Badflower – the unadulterated, gritty, bluesy hard rock band from Los Angeles, California consisting of lead singer Josh Katz, guitarist Joey Morrow, bassist Alex Espiritu, and drummer Anthony Sonetti boards the Carnival Valor on Saturday, January 26th for their first ShipRocked. Katz, who writes the profound, gripping, vulnerable to the point of uncomfortable lyrics, sits down with ZRock to talk about the upcoming festival. Continue reading to learn how Badflower got their name, how ShipRockers get a sneak peek of the full album Ok, I’m Sick, and how Katz is living the dream.
Tiffany Neufeld: So are you excited about ShipRocked?
Josh Katz: I am! I don’t know what to expect. I’ve never been on a cruise before let alone something like this. So, I’m anxious in the best way.
TN: I see that you’ve been on tour with ShipRocked vets like Red Sun Rising and Pop Evil, they didn’t speak on their experience or give you any expectations?
JK: No, we just haven’t talked to them in a while. We never asked.
JK: Sure! Yea. That’d be great.
TN: Yea, this is their second year onboard. I’m really excited about their set. Is there any band on the lineup whose set that you’re particularly excited about?
JK: Papa Roach will be fun to see. I’ve seen a lot of these bands before. We’ve done a lot of the same festivals together. It’ll kind of just be like a big ol’ reunion.
TN: For your two sets, do you have any idea what tracks y’all are going to be playing or how y’all are going to split it up?
JK: I know that we’re going to be playing, apparently the longest sets we’ve ever played of our career so far because they’re asking us to play 75-90 minutes, which we’ve never been asked to do. We’re basically playing our entire new record because we don’t do covers or anything like that. So, we have to fill the time somehow. It’s going to be great. I have no idea how that’s going to go.
TN: Well, it sounds like you’ve let go of all expectations and what will be, will be, and it will be fantastic.
JK: That’s exactly what I’ve done.
TN: So speaking of the new album, it sounds like we’ll know what to expect off of the new album because ShipRockers will get a preview of it. I have to ask though, the blood on the cover art – is that real blood?
JK: No, it’s not real blood. I don’t even know what it is. It’s the same – I was told when it was being put it in my mouth that it’s the same company that does all of the blood for American Horror Story that made this particular batch of blood.
TN: So, you have high class fake blood.
JK: The photographer does. He’s a bougie dude. I don’t know what to tell you.
TN: Well, it looks real. It’s very intriguing… I saw on your Instragram in a post from July that read, “Dear Panic disorder. You lost mutherfucker. I beat you.” Is that still true for your today?
JK: No. (Laughs) I wish it was. It’s not entirely true. I’ve definitely done all the right things to maintain a level of sanity with that stuff, but I’m not. I’m not entirely cured. I think it’s easier to say when I’m coming off tour and I know I don’t have – I’m not entering all these high pressure situations and I get a break and I’m like, “Awh, I can do this! I think I beat this,” and then the new record is done and the tour schedule is filled up and our entire year is filled up and I’m like, “Ah. I’m gonna call my therapist.”
TN: It sounds like it can be daunting when you look at your schedule and you’re like, “Okay. This is my life for the next six months. Ah.”
JK: Totally. It’s so daunting. It’s great. I mean I’m living the dream. It’s so exciting. But yes, it is definitely daunting and overwhelming at times.
TN: Well, I definitely appreciate your honesty and especially speaking on your experience with panic disorders and I read that “Ghost” was instrumental in how you’ve dealt with that and how you deal with that and I love how you use the lyrics in all of your writing and if it is okay with you, I’d like to go through the lyrics of some of your songs and get your insight on some of the verses.
TN: So, in “Animal,” the line where you sing, “My albatross is always with me,” it reminded me of The Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Coolidge. If at all, if that was where you were going, how does literature inform your writing?
JK: I mean it doesn’t that much. I’ll be honest with you. “Animal” was a co-write with another person who was like very versed in literature and he was into mythology and all of that kind of stuff and he gave me the inspiration to write all of that in metaphors. So, I can’t speak on that song as much as the other – and that was the ONLY song that was co-written with that person by the way. I was hoping you wouldn’t bring up “Animal.” I was like, “Oh, this is gonna happen isn’t it.”
JK: No, it’s totally fine. It’s just that’s the only one I can’t – the choruses I’m all about. The verses, I let his mind sort of take over on that one.
TN: Ok, let’s move forward to another song – I hate to go back to “Ghost,” but I love the parallel of the lines “I am a freak” to “I am afraid.” I feel like that is so smart. The parallel and the sound it creates. It has the same amount of syllables, but it’s owning that part about you while also being vulnerable at the same time. What also stood out in that song is, “Regretting it is so fucked,” and I felt that was another beautiful line. What did you have in mind when you wrote that line specifically?
