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Amy Gabay 00:00
This podcast is brought to you by People’s Food Co Op, a community owned grocery store in downtown La Crosse, Wisconsin and Rochester, Minnesota that promotes local farmers and producers through an emphasis on fresh, healthy, sustainable food. Anyone can shop, everyone is welcome. For more information, visit them online at PFC.coop. This podcast is also brought to you by Trempealeau County Tourism. Whether your idea of fun is bicycling, hiking or canoeing, afterwards head into the heart of one of their welcoming communities to experience historic architecture, independent shops and locally owned dining establishments. Visit Trempealeau County Tourism online. We took a moment to chat with Kerry Alexander of the band Bad Bad Hats. We talk about the new album Walkman, the process for recording and writing, COVID, their hilarious music videos, and their upcoming tour which hits Mid West Music Fest in Winona, Minnesota. You can find more conversations, food reviews, live music and events on our website lacrosselocal.com. I’m Amy.
Brent Hanifl 01:06
Amy Gabay 01:07
And this is La Crosse Local.
Kerry Alexander 01:29
My name is Kerry Alexander. I was born right here in St. Paul, Minnesota. And I guess one of my early memories of music is that when I was young, a family friend had made my mom a series of mixtapes with some of her favorite songs from each decade. And as like a toddler, I was very drawn to the Pink 80s tape. And so I have very strong memories of loving, Burning Down the House was on there, Didn’t I Bring Your Love Down by Yaz and It Takes Two, Robbie’s So, yeah, I think that those are my earliest memories of music.
Brent Hanifl 02:20
Do you think any of that has carried over on your new album?
Kerry Alexander 02:23
That’s a good question. You know, you would wonder if that is the foundation of the music that I make. And I don’t know, if its as easy to draw a line from those to now, but it’s got to be in there somewhere. I feel like those three songs especially have, they’re like, they’re really catchy. They’re upbeat, they’re danceable, but they’re also a little quirky. And I think those three things do show up in music I gravitate towards today, and the kind of music I like to write. So I think that’s the common thread.
Brent Hanifl 02:58
So you know, you have a new album out, Walkman. What was the process for recording and writing this one? Was there any sort of issues related to COVID? Or is it something that came up pretty quick or faster?
Kerry Alexander 03:11
Yeah, this album, we went into it wanting to write somewhat more guitar forward. Because we’ve been playing as a trio for a bit, we sort of gone back and forth between a trio and a quartet over the years, we’re back to a trio and I kind of want to write some songs that fit the trio vibe a little better that we could sort of rock out to. So I think we knew we were going to do a lot more like live recording together trying to get some of the parts down, like as a unit, and that kind of made the recording process go like a little quicker. We took a lot of time to record Lightning Round and this we kind of went back to just like a three week formula. But because our schedule is kind of weird, we did it in like three chunks. And we did two of the chunks pre pandemic. And then we had to finish two songs, sort of in the middle of 2020. I don’t think you’re going to hear the pre pandemic post pandemic difference. I think we did a good job of making them all feel like they were written in, you know, the same glorious, blissful ignorance is bliss time. But yes, so there was I was a little concerned that it might be on hold for a long time, but thankfully, we were able to come back together and finish the album.
Brent Hanifl 04:32
I’ve seen you play a few times in Winona, this was a while, pre COVID.
Kerry Alexander 04:37
Brent Hanifl 04:38
And it just seemed like there was always some you know, there’s always some noise behind you guys and the sense of like, you know, up and coming sort of thing and really getting some momentum. How was the COVID experience for you? Do you feel like it opened up an opportunity for to be creative, or is it just a downer for you in the band?
Kerry Alexander 04:54
I think it started out as a big downer because we had just had to end a tour early when the pandemic started. And it was that tour was feeling really successful, feeling really like, oh, cool, like, like it was sort of the end of our Lightning Round album cycle, but we still had really good turnout. And we’re like, this was great, you know. And so we’re feeling really excited about what was to come and 2020 with, like, touring and shows and then, and then we’re forced to come home early. And for like, the first few months, like, I don’t think I wrote anything, like I maybe wrote like one song. But we were doing cover live streams. And that was kind of like taking up all my brain space. But in some ways, I think that was maybe like a good practice or something just like playing other people’s songs and like, sort of just like learning different chord progressions and like, oh, what’s this chord that, you know, the Beatles are using here? What was that all about? And so maybe that was subconsciously, you know, like, building up inspiration. And then, at the end of 2020, we started a Patreon, where the whole premise is that we write an original song every month around like a theme. So like, 60s theme, or like a song with a key change. And since then, I’ve been writing probably more songs than like I’ve ever written, like, consistently. And so that’s been really great, actually. So we sort of like blew through what is looking like maybe our fourth album, just because we’re like, producing so much music. So yeah, it started out low. But now we’re coming back.
