Interview: Sad Baxter Discuss New EP ‘So Happy’

Posted: by The Editor

Sad Baxter is the sludgiest grunge duo Nashville has to offer, and they are about to release their newest EP, So Happy, July 20th through Cold Lunch Recordings. We caught up with vocalist Deezy Violet to discuss the EP at greater length. You can pre-order the album here and listen to hit singles, “Believe Me” and “Sick-Outt” while you read more about the groups influences, “bandtasies”, and more below.

What does the songwriting process look for you?

We’ve pretty much always done it the same way–I write the songs at home and then bring them to practice, and Alex helps as we figure out if we need to edit the song structure and what the drums should be like, if I don’t already have strong ideas on that.  Alex has had some rad ideas that make songs extra special.

Some of the EP touches on leaving a toxic relationship, is that something you are comfortable discussing? If so, in what ways did that relationship affect your life and what advice would you give to those stuck in similar situations?

It’s so funny, because my entire thought process surrounding that relationship has changed so much since leaving it and writing the songs that touch on it. “Baby” was written while I was pretty freshly out of it, and as much relief as I felt being free, it hurt so much trying to function again on my own. I felt like giving up.

On the flipside of that, “Sick-Outt” was written a couple months later when I had healed more and felt so much anger for how I had been treated. It’s a lot harder to get out of a relationship like that than people think. I tried and failed once to end it, because when I tried I was met with sobbing and promises to change. I remember Alex calling me, sounding upset and saying he felt like he never saw me or heard from me anymore–that crushed me. I remember wondering if I should stop doing Sad Baxter. I don’t think I actually ever told Alex that. It’s a really bizarre thing to realize you’ve isolated yourself, but have the person you’ve stuck around for telling you you’re awful one minute, and then telling you that they want to spend the rest of their life with you the next. The trauma from that unfortunately carried on for a couple years afterwards.

I’m very happily settled with someone now, but there were moments where I felt like it was a miracle they even stuck around. Something would trigger me out of the blue and I’d raise my voice and then immediately shut down and become unresponsive, just waiting for them to say, “I’m out of here”–what I was used to. Instead I was met with patience and kindness, which shocked me. My biggest piece of advice to anyone in a similar situation is that you can’t change a person. If you are seeing red flags and you think, “yeah, but it’s not THAT bad… they’ll get their shit together after they realize how much I’m there for them!”….run for the hills. Change can only come from within, so there’s no use thinking you can help them. The only person you can help is yourself, and deep down you know whether you are being treated like a partner or like a doormat.

Has music always felt like a safe outlet for you?

Absolutely. When I was a kid I’d borrow (well…steal) my dad’s CDs and play them in my room with my door locked as I just sat on the floor singing along. I started writing songs for real when I was 13, and it felt so safe letting my thoughts and feelings out through song instead of speaking. There have been moments where I thought “errr, maybe this isn’t a great idea”, like when I wrote a couple songs I felt were maybe too blatantly about people, or when I played bass in college for a guy who was just a total jerk, but that never ruined it for me. Just a couple slight hiccups, but playing music always feels like home to me.

Your music leans towards a 90’s grunge nostalgia, did you grow up listening to that kind of music? What’s so unique about that sound to you?

My dad had a very eclectic taste in music, so we’d listen to everything from jazz to African music to rock. My parents both loved the Beatles so that was my first favorite band, and actually for a while I wanted to be the next John Coltrane. When I was around 10 I realized that I had always loved distorted, chunky guitars, powerful vocals and loud drums the most. We listened to Nirvana, Pavement, and the Smashing Pumpkins a lot, and Nirvana instantly became my favorite. I got so into Hole and Veruca Salt on my own after that and just loved all these singers really going for it and sounding so connected to the music. What I love most about these bands is definitely the songs themselves, particularly the melodies, but what inspires me is the unforgiving way the songs are played and sang. It’s like someone going “this is me, take it or leave it”. There’s such power in that.

Who are some of your inspirations/musical and non-musical?

Musically AND non-musically I’d have to say Matthew Caws from Nada Surf is my biggest inspiration. His songs are so full of feeling, his voice so unique, and he is such a kind, good soul. I had the honor of getting to hang out while he recorded a song recently, and I felt so humbled just by his way of speaking to everyone. Nada Surf is also just one of those bands that the fans have such a feeling of unity between them–it’s pretty beautiful. Apart from that, there are so many amazing bands right now that have women, POC, queer/trans/non-binary people in them that are just out there killing it and speaking out about prejudices in the entertainment world. I love nothing more than seeing people be who they were meant to be and saying “GET WITH THE PROGRAM!!!” to everyone who is trying to stand in their way because of how society tries to label them. We’re all in this together, and I feel honored to align myself with these people.

What is your favorite aspect of the EP?

Honestly, everything about the song “Blow”. It’s our minute-and-a-half quick trip down Creeper Lane and hopefully it doesn’t make me sound full of myself to say I listen to this one on repeat a bunch. I love everything from the warbly guitar tone to the eerie background vocals Alex and I sang together at the same time, to how short and sweet the song is. It’s like this tiny little package of passion and surrendering to the weird.

If you could describe the band in 3-5 words what would it be?

Goofy, yin-yangesque, vulnerable, powerful.

What would your ultimate tour rider have on it?

Sushi, a seltzer fountain, a television playing The Office non-stop, and a karaoke machine for Alex.

Any goals for the future or are you just taking one day at a time?

We want so badly to go overseas! Our ultimate bandtasy (band-fantasy, don’t steal that or I’ll sue you) is to play Japan, but before that happens we’re hoping for the UK and Australia. We have people asking when we’ll make this happen and the answer is SOON, WE HOPE!

Anything else you would like to add?

My favorite thing is interacting with our listeners via the internet when we’re not on tour, so please don’t feel shy about DMing us/tweeting at us/e-mailing us…we love it! I’m a horrifically open book and pretty much will talk to anyone who wants to ask us something!

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Emily Kitchin | @deathnap4cutie

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