Audio Visual – local music meets fashion with Battlehooch
May 12, 2010
Written by Meghan Logue
Audio Visual is a series exploring the fashion choices of local musicians. The Bay Area music scene is nothing if not diverse, and this noncomformity is as evident in clothing as it is in music.
Battlehooch is a sextet of local musicians that can be characterized by the diverse acts with which they’ve shared the stage. The band recently wrapped up a tour with string-metal actÂ Judgement Day, and has previouslyÂ opened for electro-funk alter ego Ricky Reed and his partner in rhyme, Arjun, of Wallpaper., during their Noise Pop show.
Q&A and photos after the jump:
Meghan Logue: So do you guys prep for shows together? Do you all get together and work around a theme?
AJ: Well we have this closet at our house called the “piece chow closet.” Which is a closet that just has tons of wacky outfits and whatnot. And normally ten minutes before we leave, it involves people pulling out the latest wacky jacket or some kind of thing. I don’t know if you saw our bass player, Grant, he took a pair of rain pants and chopped off one of the legs.
ML: I did notice that. I thought that was interesting. So it’s not really a cohesive theme but you all get dressed together?
AJ: We’ve never fully pulled off a coordinated wardrobe theme. I think once we came really close to all of us wearing primary colors. That was an idea that we had. I was yellow and Pat was blue and that stuff. There was a time where we wanted to all wear army jackets but there’d be always be a show where there’d be four guys in army jackets and one guy in a tank top. It’s not really coordinated. It’s just basically like “how’s this look? is this wacky enough? This shirt? This jacket? How about with the cowboy hat? What about the leather pants?”
ML: So wacky is definitely something that you guys are going for?
AJ: Yeah, I mean it’s a festive occasion. Sometimes when you wear wild outfits it’s like you’re putting yourself out there and it’s kind of symbolic. If you’re dressing strangely that kind of implies that you’re ready to behave strangely or to accept strange behavior.
ML: Would you say that the type of music that you guys play influences your dress?
AJ: I guess so. I guess we technically play weird music and we dress weird. I think that they’re just both two sides of the same coin, I guess you could say. We’re just weird people so our expression is weird in all of its formats.
ML: So what do you guys do outside of band stuff? Do you have day jobs?
AJ: Yeah, we definitely all have day jobs. Is there a life outside of band stuff?
ML: Do you dress differently for your day jobs?
AJ: No, this is how I dress to work. I’m a music teacher though so it’s kind of ok.
ML: Oh, ok. Do you all have creative-type jobs?
AJ: Not all of us. I’m a music teacher. Ben, our keyboard player, is an accompanist for dance studios and ballet classes and modern dance classes. He’s actually written ballets before. Yeah, he’s awesome. Tom, our sax player, works at a bike shop. Our singer, Pat, is a cab driver. Our bass player is a bartender and our drummer is unemployed.
ML: Oh, I’m sorry to hear that.
AJ: Its cool. Flexible hours, that’s what it’s all about.
ML: So how do items get chosen for the piecechow closet?
AJ: It’s gotta be an awesome color or… it’s gotta have a certain eccentric quality. Everything is rainbow or some weird color of purple or something that looks way 80′s or army fatigues or camouflage. Sometimes it’s just funny articles of clothing taken out of context. For example, we have a traffic guard vest. Just wearing something like that and a pair of slacks. This isn’t a thing that we sit down and decide what’s going to go in. If I was to describe the type of stuff, it’s just stuff that’s different than normal clothing in some way or shape. It’s something that announces itself in a very explicit way. You know, like a shirt like this would not be in the piece chow closet. These pants would.
ML: So items have to be aggressive almost, in their appearance? They need to really stand out?
AJ: I really like that. We dress aggressively.
ML: So where do you guys shop? I’m sure you don’t all pile into a van for a six person shopping trip.
AJ: Well, today I bought these pants at Out of the Closet at Noe and Church. That’s kind of where I’ve been going because I’ve had really good luck with pants and colorful shirts there. We get a lot of clothes. After a certain point people are bringing clothes to us. They’re like “Oh, I have this jacket with tassles on it. I would never wear it but you could wear it!” It’s mainly people giving us stuff and things that people leave behind at the house. There was a time period where we were wearing a lot of masks.
ML: I noticed one on stage earlier. The blond pompadour with the sunglasses. I really like that.
AJ: Yeah we bought that in Santa Cruz.
ML: Do seasonal changes effect the way you dress at all?
AJ: Not at all. I mean, maybe we’ll wear something long sleeved but no. We don’t have a summer and winter piece chow collection. [Laughter]
ML: You don’t switch out seasonal items?
AJ: No, that’d be really funny though.
ML: Off the top of your head, can you think of the oldest piece of clothing in the piece chow closet?
AJ: Oh, geez.
ML: Or is there a piece that’s really special to you? That you like to wear more often than others?
AJ: Let me think. We had this kind of sweater type thing that we called the Nerf shirt. Because it was pink, red, yellow, blue. Tons of different colors and it was all fuzzy and it was kind of small. I wore it in the video for our first song from our last album and also in our promo shots. I really like that because it was the colorful, fluffy thing that you could possibly wear. It was awesome. I liked that. I have this hat that I think was a toilet paper cozy but it was so furry and colorful and big enough to fit my head into it. So I would wear that and this shirt. So it would just be like this ridiculous …
ML: Like your top half is all fuzz.
AJ: Yeah. Super fuzzy and I’d wear these enormous yellow pants. That was my favorite outfit for a while. But then there was this time when Pat and I were only wearing ponchos. Maybe that was the only seasonal thing. Because that was during the summertime. We would just spend all day in ponchos and that was amazing. Going on tour and you wake up in a poncho and then you eat breakfast in a poncho and then you go to your show and play it in a poncho and then you take your poncho off and use it as a pillow.
ML: Do you ever get odd looks from pedestrians? Headed to or from shows or headed to work?
AJ: I probably don’t. When I go out, I dress weird but I don’t think I dress weirder than the average weirdo in San Francisco. But sometimes, Grant, our bass player, wears things that I can’t believe. We used to dress weirder, initially because we were all about coming off as so crazy.
ML: Well, in Santa Cruz it’s hard to compete for the crazy [the band formed at UC Santa Cruz]. They set a pretty high bar out there.
AJ: That’s funny, we just played in Santa Cruz with Maus Haus and there was a dude who was wearing a cowboy hat and standing in the middle of an intersection and waving cars through and when they would pass he would flip them off. He was just so wasted. And Josh, the keyboard player in Maus Haus, was just like “what the fuck is going on?! What is this place!” and we’re like “Whatever, it’s just a Sunday night, baby! It’s Soquel and Seabray. This is how we roll.” But Grant used to wear black Speedo underwear and green fishnet stockings and just walk down the street with a very pensive look on his face. And also he’s really tall and he’s got that whole Kid Rock, Kurt Cobain, Bape-r type thing going on. So he’s a very striking individual, as it is. And when you throw in…
ML: …green fishnets.
AJ: Yeah, that kind of tips the scale.