Bad Bad Hats: Go to Super America, get a bunch of food, and rock out
Bad Bad Hats "It Hurts" EP cover
The Bad Bad Hats' lead singer Kerry Alexander (above) has voice like cotton candy: light and airy, imperfectly shaped, and filled with sweet pockets of sugar. The only thing more whimsical than her voice is her songwriting, which bounces cheerfully through songs about broken hearts and loneliness as a child would play a game of hopscotch.
The Bad Bad Hats have recently released their second EP called It Hurts, a five-song package that is reminiscent of bittersweet youthful summer times spent being in and out of love. It's a little sunshine pop, up-tempo enough to have you moving your head along, but Alexander's lyrics are clever enough to stop short of having a listener wrapped up in rainbows. On "Super America," Alexander sings sweetly: "I want a sweet tea/and a heart that won't break if you leave me/or pretend I'm not there/I wish you'd let me lose you/I wish you'd cut your hair."
Gimme Noise caught up with Alexander to talk about how Bad Bad Hats originated and what they're up to next.
Gimme Noise: You released your debut Grow Up EP last year, and now we have the It Hurts EP. Tell me about how this came about.
Kerry Alexander: Okay, I guess it goes back for a little ways, because I met my band mates at Macalester. I met Chris, who is sort of my founding partner, at Macalester, and I went abroad to Paris, and I wrote some songs there, because I feel like that's what you do in Paris, you get creative. I knew I wanted to work with Chris, because he plays, like, every instrument, and I felt like he could really help me flesh out my solo stuff. He helped me make these songs bigger and better, and then we wrote some new songs together.
I guess we hoped that we could make something like the It Hurts EP [at first], but the Grow Up EP was more like a demo. It was really just Chris and I recording in our basement. We wanted to play at the battle of the bands at Macalester, and we needed a song to send in, so that was where the Grow Up EP happened.
And who does most of the writing? Is it totally collaborative?
All the lyrics are mine, and four out of the five songs [on the It Hurts EP] are my basic musical ideas, though I don't play drums--I attempted to once, and I never will again--so Chris wrote all the drum parts and all the bass parts on all the songs. "Super America" is the one that we really collaborated on from start to finish together. Chris brought music to me and sent me a demo over winter break, and I heard it and I wrote some lyrics, and I wrote a chorus that we didn't like, and we kept trying again and again until we did, but otherwise they all started out with my ideas and Chris adding things and making them what they are today.
"Super America" is a great song.
Thanks! Yeah, I wanted to honor the times that all my friends were having boy problems and the best thing to do was just to go to Super America and get a bunch of food and rock out. [Laughs]
Your lyrics are simple and sweet, but I feel like that's kind of deceptive, because ultimately, you're working with themes of sadness and loneliness. How do you go about writing a song?
I've been writing for a long time. For a while I didn't know that I could sing, because I was so focused on lyrics, because I felt like my lyric writing was better than any music I would make. I was a creative writing major at Macalester, so I've been playing with more imagery and playing off of stories that I think are interesting, even if it has nothing to do with me. There's some songs that aren't really about me or my experiences. I'll know people that have gone through something and it's interesting to sort of capture a theme or a feeling. I also like writing songs... not theatrically, but songs that could be in a movie or have a movie-ish quality.
You added Noah Boswell for this new EP, am I right? Tell me about what he brings to the table.
Yeah. Well, so Noah is not on the EP. Chris and I recorded it together just ourselves, but we really wanted to create a kind of vibe and work on the songs live and write some of the songs in a present setting, you know, all together. And we really wanted to play with a band. So we knew Noah had a bass that he bought one on a whim, and we were like, "Well.... Noah has a bass!"
Even though he wasn't on the EP, just having him there in practice--he's a really good friend of ours, and I'm writing newer, different songs now that he's with us, because he has so many different musical loves. He really love soul and old funk, so he'll just be poking around the bass and will come up with something, so there's always something great about having another creative head in the room.
What are your future plans? Are you planning a release show?
Nothing set in stone. We got to open for Hannah Georges the day the EP came out, but no there's no official release show. We are trying to play a bunch of shows--we're getting better at playing live. I think we're already pretty good. And writing more songs... I'm just really excited to get swept up in the music. I think there are a lot of really great bands that are coming out with great stuff, and there are a lot of bands that I really like and admire, and I'm hoping that people will like our music and that we can play music with our colleagues.
The Bad Bad Hats It Hurts EP is available for free download at the Afternoon Records website here.
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