Bad Things

Shaun White’s band hopes debut album leads to greater success

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Bad Things front man Davis LeDuke has googled Sochi Olympic gold medals to “imagine the emotions that we’ll all feel” next month.

The band’s excitement watching its lead guitarist go for Olympic snowboarding history in February could match its feeling Tuesday.

Two-time Olympic champion Shaun White‘s band, Bad Things, dropped in with its self-titled debut album, now available on iTunes.

White is known for his halfpipe amplitude when he isn’t strumming.

LeDuke believes Bad Things can reach similar heights.

“I want him to win both golds and get a platinum record, or a gold record,” LeDuke said in a phone interview Sunday while at Aloha Cafe in Los Angeles. “Hopefully we can get all three.”

White, 27, has been a pro snowboarder since he was 6 and began his music career about a decade ago, when he received a bright yellow Fender Stratocaster as a Winter X Games prize.

He initially thought to keep his involvement in the band, started with childhood friends, a secret. Signing with Warner Bros. in May brought Bad Things to a bigger stage.


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Is he as good on the guitar as he is on the snowboard?

“One of the many talents that Shaun has is he’s extremely good at adapting and picking up things pretty naturally,” said LeDuke, who has known White for about two years, shortly before LeDuke joined the band. “For as long as I’ve known him, he’s a much better guitar player than I am, which initially was intimidating, but I’m not the guitar player. I’m the singer.”

The album, a two-year project, was originally slated to be released in October.

“It’s been a long time coming,” LeDuke said. “We’re anxious because we want people to like it.”

It was pushed back because the band wanted to tour as soon as possible after its release. Doing so in the fall or early winter would have been impossible with White training for the Olympics.

White changes mind about Winter X Games

“The kid trains his ass off for months at a time and really has to be in that zone,” LeDuke said. “He loves to focus on getting ready for competitions and being on the mountain. He likes his time off the mountain, too. We’re fortunate enough to be a part of that.”

White feels fortunate, too.

“If you stick in the mountains, stick to the same thing too much, you lose that motivation,” White said in November. “The music and playing in the band has definitely given me that distraction to where I come back [to snowboarding], and I’m excited.”

They’ve booked one post-release venue so far — the Firefly Music Festival in Dover, Del., in late June — and are in talks for more after making plenty of noise over the last six months.

The highlight was a surprise Lollapalooza set on a main stage in Chicago after two other bands were unavailable. They were described as a “synth-rock crew” by Rolling Stone and draw inspiration from the Beach Boys, the Velvet Underground and Iggy Pop, among other artists.

But what’s the story behind the name, Bad Things?

This YouTube video, which has nearly 10 million views. A 7-year-old boy took his grandmother’s SUV on a joy ride and said after, “It’s fun to do bad things.”

“It’s something everyone can relate to,” LeDuke said. “He doesn’t really have any remorse about it. Everyone can relate to that at some point in your life.”

The LA-based band has remained in contact with White as he plied his more well-known trade on mountains in California, Colorado and Australia the last few months. They’ve stepped back a bit as he focused on making the Olympic Team in halfpipe and slopestyle, but LeDuke still talks to White on at least a weekly basis.

In Sochi, White could become the first American man to win the same Olympic event three straight times in halfpipe, and the first snowboarder to win two gold medals at a single Games.

“I’m sure you could imagine how much pressure that is [on White],” LeDuke said. “I try to be there as much as I can as a friend. We’re there for him, and we love him.”

LeDuke said he’s not a major sports follower outside of his Lakers obsession.

“But to be so closely involved with someone who’s so passionate about something that I know nothing about is an amazing experience,” he said. “If he wins or loses, you’re a part of that either way. You feel the emotions he feels.”

LeDuke says the band is about collaboration. Their songs are born from gathering in rooms, exchanging ideas and riffs.

“The chemistry is undeniable,” he said. “I was skeptical because I’ve heard of celebrities’ hobby bands and hobby record labels and all this stuff. Once we basically got together as a band, we all sort of just molded all our minds together and created many things so naturally.

“I get asked, ‘I’ve heard you’re in Shaun White’s band, what do you do?’ … People are confused. They have this idea of Shaun being the front man in the spotlight, and that’s not what it is. We’re all a part of it. We all do an equal amount of work.”

The band is so close that White consulted with them before cutting his Flying Tomato locks for charity in December 2012.

