We’re back from SXSW and back at it with a fresh new Badass Band for you out of Santa Barbara! Believe it or not, technically speaking if we count our ‘BBB Live’ episodes, this is BADASS BAND 100!! Anywho, this is a band that at first listen may come across as simple, fun, rock n roll. However, there is quite a lot more to ‘em when you take the time to dig a little deeper. Read on to meet Badass Band, Naked Walrus.
I heard about Naked Walrus because a friend of mine, who went to UCSB, told me they were kind of a SB staple band. As soon as he told me the name, I was intrigued. Probably a year or so later, I ended up booking NW on a show at Silverlake Lounge. I was excited to finally see them live, and though that night they played acoustic, I was into it. In fact, though only Dakota and Andy played that night, they had one of the most engaging acoustic acts I’ve ever seen/listened to. After that, I figured I would clearly then love their live show even more with the full band. Overall, what you get from NW is straight up good rock tunes with great harmonies and little dashes of psychedelic/punk/blues. Many of their songs are created as concepts (as they explained later to me), so each stands on its own, but the instrumentals supporting the lyrical content keeps the album with a consistent flow.
A couple of standout tracks from their newest album, ‘All In’ include:
1. “Reception”- Straight rock n roll track, killer vocal harmonies (especially at the climax), rhythm variations, and sweet guitar riffs. This song is definitely a hip-swaying tune. This tunes comes off quite anthemic considering it’s speaking of controlling the masses, fabrications, and how things all would have been better in the end.
2. The title track, “All In”- This is a tune that leans more in the punk realm, quick rhythms/riffs, choppier vocals which really push forward phrases like, “To reach a level of personal best…Rise and show them hell…” as well as the chorus, “Its all in, our you’re out, in the cold, yeah. Plain and simple, its time to break the mold…” into your ear holes. This song is definitely one that you’d belt out when feeling like you are in dire need of proving yourself.
All of the tracks are killer in their own right, so take a listen; this album is fresh off the presses!
The gentlemen of NW were gracious enough to invite BBB over to their home base to have a chat so read on about Taylor Christian Hurtado – Drums, Vocals, Dakota Ray Duffy Gartner – Vocals, Rhythm Guitar, Hayden Gregory Bush – Lead Guitar, Vocals and Andy Hart- Bass. See what they had to say about musical education, why they won’t change their name (despite people suggesting so), and why they specifically have separate acoustic and electric projects.
When and why did you start playing music?
Dakota- I started playing when I was six, but I was into music when I was about two. I picked up a guitar at a flea market when I was a little kid, you know one of those button ones, and started rocking it. Guitar lessons were inevitable after that. I took lessons throughout my whole life.
Andy- I picked up a bass when I was 14 to be in a punk band, and the rest is history.
Hayden- I was always intrigued by music, I listened to a lot of records when I was little, but when I got the Best of Jimi Hendrix, I was like alright, I have to pick up a guitar. I am definitely not even as close to as good as Jimi but that was the point where I decided to start playing music.
Taylor- I grew up with my dad being a jack of all trades as far as musicians go. When I was younger he was a road manager, so I grew up with him out all the time. I think I was about four when I really started gunning for a drum set. I couldn’t have it and I started to pick up other instruments around the house. Honestly, I listened to some records and realized that some of those guys played multiple instruments and that struck a chord with me. I wanted to figure out the basics of everything. I kept listening to records and if I heard something I thought was cool, I would try to mimic it. I’m self-taught.
How did you guys meet and start playing together?
D- That’s kind of an interesting story because our band has changed formats a lot. Really, Naked Walrus came together with our old guitar player and myself. I was the manager of his band and we created a couple songs acoustically just kind of fucking around. The band broke up and Hayden ended up coming into town. He and I have been friends since we were 16. We grew up in Phoenix, Arizona and I came out here to go to school. We had previously been in a band together, which fell apart, but we stayed friends. So Hayden comes out and he had just gotten into recording so we recorded a song. It was a concept song about a crackhead. We never released it, but that was really the first song from Naked Walrus.
H- You can tell we took it seriously…
D- Yeah, so Naked Walrus was Naked Walrus. Anyway, by this time I had started my own booking company, Black Mamba Booking, so Michael and I found these two kids who were rad, one of whose name was Dakota, and we decided they should be in the band. I had met Taylor over the phone, his dad is a contractor and helped us build a practice space. His dad just handed me the phone and was like, “Hey wanna meet my son?”
Taylor- Yeah, I was just calling to check in with my pops. The guy that picks up the phone is Dakota. I ask if my dad is there, and then ask, “Who are you?” He explained mutual friends he knew and that my dad was helping him build a space. When I came back into town, that’s when we hung out and instantly realized we were about the same thing.
D- The bassist we had at the time was kind of screwing around, so we asked Taylor if he wanted to play bass for us.
T- I said, “Dude I don’t have a bass.” And Dakota said, “Your dad will let you borrow one…” and I said okay.
D- That’s when we became an electric project. We played for a long time like that, and then obviously our other younger member had to bow out, so Taylor moved over to drums and Hayden came into the mix with keys but then took over guitar.
H- I actually had a dream that Michael had quit and I was going to play guitar, so I had learned the album on guitar already.
