Maybe it’s “divine intervention,” or maybe two strangers hit it off so perfectly that one of them asks to stick their head underneath the other’s skirt. In whatever case, New York has always been known as a boiled-over pot of stew full of cultures, ideals, and personalities. Opening your heart and allowing your “stranger danger” instincts to take a backseat can lead to life-changing friendships, as it did for Jazzelle Zanaughtti and Jean Carlos Pina.

As the story goes, Jazzelle, also known as Uglyworldwide, made their way from Detroit to New York on their pilgrimage to the club kid mecca. After breaking their ankle, Jazzelle opted to show up to the club in full-on surgical garb—crutches included—where Pina, who goes by Robot Moonjuice, was performing. The two locked eyes, Robot asked to go under Jazzelle’s skirt, gave them a sniff, and reported back to the crowd that it smelled “great.”

Quick to interject is John Muller, known as Stonegroov, who asks in the raucous Zoom call amidst giggles and screams: “Um, nobody sniffed my pussy when we first met. I guess that’s okay.”

Stonegroov, who arrived in the States in 2012 from Greece, eventually made his way to New York only because he didn’t have a car for the sprawling expanse of Los Angeles. Cutting his teeth at the legendary Electric Lady Studios and beyond, he racked up accolades and Grammys working with everyone from Jon Batiste to IDK to Pop Smoke, eventually locking in with Robot and Jazzelle to form The Bad Manners.

Jazzelle recalls being commissioned for a project with their friends. Having full creative freedom, they thought a song and music video would be ideal. Digging through all the lyric ideas and brain dumps in their Notes app, and with the help of Robot, the beginnings of The Bad Manners came to fruition in a matter of hours. For now, the band was imaginary, and they needed a producer.

In comes a confused Stonegroov, who recalls asking Robot, “What are we doing? Is there a direction?” After parsing down the idea through conversations and reference tracks, the group had their first song. It was then that Robot clued in Stonegroov on the full extent of this idea. The three had almost no choice but to finally become a band.

The band name quickly becomes evident in the chaotic conversation. Jazzelle and Robot exchange funny glances and giggles in the silence, while Stonegroov plays an excellent “straight” man, both sexuality-wise and in an acting sense. As is the starting point for many artists of the past few years, COVID brought about a much-needed creative burst in people. Jazzelle pored over a running list of song and band names, hyper-fixating on The Bad Manners. “It was the imaginary name for my imaginary band for my imaginary music career,” they explained. “Or as the kids call it, ‘manifestation’,” Robot replies. 

Jazzelle recalls a trip to Cape Cod with a friend of theirs, acutely aware of the space they took up in the conservative, predominantly white town. “Having to sit down with grandmas at nice dinners while I had one too many glasses of wine made me realize I’m not built for this.”

By way of Detroit, Harlem, and Greece, The Bad Manners’ paths coalesced in New York as they searched for spaces to accommodate their rebellion. Whether through drag and club kid spaces, shows, and fashion, the three of them knew there’s power in numbers – and weirdness. 

While their debut single “NO PAIN”, released today, is a throwback post-punk banger created in collaboration with fellow New York producer Lillith, the group is quick to dispel any “punk” label. “I think what we’re trying to do was disrupt what is normally already there,” Robot explains. “I think we’re bringing in a new, fresh and genuine punk energy into the music scene and performance space.”

“We give the emo girl and the ratchet bitch protecting the emo girl at the same time,” Jazzelle responds. As for why this is the perfect time and space for The Bad Manners’ infectious energy to erupt onto the scene in a mile-a-minute city, Stonegroov steps in with a simple, concise “Fuck L.A.”

“New York is one of the least forgiving places on Earth, and if you find your stride, you’re fucking going.”

“Every day, someone makes me feel something in this city,” Robot says in agreement.  And with rumors of a secret Chinatown premiere buzzing in the swampy, New York air, The Bad Manners are already bringing back that DIY, guerrilla-style spirit to the city’s revitalized underground.

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