The Minneapolis band Bad Bad Hats is celebrating 10 years together in February, and co-founder Kerry Alexander sat down to reflect on the band’s eventful decade and how the members plan to celebrate.
Though Minnesota has very proudly claimed Bad Bad Hats, singer and guitarist Alexander and bassist Chris Hoge aren’t truly Minnesota natives. Alexander was born in Minnesota but spent her childhood in Alabama and Florida. As a teenager, she visited Minnesota frequently to see family and later enrolled at Macalester College where she would meet her future bandmate and husband Hoge, who grew up in Connecticut.
“The Twin Cities were the beginning of my musical education in some ways,” Alexander says. “I think Minnesota was the place that we needed to be to become a band.”
Macalester has close proximity to many Twin Cities music venues, so a young Alexander started going to indie rock shows and wrote about them for a music blog. This time at school and in the Twin Cities indie rock scene is what led to Alexander and Hoge to connect over their shared love of music and begin working on an album. Their first EP, “It Hurts,” debuted 10 years ago.
“[‘It Hurts’] is just me and Chris when we were a young couple, we had just graduated from college, and decided to start this band,” she says. “We were subletting a duplex from my English professor, and we just started recording in the office of that duplex and then finished the EP at our apartment in Loring Park.”
The musical duo’s attempt to create something new and honest as artists “was very simple and truly a true bedroom project, which I think comes across in those songs,” Alexander says. “They have an easygoing, not overdone, quality to them and when I listen to them, I hear that summer, young love, and the excitement of what the band could be.”
Following the success of “It Hurts” and the single “Super America,” the band released albums “Psychic Reader” in 2015, “Lightning Round” in 2018, and “Walkman” in 2021. “Psychic Reader” was the band’s first full-length LP and led to Bad Bad Hats landing opening gigs for the likes of Third Eye Blind and Margaret Glaspy. As their fame grew, so did the size of this little band. Drummer Connor Davison joined for collaboration and tours, and for years Bad Bad Hats toured and wrote music as much as possible, until the pandemic brought the world to a screeching halt.
Like most artists, the band members weighed their options during the COVID-19 shutdowns—should they take a break from music or use the time to find a way to keep being creative? They opted for the latter, starting a Patreon account that helped fund live streamed performances of fun covers. After a while, Alexander says the covers grew tiresome, and she wanted to come up with a new way to be creative and continue to connect with fans.
“I was a creative writing major in college, and I always loved a prompt, it was nice for me to have some sort of boundaries. So, we thought what if we gave ourselves a strict set of musical rules to try to work within every month?” Alexander says.
With that, Song Club was born. Alexander and Hoge would write songs based on the prompt, and then release them for those who supported them on Patreon.
“It’s been amazing, for me, it’s been one of the most creative periods of my life writing so many different kinds of songs and stretching my capabilities while trying new things that maybe I wouldn’t do normally,”
It also led to something new from the band: a new album comprised of some of the band’s favorite song club features. Alexander said that they enjoyed the results of the project so much that they felt they could be part of a bigger project.
With performances at South by Southwest and more tours supporting Michelle Branch, Hippo Campus, the Front Bottoms, and more under their belt, the Bad Bad Hats are heading back to where it all began for a 10-year anniversary show at First Avenue’s 7th St. Entry on Feb. 4.
“It’s a special place for us as a place where we place one of our very first shows. We also just love the energy every time we play there. It’s really special to us and there’s a nostalgia factor,” Alexander says.
Catch one of the two shows with special guest, Beemer. The setlist includes “It Hurts” in its entirety plus fan favorites. In addition, the remastered 10th anniversary edition of “It Hurts” will be available on vinyl for the first time (as well as re-released digitally) with a B-side that includes demos of all five songs. The show will also be a sendoff for Davidson as he shifts his focus to projects of his own.
Alexander continues to be amazed at the scope of the project, “It has been a journey. In some ways I feel like I’m always learning and getting better at like at my instrument and my craft, but it’s cool that ‘It Hurts’—our very humble beginnings—has resonated with so many people.”