Badabing first popped onto Wesleyan’s music scene during Halloweekend 2017 with a brand new batch of what they called “chuggy, surfy tunes baked fresh daily.” Their upbeat, ebullient collection of originals and covers grew over the course of the year, as they played more and more house shows across campus (all natives of New York City, the members of Badabing also played a private show in Manhattan over the summer and all contributed to the project Michelle). Back in March of last semester, I sat down with then-freshmen Jamee Lockard, Nick Catrambone, and Charlie Kilgore (Columbia Univ. ‘21) for a wholesome Usdan brunch. We discussed the upcoming release of their self-titled album, which, at long last (like this article) comes out on all platforms.
Aural Wes: You have a new EP coming out…
Nick Catrambone: We do! It’s like -- I don’t know what you’d call it. It’s like, seven songs.
AW: EP! Album? So how would you describe the vibe of the EP?
NC: Well, I think one thing that’s pretty cool about it is there are fast, intense, crazy songs and there are also kinda quieter songs -- a lot of the guitar chords are very jazzy, but it doesn’t really feel jazzy. There’s definitely a chugginess to it. It’s a sweet little album. Honestly, I think because we’re freshmen, there’s that naivete that goes into it.
AW: You’re a sweet little band.
NC: Yeah. Don’t quote me saying “naivete.” (laughs) But, yeah. Especially Jamee and Charlie, they’re just like sweet people. It definitely comes through in the music.
AW: At what point did you decide to make an album?
Charlie Kilgore: None of us [started] out with the intention of “yeah, this is what we’re gonna do.” (to Nick) You had recorded a couple things…
NC: Yeah, I think me, Charlie, and Jamee have all recorded like demo-y stuff, but it’s so different making something with two other people versus making something alone. I had no idea how to write drum parts or bass parts, so… (laughs) it’s helpful when there’s other people.
Jamee Lockard: I feel like we definitely wouldn’t be doing this if it wasn’t so convenient, having Red Feather on campus.
CK: Yeah, we recorded two songs in my room. One of the first times we all hung out, there was this very twee little song that me and Nick had been screwing around with, and we all decided to just throw together a demo in my room. And it sounded really good -- we were like, oh!
NC: (overlapping) This could be fun and sound really good.
CK: And it was also really nice outside. So we were recording, and there was a beautiful sunset… It was lush.
JL: It was one of those sunsets.
CK: That was the key. But yeah, it’s been really fun. And apart from playing drums and bass and guitar and all singing, we’ve also found other things in the [recording] process that we all enjoy doing.
NC: Yeah, I was never really into engineering or producing at all, and that’s totally something where I’m like, “this is so cool.”
CK: We’ll all hear different things, sometimes Jamee will do some one-off thing and I’ll be like, that’s the whole song. That’s what happened with “Bass Song.”
JL: It’s nice seeing the song grow. Since we’re a three piece set, there’s only so much you can do. But when we layer stuff on, like we can in a recording session, it’s nice hearing the take where you’re like, “that’s the one, that’s the one we’re keeping.”
AW: What’s it like putting together a band after just meeting each other?
JL: I met Nick, and then through Nick I met Charlie.
CK: Yeah, Nick was sorta the arbitrator.
JL: Social butterfly. (laughs)
CK: Yeah, really. In the first three days of school I kept seeing Nick everywhere. I could not seem to avoid him.
NC: I was following Charlie.
CK: I’d be in Usdan, he’d be right there. I’d be wandering around the Butts and he’d be there with a bunch of people. And then… I think one time he just he just heard me playing guitar in my room or something --
NC: Well you hit me up on Facebook, and then I saw your Bandcamp, and I was like, “oh my god, this kid makes really good music,” and then when I heard that Charlie plays drums, I was like, oh my god, like this kid is perfect! He has everything.
AW: You were like looking to recruit?
JL: (laughs) “I found the one.”
NC: And I had never heard Jamee play bass when I asked her to come jam with us, but I was like… well, one thing that Charlie said in the beginning which was smart was just that it’s all about the vibe. The vibe is everything, honestly.
NC: And… I like Jamee’s vibe.
JL: Thanks, Nick.
CK: Really glad we have your approval.
JL: Thanks. We were just chilling during the first week of school in the hallway in Westco. We were talking -- I don’t even remember what we were talking about. (gesturing to Nick) But he mentioned he played guitar, I mentioned I play bass, and you invited me to come jam with you guys, and I remember I was nervous because Katie Prael’s dad hyped [Charlie] up so much to me --
CK: He’s very… he exaggerates a lot.
JL: But then I ended up liking you guys, and like we said it’s all about the vibe, and I was like, yeah, I have the same philosophy about music. And at the end we were like, “Tropicalia?”
CK: No, that’s a fuckin’ terrible band name!
JL: And we were like, okay, but this is a band now. We’ll pick the name later.
NC: And then we picked Badabing.
CK: We didn’t really pick Badabing. We just couldn’t think of anything --
NC: It picked us.
JL: It picked us.
CK: Yeah, it came to us in a dream. No, it was just something -- you know, in your first couple weeks at college, you’re terrified and you don’t really know how to interact with people, and that was something I’d said a couple of times [in conversation]. Like, I had started saying it as a joke before I came to college and then when I came to college it kinda became a catchphrase accidentally.
AW: Like “bazinga”?
CK: Yeah, except less making me hate myself. So we’d been playing for a while and then we had a Red Feather session, and they were like, “okay, what are you guys called?” And we were like, “uhhhhh, yeah, let’s go with Badabing for now, that’s gonna be our placeholder name until we can think of something better.” And we’re still trying to think of something better.
