What would happen if you combined elements of Pavement, a dash of Talking Heads, a healthy dose of The Cramps and sprinkled some Weird Al Yankovic over the concoction?
The end-result would be Bad Pop, the Vancouver, British Columbia indie/rock/pop trio that is full of high-energy and awesomeness. They’re descending on Columbus for the first time this Wednesday at Ace of Cups.
I caught up with them ahead of their Columbus show via phone to get the skinny on the essence of Bad Pop.
Formerly known as Hot Panda, they were a four-piece band from 2006-12. At that point, they embraced the three-piece lifestyle because of lineup changes. The trio consists of Chris Connelly (vocals/guitar), Catherine Hiltz (bass/vocals/trumpet) and Aaron Klassen (drums/vocals).
“With new people in the band,” Connelly said, “we decided to give it a new name and have it be a different thing. When Hot Panda started, there were a bunch of different people in the band, and it wasn’t really the same anymore, both sound-wise and personnel-wise. So, we switched up the name hit the restart.”
They recently signed with UK record label Metropolis Recordings (December 2016). The label has released two of their songs, Bad Pop (January 27, 2017) and Other Spooky Is in advance of the band’s five-week tour of the United States.
“They just released two songs,” said Connelly. “There will be more coming out, a full-length, in the Fall.”
“Metropolis is just releasing the EP, so far,” chimed-in Klassen.
Listening to the two songs gives you the impression that you’re listening to two very different bands, let alone two distinctly separate songs. There’s a marked difference in style and substance to the disparate tunes.
“We’re trying to give a spectrum of what we do,” Connelly explained. “There’s the catchy, more straight-forwardness of Bad Pop, and then the weird, crazy rock-ness of Other Spooky Is. We kind of thought those two songs were really good to kind of show the spectrum of things, right from the get-go.”
When asked to describe their sound, Hiltz said with a laugh, ” I would say Pixies, but maybe that’s too obvious.”
When I brought up the Pavement/Talking Heads/Cramps comparison, Connelly jumped right in with, “Yeah, that’s good! Run with that!” This elicited a round of laughter from Hiltz and Klassen.
In the middle of this tour, the band will play select dates at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, TX.
“I think I’ve played South by Southwest… well, this will be the fifth or sixth time,” Connelly said. “It’s a fun festival to go to.”
While they do play straight-forward, catchy pop-punk, it’s their off-kilter nature with killer hooks that grabs you and won’t let go. Rumor has it their live show is truly a sensory overload.
“We go pretty hard,” Connelly admits. “And, you’re gonna see a lot of sweat.” This elicited even more laughter from Hiltz and Klassen.
“We try to be as real and genuine as possible. We try to put on a show that’s specific to where we are and have fun. Catherine will play trumpet and bass at the same time, Aaron will probably take his shirt off. Your face isn’t being punched, though, it’s just a slap. We’re not going to shoot you in the face… we’re not Dick Cheney here.”
Yes, they have a wry sense of humor that is in your face, but also completely Canadian. After watching their Instagram videos, you get a sense that Klassen is the prankster of the trio. Besides, it’s always the drummer, eh?
“He’s a good, ol’ prankster,” said Connelly. “He likes to have fun on Youtube and Instagram.”
While they haven’t toured through the United States for an extended tour before, they hope to play down here more in the future.
“We haven’t been in the U.S. much at all,” said Connelly. “We played a show in New York a little while ago, and we’ve been to SXSW. We went down the West Coast a few years ago, but in general, we haven’t done a full-blown U.S. tour.
“We decided we had to do an American tour, get down here and just do it. You kind of have to when you’re a Canadian band. We’ve got like three cities, and they’re so far apart.”
Filled with energy and catchy hooks, Bad Pop is the kind of song you can’t help but dance to. The video (see below) for the single is hilariously awesome, with elements of “Grand Theft Auto” and “Duck Hunt” mashed together. Topping it off, they made the video for about $90.
“When you’re forty-four, and you’re still poor…”
“Bad Pop is like a parody of a pop song,” Connelly explained. “Lyrically, that’s what it’s about. So, the video is like a parody of a video game. It just felt like the right thing to do for that song.”
Listening to the lyrics, the song pokes fun at much of the music industry. And for those within the music industry, it zeroes-in on some poignant truths. Based on personal experiences, Connelly lays the facts out in a short, sweet and too-the-point pop-punk song.
“It’s having to hustle on the internet to have people click on things,” he said, “click ‘like’ on things, share things, and all that. I think most of it comes from personal experience. You know, the touring, the bullshit…”
If some midweek mayhem is what gets you going, make plans to see Bad Pop this week. Wednesday (March 8, 2017), they’re playing at Ace of Cups.
For this show, all women attending will get in FREE, on behalf of National Women’s Strike Day.