If you like your tunes with serious layers, unique arrangements, and an electronic orchestra type feel, this Badass Band is for you! Meet Badass Band 102, Better Looking People with Superior Ideas.
I believe BLPWSI and I found each other via social media, and at the time I was doing some regular booking at Silverlake Lounge, and I booked them on a show. Their music was intriguing and mysterious so I wanted to see what these guys were like live. On the day of the show, Nick and Craig set up a variety of instrumentals that looked fairly complicated for a duo to execute, but man did they rock it! It was unique, refreshing and you could almost see the damn notes being pushed into the air via the energy that went into the performance!
BLPWSI currently has a self-titled EP available. Some favorites include:
- “With You”- This is a spacey track that will overwhelm your senses in the best way. One second you think you’ve got this tune figured out and then BAM! another layer is added. It builds to the drawn out chorus line, “When I’m with you, it doesn’t matter what we do.” Overall, this tune echoes that sentiment by almost putting the listener in a trancelike state.
- “WLLBWSHN”- This tune definitely illustrates the orchestral feel. It boasts beautiful echo-y vocals, angelic chimes, synthy goodness and hypnotic rhythms.
Recently I sat down with Craig and Nick, so read on to find out about the lyrics they derived their name from, how their creative process works, and why they think there should be more anonymity in the music industry.
When and why did you start playing music?
Nick: I started playing music in first grade with piano and guitar lessons, and kind of quit. Then in an effort to be cool after moving to a new school I picked up sax, and that didn’t work that well.
Craig: Second graders who play sax are really cool.
Nick: But then, when I was like 8, I picked up guitar again and never stopped. I started taking it really seriously in high school and have tried to make a life out of it ever since. Outside of the band, I am able to support myself as a composer.
Craig: So I started playing piano first, as well. My parents got me involved in piano probably about the same age, 6, 7, 8 … somewhere around there. And I started playing rock songs and TV themes that I thought were really cool, like I learned the “X Files” theme. At a 6th grade party, if there was a piano, I was killing it. That’s what kind of drew me into wanting to pursue it more, that feeling of performing and people getting excited about hearing music. I was excited about playing it, so I started guitar class when I got to high school. And in my guitar class, there were a bunch of guitarists, obviously, but there weren’t any drummers, and some of the guys would say, “Let’s start a band. But we have a bunch of guitarists.” So I was like, “OK, I’ll try drums, I like rhythm.” I played trumpet in marching band and I always thought the drum line was cooler, which they are — it’s true — much cooler. So I was like, “Oh cool, I’ve always wanted to do drums anyway.” One of my friend’s dads bought a used set on one of those Craigslist type things, somewhere on the Internet. I’ve been playing in bands since then.
How did you guys meet?
Craig: In college. We both went to UCSD and I saw a guy [Nick] with an afro and a jean jacket walking around.
Nick: There are photos of that. But I was playing in a band called Honest Iago at the time, which I still play in, and the guy who started that, Matt, had the idea to use instruments other than drums to drive everything. I arranged strings and pianos and horns and it was pretty awesome sounding, at least electronically, but then someone asked us to play a show, so we were like, “Better find a drummer.” I’d seen Craig’s band so asked him to join and it worked out. We will be 10 in that band in January.
So you were brought on in that band as an arranger and you’re a composer, so how does that play into the creative process with you guys?
Craig: I think that we both do a lot of arranging, but Nick formalizes it. When I arrange, it’s like, “I want to have these parts here, here and here.” And Nick is like, “Yeah, but this will work better if we do it like this and actually map it out.” I’d say there is pretty equal creativity but more structure from him.
Nick: Yeah, that’s pretty close, and that’s not to say we don’t jam and improvise stuff too. Often what happens is one of us writes a chord progression and some lyrics or a hook or something and brings it to the other one like, “What should we do with this?” Often the person who writes the main thing that you hear in the song isn’t the person who picks what instrument is going to play it or the order in which things happen. And I like working like that a lot. I mean, I like working on my own too, but our goals with this band are different.
So what do you say when people ask you what does your band sound like?
Craig: It’s catchy but weird, basically, or maybe more weird, but sometimes catchy.
Nick: I think so, yeah. There’s lots of electronics, but it’s indie rock that gets heavy and noisy sometimes, with beeps and bloops.
Alright, so talk about your band’s name.
Craig: It’s from an LCD Soundsystem song. I could’ve been enjoying the show too much and didn’t remember exactly what I heard, or maybe James Murphy just sang it differently that night, because if I sang the same song every night for five years I’d probably be bored of it too. But it’s from the song “Losing My Edge,” and he talks about how he’s losing his edge to better looking people with better ideas. Somehow when it got from my ears to my phone, it was “superior ideas” and we liked it.
Nick: As soon as he texted me that, or called, I forget which…
Craig: I texted from the show. I was like, “This is what we’re doing.”
Nick: And I was like, “Yup.” Like, no discussion, of course that’s what we’re going to call it.