“I know that he was so sick of living up to something that was like, his hair, and that’s the way he started to look at it,” LeDuke said. “I’m sure, before he was like, ‘This is my hair. This is how people know me.’ He’s 27 years old. He’s not a kid anymore. We [the band] don’t care what your hair looks like.”

There are few instances where the band has faced what it’s like to have one member with more than one million Twitter followers.

“I like to think that when things have happened, it isn’t because of Shaun but because our music speaks for itself,” LeDuke said. “That’s what we want to portray. Shaun’s in this band, but we’re all as much a part of it as he is. It just so happens that he is one of the best snowboarders to ever snowboard.”

They were surrounded by about 50 people at Disneyland a year ago with fans wanting pictures with White, but the rest of the band felt sympathy for White as he accommodated requests.

Autograph hounds stop White at airports, too.

source:
Courtesy Laura Mende

“He doesn’t want to be a jackass,” LeDuke said, “but it’s overwhelming.”

White knows his athletic skills will drop off faster than his music talent. LeDuke, who said the band couldn’t function if it lost any one of its five members, believes they all want to do this the rest of their lives.

“What we want is the world,” he said. “We want it all. Do we want to be on the Disney Channel dancing around, having our own movie? No, but we want people to know who we are and hear what we have to say.”

They’ll get that chance again, after White takes on the world in Sochi.

“We’re all very anxious to see how things pan out,” LeDuke said. “My fingers are crossed. I would say to him, ‘break a leg,’ because that’s what you normally say when you play music, but I don’t want to say that. I just really hope he gets what he wants out of it. Knowing Shaun, his expectations are high for himself, and he can be hard on himself sometimes. He’s still the same Shaun to us.”

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Several women’s players spurn worlds inquiry from USA Hockey

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As sports organizations and notable hockey figures express support of the U.S. women’s team, several players say they rejected overtures from USA Hockey to serve as replacements for the upcoming world championships.

Two players told The Associated Press on Friday that USA Hockey reached out to them to gauge their interest for the worlds, which begin next week in Plymouth, Michigan.

Brittany Ott, a goaltender for the Boston Pride of the National Women’s Hockey League, and Annie Pankowski, a junior forward at the University of Wisconsin, said the email from USA Hockey was not an invitation but rather an inquiry about their availability.

“I responded to that email and I said I’m not willing,” Pankowski said.

A third player, goalie Lauren Dahm, told the AP on Saturday she also turned down an invitation. Dahm plays for the Canadian Women’s Hockey League Boston Blades.

The U.S. team has said it plans to boycott the worlds over a wage dispute with USA Hockey, which confirmed Thursday it would begin reaching out to potential replacement players. Several players posted messages on social media saying they support the national team and would decline or have declined any outreach from USA Hockey.

“From a personal standpoint I have never been invited to a USA Hockey series or camp or anything like that and I would honestly love to be invited to something like that,” Ott said by phone. “However at the current time, this is a fight that I believe in and I’m definitely going to stand up and help fight as much as I can.”

Many players posted a version of a Jerry Rice quote on Twitter on Friday: “Today I will do what others won’t so tomorrow I can do what others can’t. I said no to USAH & will not play in the 2017WC.” Not all players who tweeted that message were asked by USA Hockey if they could play.

On Saturday, NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith joined the chorus of support for the players, saying on Twitter the organization stands behind their pursuit of fairness and equality.

“These women understand inequality when they see it and are expressing their right to be treated fairly as athletes and workers,” Smith tweeted. “Of course, they have the NFLPA’s support in daring to withhold their services until a fair agreement is reached.”

Philadelphia Flyers coach Dave Hakstol posted his support on Twitter, calling players competitors and role models.

On Friday, the NHL Players’ Association and Major League Baseball players posted messages of support. The NHLPA posted on Twitter that it supports players and panned USA Hockey’s bid to stock the team with replacements, adding that the decision “would only serve to make relations, now and in the future, much worse.”

The MLBPA encouraged all female hockey players to stand united behind their national team colleagues.

Players are seeking a four-year contract that includes payments outside the six-month Olympic period. The sides met for 10-plus hours Monday, but players have called USA Hockey’s counterproposal “disappointing.”

