by annie bryan
On June 28, 2018, KSLU ally Brenna Sullivan and I interviewed Bad Bad Hat’s Kerry Alexander before their headlining set at the Monocle. As it stormed outside the day of their show, Bad Bad Hats musicians Chris Hoge and Connor Davidson sipped PBR and lounged at the bar as fans filtered in and around them. Kerry Alexander, lead singer and guitarist for the group, wore the same grey t-shirt she wore during their opening set for Coast Modern at the Firebird in February.
Sitting in the plush bay window-adorned corner, I leaned over a coffee table and prayed to the witch goddess above to ensure my phone picked up the notes of Kerry’s casual, prophetic vernacular. With an inflection to battle all else and a sense of humor quintessential to midwestern self-deprecation, Kerry’s message runs clear: turbulence is inescapable. After this conversation, the group resurfaced to an STL stage for the first time in several months after a phenomenal opening set by optimistic, empathetic, and friendly Detroit-founded Shortly.
As their third album, Lightning Round, preps to drop, released singles prelude a sound both vivacious and cumulative of their previous compendium. With singles “Talk With Your Hands” and “Write it on Your Heart,” the artists grabs entre from odes to surf rock like Hazel English, DIIV, and Lush by Snail Mail.
Through their lexicon, Bad Bad Hats has found their thematic loop. With silk-lathered lyrical and indie-pop instrumental sounds a tribute to rock, their discography repeats itself in ways that only become more self-aware as new albums churn out. Lead singer and writer Kerry Alexander’s lyrics metamorphosize an energy of the loss of love before it happens, during its presence, and after it’s been cut.
In a corner on a rainy Thursday night, we discussed loops.
“Spare me your love
Cause maybe you’re a stranger to me too.”
Write It On Your Heart
The threads of this life tangle in painful and manic ways. Somehow, through it all, the strands manage to coagulate a shape we can see only when zoomed out. The knots that rule our lives are loops- tragic ties both disheartening and mundane to detangle and impossible to prevent. Every so often, we have a new knot to untangle, a new end of something. As ritualistic as sunset and painful as truth, end end of a period of your life is knotted, dusted, and chaotic. There is nothing on this world that is capable of evading it’s demise. We can never escape death- a painful thread for Kerry.
Post-show and pre-third album release, perhaps the most quintessential of all of the work of Bad Bad Hats is Spin, the ultimate track from Psychic Reader.
“Now and then I have to stop and count to ten
These thoughts fill me like a dryer, and just spin, and spin, and spin
And I’m afraid to die, but I ignore the reasons why
I cannot wash away this feeling”
The lyrics of Spin weave a thread of the thought patterns of our greatest fears, or the thoughts that consume is. Spin is about our fear of dying, and the innate fear in all of us of it. In our conversation, Kerry mentions her fear of being forgotten, within itself another death. “I do feel like there is something with art and putting yourself into something physical and tangible for other people is something for other people to hold on to, like immortality,” Kerry said, equating her art to a personal tombstone.
Feedback loops, as aforementioned, girth the lyrics of Bad Bad Hats. The feedback loop of what could happen, what will happen, and what we do to create the loops we hate.
“So cut the act and let’s get on with it
'Cause I could, I could run
And be this sad with anyone
Don’t ask where this is coming from”
-Talk With Your Hands
In a corner on a Thursday night, Kerry and I talked about death and chaos a bit more than I intended to. Through it all, turbulence reigns as the thread of the loop of the ride.
What does a pattern feel like? Can you see the cycles from the inside? Does acting against your own just enforce the process again? Do you think the waves into action? We fear and we stress, we act against the stress and create it accidentally. We disengage with something and find it in a separate corner of our lives. We make mistakes, we challenge ourselves, and we live.
There is a lot of connection to be found in Bad Bad Hats. From indie-pop and surf-rock instrumentals to sickening lyrics that knit each of our problems together, we can all find ourselves in Bad Bad Hats. If you’ve experienced internal or external chaos, felt loss, or created something that couldn’t last, there is something for you in their discography.
Notice your loops. Thanks for listening.
BAD BAD HATS
Next STL SHOW: www.facebook.com/events/215335849293567/
(turn your phone sideways)
Edited by Brendan Eckert