JL: It kinda grew on us. I thought it was “buh-dabbing” at first. For a while. I was like “what’s a buh-dabbing?” (laughs)
AW: What’s it like being a freshman band? You’re kinda the only [all] freshmen band that performs at house shows on campus.
NC: It’s really awesome. One thing is the upperclassmen are so inclusive, and I feel like we’ve been taken under so many wings of various people. There’s all these people I really look up to and are inspirational to look at [and see] what I hope to achieve at Wesleyan in the music community. People who do Red Feather [Studio], WESU, who are in bands, who write the newspaper; [there are] all these people who do everything, and it’s like, ‘whoa. I need to do everything.’ And then -- the bands totally feed off each other in terms of style. There’s influence you can see from Barbara Shop and Flaccid Ashbacks. [They] make us want to rock out at more of our shows. Going into it, I didn’t really see us as a band [that would be] loud and fuckin, just, try to rock, and get people dancing and moving. I think that’s a thing [at Wes] -- you don’t see a lot of bands play quiet songs at shows. I don’t know, recently, it was super cool for us to see Goo open, because they’re a three-piece, and we’re a three-piece, and seeing what this group of seniors -- who are so much more talented -- seeing what they’re doing to make their three-piece more dynamic. We picked up so much from that. And finally, like, we’re competitive! All the bands are a little bit competitive, and when you go to a show and see these other bands fuckin kill it, you’re like, ‘fuck!’ Like fuck, we gotta go practice. I want to be as good as them. Everyone’s taking it so seriously.
JL: Yeah, it’s kinda fun! Our audience is mostly freshmen, so since we’re the only freshman band, people know who we are. It’s nice seeing so many people come. It’s nice having all that hype, I guess.
CK: It’s also nice to -- yeah, I don’t know! I’ve talked to friends of mine from high school who came to Wesleyan last year and none of them ever really mentioned, like, going to shows. So I feel like it’s nice to have the freshman contingent actually going to concerts. That’s really fun. But I don’t know, it’s also nice to feel like -- there have been a couple of bands who’ve referred to us as their baby brother band.
JL: Yeah. It’s really nice having older bands to look up to and being the only freshman band that gets their attention I guess. (all laugh) But I’m also excited to see what other freshmen do.
AW: What do you think is the future of the music scene in the freshman class?
JL: Ooh, I don’t know. There are so many talented musicians, but I honestly wouldn’t be able to guess who would collaborate with each other.
CK: I know there are -- I’ve just heard of like, a couple of people collaborating. I know there were sorta whispers of the whole Westco gang, like Franny [Flackett-Levin ‘21], Keizo [Fish ‘21], Jack [Kraus ‘21] doing stuff together. I don’t know, I’ve been playing a little with Keizo and Charlie Schine [‘20] which has been fun. I dunno.
JL: Are you doing bass on that or guitar?
CK: Bass. But… I don’t know if that’s the thing for me…
CK: I don’t know.
JL: You might not know this about Charlie, but he’s a very talented bassist. And piano player, and guitarist, and I’m probably forgetting an instrument. (laughs)
CK: Yeah, kazoo. I played jazz kazoo for eleven years.
JL: Music prodigy, a virtuoso. (all laugh)
CK: Good Morning Connecticut all had kazoos at their show, that was fucking crazy!
JL: Yeah, because at the program housing fair, Music House was passing out kazoos. So I think because Cal [Mirowitz ‘20] and Will [Jacobson ‘20] live there. Will had them, so they used them.
CK: I just want to be Cal Mirowitz when I grow up. That’d be so fuckin’ cool. He’s really hot as well. Definitely put that in the interview.
JL: Wait, what was the question? (laughs) Oh, freshman bands. It’s fun, yeah!
CK: It is fun. It also feels like… I don’t know.
JL: It’s fun having done so much in such a short period of time, because you can really look back and be like, wow, we just formed a few months ago and we’ve done--
CK: A lot.
JL: A bunch of shows, made an EP…
CK: (overlapping) We’ve recorded like, five songs out of seven and played, like, five shows.
JL: We have a bunch of songs that are written, we just haven’t gotten to recording or even performing. Like “Open A.”
CK: Yeah. We haven’t named any of our songs.
JL: Oh, we don’t name our songs! It’s really a problem. We have “New Original,” “Open A”...
CK: “Bass Song,” “Beach Song”...
JL: I think that might be the name. Or “Drive to the Beach.” “Jamee’s Song,” like, none of our songs have names!
CK: There was “F Song” which we played for a while, but we kinda retired “F Song.”
AW: And F is based on a chord?
CK: Yeah. It was the song that was in F.
JL: Usually we just do the key that it’s in.
AW: (laughs) “Open A”...
CK: Yeah, because that’s the only song that’s in a different tuning for guitar… As well as being a freshman band, I feel like we’re also the -- not in, like, how serious we are about the music, but just in terms of our vibe, I feel like we’re the most lighthearted band.
JL: Yeah, I feel like we’re very loosey-goosey, like chillax, have a good time, mosh if you want to…
CK: Yeah… since we’re also all freshmen it feels like, I dunno -- like, at the Goo show I was like, in awe, but I was like, here are all these cool upperclassmen dancing and I don’t want to get in the way of their shit.
JL: I think our name also reflects our vibe -- “Badabing.”
AW: Rolls off the tongue.
CK: We just make silly, fun music.
JL: Yeah. We’re also collectively silly people, just doing silly things.
If you want more from Badabing, their debut album is out now on all streaming platforms.