x ANA x
We’re in Love
In this era of seemingly arbitrary punctuation in pop, the all-caps title for California hard rock band Badflower's full-length debut feels earned. OK, I'M SICK is largely about, as well as a product of, frontman Josh Katz's anxiety. The raw nerves and self-awareness are palpable throughout, most notably in the harrowing suicide tale “Ghost” and the appropriately frenetic opener “x ANA x,” which contains the line that could double as the album's elevator pitch: “Wanna see what happens when I mix Xanax, blow, and a MacBook Pro?” (Editor's note: Apple does not condone this use of its hardware.) Here Katz tells Apple Music about some of the things he and his bandmates needed around them to exorcize—and exercise—their demons and turn them into some very loud songs.
“We have a house out in the desert in California City, our tour manager's house, about two and a half hours north of LA. We wrote everything here—we must have made like 50 demos. When we actually got to the real studio, a picture of Leonardo DiCaprio was on the mixing console, staring at us with every take that we recorded. I don't know why it was there, but I'll never forget that. At some point, we were jamming, just saying 'Leonardo DiCaprio' over and over and over again. I have no idea why that happened.”
“The reason the album came out the way that it did, with all this really heavy content, is because that's just the place I happened to be in—a lot of panic disorder and depression and things like that. And even the songs that aren't necessarily about that are still very much from that perspective. 'x ANA x' is sort of making fun of these feelings—making fun of panic disorder and the mode of defense I feel when I'm onstage. I don't have the slightest clue how to fix the problems that I have, I just know how to observe them and turn them into art. Xanax is comforting. I have a therapist that I'm able to FaceTime with; I talk to her every week. That's comforting. I get really bad anxiety when I'm on tour, especially. Like when I look at the schedule and how full it is, and knowing that we're going overseas and doing all this crazy stuff, and the shows get bigger, and there's more and more people who are relying on their incomes from this band. I don't wanna disappoint anyone, and there's just a lot of pressure surrounding what we do that a lot of people don't realize.”
The Defiant Ones
“I probably put that documentary on every night. The Eminem segment was hugely inspiring—he's a freak of nature. Watching that come-up story and seeing how the first album became his first album, we thought about that a lot when we were making this record. Eminem incorporated a degree of humor into everything that he did that, at the time, I don't think was really a thing, especially in rap. That was a huge inspiration on 'x ANA x'—that's such an interesting way to approach songwriting. I wanna be able to make people laugh and cry in the same song if I can. And Eminem had a way of doing that.”
“The song 'Promise Me' is all about wanting to preserve youth, and wanting to preserve the way love feels when you're young. There's no love as powerful as the first love that you have when you're in middle school, you know? That breakup, in my mind, with the first person who I only ever kissed on the cheek, was the hardest one I'd ever been through. It is something that I'm really cognizant about, preserving my youth. I always shave my face, I don't like to have a beard. I think it still looks like I'm getting older. I guess my job is preserving my youth—I'm fulfilling my childhood fantasy, I'm signed to a label, I go on tour for a living, I have fans. As long as I stop taking it so seriously and stop feeling so much pressure to be perfect all the time.”