Chris Adolph on Bad Weather California's two new records and how the band has evolved
Over the past year, Bad Weather California has been hard at work on two albums, Sunkissed, recorded in Detroit with Akron/Family, and Demos and Live Takes for the Fans, recorded at bandleader Chris Adolf's home. The latter is being released this Saturday, April 23, at the Larimer Lounge, with A. Tom Collins, Shady Babes and Pina Chulada.
In advance of the limited edition vinyl release (Live Takes for the Fans is only being issued on 12-inch vinyl), we spoke with Adolf about the new records and the evolution of Bad Weather California into a full-fledged art-punk family band.
Westword: Bad Weather California has made two records this year, but its the album of demos being released on Saturday, right?
Chris Adolf: Yeah, there's been some confusion. We have two records finished. One of them we made in Detroit with Akron/Family. The one we're releasing Saturday is not that record. [Laughs.] This album, Demos And Live Takes For The Fans, is all of the home recordings we had done. Akron/Family heard them and was like, "Hey, man, this is great. Let's go record it for reals in the studio." So this is a limited edition vinyl of the demos.
The funny thing is, we didn't end up using a lot of the demos on the Detroit record, Sunkissed -- well, we don't really make demos; I should say the "home recordings." We didn't end up using most of those, maybe three or four, on the Detroit record, along with a bunch of different songs. It was the first time Adam [Baumeister] and Joe [Sampson] got to write songs and have them on a Bad Weather California record.
Was the sharing of song-writing duties a sort of natural evolution for the band?
It's tricky, you know? My other band, the Love Letter Band, just kind of fell apart. Well, I moved to Denver and had to leave all of the members [in Grand Junction], except Marisa Wood, who moved to Denver with me. Then she quit to go to graduate school -- I mean everyone went on to do other things. I didn't mean to be a solo guy; I just didn't have a band, and I didn't know anyone here. After a while, I was like, I can't call this the Love Letter Band anymore; it's not the same people. So I called it Bad Weather California.
So, how did you come together with this current Bad Weather California line-up?
Joe was the first member. We had known each other for a while, before I moved here, and we just started playing together. Other than Joe, it was a rotating cast, until now - and it's been the same guys for the past three years. When Adam joined the band, I told him, "Hey, I want you to play with me, because, first and foremost, I'm a fan of your music, as Littles Paia. If Bad Weather California gets in the way of Littles Paia or your life, I just don't want that to happen." But now, Bad Weather California has snowballed, and it's everyone's main thing.
Adam has taken over most of the promotion and the business end and Logan [Corcoran], since he's younger than us, handles a lot of the promotion stuff too. Joe and I do a lot of writing together now. Joe's kind of a curmudgeon. [Laughs.] He's kind of like Eeyore -- a wonderfully sweet guy who's just a little gruff, but very happy go lucky.
He said something really sweet the other day; he was like, "this Bad Weather California thing is like my only family." You know, everyone in the band is involved now. It is no longer just my solo thing with a back-up band. That was the evolution of the band, and it feels great to have Adam and Joe's songs on this record.
What is it like working with other people on songwriting, something you've previously done on your own?
Sometimes doing art with two brains on one art project is a bummer, but Joe and I really work well writing together. You can get stuck on a lyric, and have to stop because songs really have to write themselves. They can't be forced. That's kind of a rule with us -- once we are laboring on a song, we stop. It has to happen naturally. But when there are two brains on it, say, I'll get stuck on a lyric, Joe will say another lyric. We lead each other down paths of thought and break out of our own boxes.
Joe and I write really well together and it's fun. We may get into arguments while we are all mixing, but that's cool; I know they care. We aren't a band that really fights at all. We've even noticed on tour that we all rattle on and talk so much, that drives just fly by. We have great conversations and really enjoy each other.
St. Ives Records [of the Jagjaguwar, Dead Oceans and Secretly Canadian label family] is putting out this record -- but you're still looking for a way to release Sunkissed?
Yes, and we are excited about it. But labels have grown, and they can't really take risks on little bands anymore. They do sometimes - but Bad Weather California isn't a sure thing. We're more of a band that needs an investment and development by a label. We are a weird band; we're kind of a rock band, but we're not. We're kind of a surf band, but we're not. We're not easily defined.
This new record is cool: It's vinyl only, and I think there are only 367 copies? Part of the cover design is this blood splattering, and ten of the 367 have real blood on them from Bad Weather California. We don't even know which ones they are. We just made them, boxed them up and sent them off to Indiana, where they were put with the actual records and all of that.