Although Chris Adolf resides in the Mile-High City, the singer, songwriter and only permanent member of neofolk project Bad Weather California prefers a small town scene. The yen for a cozier location is evident in his intimate, gruff but earnest style that’s somewhere between a warm embrace and a cold stare. Like many independent musicians, Adolf is not all that comfortable in the digital age. Whenever he thinks a song sounds too crisp or clean, he makes sure to “mush it up.” Adolf and his ever-rotating cast of backing musicians are genuinely interested in making music for the masses, but they also want to make sure their souls stay intact in the process.
Is there anything in particular that you like about the musicians you’re playing with now?
With this lineup, they’re real players—they aren’t hacks. I’ve done some really weird indie stuff, but I wanted my newest music to not be so esoteric. I want to appeal to the indie hipster record head, but also your aunt and uncle at the family barbecue.
How is living in Denver different from where you grew up, in Grand Junction, Colo.?
In small towns, you meet every weird person you could possibly meet. In big cities there are probably more weird people, but “normal people” don’t really mix with them. In a small town, you could be at a bar with Hell’s Angels bikers, pot farmers and your friends, and everyone knows everyone, and it’s cool.
You seem to favor candidness over satire in your lyrics. Do you think irony is overused these days?
Yeah, in music and in pop-culture, it’s overused. I don’t necessarily like seeing it around everywhere, because I think there’s some great stuff people are just using for irony. I understand where it’s coming from, though, because I feel like this new age of technology is defining our culture and I don’t know if it’s an organic culture. I think people feel really nostalgic for simpler times, and that’s where the irony and cynicism comes from.
How do you write your songs?
I don’t know what the process is but they pretty much write themselves. I think if you set to work on a song too long and labor over it, it starts to come from the brain and not from the heart. I think there are probably some good brain songs out there, too, but for me, the songs I most enjoy just happen in a matter of 15 minutes. You have to wait for that to happen, and you can’t force it. Some people I know can say they want to write a song and just write it, but I can’t work that way. I just have to wait.