Basketball Divorce Court scores in Iowa City

Iowa City punk band Basketball Divorce Court has played shows around Iowa City since forming as a band in April. The group plans to release an EP in the coming months.


Tian Liu

Members of Basketball Divorce Court pose for a portrait on July 25, 2019. Basketball Divorce Court is a local band from Iowa City that performs a range of genres including post-punk and emo. (Tian Liu/The Daily Iowan)

Rylee Wilson, News Reporter

With an odd name and a passionate DIY ethic, punk band Basketball Divorce Court has gained popularity on the Iowa City music scene.

Basketball Divorce is made up of vocalist Katy Kelly, guitarist Evan Bittner, bassist Adrian Amjadi, Derek Bolser, and manager Jess Roy.

The members of the local band describe their sound as punk, although Kelly says the band has been listed as a different genre at every show it has played.

“Just because we’re a punk band doesn’t mean we can’t play with other, more diverse genres — which is really nice,” she said.

With the help of the group’s funny and irreverent Twitter presence, the band has built up a following in Iowa City, even though the members have only played shows since April.

Kelly said her vocals are influenced by Zach de la Rocha of Rage Against the Machine, while the rest of the musicians find it harder to point to their specific influences.

“Every single song has a different influence; that’s why it’s hard to pin down a genre,” Bittner said.

The group’s first single, “My Hidden Feelings are Crying Out in Pain,” is available on streaming services. The track features Kelly’s intense vocals, somewhere between singing and screaming, over distorted guitar riffs.

“I don’t need nobody to tell me; I’ve hidden all my feelings,” Kelly cries out in the song.

The band has a six-song EP currently in the works.

The musicians take a DIY approach to recording, producing songs in Bittner and Amjadi’s apartment.

While the group has a limited number of original songs at the moment, Kelly says each show has a unique energy despite using the same set list.

“I think at every show, we bring the same vibe but different energy, kind of how we’re all feeling,” Kelly said. “I’ve had different feelings even though it’s the same set every time. I think there will be a song that everyone can get into on the EP.”

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Kelly had never written music before she was asked to be the vocalist.

Kelly said the song “Classic” is a particular favorite of hers, which she wrote about her relationship with her mother.

“It talks about staying up all day and all night and feeling alone,” she said. “But you have your most important person there for you, and in the end, you figure it out with their help. That song does mean a lot to me, because it’s one of the ones that I first wrote, with [Amjadi’s help].”

While Roy doesn’t perform onstage, the manager is an integral part of the group, handling photography and promotion.

“I see us as a fun band. I try to make our Twitter fun with lots of jokes and things like that: me crafting memes,” Roy said. “I want people to enjoy thinking about us, not just our music but as people.”

Basketball Divorce plays frequently around the town, with occasional shows in Des Moines and Ames. Roy said booking shows outside of Iowa and touring is a goal for the band in the future.

While the band originally planned to break up in July because Bittner and Amjadi are preparing to move to Minneapolis, the success of the band led the members to decide to continue on as a “long-distance” band.

Roy said the band plans to relocate to Minneapolis as a group eventually. Kelly said the group is shifting into “career-mode.”

But the first focus for the band is releasing the first EP, Bittner said.

“It’s good to not tour until you have music out — when people will show up at your shows,” Bittner said.

Despite only playing together for a few months, the band is tightly knit.

“It helps that we’re all really good friends,” Kelly said. “It helps the flow of writing and the process of being a band in and of itself.”

The group’s next show will be July 31 at the Mill.