Written by Ian Morales.
Everything comes full circle at some point, especially in music. People grow up listening to what their parents or older siblings listen to, consciously or not. As a result, people often have tastes and influences from many musical spectrums that have no similarities, as in the case with Bad City frontman and former Thee Armada member Josh Caddy.
Thee Armada was a darling in the scene kid world. Caddy will be the first to tell you that it’s a market with a large teen fanbase, where bands sell flashy t-shirts and being “cute” is important to the marketing. After a four-year run, members of Thee Armada were ready to go in a different direction musically.
A phone call from Thee Armada’s manager soon followed, referring Caddy to a Chicago-based band called Powerspace. Caddy listened to their music but was initially uninterested. After hearing some new songs from Tom Schleiter and Kevin Kane—touring members of Powerspace—Caddy immediately loved what he heard. Those new songs ended up on Bad City’s debut, Welcome to the Wasteland.
Caddy joined Schleiter and Kane after talking to them in Ocotober 2009 and flew out to Chicago from California a month later. After spending time with the other members of what is now Bad City, Caddy and the guys worked with producer Johnny Cain to record their debut.
Before you go out and catch Bad City on tour with Smashing Pumpkins, we spoke to Josh Caddy to talk more about the band’s beginnings, the new album, touring with Smashing Pumpkins and what the transition for him was like going from one music scene to another.
You had a good following and name previously with Thee Armada in what I call the “Alt Press Scene.” What was it about this band or group of musicians that made you feel like this was the right move for you?
Caddy: The first time I flew out to Chicago, I met Tom first. Tom and Kevin were the only two members of Bad City that were in Power Space. Tom picked me up and we went out to his River House somewhere on the Fox River. We went out there and all the rest of the guys came out and I was nervous as heck. I knew Tom wanted me to sing in front of the band. We started tracking a song and everyone was totally rocking out, head banging and totally air guitarring as I was recording it. The whole rest of the night, we just spent the night listening to Def Leopard, AC/DC, Queen and just clicking right away. It felt like these guys were already some of my best friends. It has just been like that from then on out. I actually already feel as close to this band in the short eight months I’ve known them as I was with Thee Armada guys, whom I spent four years with. It felt right immediately.
Even though this isn’t your first experience being in a band, I don’t see a lot of crossover potential from one fan base to the other being that the genres have such different fan demographics. What is the transition like for you now that you are playing in front of what I would assume are older fans? Older as in older than the typical Thee Armada fan base.
Caddy: They are definitely older. It’s funny because at most of Thee Armada shows, it was an age range from 11 to 18, with the exception being our friends who are older like us. I couldn’t tell you the last time I saw a thirteen year old kid at any of these Bad City shows. In a way, it is awesome to me only because I know that in that “scene” market a huge factor in a band’s fan base is how the band looks and who is the cutest guy in the band. There are a ton of bands just like Thee Armada, cute with flashy shirts. That’s just the way that scene is built. This market though, completely different world. The first time a 45-year-old dude with beard and biker jacket came up to me and said “Fuck yeah man. You remind me of hanging out with my buddies back in the ’80s.” I know for a fact this dude and dudes like him have to reason to come up to me. I mean he doesn’t care about me being Thee Armada. He doesn’t want to buy a shirt or think I’m cute. He just digs the music. I know that this older crowd that cheers for us as the opening band for Smashing Pumpkins or Hinder, I know that it is genuine and feeling the music versus how cute we look on stage.
But do you miss being “cute” at all? Even just a little bit?
Caddy: Actually it helps keep out some drama in my life when it comes to my girlfriend. I tell her all the time that there are no little girls at our shows trying to hook up with me. I do miss Thee Armada shows a little, but like you said earlier, it is a whole different world. I’m still getting used to it.
So how does it feel to be playing in front of hundreds or even thousands of Smashing Pumpkins fans?
Caddy: The first show we played with the ‘Pumpkins was very, very interesting. The whole rest of the band, having grown up in Chicago, are just gigantic Pumpkins fans. They are truly nerds about The Smashing Pumpkins. They can name every track on every record, even unreleased tracks that are only put out on special fan websites and stuff like that. We didn’t get to meet Billy Corgan the first show. Everyone was pretty bummed about that. When we went out and played that night, we gave it our all. The thing is, no one from their crew or the band talked to us so we didn’t even know if we did a good job or what. The crowd response was awesome. We sold some CDs and sold some shirts. The next day we met Billy for the first time. I, being the lower tier Pumpkins fan out of the group, was speechless. I didn’t even know what to say to him. It was kind of weird.
