'Tis the season for new releases, featuring a bumper crop of Bay Area bands. Plus, an identity crisis: Bay Area surf-mariachi-punks bAd bAd defend their honor against LA electro-pop kids badbad
LEFT OF THE DIAL Any musician who's just released an album will tell you that a little bit of attention is never a bad thing. But a strongly worded cease-and-desist attorney's letter from the daughter of Aerosmith's Steven Tyler wasn't exactly what the dudes in bAd bAd had in mind when they put out their first, self-titled full-length last month. With a shiny new cassette (!) for sale and a release show at Amnesia May 3, members of the lo-fi mariachi-surf-punk band had good reason to be in high spirits. And then, April 22...
"It's an aggressive letter," said singer Christian Zamora, one half of a pair of brothers who, in turn, make up half of the four-piece. "Like, a really, really aggressive letter. We're supposed to cease and desist within 48 hours, and remove all signs of our existence as bAd bAd online, in fliers, everywhere." Meaning, of course, that the band wouldn't be able to sell its brand-new pride and joy, bAd bAd's debut album.
The accusers in question were badbad, an electro-pop duo out of LA that consists of Chelsea Tyler and her fiance, actor Jon Foster. According to a letter from the duo's attorney, the San Francisco band has been "capitaliz[ing] on the goodwill and reputation" of the other band. The problem, as far as Zamora saw it? Though the duo's online bio states that they formed in 2011, they played their first-ever show — "a Tommy Hilfiger party...yeah, I know" — in the spring of 2013, the same year they released their first and only song, and, from what Zamora can tell, the same year they actually trademarked the name. Whereas bAd bAd has been at a sort of low-profile hustle since forming in early 2012, playing regular shows at spots like El Rio and Brick and Mortar Music Hall.
"Why do they even care?" said Zamora by phone on April 23, just after word began spreading amongst Bay Area friend-bands thanks to a Facebook post he'd written. "We play modest shows, and I think we're good, but it's nowhere near their scene." The two bands wouldn't have even been aware of one another's existence were it not for a Spotify snafu that ignored their stylization differences and lumped their music together.
The singer, who said his and his brother's love for mariachi music comes in part from their Spanish roots, decided to have a lawyer friend look into their options and legal obligations, while staring down the prospect of having to give away their debut album for free.
Less a week later? Don't say social media never did anything for you. Friday, April 25, after the story had been picked up by websites like PandoDaily, Zamora received an email from the other badbad, which had abruptly changed their tune. Explaining that "If there is anything we stand for, it's fair business," Foster and Tyler said they had looked "deep within [them]selves" and decided to change their own band name. Zamora and his bandmates wrote back thanking them, adding that "&ldots;this week and the threat of losing our alias has been enlightening in helping us realize just how much we have grown to love the bAd bAd name over the years."
Long story short: Spirits should be pretty high at this party.
With Cruel Summer, Male Gaze, and Bob Thayer
853 Valencia, SF