Keep it simple with Bad Bad Hats

“We just try to make it as catchy as possible,” said drummer Chris Hoge. “We’re just guitar, bass and drums; there’s not a lot you can do with that.”

by Patrick Maloney

What: Bad Bad Hats, Strange Relations and Water Liars

When: 10 p.m., Sunday

Where: Big V’s, 1567 W. University Ave., St. Paul

Cost: $10

Age: 21+


Bad Bad Hats’ most recent EP, “It Hurts”, is not aptly named. The title calls to mind slow, depressing music, and the release is anything but.

Instead, the band offers infectious indie-pop melodies atop acoustic guitars, unconventional instruments and lyrics featuring references to assorted gas station junk food; On “Super America”, singer Kerry Alexander clearly outlines her desires for Pepsi, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, a nice boyfriend and an Icee.

Before Alexander and Hoge met at Macalester College, she was writing acoustic folk music, and he was playing in bar bands. With the formation of Bad Bad Hats, they got the best of both worlds: an acoustic indie group that knows how to rock.

“I always wanted a band to rock out with,” Alexander said. “I have leather in my heart.”

Hoge describes his bandmate’s previous music as “seven-minute-long epics with no choruses, just fifteen verses.”

In contrast, the title track of “It Hurts” jumps from one catchy melody to another until it sticks a landing on a respectable kazoo solo and clocks in under two and a half minutes.

“As I’ve gotten older, I’ve eased up on the epic poetry of my lyrics,” Alexander said. “I’m trying to find a middle ground between lyrics that are unique and interesting, fitting something smarter into a simple structure.”

That simplicity is at the heart of the band’s sound. While other groups are busy honing impressive guitar riffs and orchestrating multi-part harmonies, Bad Bad Hats is getting down to basics.

“Instead of trying to add layers of complications, we’re working on the basic craft of songwriting,” Hoge said. “Writing songs that stick with you.”

“It can take a long time to make it simple,” Alexander added, noting that even though some of their songs are little more than guitar and vocals, they can take years to finish.

Although the EP is at times quirky and silly, that doesn’t mean the band isn’t down-to-earth and serious about its music.

“We’re going for a slow and steady career-band move,” Hoge said. “We’re not trying to get on a blog, explode for a summer and then die out.”

Even while intentionally trying to avoid a sky-rocket to stardom, the band has done well for itself. After only a year of playing, they were selected to compete in’s “Are You Local” competition.

“We put our music in, and then we saw the number of bands increase and increase,” Hoge said. “It ended up being more than 230 bands.”

Out of those hundreds of bands, only three were chosen to compete in the showcase.

“We didn’t expect to win, so just the fact that we made it that far was awesome,” Hoge said.

Even though the band members knew they wouldn’t win that particular contest, they’re optimistic.

“The goal is to quit the jobs,” Hoge said. “We’ve met a lot of musicians in Minneapolis who are like 28 and just now quitting their day jobs. I think it’s not going to be soon, but that’s the goal.”

Both Hoge and Alexander just graduated college last year, so they’ve still got plenty of time.

“We’re in it to win it,” Alexander said.