & 4). The man is myself. The woman, of course, is Underscore. Both people are in two different houses.

Album 5 picks up where album 2 left off. In album 2, I just began a life of being completely alone. Which is why it’s more of a “fun” record. I thought I was embarking on a wonderful journey where no one will tell me what to do and everything was going to be fun. I was dead wrong. So album 5 was the aftermath at the end of the almost ten year long period of being alone. I was going absolutely mad.

Keep in mind, during story development, I had not made the decision to keep War in the story. The album was written and all ready to go but I had not made the decision at that time to keep it a part of the big story. If you take “War” out of the story, everything fits a little better. I kept War intact because it was a big part of why I am the way I am, I suppose. It makes more sense to the listener knowing this happened. Which will bring a little more attention to the mental health aspect of this story.

Seclusion was not my only weight to carry. All throughout everything, I had to carry this as well. It was not easy and it made me into a very bitter person. A very cynical person. Standoffish is a word I have been labeled in real life. The artwork of album 6 is the house with no one there because I was in Iraq. No one was there. It also symbolizes the feelings of isolation felt when returning. It is a very common thing felt in that situation. Wait until you see the covers for 7 & 8. Can’t wait to explain that…

If you could go back, would you still enlist, and what are your thoughts on the military at large and what it provides or does for (and to) a country?

Good question. Well, one of the benefits of serving in the military, especially during times of war, is education. When I came home from serving in Iraq, I was left asking, “what the hell am I going to do now”? 2012 was a very dark year. I had no idea what was ahead. Oh my God I had no idea. But, I knew it had to be for something. I had to “get” something for it other than a pat on the back down at the local watering hole.

So I decided to become a full time student. I shut my mouth, kept my head down and in the books, and graduated from Illinois State University with a bachelor’s degree in Organizational Leadership. One really good thing about having a college education is for once in my life, I now have something I worked hard for, and gained solely on my own steam, which not a single person on Earth can ever take away from me. That in and of itself is worth its weight in gold. But unfortunately, that’s where it stops.

That is the only good thing that came from my experience. I suppose there are little things. Habits I picked up there which are positives as far as my character is concerned. Of course, the people I met are a positive addition. To be honest, I never talk about this. In real life, the number of times I mention my military background to anyone at all can be counted annually on one hand. Very rarely do I mention it. But I think about it every day. And the sleep issues it has caused. I don’t even know where to begin with that issue.

“It’s been hard. I can say that much. The United States has a very unique brand of piss it pours out on its own veterans. It is as American as apple pie. And it’s not new. It’s been going on since the beginning of the Korean War.”

It got really bad during Vietnam. Where it was the people, the citizens, who turned on its own soldiers. They spit on their own soldiers because they saw blood and guts on the TV. They literally would walk up to a soldier returning from war, right in the airport…and spit in their face. It got so bad, the army would tell soldiers returning home not to wear their uniforms. Think about that for just a second. While the American people were turning into the worst people on the planet, the government was busy drafting the next batch of American boys who weren’t rich enough for college to get their come-up-ins. Talk about a horrible, frustrating, infuriating situation.

These days, people don’t seem to have an opinion unless you have a family member over there. Then you damn sure have an opinion. But the soldier will be quiet the entire time. That soldier will remain quiet until the day he or she takes their own life. Or finds themselves out on the street with no home or no hope. They will remain quiet the entire time and never once ask for help.

So would I do it again? No. Because a country who does not have the slightest respect for their own soldiers does not deserve to have them. And yes, I volunteered. I accept that. I was not drafted and no one put a gun to my head and forced me to join. But I am however left to ask why I am forced to regret it because the citizens and its elected leaders ignore the prior mentioned issues faced by veterans every day. When these issues are solved, I will change my answer to yes, I would do it again. But until that

Tell me quickly about ZAP the Enemy – what brought you to release the project this month, and what does the title represent, specifically the use of ‘ZAP’?

Zap the Enemy is an angry EP. I was told I never express anger at the time. And I should be feeling anger when I feel sadness. I agreed. So I wrote five songs, to the best of my ability, which display anger and frustration. Each EP prepares the listener for the album ahead.

The album ahead is violent. The EP is angry. The EP is aimed at Underscore. And yes, it is angry. I thought about how it would be looked upon by listeners but keep in mind two things. The story isn’t quite over and I am not the hero. I am a human being and I am flawed. I’m not perfect. And I was left feeling alone when I felt I should not have been. But as I said the last time we spoke, I am not entitled to anything or anyone. But that doesn’t mean I have to be happy about it. That doesn’t mean when someone comes out of nowhere to zap me in the face, I’m supposed to react happily. So in regards to the title, I’m the enemy who was zapped. And that is exactly what it felt like then. I wasn’t happy and I felt betrayed. But again, the story isn’t over. Stay tuned.

What’s next for you?

War will be on all platforms January 16, 2024. I have also decided to release the album as a whole this time as opposed to one track every two weeks.

I will also be doing something unexpected, even by myself. The next time we talk, everyone will know what I look like. I’ve decided to drop the mask. I don’t know how this is going to work or what it will do but this is what change is. Doing the uncomfortable until it becomes comfortable, then change it again.

I’m going to look to play live in Chicago in 2024. I will absolutely love that! I am also releasing two albums which are not in the story. They are all recently written and produced. I’ve decided not to put them on all platforms. You can get them at BubbleShop,, for the price of a coffee and they will be loaded with extras. I’ll try to have the first of them out by the end of February. The second perhaps by Summer.

I wonder if Stereo Stickman would be interested in reviewing them…as luck would have it, I know the head honcho there!

Without a doubt! 🙂

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Rebecca Cullen

Founder & Editor

Founder, Editor, Musician & MA Songwriter

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