Brent Hanifl 06:35
Coming back. So just kind of digging into your music and your videos the past couple of days. You have a few videos out now for the album Clooney Milkyway, Detroit Basketball. What’s the inspiration for these? You do mention the word, you mentioned the word quirky earlier? What is your attitude towards creating videos for this?
Kerry Alexander 06:54
I really like the music video process. And like I like the visual and the audio arts like the way that they complement each other and come together. It’s like such a beautiful, like synergy. I often struggle to think of music video ideas, just because you could like do anything. And also people have done a lot of stuff already. So it’s hard to come up with something that like feels new. And on our album Lightning Round, I was really stumped. Because we had written a sort of a much more like mellow melancholy record. And I really liked that about Lightning Round that has sort of like, even though there’s still Poppy Sauce, it’s kind of got this like gloomy like air to it. People who have been to our shows know that, you know, we’re like, we tell jokes. And we like kind of don’t take it too seriously. We we take the music seriously. We don’t take ourselves seriously. So I think I struggle with any any music video where like, I would need to just be like, like forlorn, like looking at the camera. Like, I don’t know how to do that. So when we wrote Walkman, there were so many great songs that I felt like lent themselves to sort of like a more silly concept or like we could be we could show off like, the personality that we feel like comes across when we play our live shows. And I think I was had Elvis on the brain. Because like the first song on the record, the first line is heavy metal rock and roll. And so I was just I think I was just thinking about the king. I think my first idea for the video was that there was like a opening for an Elvis impersonator at a bar and someone wanted the job and they’re like, no, you you’re not right for this job. And then I went to like an Elvis training program to like become an Elvis impersonator. But then I don’t know how that became Elvis speeddating I liked that concept product more. And then I think the pro basketball I just had this idea. I love any kind of like, getting the band together montage, you know, like, like, Ocean’s 11 or whatever. That felt like a fun concept. And then also to sort of poke fun at like pandemic you know, like hobbies that we all developed at home yeah, it came together pretty naturally and fit well with the music.
Brent Hanifl 09:29
Kind of reference how your shows go as being you know, kind of joking around. You have a show coming up at Mid West Music Fest. It is one of my favorite festivals, you know, right down the river from La Crosse here coming up and in Winona. What can people expect from your shows? Like what’s gonna happen?
Kerry Alexander 09:45
You know, we like to, we like to tell some stories. We like to tell people what the songs are about. Give them a little context. Take a second, but then we’re you know, we’re a rockin pair or trio expect me to put on my fuzz pedal here and there. But also, we get softer too. We kind of run the gamut. You’ll hear old songs, but you’ll hear a lot of from our new album Walkman, too. So we try to have something you know, old fans and new fans. Keep it light hearted, keep the fun, keep people dancing.
Brent Hanifl 10:20
So what’s next? Is there anything coming down the road that you’re excited about?
Kerry Alexander 10:24
Yeah, I mean, it’s, we’re really excited to come back to Mid West Music Fest, because that will kind of be that’s like sort of the beginning of the roller coaster that’s just like just starting to drop into the coaster for the rest of the year. That’d be a great way to sort of get back into playing shows and being back in these places that we love going to because right after Mid West Music Fest we’re doing like a West Coast tour. So I’ll be really nice. I’m hoping the weather’s really good. Go to the beach. I don’t know. And then we’re also looking to be in other parts of the country later in the summer. So yeah, we got all kinds of stuff going on. We’ll probably be announcing even more shows soon.
Brent Hanifl 11:00
Yeah, it looks like a little bit before and after Midwest Music Festival, you just have a series of shows all the way through May. That must be pretty exciting.
Kerry Alexander 11:08
It is, it does feel good to get back to work.
Brent Hanifl 11:11
So what’s the best avenue for people to follow along if they want to check out your music or just keep tabs on you?
Kerry Alexander 11:17
Instagram is pretty good. That’s where we hang out. If you’re a Facebook user, Twitter user, we’re on there. And then you know, we’re on all the streaming sites but also just badbadhats.com you know, will lead you down all these paths you can find you know, whatever you’re looking for in Bad Bad Hats land.
Amy Gabay 11:39
La Crosse Local Podcast is a production of River Travel Media. Do you have an interview idea you’d like to share with us? Message us on Facebook at La Crosse Local. Find out more about us at lacrosselocal.com and you can subscribe to the La Crosse Local Podcast on your favorite podcast app. If you like us, rate us five stars. We appreciate it.
About La Crosse Local
La Crosse Local is an arts, food, and entertainment podcast and publication for La Crosse County and its surrounding communities.
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