Sun, Apr 3
Doors: 7:00 pmShow: 8:00 pm
Beauty blooms from discomfort. The second we squirm at the utterance of a lyric or the echo of a guitar chord is the moment we learn about our limits and, perhaps, make a change in our lives. Badflower aren’t afraid of making anybody uncomfortable. The GOLD-certified Los Angeles-bred and Nashville-based quartet—Josh Katz [lead singer, guitarist], Joey Morrow [lead guitar, backing vocals], Alex Espiritu [bass], and Anthony Sonetti [drums]—siphon stress, sleeplessness, sex, sadness, mania, pain, and truth into revelatory alternative anthems. Katz’s quivering confessions seep into climactic distortion and, like any good rush, you need more.
They deliver this rush on their 2021 second full-length offering, This Is How The World Ends [Big Machine/John Varvatos Records].
“It’s hopefully more than just brutal honesty,” muses Katz. “To me, it’s sassy, uncomfortable, funny, clever, and sad. It wasn’t a casual process. It’s all in, so I’m all in. I don’t stop. I don’t quit. I cry a lot. I neglect everything else. There was no reason to set an alarm and wake up in the morning. There was no reason to do anything but make the best album possible. That’s what we did.”
Badflower continue to commit body, blood, mind, and soul to their art. They’ve certainly grinded to get to this point. After forming in Los Angeles during 2014, they dropped two EPs before sending shockwaves throughout rock with their 2019 full-length debut, OK, I’M SICK. LoudWire hailed it among the “50 Best Rock Albums of 2019,” while the singles “The Jester,” “Heroin,” and “Ghost” vaulted to No. 1 at Rock Radio. Not to mention, the latter picked up a GOLDcertification from the RIAA and win as iHeartRadio Music Awards Rock Song of the Year.. Along the way, they garnered further acclaim from Nylon, Alternative Press, Music Connection, and Substream Magazine and performed on The Late Late Show with James Corden as well as Last Call with Carson Daly. They’re the rare act who can ignite a crowd at Kaboo Del Mar or Sonic Temple in addition to sharing bills with the likes of Cage the Elephant, Ghost, Nothing More, Shinedown, Soundgarden, and many more. Thus far, they’ve also gathered over 100 million streams and counting. Meanwhile, one-off singles “30” and “F*ck The World” reached Top 5 and Top 10 at Rock Radio, respectively. Before the Global Pandemic swallowed 2020 whole, Josh and Co. had begun penning ideas for what would eventually become This Is How The World Ends.
As shit got real in Los Angeles, the band and their “extended family” of crew and friends picked up and moved to Nashville.
“We’d wanted to rescue animals and live on a farm forever,” admits Josh. “Once we got settled, I built a little studio in a barn where I sleep and we finished the record.”
The best kind of obsession catalyzed the process. When it came to production, the band took the reins, preserving an intense unpredictability. At the same time, Josh would watch and rewatch fan-captured live performances on YouTube in order to draw inspiration for recording.
“It was actually just because I’m a narcissist,” he grins. “We worked so hard to make it feel spontaneous, raw, real, and natural though. The drum takes are exactly what Anthony did in the moment. There was no demoing. We set everything up properly and pressed ‘record’. If it was good, it was good. Some of the vocal takes are first takes. We had no clock. It’s the most human thing we’ve ever done.”
Speaking of human, the first single “Family” hovers over an ominous drum beat as Josh’s voice barely breaks a whisper. Clean guitar glows through the bass line as he confesses, “affection makes me nauseous, believe me, I don’t want this,” before an exhale of distorted catharsis, “Cuz I let you down, and I lost my fucking mind…What happened to this family?”
“Some people have a perfect white picket fence; I certainly didn’t,” he reveals. “I have family issues that linger. Throughout my twenties, I placed so much blame on that. I allowed myself to validate slowly dipping out of everyone’s lives and not talking to my sisters or parents. It’s easier to call yourself the victim. I realized it was an excuse to be shitty, and it was my problem. I have trouble talking to family members, so I wrote the song.”
Elsewhere, “Don’t Hate Me” hinges on a push-and-pull between palm-muted guitar and a chantable chorus. It culminates on a breakdown where his inner dialogue screams out before final strains of piano taper off.
“It’s a lot of self-awareness,” he goes on. “On the bridge, there’s a meta dialogue where I explain how I’ve changed my entire life and my appearance.”
