Bad Bad Hats

words and photos by jennifer nguyen

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Bad Bad Hats is an indie rock band from Minneapolis, Minnesota. It is comprised of Kerry Alexander, Chris Hoge, Noah Boswell and Connor Davison.

Hey! How are you all doing today?

Kerry: We are doing well. We’re feeling fresh and excited.

that's cool! so you guys tweeted that the new album is coming soon.  Would you mind telling us a little bit about your new release? When can we expect it to drop?

kerry: We’re very excited about it. It’s a full length album. "Psychic Reader" which is 3 years old at this point. We did a lot of playing things track by track, part by part. This album we tried to do a lot more playing live all together. It’s a nice change and I feel like it had a natural vibe.  A human quality to it, which is nice.

What’s the story behind the beginning of Bad Bad Hats? How did you guys come up with the name?

kerry: So the name comes from the Madeline children books. There’s a story called "Madeline and the Bad Hats". The band started at Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota. I met Chris first, we started writing some songs together and thinking about some stuff. Our senior year, we met Noah and we got him in the mix so that we could play a live set. And Connor, we discovered when we were actually about to make our second album. Our friend Brett, who produced the album really wanted a different drummer and he suggested Connor and we met him.

How does your production process go? Is there anyone in charge of coming up with lyrics, or the melody, or is it just one fluid collaboration between one another?

kerry: I write all the lyrics. What usually happens is I write guitar, vocals, melody and lyrics first and then I  bring it to these guys and they sort of add their own thing to it. There have been a few songs where Chris has written a guitar part first or Noah had written a baseline first. It’s spun out from there. Actually, in this album process there’s a few songs  where we went into the studio pretty raw and it was kinda cool to hash them out in the studio. One of the songs on the new album, we just played all together and Noah wrote a guitar part for the very end of the song that was not there before and it just came up in the studio. So there is really nice moments like that, that you don’t expect to happen.

What is your favorite song to play live?

Chris: "Joseph". We feel very comfortable and loose on that one.

Kerry: One of the songs that we stopped playing for a little bit and just started playing again is "say Nothing". I’ve really been enjoying that one.

Do you guys have any favorite memories or experiences from touring?

Kerry: Gosh, yes. I feel like every tour, we spend most of tour talking about our favorite memories from past tours.

Chris: A lot of it is food related.

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Kerry: A lot of good restaurants. A lot of good coffee. We’re always scoping out. Connor’s our resident coffee expert. He guides us to the best coffee around the country. We’ve haven’t had a lot of mishaps per say. We’ve met a lot of funny people at various shows.

Noah: One time in New York, a rat crawled into out gear pile outside of the venue. I got scared and almost kicked it.

Kerry: We’ve had a lot of people ask us to autograph funny things for them.  I’ve autographed someone’s tub of butter. Someone’s philly cheese steak.

Tell me about your passion in music. When did you guys realize that you wanted to start making music and what exactly made you realize that?

Connor: I got sucked into music in middle school and I had to pick an instrument. So I picked trombone and I think when I got a laptop and had garage band. When I started recording stuff, that was when I decided that I wanted  to do that as a job.

Kerry: There were probably many moments. We all grew up in musical households.

Connor: Not me.

Kerry: Unlike Con, I grew up in a musical household. Like during dinner preparations, we would listen to a lot of music. I always really responded  to music and was really interested in following bands, learning about bands. I remember there was this Elvis Presley documentary VHS that we had that I was very into watching, knowing all about how Elvis came to fame. Similarly, I got into the Beatles when I did a biography project on John Lennon in 3rd grade. I wanted to know everything about how the Beatles came to be. I think when Josie and the Pussycats movie came out in 2000, that was pretty big for me. Also when Michelle Branch released "the Spirit Room", I think that was one of the first times I saw a pop star who wrote their own songs and sang their songs and played an instrument. Before that, I haven’t considered really that that was something I could do. So seeing that, I was like “oh wow,  I could write songs, play guitar and sing.”

Connor: I grew up playing music, 9/ 10 years old I started playing the drums and then I was on the path to be an orchestral musicians. I played in a band in stuff. I dropped out of college and said I was done playing music. But then when I moved to Minneapolis, slowly but surely I fell back in love with playing in bands and doing that stuff. Over the past, 4 or 5 years I’m doing this. I guess you cant run from the things you’re suppose to do.

Noah: I started playing guitar as a little kid. I didn’t know what I was doing at all. In middle school, I was talking with a friend of mine and he was talking to one of our other friends about needing a bass player for this talent show. I was just there like “dude, I play bass, I’ll totally do it.” He was like ‘cool, practice on Friday”. I went home and said to my dad “dad, I really need to learn bass immediately. I lied to my friends.” And we ended up winning the talent show, no big deal. It was really my friends that got me into it. Ever since then, I’ve been playing music.

So if you weren’t in a band or making music, what would you guys imagine yourself doing right now?

Connor: I probably be working in the middle of nowhere with like the forest service or something.  I did that before I did this and I really liked it.

Noah: I'm actually going to be leaving the band. I’m going to graduate school for social work in September.

Kerry: I don’t know exactly what I would be doing. I really enjoyed school and I would like to go back to school. When I graduated college, I was ready to go to grad school but I couldn’t decide what I wanted to go for. I still think about it all the time. Hopefully I would figure out what I want to go to grad school for.

Chris: I don’t know. Be on the streets. *everybody laughs* Probably would be working in a grocery store. I worked at a hospital for a bit, probably would still be doing that.

Kerry: Yeah, we’ll find something. Just to say, we really hope people come out to the shows.

What are your current go to songs to listen to as of right now?

Kerry: Isaac Hayes “Walk On By. We just had a moment with Natalie Prass  “Short court Style”. We were listening to some Zedd featuring Alessia Cara “Stay”. I’m really enjoying Kacey Musgraves “High horse”. We also just listened to Wye Oaks new record.

Finally, what can the fans expect to see from you this year?

Kerry: We’re really excited for this new album. More touring. We’re really excited to be busy promoting the new album and we hope people like it.

check out their latest single "talk with your hands" available on spotify now.