Hailing from Los Angeles, rock band Badflower composed of Josh Katz (vocalist/guitarist), Joey Morrow (lead guitarist), Alex Espiritu (bass guitarist), and Anthony Sonetti (drummer) felt no connection to their hometown’s oversaturation of hip hop and EDM, appearing like outsiders.
Then emerging into the industry with their hypnotic, new age rock sound, Badflower became the first band to sign with Big Machine/John Varvatos Records, reached number one on the Active Rock Radio Mediabase Chart with single “Ghost,” and made their television debut on the “The Late Late Show with James Corden.” The band also announced they will release their debut full length album “OK, I’m Sick” on Feb. 22, 2019.
Within the five year duration between their establishment as a band to their newfound success, frontman Josh Katz began to struggle with anxiety. Facing panic attacks while onstage, Katz translated his experience with anxiety to single “Ghost.” The single considered pivotal to the band’s success, has opened the dialogue about anxiety and resonated with fans to create a solid following.
Katz, during a three day break from a continuous stream of live performances, discussed his love of folk songwriters, how he vividly captured his personal struggle with anxiety in single “Ghost,” and Badflower’s upcoming tour alongside Palisades and Of Mice & Men in support of Texas-based rock band Nothing More.
What was your songwriting process, and overall mindset, when you wrote Active Rock Radio Mediabase Chart’s No. 1 single “Ghost?”
Josh Katz: “I had just come off a tour where I was having panic attacks every night onstage, and it sort of came out of nowhere and then didn’t go away. I mean, the entire tour was like a month, and when I came off of it I was just in a very dark, confused place and I wanted to write a song about how I felt and sort of plan these fantasies that were in my head, and without missing any details. I wanted it to be as detailed as possible, and as real as possible.”
Why did you choose music as way to create a dialogue about anxiety?
JK: “I don’t think I could answer that question, [because] it did come naturally. I’ve been into music my whole life. I’ve been playing various instruments since before I can remember. And I consider myself to be a pretty creative person, so if it wasn’t music it probably would have been art, or drawing, or painting, or something that probably doesn’t have to be music, because that’s what I gravitated to from a young age.”
What was it like making your television debut on “The Late Late Show with James Corden” and how did being sick affect your performance?
JK: “Terrifying … it was terrifying, but it was great. I mean, it was such an awesome experience and they treated us really nice and everybody was super cool, but we were scared. We had never done anything that big before and we just didn’t want to mess it up. [Being sick], so sick, and that made everything so much worse too. As much anxiety as I have when I am healthy, when your sick that feeling is so much worse. You feel like you’re so not in control of yourself and your body. It was very tricky. I drank a lot of water … an absurd amount of water before I performed.”
How did you become associated with Big Machine/John Varvatos Records, and how does it feel being the first band signed to their new label?
JK: “They’re signing more bands back here, and we’re a little bit afraid of that. It’s like only child syndrome. We like being the only child, and we’re nervous for the new babies to be born because they are going to take the attention away from us. But it’s awesome, we’ve been with [John] Varvatos for years now. He used to be at the label we were on prior to them. So we were with him there, then we moved over to Big Machine [Records], and then he introduced us to Scott Borchetta, Heather Luke, and all these amazing people who were working for Big Machine [Records] and putting so much effort into Badflower, which we never had before from a record company. We had people put half the effort in and just kind of… really, really believe in what we’re doing, and care, and are willing to do whatever it takes to make sure it’s unique.”
How would you define your sound, and who has had influence on your sound?
JK: “I just like really good songwriters. I don’t listen to a lot of music that sounds like our own. I don’t listen to a lot of rock music. I like folk music, and especially the newer folk music, like Ryan Adams … things like that. [Who’s] just writing lyrics that puts you in a place that are visceral and clever. That’s the kind of music that I listen to.”
Established in Los Angeles, has the local scene or any previous Los Angeles-based artists influenced your sound?
JK: “No, not really. There’s no rock scene at all in Los Angeles, it’s all hip hop and EDM and stuff like that. So, we don’t really fit in L.A. We don’t play very often in L.A. for that reason. We spend a lot of time in the Midwest and on the East Coast touring.”
Currently on a U.S. tour, what elements go into your live show?
JK: “The truth is, right now we are supporting so we didn’t put that much work into it to be honest with you. The setlist, we just have a mental idea of what we are going to play every night. The music is usually the same amount, you know, it’s a forty minute set or whatever each and every night. So, we have it pretty well mapped up. I don’t know, we have more fun when we play shows and we don’t have everything sort of staged perfect. We like to have fun with it, and things are different every night so that’s what makes it exciting.”
Pending Badflower’s upcoming tour with Nothing More, Of Mice & Men, and Palisades, purchase tickets on their official website, follow the band on Instagram @badflowermusic and on Twitter @badflower, and view their performance of “Ghost” on “The Late Late Show with James Corden.”