The album teeters between searing nostalgic introspection on the acoustic intro “Adolescent Love” and the clarion call of “Machine Gun” where the title resounds, “This is how the world ends.” The ride comes to an end on the sardonically elegiac “My Funeral.” Soft strumming brushes up against visceral admissions such as “Imagine if I took my life, gave up on love, and died tonight?”, coated in a softly blissful delivery.
“It’s not as simple as saying, ‘I’m sad and want to die’,” he states. “It doesn’t paint me in the perfect light a lot of artists want to be painted in—or truly beaten down by the world and just trying to be the best version of themselves. I’m admitting I’m not trying to be the best version of myself. I don’t even know what that looks like. I don’t know how to change it. All I know is how to write about it. Now, we have this album.”
In the end, Badflower’s honesty burns in the best way.
“This band means everything to me,” he leaves off. “I’m so obsessive because the music is going to outlive me. I care a lot about what this band could mean for other people. The legacy is almost more important to me than my happiness or success. I don’t know why. It’s probably something I should analyze on the next record,” he laughs.
DEAD POET SOCIETY
Jack Underkofler — Vocals/Guitar
Jack Collins — Guitar
Will Goodroad — Drums
Dylan Brenner — Bass
A perfect symbol for Dead Poet Society is the "shitty old seven-string" that guitarist Jack Collins bought at a mall back in high school.
"Our former bass player actually took a soldering iron and soldered the frets off," he recalls. "You couldn't play it normally at all. I thought it was going to be a great idea. Years later it was sitting in my closet, and I decided to pick it up again because I got really bored. It became the new way for us to write music — it opened up a door into this whole new world we discovered."
"It was like, 'This is the guitar,' he adds. "It's like taking something broken and creating art out of it." With its wonky intonation, the instrument can't produce traditional chords or scales — an unlikely choice for a rock band with such strong commercial potential. Collins and frontman Jack Underkofler are a factory of hooky riffs, even at their most detuned and menacing; and the latter barks and coos with a crystalline purity that recalls Jeff Buckley and Muse's Matt Bellamy.
That contrast is crucial to the band's debut LP, -!- out March 12, 2021 via Spinefarm Records. Take the bruising belter "Been Here Before," which pairs a stadium-sized chorus with angular guitars and Dylan Brenner’s blown-out fuzz bass; "I Never Loved Myself Like I Loved You" opens with the fidelity of an iPhone demo before blooming into a cinematic dream-pop singalong anchored by Will Goodroad's rim-click drum groove. Brenner is a new addition to the lineup, but his experience as the band’s touring stand-in for the duration of their career has made him a natural fit.
It's no surprise that Dead Poet Society like screwing with rock conventions — that's been their aim since forming in 2013 as students at Boston's Berklee College of Music. Hilariously, at least in retrospect, it did take them a bit to find common ground.
"My best friend drummed for them, and I convinced him to leave the band," Underkofler says with a laugh. "Six months later, Jack asked me to sing on a couple songs they'd written. My apprehension came from the fact that they were kind of a meme for being one of the worst bands at school. I kind of tried to push away — our old bassist just kept asking me, 'Do you want to write with us?' One day he showed up on my door step and I was like, 'Fuck.' After I wrote my first song with them ["145"], I was like, 'I think there's something here.'"
The newly solidified quartet quickly developed a chemistry: Underkofler and Collins had a mutual love of Coldplay, but their tastes sprawled over time along with drummer Will Goodroad: heavy acts like Royal Blood and Led Zeppelin, modern art-pop artists like St. Vincent, even hip-hop experimentalists like Tyler, the Creator. Not all of those influences are detectable on the largely self-produced -!-, which features a handful of tracks co-helmed by studio veteran Alex Newport. But that eclecticism makes sense, given
their distaste for most modern rock.
"It's just lame," Collins says. "It has been for like 10 years. I think that's because people are paying too much umbrage to classic rock — there's this 'passing of the torch' thing that I think is just bullshit. Heavy music is the way we communicate — it happens to be rock music, but the expression itself and what we're trying to say and how we want to make people feel is unique. That's what bands used to do, and I think that's what a lot of hip-hop artists do nowadays."
"Our goal," he emphasizes, "is to make someone feel something they haven't felt before."