In 2009, Cincinnati indie-rock duo Bad Veins seemed to come from out of nowhere. They had released their self-titled debut LP on Dangerbird Records with much fanfare and were suddenly the talk of the music blogosphere. In reality, however, they had been honing their craft for a couple years.
They didn’t exactly blow up the way people were expecting, even though the album was worthy of the buzz it got. Singer Benjamin Davis’ songwriting mixes elements of solemn, heartfelt rock and nervous post-punk. Their performances, though, delivered the real magic. Davis played keys and guitars while Sebastian Schultz backed him up on drums. The third “member” was Irene, a reel-to-reel tape machine that played additional backing tracks in their live sets. It was part spectacle, but with good music.
After Bad Veins released last year’s superior sophomore album, The Mess We Made, on Modern Outsider, the band went through some changes: Schultz quit and was replaced by Jake Bonta. As they embark on their first major tour together (including a stop at Cafe Stritch on Friday), Bonta and Davis hope that their future will build on what the previous incarnation of the band had been working toward.
“I think that Bad Veins hasn’t reached the peak yet,” Bonta says, “We’re very close to becoming the band that everyone thought that we were going to become back in 2009.”
Davis and Bonta actually met via YouTube. When Schultz quit, Davis thought it would be impossible to find another drummer as energetic as he was, so he announced that he would be making Bad Veins into a full band, not just a duo. That is until one of Davis’ friends showed him videos of Bonta rocking out to random songs in his room on YouTube. Davis contacted Bonta and asked if he’d like to audition for Bad Veins. Bonta didn’t know who Bad Veins were but gave it a shot. Less than a week later, they were playing their first show together.
Part of what makes their unusual lineup work, is that according to Bonta, they still have the basic essentials that gives a band character. “I think the two biggest aspects in the band that make you go, ‘Whoa that’s a good band,’ are the vocals and the drummer. That’s where the performance and excitement come from onstage,” Jake says.
Friday, June 14; 8pm; free
Cafe Stritch, San Jose