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Kerry Alexander of Bad Bad Hats talks new album

Kerry Alexander and Chris Hoge of Bad Bad Hats. Alexander is looking at the camera with her head rested on her fist. She has curly blonde hair. Hoge is looking across the camera.  He has short brown hair.
Zoe Prinds-Flash Photography
Kerry Alexander and Chris Hoge of Bad Bad Hats.

The Minnesota rock band Bad Bad Hats released their self-titled fourth album on April 12, 2024.

In a video posted to their Instagram, the three members of Bad Bad Hats are seen working through an early version of the song “TPA”.

The main riff, two angular guitars over a funky bassline, is clearly present. The chorus is there but only in melody form. “So what should our phrase be?” asks lead singer Kerry Alexander to bandmates Chris Hoge and Con Davison.

It is early enough in the song’s life Alexander does not have an answer.

The sneak peek into the early stages of the album comes from a Patreon account created during the pandemic to connect with their fans.

“We wanted to give people insight into the recording process,” Alexander said on Centerstage Minnesota, “so the four songs on the album that were Patreon songs, I have so much information about how they were made.”

“Patreon songs” started with a monthly goal of writing an original song around a musical prompt. Initially the project was meant to push the band’s creativity into new areas, but ultimately stay between them and their Patreon subscribers.

That changed when they realized they were still sounding like themselves in the new musical areas.

a black and white photo of indie rock group Bad Bad Hats. On the left is Kerry Alexander, she is looking at the camera. On the right is Chris Hoge he is looking across the camera.
Zoe Prinds-Flash Photography
Kerry Alexander and Chris Hoge of Bad Bad Hats.

“Even though we were stretching ourselves to try new things,” Alexander said, “some of the songs just sounded downright Bad Bad Hatsy.”

During the isolation and confusion of the pandemic, Bad Bad Hats became a reliable weekly bright spot for many. KAXE Morning Show host Jennifer Barr said, "I knew I would be entertained for sure, it was must-see YouTube."

The experiments in new styles formed the foundation of the new album, Bad Bad Hats, released April 12, 2024, on Don Giovanni Records. The album is mostly dancey and high-energy, with additional synthesizers and studio tricks compared to their previous album, Walkman. Where Walkman was recorded in a similar fashion to how it was played live, the focus on Bad Bad Hats was the studio.

Bad Bad Hats' new self-titled album is KAXE's Album of the Week for April 15-21, 2024.

“This album was much more built from the ground up, experimenting with sounds, having fun with different layers,” she said.

A great example of the new direction is "Back To My Body”, one of the few downtempo tracks on the album. Built around a synth bassline and drum machine, the dark alt-pop sound perfectly fits Alexander’s honest lyrics about feeling detached from her body. The guitar forward indie rock is a far cry from what Bad Bad Hats have been known for.

To create the new music in a live setting, the band is planning for bass player Chris Hoge to pull double duty on synths. The tour for the new album begins in Superior, WI, on April 26th with the band crossing the pond for their first European tour.

One date in particular will be extra special for Alexander and Hoge. In early June towards the end of the tour they will be in Paris. The two gave one of their earliest performances together at an open mic in Paris when Alexander was studying abroad around 2011.

“We used to do 'Take Me Home Tonight',” she said, “that was our big closer.”

You can listen to the full conversation with Kerry Alexander of Bad Bad Hats above.

Centerstage Minnesota, Fridays at 2 p.m. and 10 p.m. on KAXE/KBXE, is made possible by the citizens of Minnesota through the Arts & Cultural Heritage Fund. 

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Malachy started his radio career at a college radio station, where he played weird music in the middle of the night to possibly no one. On a good night maybe his parents were listening. Nonetheless, he was hooked on public radio and is still doing it today. He joined Northern Community Radio in 2022, where he gets to share his passion for local music as Producer of Centerstage Minnesota, an all Minnesota music show airing Fridays at 2pm.