Two Latvians and a Dutchman walk into a bar. This is not a joke, but an interview with The Bad Tones. Bass player Alberts Levics meets us at the Grote Markt, and Edvards Broders (vocals, guitar, keys) joins us by phone. How does a Latvian band end up in The Hague? We discuss this, their ambition and upcoming album ahead of their gig at Club 3voor12 Den Haag #58.

The Bad Tones have played in The Hague two times. “Well, one and a half, actually. We had a gig in Paardcafe. And we played an acoustic set at an art exhibition in QUARTAIR without our drummer, which makes it a half.”, Alberts adds.

The four band members moved to The Netherlands from 2015 onwards. With only three out of four band members living in The Netherlands, they are struggling to arrange gigs. But more about that later. The band actually has three gigs coming up this spring, Club 3voor12 being the first one: “We are excited for Winterfest and Hipfest. And we are on the long list for Popronde 2019. Doing these gigs is the way we try to get famous, well...  recognition. But it is hard.”

Alberts continues: “We haven’t had our big break yet, but we definitely want to do more concerts in the near future. Edvards was contacting venues, but hardly getting response. We needed bookers and people from industry. We went to Popradar Music Support’s Drop It Like It's Hot Demo Panel and got in touch with Tijs (van de Poll, ed.) who got us one of the gigs. That was unexpectedly successful.”

The Bad Tones is:

Edvards Broders | vocals, guitar, keys
Alberts Levics | bass, vocals
Rūdolfs Ozols | guitar, backvocals
Kalvis Sležis | drums, backvocals

Last September, The Bad Tones released their first EP Bad Tunes, and at the end of the year the group released their clip for 'Full Moon'.

Will you play some new material on Saturday?
“We will definitely play some new songs on Saturday”, says Edvards. “I am very excited about the album recording we are doing, but also playing it live. It will be along the lines of the lo-fi tradition, with that feel of a band arranging on the spot or performing live. It is about the energy you get while playing together. But live, our songs will be fresher than a Jumbo cucumber.”

And how is the album getting along?
Edvards: “We just finished mixing our debut album for The Bad Tones, it will come out in July. And we have some tricks up our sleeves, we will do some releases before. After the album release we will try to win over The Netherlands, and maybe start looking towards Germany and France.”

You seem to be ambitious. But does this work, having 25% of the band abroad?
Alberts happily explains: “We practice seasonally. In the summer we are all in Latvia. We play concerts, festivals and practice. And we do the same in winter, but for 2 or 3 weeks. And for gigs like these, Kalvis has to fly in. He actually arrives Saturday morning, which gives us about four hours to practice before we go to Paardcafe.”

Edvards laughs: “It is complicated, like any long distance relationship.”

The second album of The Pink Elephant, Cassette Concert was only released on cassette players. Since its release, the cassettes have travelled the world. Currently, copies are in Ukraine, Mexico, the US and UK. This is done to ask the audience to devote themselves to listening to the album.

Your reporter tries to tease the two band members and hopes he does not cause a break up by asking this question:

Have you ever considered finding a new drummer?
Luckily, Alberts and Edvards have a reassuring answer: “We substituted Kalvis once, our producer (Jasper Ras, red.) can play the drums too. But we are really used to the drumming of Kalvis. Our connection is really nice, so I would love to keep playing with him. So no, we haven’t actually considered it.”

“...Actually, our drummer is graduating in Latvia this year, and applying for a master’s degree at conservatories in The Netherlands. Hopefully this will make things more easy. And if our drummer gets into his school here, we will definitely try to get more exposure.”

It was not very straightforward to record this way, Alberts notes: “It was tough to complete the album, since our drummer is not around all the time. We actually had to plan the recording sessions carefully to fit our school schedules. And the songs were not properly arranged by all of us together. This we had to do it while recording, but it worked.

Does the album have a name yet?
“Yes it has a name, but we cannot share it right now. On the music side it is already done, but we still have to do some work to do production wise.”

From The Pink Elephant to The Bad Tones

The Bad Tones were previously known as The Pink Elephant when they started in Riga. When Alberts started his studies in a music high school in Riga, he met Rūdolfs and Kalvis. One evening they decided to start a band, together with Alberts’ childhood friend Edvards.

A few years later they decided to move to The Netherlands independently from each other ‒ although “there might have been some subconscious coordination” according to Alberts. Alberts and Edvarts are studying Art of Sound, “a sound engineering thing”, at the Royal Conservatory The Hague, Rūdolfs is studying at the pop department of the Amsterdam Conservatory. Around 2017 they also renewed their band name into The Bad Tones.

With all these changes, is the ‘new’ band any different?
Edvards: "We started to play together around 2013 or 2014 as The Pink Elephant. Along the way, we went through some changes. We always took music seriously, but The Pink Elephant had more of a ‘hippy-jam vibe’. Musically and personally we grew up, matured, and got a different mindset. Now there is more attention to detail and a more serious outlook on the music, arrangement, mixing. This led to the change into The Bad Tones, in 2017. Same band, different twist.”

Alberts agrees: “We are putting our hearts in!”

Does this mean the label psychedelic rock is wrong?
“We have been going with psychedelic rock for quite a while. With the new album, we have somewhat moved away from that, but are afraid to put a new label on it. It is something like psychedelic indie blues rock. Yeah… a mixture of things.”, says Edvards.

Alberts adds: “The new album has a lot of different styles. Hopefully someone will be able to describe the music once we released it, haha.”

Jokingly, Edvards concludes: “A band with four people playing music instruments. That is all you need to know.”

De 3voor12 Den Haag Clubavond wordt gehouden op zaterdag 23 maart in het Paardcafé, deuren openen om 20:00 uur.  De andere bands die spelen zijn VXUY en LE MOTAT.

Nu we toch even de aandacht hebben:

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