The Bad Beats: Vancouver garage dwellers take to Europe

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      Vancouver’s the Bad Beats make music from so deep in the garage it seems conceivable that you might mistake them for the Blues Magoos or the Sonics or somesuch, bands actually from the 1960s. So it comes somewhat as a surprise when guitarist Adam Payne tells the Straight that “period authenticity isn’t very important” to him. 

      Lacking any cool vintage gear to record with, he does sometimes worry that the Bad Beats’ recordings—which Payne has masterminded—are “too modern-sounding”, so he clearly takes it as a compliment that I hear their music as being pretty authentic. 

      But that might not be the last word when it comes to sonic quality. 

      “Many of the ’60s garage bands have nice-sounding records, but just as many have poorly recorded records,” he observes. “Sometimes that adds a kind of charm, other times it just lessens the impact of the music.” 

      Payne is “more partial to the sound of the ’80s garage revival scene,” he says.  

      Payne’s love of rock began with listening to his mom’s records, in Toronto, which included “all kinds of ’50s stuff like the Everly Brothers and Elvis and that kinda thing. She also had lots of early rock stuff like the Stones, the Beatles, the Who… I did like stuff like the Ramones and Teenage Head when I was young, but wasn’t even aware really of what punk rock was till I was 14.”

      After that, he “got involved in the Toronto hardcore scene in the the late 80’s and played in hardcore punk bands til shortly before [he] moved to Vancouver in 1995.” Somewhere in there Payne came across a Mono Men 7” at a cheapie bin at a Toronto record store. “That started getting me interested in Estrus Records, which then led me to more garage stuff.” 

      “Watch Outside”—a rather stalker-y song off the Bad Beats’ 2016 release His Vengeful Hand, is in fact a cover of the Mono Men, whom Payne calls “Bellingham’s greatest-ever band.” 

      Other covers in their set include songs by the Shocking Blue (whose “Send Me a Postcard” is also on His Vengeful Hand) as well as songs by the Lyres, Bob Seger and the Last Heard, the Guess Who, the Modds, the Brogues, the Chessmen, the Sonics, and Paul Revere and the Raiders, among others. 

      “We love playing covers,” Payne says, grinning.

      Two other songs on the album are also covers: “Hipsville 29 BC” by the Sparkles and “Love Has No Time” by Portland’s the Miracle Workers. The Miracle Workers—one of those ’80s garage-revival acts Payne mentioned earlier—are on the shortlist of bands, also including Plan 9 and the Chesterfield Kings, that Payne would love to see on reunion tours, but, he adds, he’s not that invested in seeing old groups reunite.

      “I did see the Sonics a couple times in recent times and they were great, though they had barely any original members.”  (The Straight kinda thinks that newcomer Freddie Dennis steals the show, actually; so we know what he means.) 

      Payne’s past bands include “the Hathways, the Bonitos, the Red Hot Lovers, the Gamelons, the Felchers, and many others”. He currently has a side gig playing bass with Bishops Green “when our schedules don’t conflict”.

      But right now his attention is entirely focused on the Bad Beats, who are about to go to Europe for the first time.

      “The owner of our label"—Soundflat Records, “which is based in Cologne, Germany, put us in touch with Knock Knock Booking, who handled all the booking for the Spain dates,” Payne explains. Their first European gig will be in Cologne, at the Soundflat Records' Ballroom Bash on October 28, with gigs thereafter in Oviedo, Barcelona, Valencia, Tarragona, and Madrid, on November 5.

      Considering the Bad Beats’ only previous out-of-town show was in Bellingham, Washington, that might seem like a big step. In fact, Payne has plenty of experience touring Europe with Bishops Green—although, he tells the Straight, it will be the first time across the pond for his bandmates.

      These include Cam Alexander (the East Van Playboys, Real Problems); bassist and His Vengeful Hand cover artist Richard Katynski (Gold Stars are for Suckers, Orchard Pinkish and His Horny Hands); and organist Derek MacDonald, formerly of Orchid Highway, and “also currently in Gold Stars Are For Suckers”, Payne explains.

      Former drummer and punk legend Jon Card (Personality Crisis, D.O.A., SNFU, Subhumans Canada) has passed the sticks on to Michael Nathanson, previously of ska punkers Los Furios and, along with Katynski, a former member of Waltz Darling. (Nathanson is currently in a new band called the Starling Effect, which will make its live debut at the Fairview next Friday, October 20.)

      “I have a hard time ever finding more than half a band that is invested in this kind of music,” Payne says, “but if you find good musicians that are open to playing something a bit different, it can work.”

      The Vancouver kickoff  for the Bad Beats’ European tour is Saturday (October 14) at Pat’s Pub. It’s also going to be Payne’s birthday gig, and “playing the show is Machine Animal, from Bellingham and featuring Dave Crider, formerly of the aforementioned Mono Men.”

      Payne promises “some good loud rock ’n’ roll” at Pat’s—“same plan as always”, he says.

      How about particular plans for the European tour, when the band isn’t playing shows?

      There are none as yet, he tells the Straight. “But I predict a lot of drinking and record shopping! Isn’t that what you do on tour?”

      The Bad Beats play Pat’s Pub (403 East Hastings) on Saturday (October 14), with Machine Animal and the Rambling Derelicts.