Does Billy Corgan talk to you more now or watch your sets?
Caddy: He comes to us and we talk to him at every show. He always has some form of advice for us. It is always positive. He is just trying to watch out for us in way. He’ll tell us things like “Your label is going to do this and not going to do this, you guys have it, make sure you don’t do this” and things like that.
Does it get any easier at this point now that you’ve got a few shows under your belt already?
Caddy: Yes, it is definitely getting easier. We play a couple of jams in the set that aren’t complete songs, It is just us rocking out for a little bit. With these crowds and these shows, I’ve learned how a real front man needs to act and how to interact with this audience. I knew how to interact with the 13 year olds at Thee Armada shows. I don’t think I really found myself until halfway through the Hinder tour. Now on this tour, I feel like the band is doing much better.
Let’s switch gears here for a little bit and talk about your style of music. When I first heard the record, not knowing Bad City was, I heard a lot of Queen and Motley Crue-like arena rock like influences mixed with a hint of alternative. My first thought after listening to the record was, how do these guys even begin when creating or composing this stuff?
Caddy: The two main song writers are Tom and Max. They in my opinion are the two best guitar players I have seen or known personally. They can probably play anything. They started writing when Max joined Power Space as a touring guitarist. They’d just sit in the fan before and after shows writing rock and roll songs. Both of them being huge Pumpkins nerds and fans of Black Sabbath type of music, they have always had that in them. They both after a while consciously decided to play rock music the way they wanted to play it. That’s truly where Bad City came from. It is definitely a rock and roll cauldron of the past fifty years of all the greatest rock music that’s out there.
Would you agree with some of the blogs and message boards online that you are an eighties, hair metal era style throwback?
Caddy: I don’t get an ’80s hair metal vibe at all. Maybe people think that because I have blonde hair, but I’ve had blonde hair before. Like I’m trying to be Vince Neil or something? The music is very Queen and even Kiss influenced. There are some Balck Sabbath style riffs in there like in our song “Look Out!”. In our songs “Wildlife” and “Straight To The Grave” there are huge Pumpkin influences. We just didn’t try to sound like anybody except for just rock and roll music. It is the same kind of rock and roll music we would stay up until four in the morning drinking whiskey and chest bumping each other to.
What about the lyrics? Who is the main writer?
Caddy: When I stepped into the band, I’d say 80 percent of the record was already done. They had no vocals recorded and no lyrics for about half the songs. The other half was Matt, Tom and I working them out then and there. Two of the songs, “Take Me For A Ride” and “Heatwave”, Johnny Cain came down and made us rewrite and re-sing those songs completely. I got to be a part of those. All I can say is that the guys know I am songwriter as well and we are already writing the next record.
Good to know. Since you are still on your first record and new to a lot of people, what song would you have someone new to Bad City listen to in order to make the best impression on them and why?
Caddy: To get the full dynamic of the band, I’d probably have them listen to the last track, “Straight To The Grave.” The reason is because you get a sample of Max’s voice as he sings some verses in that song while Tom and I sing the chorus. It showcases my range as a vocalist and has the dynamics of the guitar with a solo. I just think overall has bits and pieces of the rest of the record.
Tell me a bit about your upcoming plans for a new music video for your next single, “Take Me For A Ride.” I saw a hot girl and an even hotter car in the teaser pics on your Facebook page.
Caddy: We had a day off on Sept. 3, after the Arizona dates, and so we drove to the Mojave Desert with Seth Nicholson with and his crew from L.A. They got an actual ’67 GTO for the video. It is kind of like a Bonnie and Clyde kind of story where we robbed someplace and are getting the heck out of there. I’d say we should be releasing it within the next two weeks.
Finally, I am seeing in your near future another handful of tour dates with yet another legend, Slash. How did this tour come together and what was our reaction to touring with Slash?
Caddy: Growing up my mom’s favorite band was Guns ‘N Roses. Immediately I told my mom and my mom peed herself. It was really cool getting to tell her that. The best part is we are playing two shows at the end of the tour in Hollywood on the Sunset Strip at The House of Blues, in which my family will get to come to those shows. The whole tour happened because we sent the record to Slash and Miles Kennedy, their touring vocalist. Miles is also the singer of Alterbridge. Miles immediately liked our band and told our booking agency, The Agency Group. We are on The Agency Group as well and it got worked out to where we got to be part of the third leg of their tour. It is a dream come true. It is going to be awesome. I only hope that we get to meet him, maybe hang out with him and that he digs our band. I hope fans that go to see Slash take a liking to our band as well.