Since their drop of their debut album Psychic Reader in 2015, indie band Bad Bad Hats have garnered a respectable following with sugar sweet vocals, synth beats, rock riffs and pop stylings. There’s something here for everyone. Ahead of the release of their sophomore album Lightning Round on August 3, the band is heading back out on tour with some new songs to sing.
Founding members of the band Kerry Alexander (vocals) and Chris Hoge (guitar, bass, drums, synth) recently took some time to weigh in on their years of touring, the evolution of their discography and missing home before their set at The Linda in Albany.
ALT: I read recently that you’ve set out on nine tours since your debut Psychic Reader in 2015. Did you guys get addicted?
Chris Hoge: Has it really been nine tours? We do really enjoy touring. We’ve been lucky enough to open for some awesome bands, many of whom play very different music from each other. It’s been fun to tailor our set to each tour, and meet so many different people.
ALT: Has touring so much affected your writing process at all?
Kerry Alexander: In some ways, yes, because I think touring has made us a better band. I think that confidence shines through in our new album. But in other ways, it hasn’t really changed our basic process in the studio. We still use whatever instruments are available to us and create the best album we can. Then when it’s time to tour, it’s a fun challenge to figure out the songs for a four-piece band.
ALT: What are some of your favorite moments you wish you could relive from being on the road?
CH: Part of me wishes I could go back to relive our very first tour, opening for The Mynabirds. We had no idea what we were doing, not that I would do anything differently, but I have a lot of nostalgia for that tour. It was six weeks long and we learned a ton, The Mynabirds were so sweet to us and I think about that tour a lot.
ALT: Do you spend enough time back home in Minneapolis to do a good amount of shows there?
KA: We have been on the road a lot, and we do sometimes miss playing more shows in the Twin Cities. Right now, we’re looking forward to our hometown album release show at First Avenue on August 18.
ALT: Do you find that the music scene there has been changing at all?
CH: It’s always changing a little bit, there is always new music coming out and there are always new projects emerging. It’s a great place to be a music fan.
ALT: The release of your new album Lightning Round is just around the corner. Has there been any key moments or lessons you’ve learned over the past three years that will play a role in the project?
KA: Because we recorded Lightning Round with Brett Bullion, who also recorded our first album, I think maybe we were able to jump into the creative aspect of recording a bit quicker. Both sides knew they could trust each other’s instincts, and also felt comfortable pushing each other on certain things.
CH: I think you can also hear that we’re a better band, just from all the shows we have played together. We were able to record a few songs live in the studio together, which was something we didn’t do at all on Psychic Reader.
ALT: “Write It On Your Heart” feels a bit softer than Psychic Reader. There’s something wiser about it, almost. Is that something we can expect from the rest of the album come August?
KA: Overall, that song is a pretty good example of the sound people can expect. We do think it feels wiser or more mature, hopefully listeners agree.
ALT: Bad Bad Hats is one of those bands that seems to have nailed down the pop sound and use it to their advantage. Do you ever struggle with where you want the band to be sonically?
KA: Part of what I love about this band is that we don’t limit ourselves to one genre or one vibe. When I sit down to write a song, I don’t think about the “Bad Bad Hats sound,” it’s just whatever inspires me. Our albums tend to have a lot of variety from song to song and we like that.
ALT: Is there a song you’ve recorded that has developed into something very different in its live performance?
CH: Lots of our songs take on a different life when we play them live, since the recordings tend to have lots of layers and more parts than four people can play live. One song that comes to mind is a new one from Lightning Round called “Girl”. The recording features a few synthesizers and it took us a minute to figure out how to create a fun live version with just guitars. But now it’s one of our favorites to play and it seems to be going over well.
ALT: What is the most recent thing, musically, that has caught your ear? Any “under the radar” bands you’ve met on the road?
KA: We actually just played with a Buffalo band last night called Honey Coma, they were great!
CH: I’m also obsessed with a song by Chelsea Jade called “Laugh It Off,” and have been putting that on in the van any chance I get.
Bad Bad Hats, Future Hearts, Luciano Ferrara play The Linda in Albany, Tuesday, June 19 at 8PM.