Being an indie band, and living kind of all over So Cal, what is your biggest challenge right now?
Craig: Getting trapped on the 10. I think that’s the biggest challenge.
Nick: Personally, I find, it’s getting people to hear us. Everyone who gives us a shot really seems to dig our music and usually comes back to multiple shows. I’m very proud of the stuff we’re writing, but getting more than your friends and their friends to actually listen is, I think, the next big step for us.
Craig: We’ve also had a lot of competing priorities. Nick is in school and doing his own music, me with a full-time job.
Nick: I think now that I’m back in LA we’re able to play more shows and get together a lot more than we have been. There’s a lot of new stuff we’re working on. Getting more songs out, and more songs demoed, recorded, etc. That’ll be good.
Craig: We have a page of song titles and lyrics and sketches and stuff and there are like 10 or 12 songs on it, of which three are show ready, two are almost show ready, two or three are cool ideas, then the last two are like, “we should do something with these.”
Nick: Yeah, those last two are going to be interludes probably, because they’re great grooves, but we’ll see.
Do you guys have trouble titling a song, or is it usually pretty easy for you?
Nick: Not in particular, sometimes we get down to two or three and bounce them back and forth and see what sticks.
Craig: Yeah, I think it comes down to what we find ourselves saying in practice
Nick: I noticed that three out of six songs we’ve released start with W. And I think I was about to title another one with a W, and was like, no, no.
If you could change something about the music industry, what would it be?
Nick: Publicly available phone numbers? Well, there’s been so much less gatekeeper-ism since the big four came down to the big three and everyone got on MySpace (and now everywhere else), but at the same time, because of that it’s still so much who you’re friends with, but even more than that, like how you’re dressed and stuff. It’s super idealism talking here, but I almost wish music was more anonymous, in a way. More without context. It’s a funny thing. There are big bands, for instance, Radiohead, I didn’t love their last record. If it were any other band I would’ve been like, “This is really creative and interesting.” I wish knowing it was Radiohead hadn’t been a part my experience of that record. And I wish that were also true for unknowns.
Craig: Yeah, I don’t have anything to add. I mean if it was only on looks, obviously, we would be huge.
One song you never get tired of?
Nick: “The Shape of Punk to Come” by Refused.
Craig: I think, for me, it’s still the Receiving End of Sirens album “Between the Heart and the Synapse.” It was a really integral album, from when we were learning to play music together in college and like, the formative years of our band and the formative years of my life really. I was going to college and learning a bunch of new stuff and meeting a bunch of new people and I listened to that album nonstop for probably over a year, and you’d think that I would be like, “Its dead to me,” but I’ll go like a year without listening to it and pop it in and it just clicks. Everything is so perfect, all of the arrangements are so complex. Then they put out like one really busy album, one sort-of album, and no one’s ever heard of them again.
Best live show you’ve ever gone to?
Nick: I don’t want to use the same band for this answer, but it is. I wrote part of my master’s thesis on Refused; they’re by far the biggest reason that I decided to do this with my life. Hearing that record at a young age, and being like, “Oh, look what you can do with music.” They broke up in 1998 and got back together for Coachella in 2012 and it sold out immediately. But they had a secret show at the Glass House the night before, that was their first show in 14 years, and that sold out immediately too, and I wrote a very long letter to someone connected with the PR, and they wrote back, “You’re on the guest list.” And I was right up against the stage for it. It was right before quitting my job to do music full-time, but it was like every high school dream in one, and their playing was phenomenal. They said they practiced eight hours a day, six days a week for six months on 20 songs.
Craig: Radiohead. Of course they’re amazing players, and all their songs are so nostalgic for everyone. Seeing Refused at FYF, the year after they did Coachella was a top second.
Favorite things to do not musically related?
Nick: Kayak, camp, make beer. I’m pretty into sci-fi, and I read a lot, whether classics or pulp novels or whatever.
Craig: I really like sitting on the couch in the condo I’ve bought. I have a TV on the wall in front of it. If I’m burnt out from work and I’m not messing around in the garage or on my iPad or something, I’m usually just staring at my TV on the wall, resting my mind for a little while. It’s hard not to come home from a long day’s work and just grab a beer and collapse on the couch. It’s pretty great.
If you ran in Badass Bands Blog, what are some bands you would feature?
Nick: I would feature wild Up and Gnarwhallaby. Who are both made, shall we say, “classical” ensembles, but they’ll do literally anything. Which I love. Plus we’re friends. They’re both getting really big here in LA, and are incredibly creative on their own, and are also sometimes acting as the house band for touring rock acts that need a small orchestra.
Craig: There a bunch of great bands here tonight, like The Shape and Curtsy that always make me wonder why they’re not huge when so many generic bands are. And we love playing with this guy Josh who is Orange Umbrella, because he really nails the one guy with a guitar and electronics thing so well, and I see a lot of similarities between us.
FIND BLPWSI HERE: