Aidan and Connaire McCann and Johnny Madden, the twenty-something musicians behind Glaswegian punk rock outfit Baby Strange, still haven’t figured out how they landed on the radar of photographer David Bailey—but they’re not complaining. Last year, the legendary photographer reached out to the band, recruiting them to star in Valentino’s Spring 2017 menswear campaign. The trio had dabbled in the fashion world before, providing the soundtrack for Todd Lynn’s Spring 2016 runway, but never before this visibly, and never as models. They descended on London for the shoot, where they were met by both Bailey and Valentino designer Pierpaolo Piccioli.
“We got on. We had a laugh. It was good fun—he wasn’t too intimidating,” said Connaire McCann, the group’s drummer and vocalist, of Bailey. The campaign launched in January, marking an auspicious start to 2017 for the band, who will release an EP, the aptly titled Extended Play, this summer, following their 2016 full length debut Want It Need It.
“We’ve been kind of pushing the boat out a little bit and trying some new stuff,” said Madden, the group’s guitarist and vocalist, speaking from the band’s U.K. studio. “It’s a massive step up from the album.” McCann jumped in. “We would say that,” he added with a laugh.
In early March, they were still in the midst of putting the final touches on the EP. But the first single was finished. The first glimpse of Baby Strange’s new sound comes on the song “Motormind,” the lead track off Extended Play, premiering exclusively on W.
“Motormind” has the band’s trademark urgency. A shimmering guitar line and low-fi vocals give way to an infectious chorus; though barely scraping two and a half minutes in length, it’s a gut-punch of a song. And in those few minutes, it traces an entire emotional arc of feeling stymied by routine and ultimately breaking out.
“It’s a song about freedom, really,” Madden explained.
Going full-tilt, both in their music and in their careers, is something of the modus operandi for Baby Strange. The trio met at a community youth music center as pre-teens a decade ago; they grew up learning to play instruments together, cohering into a band in 2012. From the outset, they devised their own videos, album art, and tour posters; though they conceded control of their debut record, last year’s Want It Need It, to a record label, for Extended Play they’re back in the driver’s seat, self-releasing it on the newly minted Public Records.
“We’ve been rushing along with it,” Madden said. “We’ve got a pretty fast way of moving. We don’t ponder over things for too long.”