Session 155: Bad Bad Hats // Disq

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May 24, 2017

Bad Bad Hats is an indie rock band from Minneapolis, Minnesota. Kerry Alexander (vocals, guitar, wisdom), Chris Hoge (drums, courage), and Noah Boswell (bass, power) met while attending Macalester College in Saint Paul, Minn. Kerry and Chris began writing songs together in 2010, recording a collection of demos that would later become their first EP. The addition of their friend Noah in 2012 solidified the line-up. The indie rock trio's songwriting quickly caught the ear of Minneapolis label Afternoon Records, whose alumni includes Yellow Ostrich, Now Now, Haley Bonar, and One for the Team, among others. Afternoon Records signed the trio and released their It Hurts EP in early 2013. Two years later, the band is ready to release their bold debut LP, Psychic Reader, due out on July 17th.

Before the three joined forces (creating what is now known as the Triforce), Alexander recorded rough demos in her mom's walk-in shower and sang 90s pop covers at open mic nights. Hoge played electric guitar in high school, but took up drums in college to fill out his own fuzzy recordings. Boswell played in jazz band by day and spun turntables by night in a teen experimental rap squad called The Erotic Assassins.

As primary songwriter, Kerry's perspective is the guiding force behind Bad Bad Hats. In her early teens, Kerry's family moved away from her childhood home in Birmingham, Alabama. As the new kid at a new school, Alexander began writing songs to temper her loneliness and take up the time. Inspired by popular female songwriters of the 90s, notably Alanis Morissette, Kim Deal, and Letters to Cleo's Kay Hanley, Kerry developed a unique songwriting voice of her own. She embraces classic melodies and simple arrangements, and does not shy away from emotive lyrics. It's Kerry's party and she'll cry if she wants to.

Since the release of It Hurts, the three friends have performed around the Midwest, working on new material that expands upon the homespun sound of their previous work. Psychic Reader is the result of their sonic growth. Bolstered by the experimental touches of the album's producer, Brett Bullion, Psychic Reader draws from the influences of all three members, exploring a number of musical styles over the course of 33 minutes. Kerry's strong vocals and lyrical sensibilities tie the songs together as a cohesive unit, making for an album that is both surprising and universal.

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They may be teenagers, but don’t call them a teen band. Disq founders/songwriters Isaac deBroux-Slone and Raina Bock have been gigging with music pros up to triple their ages since elementary school, and wowing the faculty during summers spent at the Berklee College of Music. Seasoned multi-instrumentalists, the duo cut their teeth playing in adult cover bands that paid homage to their deepest childhood influences—the Beatles, Beach Boys, Zeppelin, Todd Rundgren, Weezer and, most recently, Tame Impala. In 2014, the pair launched their own band Disq—a lo-fi glam rock band that features knife-sharp songwriting against a backdrop of blazing psychedelic guitar fuzz.

Their first full length album Disq 1 was released on July 7, 2016. The duo wrote one of the album's songs, "Overloaded" when they were in 8th and 9th grades. Subsequent songs were written and recorded, variously, on an old 4-track in a rustic cottage on the banks of the Mississippi River, a rambling tobacco warehouse in rural Wisconsin, and in the basement of Isaac's house in downtown Madison. Disq was fortunate to have Smart Studio veteran Doug Olson (Nirvana, the Smashing Pumpkins, etc.) in the studio helping out on the final mixes.

Not being old enough yet to patronize most music venues hasn’t stopped the four-member band from loading in the back doors of clubs and bars across the midwest to play a full slate of regional shows and festivals in support of the album's launch, as well as opening for touring acts such as Whitney, Quilt, Moon Honey, and Hippo Campus. With the permission of their parents and the blessings of their high schools, Disq is plotting their first tour, set to launch in summer/fall 2017.

 

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