Going Bad with Bad Abstract


James Ibarra playing bass and singing for Bad Abstract at Indy Fest in Long Beach on March 24, 2018. Photo Credit: Indy De Los Santos

As one of the leading rock groups from the Inland Empire DIY backyard scene, you can’t help but wonder how they got started in this particular music community: the daily struggle a group faces to stay alive, the endless realm of shows every weekend, a budget, and most importantly their sanity. Bad Abstract has been one of the leading alternative rock groups in the Inland Empire. Composed of three guys, James Ibarra, 25, on the vocal leads while playing bass, Arturo Ibarra, 22, on the guitar & Guillermo Jaime, 22, on the drums. In this interview we hit all the basics of what it takes to be Bad Abstract.

It was quite funny; we were on a phone call Saturday afternoon and immediately started talking about Vine compilation videos. We got on the subject after James was talking about how he was viewing a ton of these videos right before I called. “Man, I could be on this shit for hours. I hope they come back up with something like it. I doubt it though,” he said. That was the start of this quick, interesting & fun interview.

SAC Media: So I know this is one of the most basic questions an artist can get while being interviewed. But I have to ask…how did you guys all meet & when did Bad Abstract come to life?

James: Well me and Gizmo (Guillermo) are family, we actually met Arturo through our cousin and it was like this weird bond we started to make with each other after finally playing music just in our house. We all started playing music once we got to our teens so it took us some time to really develop our sound and who we were as a group. But our first performance as Bad Abstract was around December in 2014 and the rest was really history.

SAC Media: How was the process of getting your music on music platforms such as Spotify and Apple Music?

Arturo: Honestly, it was a little tricky in the beginning since there are so many steps an artist has to take to get on. SoundCloud is easy in a sense that you upload your work right away, with no problem. Only thing is with SoundCloud, you’re paying at least $15 a month. But once you apply to get on as an artist page with Spotify & Apple it’s quite simple. It just goes through a distributor. It took us about a week or two to get our music up and going on both platforms. So after that, it’s been smooth sailing.

SAC Media: Do you guys feel that music platforms such as Spotify & Apple Music have enhanced your following? Or does it affect you in a negative way? I only ask since some artists don’t believe in these platforms due to the lack of money they receive with play times.

James: Overall, our experience has been great only because we are an up and coming group from the DIY scene. These platforms completely allow people on an international level to really check us out and find us through playlists or artist radio on Spotify. It’s crazy because Spotify has this thing called artist radio, so big DIY groups such as Beach Bums or The Red Pears will have our music pop up on their radio. So we get a lot of people who start finding us through that as well. It’s such a rich DIY culture scene so it really helps us out with taking that extra step to get out of only just getting to reach people in California.

SAC Media: So I also wanted to ask some random questions so your fans can get to know you on a funnier and personal level. First, this is a very important question: favorite ice cream?

James: Rite Aid all the way. It’s cheap and pretty bomb so I’m not sure why anyone else would disagree with this.

SAC Media: If you had to name a weed strain after yourself, what would you name it and what kind would it be?

Arturo: Indica all the way since I like to be mellow and I would call this Churro Kush.

James: Definitely Sativa since I like to be active and aware during the day, and I would name it something cool like J-Fly.

Guillermo: Oh, a hybrid. Since it can be a nice mix of being calm & also aware of my day. This is the best name I could come up with but definitely Chronic Gizzy.

As a veteran of this DIY scene, I remember catching Bad Abstract at one of my first backyard shows in Pomona. Being able to see the diversity and other groups play was something I’ll personally never forget. It’s the reason why I love to work with musicians and do podcasting for music on my personal time. It’s crazy to see how unaware some are on the importance of DIY. It has shaped bands such as Banes World who is now going international on tour, & has a spot on the lineup for Coachella. I remember seeing him at one of the first house shows he ever played at in Long Beach. Skip forward a few years later and he is currently one of the faces of this indie underground scene. Regardless, it’s such a movement for these young adults who are just like us playing in backyard and truly making a name. Not only a name for themselves, but everyone involved with this community.