JK: “Regretting it –“ that one?
JK: I had the thought – I was playing out this negative imagery of what it would be like to get that far into trying to kill yourself; to be so close. And I think the thoughts that kept crossing my mind were just fully regret. Like you can’t, I don’t think you can feel that regret until it’s too late. I think that’s the idea of that. Because if anybody has been there and feels like they don’t want to live anymore, until you do something stupid and you really get that close to the line, that feeling of regret doesn’t really kick in – unfortunately. I don’t think, at least, with my experience with being in those types of mental positions. That’s like the last thing that’s on your mind. You’re just thinking, “How can I make this end? Like what options do I have?” And the only option that becomes clearer and clearer is that I don’t want to be on this planet anymore. I don’t want to be alive. And if it gets that bad, any kind of method can be easy, any way you decide “this is how I’m going to end my life,” like that’s the easy part. It’s like being at the very end, hanging by a thread and realizing you shouldn’t have done this. I don’t know. It’s heavy stuff.
Like you can’t, I don’t think you can feel that regret until it’s too late. I think that’s the idea of that. Because if anybody has been there and feels like they don’t want to live anymore, until you do something stupid and you really get that close to the line, that feeling of regret doesn’t really kick in – unfortunately.
TN: It is heavy stuff. It sounds almost like you’re advocating for those who have committed suicide and the survivors who are left and feel some sort of blame towards them or like they took the easy way out. For me and what you just shared, which was so poignant is that, you can’t understand unless you’ve been there. Is that safe to say?
JK: Right. Of course. Of course.
TN: It’s so neat, and I guess scary and vulnerable to put yourself out there like that and share a part of yourself but also advocate on such a touchy subject. Do you ever want to pull back from that? Or do you embrace it? Like this is who I am and this is my platform;
JK: Yea, well that’s the part that like when I look at the schedule and I think they’re daunting and I feel overwhelmed, it’s not just that I have all of these things coming up, but it’s like I’m the Badflower guy. Like I’m that guy. And I have to be in front of a lot of people, and a lot of people are very affected by this and it’s a very heavy topic and there’s very heavy conversations that come out of it in terms of the people who come to our shows and when I think about just that – . If our single was something light and easy, it would sort of change the mindset of how the tour would go. Not to say that would make it better for me. It would probably make it worse because I feel more comfortable talking about things that are important and talking about things that are important to me. But just the idea of that. That I’ve sort of created something that I now have to own and live with for pretty much the rest of my life. I mean that was a big song and I think that song is going to affect people forever. And I’m lucky! I’m so lucky to be able to do that. And I would never take it back. But it’s heavy. It’s definitely heavy. I have definitely have made a decision by doing that in a way that affects people in a way that has truly affected my entire life. I will never escape for better or for worse.
I mean that was a big song and I think that song is going to affect people forever. And I’m lucky! I’m so lucky to be able to do that. And I would never take it back.
TN: While you can’t escape this and I love everything you just said, do you think that Badflower would ever do a concept album where you’re stepping away from that message and embracing something different? Not necessarily distancing yourself from everything you’ve just said, but as a band, is that a direction that y’all have ever considered? Or see for yourselves?
JK: I don’t think I understand the question completely. A concept album that is a completely different subject than what I’ve written about? Is that what you mean?
TN: Kind of. I’m sorry, let me clarify a bit more. When I say concept album I’m thinking more of The Who and Tommy and Avatar and how they put on a specific performance and show – not to minimize their heart that’s in it but they tell a story that is separate from heavier topics or personal topics that you sing about.
JK: Right. I think the short answer is no. I don’t think we would.
TN: I appreciate that. You mention that you’re the “Badflower guy.” Where does your name come from? Badflower.
JK: It’s stupid. It’s from a dumb conversation that we had with someone. It’s a really underwhelming story. Do you still want it?
TN: Well, yea! Now I’m intrigued. Unless it’s embarrassing…
JK: It’s not embarrassing for me. It’s embarrassing for the person – though he wouldn’t care. I have a cousin who was younger at the time and he would say dumb stuff. He was a kid and he would say stupid things. And one time he was talking about how his dog got drunk, and my guitarist Joey and I were sitting there listening and we were like, “What do you mean you gave your dog alcohol? What are you talking about your dog got drunk?” And he was like, “No, my dog ate a wrong flower…” “We’re like what?” And he was like, “Yea, he ate a bad flower and he got drunk.” And it just made us laugh and we heard those two words put together and just sort of sparked and we looked at each other and were like, “That’s a cool band name.” And that was it.
Before the last and final question, I shared the story about ShipRocked bill mate Blacktop Mojo and how they got their name.
TN: What is the one thing you want people to know about you guys as a band?
JK: That we care about our songwriting. We don’t bullshit. We try to write everything to the most honest place and we’ll never grow up.