Say hello to the LA snyth-poppers with big plans.
Since the start of this year, West Coast duo Bad Wave have been getting quite a bit of buzz thanks to their devastatingly likable brand of eletro-pop. Tucker Tota and Patrick Hart are two former surf-rockers with a fondness for gadgets and 90s-nerd bands (so far, so good, right?) who produce most of their music via email – despite living in the same building. It’s an approach that’s clearly working pretty well, as with their releases “Extraordinary” and “3AM”, the boys have established a sound that’s heavy on addictive, buoyant melodies that’ll appeal to anyone who still harbours their teenage fondness for groups like Foster the People, or their appreciation for all-time legends New Order.
That said, Bad Wave certainly aren’t rehashing the past like stubborn indie reactionaries: they’re constantly looking forward and constantly evolving. Something we found out when we sat down with the lads to talk tech, the future, and why dropbox song writing is the Bad Wave way.
Talk to us about your name: why’s the wave so bad?
Tucker: There’s a Chilean slang term (my family is from Chile) “mala onda,” which translates roughly to “bad vibes,” but literally means “bad wave.”
Patrick: We didn’t want to overthink it.
How did you guys end up making music together; tell us your story?
P: We knew each other for a while, from working with 10K Islands, and because I’d stay at Tucker’s place when I visited LA. (I was like the perma-houseguest for a while.)
T: We wrote a song together, and people were really digging it. It encouraged us to keep working at it, and we’ve been unstoppable ever since.
What motivates you to make music?
T: I’m still figuring that out.
P: My parents are musicians, and I’ve always been around music… I can’t imagine giving up on trying new things, learning more, creating. It’s more of a default setting that I don’t have to think about.
Who are some of your big influences?
T: Whenever I write lyrics, I’m usually just thinking “what would Paul Simon write.”
P: I feel like my primary influences don’t really make any sense in the context of Bad Wave, but here goes – top three from over the years, in chronological order, would be Sleepytime Gorilla Museum, Meshuggah, and Georg Friedrich Haas.
Tell us about “3AM” – the background and recording process?
T: Pat sent me the first few minutes and I wrote to it like normal, and at that point I thought it was done.
P: I had an idea to try the slowdown and second section, so then we kind of did a Round 2. I was expecting him to go really dark and serious with it, it surprised me how hilarious it turned out.
What’s next for you to…an album?
T: We have a lot of songs, and we’re thinking about a lot of different projects – you’ll have to wait and see.
P: We’ve been working on the live show a lot too, with our drummer Ben. It’s a lot of fun and also pretty different from the recordings.
You’re pretty tech obsessed no? How does that inform your recording/music?
T: For being tech-obsessed, we really don’t use a lot of gear – it’s pretty much me in my bedroom, and Pat on his laptop. Our tech interests are more outside of the world of music.
P: Yeah we’re not really gear-heads, I prefer working in software. I program all of our synths from scratch, no presets, and we don’t use tracks when we perform, it’s all live. But otherwise we’re not doing anything exceptionally tech-y for Bad Wave… just yet.
Is it right that you write songs together over email? How does that work?
P: Generally I’ll make a track and get it maybe 75% finished, then send to Tucker to write melody/lyrics. He records vocals, I get a rough mix, and we’ll compare notes for final tweaking.
T: The way that we write, it doesn’t really make sense for us to be in the same room together… why would I want to be in the room with him when he’s producing? Email is the current technology we use, but maybe we’ll move to dropbox.
P: Fuck dropbox, google drive if anything. We’re neighbors, so we do see each other daily, but yes as far as creating the songs goes, it’s much easier for us to do our own thing independently.
The synth-pop scene can feel a little overcrowded. What makes Bad Wave that bit different?
T: We may have been born into the synth pop world, but we don’t intend to die there.
P: We’re kind of tourists in this world, really… we’ve got lots of plans for further exploration. We definitely don’t intend to stay put.
What is success to you: when would you feel, ‘Mama, we made it.’?
T: When Radiohead is opening for us.
P: I think we’re both happy just creating things. Also I’d settle for co-headlining.