USA Hockey said Thursday its priority was to have all the players selected for the national team on the ice March 31 when the tournament begins. But the organization added that it informed players’ representatives it would begin reaching out to potential replacements with the tournament coming up.

Star national team forward Hilary Knight said last week she wished USA Hockey luck putting together a suitable team of replacements to defend the gold medal because the player pool was united in the dispute. Ott and Pankowski said they had not heard from any players expressing a willingness to play in worlds.

“It’s a very unified front,” Ott said. “It’s a tight-knit community that we have in women’s hockey here. This is definitely a big opportunity for us to make a big change and have a big impact on our sport and have it grow. We’re all standing together.”

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World Figure Skating Championships pairs preview

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Volosozhar and Trankov couldn’t do it. Neither did Shen and Zhao. Nor Gordeeva and Grinkov.

Canadians Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford can win a third straight pairs world title next week, a feat not seen since Irina Rodnina and Alexander Zaitsev of the Soviet Union won six in a row from 1973 through 1978.

But they don’t feel like favorites.

“We’re coming in a little more under the radar,” Radford said.

They lost their two most recent international competitions — third at the Grand Prix Final in December; second at the Four Continents Championships in February.

Duhamel and Radford are seeded fifth by best international scores this season going into the world championships in Helsinki (broadcast schedule here).

“Sometimes it feels like worlds last year was so long ago,” Radford said.

Last year in Boston, Duhamel and Radford had the performance of their seven-year partnership in the world championships free skate. They tallied a personal-best 153.81 points, more than seven points clear of their previous best.

It was easily enough to overtake Chinese short-program leaders Sui Wenjing and Han Cong, who were relegated to silver behind the Canadians for a second straight year.

This season, Duhamel and Radford haven’t come within 13 points of their 2016 World Championships total. Duhamel went through “an unforeseeable circumstance” in her personal life in November that she chooses not to reveal.

They implemented the throw triple Axel, but Duhamel fell three times in a four-event stretch this fall. They lost by nearly 13 points at December’s Grand Prix Final, which ended with a Duhamel backstage meltdown.

“We never fell like that at home [in practice],” Duhamel said on the IceTalk podcast. “It started to shake us up a little bit.”

They replaced the throw triple Axel in their program. Without it in February, both skaters had trouble with jumps at Four Continents at the 2018 Olympic venue and finished nearly 13 points behind Sui and Han.

“We kind of went back to square one, to the drawing board after Four Continents, reassessing what’s gone on this season, why are we underperforming, why are we not succeeding in competition the way we are training,” Duhamel said.

They made program changes, notably on their throw and jump entrances and overhauling the footwork in their short program.

Duhamel adopted a rescue dog from South Korea. Radford, who had surgery over the summer to remove a cyst from his ankle bone, leaned on a sports psychologist.

“I personally feel a lot more relaxed and seemless,” Radford said. “That feeling has come a little bit later this season.”

Five pairs could take gold in Helsinki in perhaps the most wide-open event.

Germans Aliona Savchenko and (French-born) Bruno Massot won both of their fall Grand Prix events but missed the Grand Prix Final after she tore an ankle ligament. They returned to take silver at the European Championships in January with the best score of their two-year partnership.

Young Russians Yevgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov stepped up to win the Grand Prix Final, the second-biggest annual competition, and then the European Championships. But free-skate struggles have dogged them this season.

Another Russian pair, Olympic silver medalists Ksenia Stolbova and Fedor Klimov, are perhaps the biggest wild card. They missed the fall season due to Stolbova’s left leg injury, but then beat Tarasova and Morozov in their season debut at the Russian Championships. Stolbova fell on their throw triple flip in both programs at the European Championships in January, and they finished fourth.

Then there are Sui and Han, looking to break through for a first senior world title in their sixth try (though Sui is just 21 years old, and Han 24). They missed the fall season after Sui underwent right ankle and left foot surgeries last spring. They returned at Four Continents and posted personal-best free skate and total scores, ranking only behind Tarasova and Morozov for the season.

U.S. pairs Alexa Scimeca Knierim and Christopher Knierim and Haven Denney and Brandon Frazier have both missed significant time due to injury in the last two years. They are behind the top pairs from Canada, China and Russia.

The U.S. hasn’t put a pair in the world championships top five since 2006, and that doesn’t figure to change next week.

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NBC Sports researcher Sarah Hughes contributed to this report.