Badflower Announces Debut Album 'OK, I'm Sick,' Unveils Acoustic 'Ghost'

Tyler Shields
Badflower

Badflower frontman Josh Katz is pleased that a new acoustic version of "Ghost" -- whose video is premiering exclusively below from a recent Spotify session -- will give the song's fans a look at how it was constructed in the first place.

"When it was written it wasn't a heavy rock song," Katz tells Billboard about the track, which has passed a million views on YouTube. "It was written to be very acoustic and campfire-y, so it makes sense when we play it this way. I love the acoustic version for that reason, 'cause it makes me feel like I did when it was first written."

Then again, Katz did not feel all that good at the time he came up with the song, which will be part of Badflower's first full-length album, OK, I'm Sick, which comes out Feb. 22 on Big Machine/John Varvatos Records. Pre-order here.

"Ghost" was inspired by the singer-guitarist's struggle with panic disorder, which reached a crisis point as Badflower -- the first act signed to fashion designer John Varvatos' new imprint with the Big Machine Label Group -- was finishing touring to support its 2016 EP Temper. Katz poured his fears and thoughts into "Ghost," calling the writing "my own form of therapy. It felt like it wrote itself. I didn't want to dumb it down or make it sound safe. I just wanted to say all of those things exactly the way I said them. Honestly, I don’t know if I'd be continuing in this band had it not been for 'Ghost.'" But while the catharsis was welcome, Katz was not expecting the song to be a single, much less a hit.

"I thought it wasn't going to make the record and there was no way anyone was going to like it," he recalls. "I knew it was special for myself, but I just thought the content was maybe too heavy for the audience to really grasp and take it in a positive way. But the band really loved it and the producer really loved it and our manager heard it and he really loved it and it sort of went up the chain of people until it was unanimous at the label. I gave my opinion, which was, 'Are you sure this is a good idea...?'"

Badflower's OK, I'm Sick has 13 songs culled from an estimated 50 ideas the group considered. "There's a lot of heavy lyrical content -- honest, no filter, very emotive," Katz says, while the Los Angeles quintet hits just as hard with the music. "We're a rock band, so it's a lot of guitar-driven stuff, but also there's a lot of down-tempo stuff -- I guess ballad would be the word to use, but I don't really like that word. We really weren't trying to impress people on a musical level; We were just trying to be genuine and make something that sounded right and felt right."

Badflower will be touring into early December and already has a heavy itinerary starting in February. Katz has a better grip on his anxiety issues these days, but he acknowledges that it's still a challenge. "It's scary to think that the album's going to come out and I'm gonna have to go on tour again and shove myself into that life again," he notes. "And if it goes well the pressure's only gonna get higher and things are only gonna get bigger and scarier. It's a dream come true to do the things that I get to do, but at the same time it's terrifying. Had it not been for the reception (for 'Ghost') and how it's made me feel like a new person getting on stage, I really don't know how I'd be getting through this."