D- Fast forward, we get to recording ‘All In’. We have a really educated team in sound production. We brought in our old producer to record this thing. At this point, or former bass player unfortunately missed a big show of ours in Pomona, and we really needed someone reliable. We were about to do an audition process, but Andy (who I went to school with) saw we were looking for a bassist and started asking questions. So, I said to him, “Since you’re asking all these questions, you’re the first to try out.”
T-And he has a glorious beard, so clearly he had to join.
D- We had a month to get him up to speed for a tour we had already booked, so we decided that was his trial period. Obviously, he is still here.
Why the name Naked Walrus?
D-Me and Michael were being dumb and we were playing this random music. Everything was a concept song, the first one was called “The Downside to Super Powers.” We were trying to go off that, our next song was explaining the Naked Walrus,and when we met him. When we decided that was the band name, we had a lot of people saying we were dumb for naming the band that. But one day, Chuck Cannon, who is a national songwriter, came to speak in one of our classes. He discussed co-writes, which is how we write a lot of our songs. He said that you need to be comfortable in your own skin to the point where you could be in the room naked with that person and it would be okay. Literally all of us got the light bulb above us at that point. Basically, we are trying to represent a message of being comfortable.
T- The secret to this band is that it’s founded on fun. People ask why we don’t change the name of the band, because to some extent we can’t take it seriously enough. The music is the serious part but the moment it isn’t fun, then we’re done. Who cares what you call it, it’s about what you hear.
When people ask you what your band sounds like, what do you tell them?
H- I can’t say we sound like anyone in particular. We like modern rock like Foo Fighters, Queens of the Stone Age and stuff like that but it’s not necessarily that we sound like that. We are just straight up rock n roll.
T- We strive to invoke a similar amount of emotion, like these bands, in the listener. We want them to be as hyped up on our songs as we are when we listen to some of these bands. I don’t think we necessarily sound exactly like them, which I think is a huge compliment. People can hear our influences, but they haven’t said they heard anything that was a legit cutout.
How does your creative process typically work?
H- It’s usually 99% of the time, music first. That can be either one of us writing a riff or one of us bringing a whole song musically done start to finish. Most of the time it’s a co-write.
T- It’s an equal opportunity environment. Everyone can bring something to the table. There may be members who have more material that ends up on a record, but it still does not mean they have a priority in content. We decide as a whole what to keep.
D- We also created both the acoustic and electric sets so we could be consistently releasing new material. Some of that stuff was just random, but now it’s become this thing where we decide what is electric and what is acoustic. In fact, we are releasing a song Hayden and I wrote when we were sixteen on this upcoming acoustic album.
What’s been your biggest opportunity so far?
D- We’ve had some exciting opportunities because we work in the industry. Everything we have gotten has been because we work hard at our jobs or outside of that, we don’t have insane connections or money behind us. Some of our most exciting opportunities are coming now due to the fact that we are trying to prove ourselves. However, Taylor and I worked for a company called New Noise who hosts a boutique conference like SXSW, and we were able to get into that. They are also the major promoters in SB. They put us on their festival twice, which was huge. The other thing is that Curtis, our producer, has been a godsend. I met him at Coachella and he recorded our first album for us, and now this one, and it is insanely great product.
T-We’ve been a really fortunate band. I don’t say lucky, because I believe you make your own luck. It’s a given you will have to work really hard in this industry. We are just going to continue to work because we don’t feel like there is anything wrong with going through the growing pains of an indie band.
If you could change one thing about the music industry, what would it be?
D- I work for the creator of the Vans Warped Tour and I am trying to create this new thing called ‘Warped Ed’. It’s about teaching the next generation what it is to really do it, I mean from coiling the chord, to putting up the fader, to mic-ing the drum, to anything else within the music industry in general. I think it’s important for people to learn how to do it right. We work with a lot of youth musicians. We were educated really hands-on at a young age and that is why we do what we do now. Taylor and I also work for an organization called ‘Notes for Notes’, which build recording studios and jam spaces in Boys and Girls clubs. That taught us a lot; we worked a lot of youth concerts with Hayden running sound. So really, just education is what I think needs to be implemented.
One song you never get tired of listening to.
A- “Beat It”- Michael Jackson
D- “Only for the Night”- RX Bandit
T- “Kashmir”- Led Zeppelin
H- Any Gin Blossoms or Toad the Wet Sprocket album.
Best live show you have ever gone to?
T- Hands down, seeing Roger Waters The Wall at The Coliseum
D- Seeing Foo Fighters in a 350 person venue in SB.
H- First time I saw RX Bandits or seeing Sound City players in the middle of Hollywood Boulevard.
A- Seeing Jimmy Eat World playing ‘Clarity’ entirely front to back. It changed live shows for me for sure.
Favorite things to do NOT musically related?
D- Hiking is my bag right now.
T- I’ll have you know he drives to all those locations you see on Instagram.
H-Our new thing, Geocaching, is the shit. It’s like real life scavenger hunting. There are things hidden all over the city! If I’m not doing that I am binge watching something on Netflix and eating an entire box of cereal.
A- Frisbee Golf.
If you ran BBB, what are some bands you would feature?
St. Ann’s Place, The Blues and Greys, Tommy and the High Pilots, The Silent Comedy, Trash Honey, and Gaza Strip Club.
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