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Battlehooch at Cafe Stritch’s ‘Wax Wednesday’

In Music
HANG LOOSE: San Francisco by way of Santa Cruz band Battlehooch aren’t too keen on rules. They just wanna jam.

HANG LOOSE: San Francisco by way of Santa Cruz band Battlehooch aren’t too keen on rules. They just wanna jam.

People kind of know us now for playing ‘Turn Down For What,’ for better or worse, but we only play ‘Lil Jon’ if we feel 100 percent comfortable.” That’s not entirely what you’d expect to hear from Grant Goodrich, the bassist for San Francisco-based sextet Battlehooch, a spacey and psychedelic rock & roll band that was once self-described as “shape shifting orchestral rock music.”

The group—consisting of vocalist Pat Smith, guitarist AJ McKinley, synth player Ben Juodvalkis, drummer Ryan Huber, wind instrumentalist Tom Hurlbut, and Goodrich—is bringing its multifaceted act to downtown San Jose for a night of impromptu jamming, spontaneous audience requests and maybe even a Tupac cover.

“At this point, we’ve been a band for so long that we have a myriad of ways to keep our sets fresh,” McKinley explains. “We have songs that we haven’t played for years that we can get back into, and that’s what’s cool about our material: it can sit alongside everything else. We can play something from our first album right after a brand new song or even a cover and it works. It’s all part of the sound and experience.”

Recently, Battlehooch has taken a different approach to releasing new tunes, choosing to consistently drop individual songs, as opposed to traditional, full-length albums. Not only has this helped the band maintain a constant flow of creativity while on tour, it’s also allowed for old and new material to be played side-by-side with improvised, extended versions of songs and covers, McKinley says.

Case in point, Battlehooch’s latest single, “Everyday,” is an assemblage of funky guitar riffs and bluesy harmonica melodies.

“Instead of releasing a fat batch of material all at once and expecting everyone to stop what they’re doing and digest it all in one sitting, we’re going to keep things steady,” McKinley says. “Let people hear a song, digest it, share it, dive into it, get to know it, and by the time they’ve fully listened we’ll give them a new song to check out.”

New songs are indeed coming down the pipeline, a number of which were recorded earlier this year and are set to be released over the next few months. After the band finishes out the latter leg of its fall tour in November, they’ll be back in their practice space, learning new jams and re-learning old ones, switching up the songwriting process as they see fit.

“In terms of songwriting, we’ve run the whole gamut,” McKinley explains. “We’ve had songs in our repertoire that arose simply out of improvisation, jam sessions where one of us had come in with all parts of the song written and we’d learn it from top to bottom, and we’ve also gotten together and done crazy weird experiments where we’d all share instruments back and forth.”

The band’s fondness for experimentation stems in part from their UC-Santa Cruz roots. Their mutual involvement with the “hippie expression center,” is at the core of the band, according to McKinley.

“We spent four years making noise and sharing music with each other, and then we moved to San Francisco and kept making music,” McKinley says. “There’s a long lineage of rad music being made, and we just want to humbly contribute the best possible music to that.”

For nearly a decade, Battlehooch has maintained a reputation within the Bay Area’s vast musical landscape. Known as a band brimming with colorful personalities and eclectic sounds, the group’s continued success is due in part to their reluctance to limit themselves to any defined genre and their penchant for experimentation. This has not only helped keep fans coming back for more, it has also ensured that playing music continues to be fun and rewarding for the band.

“We’re working towards implementing our creative voices as we get more refined and better understand how to distill our creativity into songs,” Goodrich says, explaining that his band still has fun. “I hope we can use our voice to have a broader impact on a bigger level, both musically and socially.”

Nov 2, 8pm
Café Stritch, San Jose

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