A Trip to the California Desert Inspired Bad Suns, Who Play House of Blues on Sept. 17

click to enlarge A Trip to the California Desert Inspired Bad Suns, Who Play House of Blues on Sept. 17
Bad Suns’ story is a familiar one. Frontman Chris Bowman met bassist Gavin Bennet and drummer Miles Morris in the in high school, and they jumped from band to band, all the while keeping tabs on each other. But it wasn’t until guitarist Ray Libby came into the picture that things started to come together for the California boys.

“When you’re trying to figure out the sound of your band, there’s a lot of different guitar players that want to play a lot of different ways,” says Bowman in a recent phone interview. The indie rock band performs with Liily and Ultra Q at 8 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 17, at House of Blues. “When we started playing with Ray [Libby], we had such similar styles and influences and ideas about the kind of music that we wanted to make that when the four of us came together, it felt like it had never felt before. There was total cohesion.”

That chemistry led to three full-length albums and a national fan base.

“We were really fortunate to have a song like ‘Cardiac Arrest’ that paved the way for what we were able to do. We were also able to grow over the years because of our reputation as a live band.”

The catchy, riff-heavy track from the band’s 2014 debut represents Bad Suns’ early sound, but the band has since evolved and its most recent album, Mystic Truth, captures a bit more grit than the indie band had previously tapped into.

With Mystic Truth, Bowman says the band wanted to create something that broke out of the ordinary.

In order to achieve this, the foursome had to get out of contemporary studio sessions and out of L.A. So, they packed their bags and drove up to a cabin they had rented in Palm Springs, hoping the change of scenery would bring a new kind of inspiration, and it did.

When Bad Suns returned to L.A., the band was armed with two new concepts, which evolved into Bowman’s favorite tracks on Mystic Truth: the trippy, moody “Starjumper” and the drum-heavy alternative anthem “Hold Your Fire.”

“The house was pretty much all windows and it was dome shaped. And you could just see desert for miles around you,” Bowman says of the cabin where they band wrote the tunes.

A time capsule of the trip’s stunning visuals is captured in the imagery, lyrics and overall vibe of “Starjumper,” Bowman says.

“Hold Your Fire,” came out of a late-night jam session during the Palm Springs getaway.

“That song would have never come to us if we had not put ourselves in that element,” says Bowman. “That’s why we put ourselves in that situation; we wanted to do something different than we normally do.”

Much of Bad Suns' catalog, however, does come about in a conventional manner. Bowman sometimes crafts demos and brigs them to the studio to be toyed with by his bandmates. The band also comes up with melodies and riffs that excite each of them while freestyling in studio sessions, Bowman says.

“They’re both pretty exciting ways of working for us,” says Bowman.

On tour, the band still gets along swimmingly and focuses on its musical chemistry.

“It’s about building a reputation as a live band that people want to come see,” says Bowman. “We get along better as time goes on. We’re ultimately just super glad to be stuck with each other as opposed to anyone else.”

Bad Suns, Liily, Ultra Q, 8 p.m., Tuesday, Sept. 17, House of Blues, 308 Euclid Ave., 216-523-2583. Tickets: $22-$35, houseofblues.com.

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