The way Wolf Bradley met Andrew Macatrao sounds like the beginnings of a teen soap opera. They were 14 years old, studying at the San Pedro City Ballet School and competing for the same parts. The ballet school was owned by the former’s parents, making Bradley and Mactrao dance academy rivals.
But this wasn’t Center Stage or Pretty Little Liars. The rivalry didn’t last forever. At 15, Bradley received a guitar for his birthday, and Macatrao already played drums. Like most teenagers, they were both “really bad” at their respective instruments, but that didn’t stop them from forming their first interestingly-named band.
“We found common ground through music, and then became best friends ever since,” Bradley recalls over the phone, before diving into the origins of their first band’s name. “We were all ballet dancers, and we were the men, so [the band was called The] Ballerhinos. Nobody could spell that because it’s a made-up word, and it’s ridiculous.”
But their path since has been an uphill battle with lots of twists and turns. They’d evolve from The Ballerhinos into a pop-punk band called Last Day Off, and then into the horror punk outfit 20 Eyes (which Bradley claims is “the worst name out of all of them”). Over the years, they endured a handful of music industry horror stories with different managers, bad contracts and an identity crisis before finally settling on the moniker The Habits and a sound that felt true to them.
With Bradley as The Habits’ singer/guitarist and Macatrao as drummer, the duo finally felt comfortable and confident in their alt-pop sound. In 2019, they shared their self-titled debut EP, and after a year of letdowns (including “getting signed and getting dropped”), some form of personal gratification felt imminent. They dropped four songs, one of which they personally loved called “Casual” — a track they didn’t expect to go anywhere but ended up reaching No. 1 on KROQ and seeing airplay everywhere from SirusXM’s Alt Nation to grocery store playlists.
“It felt like everything that I pictured myself as a kid playing when I got older,” Bradley says of the electrifying guitar-pop track. “[The success] gave me permission as a songwriter to do exactly what I felt I wanted to do, and what Andrew and I wanted to do as a band.”
Following the success of “Casual,” the band dove headfirst into making more music. At the top of 2020, they decided to resume their streak of terrible names by planning to release an EP titled What’s the Worst That Could Happen?
“I didn’t know what the worst that could happen was… Then it happened like three months later,” he quipped.
After recording in March, Bradley quit his job and planned to tour before everything shut down. Luckily, the summer allowed The Habits to craft music videos for “Amelia” and “Shoulders” with a small crew, and the latter earned a solid fanbase. “Even though it’s been a little over a year, [the numbers for] ‘Shoulders’ still go up every day on all our streaming services, and people really gravitate towards that,” Bradley says.
Again, Bradley didn’t want to waste any time between releases. Last year, The Habits began working on a third, not-yet-released EP. Through a mutual friend, The Habits were connected with Dave Rublin of American Authors, who helped them write their bombastic latest single, “Don’t Need A Hero.” Together, Bradley, Macatrao and Rublin penned the song in roughly 30 minutes. From the get-go, the comfort level was there. They were able to “overshare” and unapologetically be themselves. For Bradley, the connection has been invaluable.
“I talk to Dave once a week,” he says. “He’s the coolest guy — very nice and also a great producer and collaborator.”
Alongside the track, Bradley and Macatrao put together a music video influenced by the intro to the Julia Roberts rom-com My Best Friend’s Wedding. The movie features a bride and her bridesmaids in a pink room, running around and singing a song. The music video, well, it’s their “own weird version of it” complete with some Bob Fosse jazz moves.
“Don’t Need A Hero” is just a taste of their forthcoming, introspective EP titled I Think I’m Fine But I Don’t Know, due later this year. They’re feeling a little more (cautiously) optimistic this time around, but Bradley knows that he’ll have Macatrao to lean on, no matter what happens next.
“We’ve had band members come and go, but Andrew and I remain constant. We’re bound for life.”