When her bombastic rock band Bully started coming to Minneapolis-St. Paul on tour in 2015, Alicia Bognanno confessed she had not spent much time in the cities’ rock clubs, even though she grew up a half-hour south in Rosemount.
“It was just always too hard to get to shows, being that far out of town and having to convince my parents,” she said then.
Bognanno, now 27, certainly made up for lost time. As Bully’s debut album, “Feels Like,” picked up widespread radio play and critical accolades — with Bognanno in particular earning comparisons to both Kurt Cobain and Courtney Love — the Nashville-based band played nine Twin Cities shows in under two years, including opening sets for Courtney Barnett, Best Coast and Bob Mould.
Talking by phone Wednesday, a day before kicking off their latest tour, the singer and guitarist laughed when reminded of the frequency of all those return visits.
“It really wasn’t because I’m from there,” she said, noting that the rest of her immediate family has also moved out of the state. “We did particularly well as a band in both Minneapolis and Chicago, so we headed up that way as much as possible.”
After a 10-month lull, they’re back again to headline the Fine Line on Saturday — this time with their second album in tow, one that’s already increased the buzz around Bully exponentially.
The roaring angst and misanthropic pop hooks that Bognanno bottled on “Feels Like” sounds more adult and thought-out on the new record, “Losing” — but all the more troubled and confused, too. What sounds like a particularly volatile breakup weighs down the lyrics, as do recent U.S. politics and the overall personal toll of touring for two years.
“It’s a new year and you’ve made it clear you don’t want to see me,” she sings in the dour rocker “Guess There,” then adds, “I don’t get it, but I don’t care.”
“Losing” marks a switch in labels for the band, from the Columbia Records subsidiary StarTime to celebrated Seattle indie Sub Pop Records.
One thing that didn’t change, though: Bognanno produced and engineered the album herself at Electric Audio in Chicago, the studio owned by influential Nirvana and Pixies producer Steve Albini, where she once worked as an intern. The frontwoman originally left Minnesota to study audio engineering in Tennessee, and clearly her efforts are paying off.
Here’s some of what else she had to say.
Q: Of all the Twin Cities shows you played around the first record, is there one that stands out?
A: The one that I remember being super-fun was when we opened up for Jeff the Brotherhood in 7th Street Entry [April 2015]. It was sold out, and it was the first time we came through when the crowd included some of our own people who knew the songs and sang along. The first record wasn’t even out yet, just our EP.
Every show we’ve done where First Ave is involved, it always seems like a good time and good show. Sonia [Grover] and all the staff over there do awesome work.
Q: Do you have any regular hangouts here besides the clubs?
A: I do have one place we want to check out but haven’t been to yet: It’s a vegan butcher shop [The Herbivorous Butcher], which I know sounds crazy but a bunch of us are vegans, and we heard it’s really good. And we have a breakfast place we always go to that’s right by my dad’s old house, Hot Plate.
I never really got to experience Minneapolis as an adult. So when I go there, I really go into it like it’s another cool new city, and I love it, though it obviously does have special meaning to me, too.
Q: Since “Feels Like” earned such a positive response, did you feel extra pressure making this follow-up record?
A: Obviously, there’s a pressure to make every record better than the last one. Beyond that, the pressure was just the fact that our first record did well enough we got to tour to Europe and Australia. So we really just hoped the new record would provide the same opportunities.
Q: A lot of the lyrics on the record are pretty tumultuous and tortured-sounding. Is it all autobiographical, and if so, any hint of what was going on in your life to prompt that kind of release?
A: Yeah, pretty much every song I write has something autobiographical about it, and usually it involves something I’m trying to work out.
There was definitely personal stuff going on in my life, but I’m not going to go into that specifically. Some of it was also just adjusting to being back in town after touring so much, and trying to figure out how to exhale all the negative energy you build up. When you’re playing shows every night, you get to exhale that bad energy every night. When you’re not on the road, then it sort of comes out in your songwriting.
Q: What role did the election — and the issues of sexism around it — play in these songs?
A: I think pretty much any good or meaningful record is going to be impacted by what’s going on right now, whether subconsciously or not. “Hate and Control” [the album’s stormy closing track] is the one that’s all about that. We were out in Seattle the day after the election opening for a band, and it was in this totally male-dominated room. It just all felt totally upsetting.
It’s great now, though, because it feels really good to play that one. It’s a dark song, but it’s about overcoming what’s going on and taking charge of things.
Q: What’s it like playing your more personal songs every night?
A: That can be great, too. Even if you’re kind of past whatever you were singing about originally, it can still feel cathartic singing them every night. I never have any regret about writing those kinds of songs.
When: 9 p.m. Sat.
Where: Fine Line, 318 1st Av. N., Mpls.
Tickets: $18, eTix.com.