Stateside Presents

BAD BAD HATS

BAD BAD HATS

CUMULUS

Sun, September 2, 2018

Doors: 7:30 pm / Show: 8:00 pm

Valley Bar

Phoenix, AZ

$12.00

This event is 16 and over

BAD BAD HATS
BAD BAD HATS
Bad Bad Hats is an indie rock band from Minneapolis, Minnesota. The band consists of Kerry Alexander, Chris Hoge, and Connor Davison. Named for a trouble-making character from the Madeline children's books, Bad Bad Hats is defined by a balance of sweet and sour. Their music honors classic pop songwriting, with nods to nineties rock simplicity and pop-punk frivolity. Through it all, Alexander's unflinchingly sincere lyrics cut to the emotional heart of things.

Alexander and Hoge met while attending Macalester College in Saint Paul, Minnesota. In 2012, they formed Bad Bad Hats with friend and bassist Noah Boswell, and began performing around the Twin Cities. That same year, they were signed by Minneapolis label Afternoon Records. Their 2015 debut album Psychic Reader caught the attention of outlets including The New Yorker, NPR, Pitchfork, and Paste. Since the release of Psychic Reader, Bad Bad Hats has toured the U.S. extensively, supporting artists including Margaret Glaspy, Hippo Campus, and Third Eye Blind.

Lightning Round, the band's second full-length album, finds Bad Bad Hats more confident and mature than ever. Producer and collaborator Brett Bullion (who also produced Psychic Reader) encouraged the group to record live in the studio, an approach which pushed the band outside of their comfort zone and lends many songs on the record a loose, organic feel. There is a vulnerability in this (fluttering tape loops, a few wrong notes) and it makes the music on the new album feel as honest and unpredictable as Alexander's lyrics. In this spontaneous environment, Hoge, who is known to play every instrument in the band, delivers some of his most inspired musical performances yet.

As for Alexander, she's still writing love songs, ones that recount with cinematic swell the subtle joy and pain of the everyday. Her vocals are supported by open, breathing arrangements that feature lush keyboard sounds and woody guitar tones. Davison was recruited to play drums on the album and became a full-time member in the process. His drumming and melodic contributions give the new songs a level of nuance not heard in previous releases.

Lightning Round marks the final release with contributions from original member Noah Boswell, who will be leaving the group this fall to pursue a master's degree. Bad Bad Hats continues with Alexander, Hoge, and Davison. They have plans to tour the country this year.
CUMULUS
CUMULUS
The name came first. Comfort World—borrowed from a mattress store sign Alex Niedzialkowski (nee-jul-KOFF-ski) saw on a trip to Yakima. Her then-boyfriend was accompanying her and she took the sign as an omen of bliss. The long running configuration of her band Cumulus had broken up, leaving her unsure of herself. “I felt completely overwhelmed and insecure in everything,” Niedzialkowski explains. “I questioned whether I’d ever be able to find my people again, let alone write another album.” But the relationship, the apartment she and her boyfriend shared and the day job that enabled it all, were their own kind of Comfort World. They kept her safe while she tried to sort things out. Until they didn’t.

Things hit hard and fast: the relationship crumbled, the day job evaporated, the apartment was emptied and cleaned for the sake of the deposit, and she got word that her mother had developed breast cancer. If there was comfort to be found anymore, it eluded her.

But Niedzialkowski is fundamentally, inescapably, a songwriter. So she started writing again. What else was there to do? “Basically, this entire world that I had built around myself was crumbling apart,” she says. “Comfort was complete bullshit. I spent a lot of time in my bedroom, writing these songs to get me through it.”

As she wrote, she sought out bands fronted by or comprising women and non-binary musicians. They made her feel empowered to say what she wanted to say, and reassured her that she wasn’t alone. She started playing open mic nights at a cafe near her apartment, tentatively at first—the way everything feels tentative when your life is in an uproar—but then with mounting confidence. After accruing songs, she felt ready to begin recording Comfort World, her second record for Trans Records. On the advice of label head Chris Walla, Niedzialkowski went in the studio with 21 year old producer Mike Davis, Walla’s former intern.

Immediately, it was clear that the process of recording Comfort World would be different than any other record that Niedzialkowski had been involved in. For one, Davis demonstrated an intuitive knack for fleshing her acoustic iPhone demos out into full-fledged compositions. More importantly though, Davis believed in her, at times more than she believed in herself. “From day one, Mike was asking me to play instruments I’d never played, and asking me to try out new ideas, as if he had full confidence I could do it. It was my first time feeling like that in a studio environment.”

I Never Meant It To Be Like This, the first Cumulus record, was recorded over four days almost exactly as it had been arranged. Comfort World, by contrast, was languid, recorded over the course of seven months at Walla’s studio, Hall of Justice. Niedzialkowski brought in a crew of friends to fill out the album. There was time to play, experiment and chase the song. In the warm cocoon of the studio, surrounded by Mike and her friends, she felt as though she could do anything. “Over the years my voice had grown stronger, my songwriting had a clearer direction, and I had finally found myself in a place where I was empowered to have a say in every creative decision. Musically this album is more me than anything I’ve ever created,” says Niedzialkowski.

The events of the recent year had shredded her and making Comfort World wove her back together. Maybe that sign in Yakima was an omen after all; it was just pointing further afield than she could have imagined.
Venue Information:
Valley Bar
130 N. Central Ave.
Phoenix, AZ, 85004
http://www.valleybarphx.com/