By Lauren Kirchmyer
Attending college is the start of a new chapter in one’s storybook of life. The experiences and people you meet will change your life in ways you never could have imagined.
While attending Macalester College in Saint Paul, Minn., Kerry Alexander met a young man named Chris Hoge. The pair hit it off, bonding over a shared love of music. They later met a friend and bass player named Noah Boswell and the trio decided to combine their talents and form an indie rock band.
Bad Bad Hats, named after a trouble-making character from the “Madeline” children’s books, began creating music and gained attention in 2012 while performing around the Twin Cities. Shortly thereafter, the Minnesota-based band was signed to Afternoon Records, released their first album and went on tour opening for various bands.
“The headlining bands have been really gracious, nice people who made it a point to make us feel welcome and supportive,” Alexander shared during a phone conversation one sunny afternoon in June. “We could come to them if we had questions or concerns or anything.”
Now, Bad Bad Hats is embarking on their first headlining tour. Their time as opening acts was like a practice test preparing them for their big presentation. As openers, they had a specified amount of time to perform and used their time on stage and working at their merch table interacting with people and growing their fan base. These days prepared the band more than they imagined, and they want to pay it forward as they advance to the next level of their career.
“We try to be generous, nice people in general but how we were treated by those headlining bands…I think now that we are headliners we will make sure to let the openers know they’re welcome to come to us if they have any concerns and make sure they know they can use the green room facilities, etcetera. We feel very lucky to have had that kind of positive experience. We hope we can make that kind of positive experience not only for the opener but for anyone coming to the show. We want it to be a joyful experience.”
On Sunday, June 17, Bad Bad Hats will make their way to Buffalo to perform at The 9th Ward at Babeville. The show will be a homecoming of sorts for Alexander, who grew up visiting the city for Thanksgiving every year.
“My grandma lives there. My aunt and uncle and cousins live there. I love Buffalo! It feels like another home to me,” shared Alexander, who said many of her family members will be in attendance at Sunday’s show.
“It feels like a place that’s very familiar,” she shared. “Before our show the first time we played there I saw my grandma and said I was nervous. She told me Buffalo is the City of Good Neighbors and everyone is nice. Honestly, everyone at that show was like the nicest person I’ve ever met.”
Visiting Buffalo will be more than getting on stage to promote their new album, “Lightning Round.” The visit will allow Anderson to bring her bandmates to some of her favorite places.
“The first time we were in Buffalo I was excited to take Noah and Connor to Niagara Falls because they had never been before. It is cool to show people that,” she said enthusiastically. “We always have Anderson’s roast beef and get a little custard, too. Last time we were here we ended up being in town when they have the all-you-can-eat spaghetti at Sorrentino’s so we might need to take advantage of that again. We go to Break’n Eggs for breakfast, that’s grandma’s favorite. Sometimes we like to go to East Aurora, too!”
Anderson is contemplating showing her Buffa-love during the show by sporting a Jim Kelly Buffalo Bills jersey, something she found at a thrift shop in Florida.
In comparison to shows past, the Bad Bad Hats setlist will be longer and they plan on playing a number of new songs off their upcoming album.
“We are excited to preview those songs before the album comes out,” she shared. “Of course our signature stage moves and comedic banter will be on full display. It will be the ful Bad Bad Hats experience.”
The album was recorded in the Twin Cities and the band spent countless hours in the studio getting it ready. “I think it was five weeks initially and we came back and did another two weeks or so later on,” Alexander recalled. “We took time to figure out how the songs should be presented and what the essential vibe of every song was. I think that shows in the recordings. There’s something very natural about them and the way we played them and recorded them. It’s a little less formulaic and I’m proud of that.”
As the band’s main songwriter, Alexander enjoys seeing how her words and story evolve and mature as years pass. “The early [songwriting] process is pretty much the same as now and I think that’s the thread that ties the Bad Bad Hats discography together. It’s my voice and my perspective. As the band has grown certainly it’s changing how the final product sounds.”
To add to their sound for their new album and present tour, the band added drummer Connor Davison as a full-time member. “Connor is a songwriter himself. It has been cool to collaborate and talk with someone who is thinking about songs the same way I think about songs. It has been a really interesting thing to think about collaborating with him.”
Alexander’s favorite part about songwriting is being able to connect with someone on a whole other level.
“When I was younger and listening to music, to me the bands I loved were the ones telling my story and the ones I could really relate to,” she shared passionately. “hope when fans listen to our music they feel like someone is speaking to them, leveling with them in some way. There are so many songs I associate with so many special moments in my life. There is something so powerful about the way a song can capture a time in your life.”
Though they are no longer in college anymore, the band is continuing to find ways to connect, evolve and learn as their career moves forward. For Alexander, she not only feels she is growing as a guitarist and songwriter, but as a businesswoman.
“We have to budget out our tours, make sure we have enough merch, send a lot of emails…It has been cool to build this small business and tap into these business skills I didn’t think I had,” she shared. “I love organization so that has come in handy. I love a good spreadsheet so this has allowed me to make many complicate spreadsheets.”
Doors open at 7 p.m. with the all-ages show starting at 8 p.m. this Sunday, June 17, at The 9th Ward at Babeville, 341 Delaware Ave., Buffalo. Tickets are $10 general admission and can be purchased on Ticketfly.com.