Riding the nuWave: Ballyhoo! On Crossing Through Genres and Decades
Slinging soulful reggae punk jams since the nineties, Ballyhoo! have become pioneers in the alt rock scene. With their upbeat ‘tudes and tunes, the guys of Ballyhoo! make their jobs seem easy and fun when in reality, they deal with tough shit from fans and the music industry on a daily basis. I was fortunate enough that the dudes took a few minutes out of their crazy touring schedule to answer a few burning questions I had for them about how they continually push boundaries and stay true to their dreams.
SLUG: Being in the game so long, you must have encountered a lot of shit from the industry. With all of that outside pressure, how are you guys able to keep your music pure Ballyhoo!?
Ballyhoo!: The industry will certainly chew you up and spit you out. It’s brutal. Best thing you can do is keep writing and playing the shows and let management handle all the bullshit. Sometimes we have to fight for what we want but that’s all part of it.
SLUG: Who has been your favorite producer to work with in the past?
Ballyhoo!: Scotch Ralston was great. He produced our album Cheers! He came up in the spring of 2007 and we tracked drums, bass and guitars at a studio in Baltimore. Then he came back about three weeks later and we recorded vocals and other instrumentation in his RV guerrilla-style in Walmart parking lots and my grandmother’s kitchen. It was a fun time. He’s a goofy dude and we got along famously.
SLUG: Ballyhoo!’s style and sound continually challenge preexisting genre labels and boundaries that a lot of bands adhere to these days. Thank you. Do you see yourselves shifting into any new territory in the future?
Ballyhoo!: I don’t know. I got a little surfy with the guitar tones on "Pineapple Grenade" and I really dig it. I just go with what I’m feeling. I like a lot of different types of music, especially Doo Wop and R&B. I always had a crush on those genres. I like sexy music.
SLUG: Who has been your favorite group of musicians to share a stage with recently?
Ballyhoo!: Passafire is a really great band. So good live and their songs are really good—especially their riffy stuff. We’ve been having a lot of fun together.
SLUG: Do you dudes have any personal or communal warm up routines that keep you en pointe during your shows?
Ballyhoo!: Usually a beer and a shot of whiskey. “Band Prayer."
SLUG: Your music is really fucking upbeat and fun. Do you ever have a hard time presenting a feel-good performance to a crowd?
How do you deal with off-days?
Ballyhoo!: Sometimes the crowd isn’t into it. We’re giving our all and sometimes they just stand there. Usually when we’re opening for another band. I’ll look out and see people with their arms crossed and shit. Just gotta keep putting on the show and hopefully break through.
SLUG: Where’s the venue for your dream gig? Who else is playing?
Ballyhoo!: I wanna play SNL and headline at Red Rocks. I don’t care who else is playing.
SLUG: What’s your five-year plan as a group?
Ballyhoo!: Well we’re going on 19 years and it’s always the same—to take it as far as we can. I want to see the world and get the music everywhere. Rolling Stone cover.
SLUG: Pineapple Grenade came into the world last year. Can we expect any more releases any time soon from Right Coast Records?
Ballyhoo!: We are looking at other bands to put out. I imagine we’re release another band’s album this year. As for us, we’ll probably start rehearsing new songs in the spring.
SLUG: You guys have some pretty gnarly dedicated followers. What do you have to say to their constant enthusiasm?
Ballyhoo!: It’s what keeps us going. There’s no way any band could tour all the time and consistently put out records without loyal listeners. They keep us alive.
Ballyhoo!’s latest album Pineapple Grenade is available now for your listening pleasure. Crack open a beer, kick your feet up and unwind to these perfect summer jams. Ballyhoo! is on tour now. Check them out when you can if you missed their most recent stop in Salt Lake last month.