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July 5, 2011 / rocksandgravel

Interview: Cerebral Baaaallzy

On my way to tonight’s interview I’m envisaging two different scenarios. The first is a re-enactment of that infamous Sex Pistols interview with Bill Grundy, after all, any band with songs about puking and cop killing clearly haven’t been to finishing school. The second, and far more attractive, is being sat in a fug of smoke, playing poker and swigging Jack Daniels whilst being regaled with stories from the road. The truth is something far more straight laced. Surrounded by pictures of Motorhead and Black Sabbath, things get off to an inauspicious start as I arrive at St Moritz- there’s not a sniff of booze to be had, and various managers and roadies seem to be viewing me with confusion.

Finally I’m pointed into a rather small room where the stage is, and the band is sound checking as the show kicks off in less than an hour. That is apart from Honor and Mason, who are at Nandos. After some wrangling about whether to wait for the lads to return with their peri peri wings, we agree to do an interview with the assembled members and so I proceed, sidling questions between thuds of amps, feedback squeals and sporadic drum bashing. It turns out, Ballzy aren’t moving as quickly as they would like to be over here. “London kids- they’re hard bunch to convince! In New York, they love that shit. It’s easy; punk is such a huge thing over there. This is our third tour over here, and pop seems to reign supreme”. Third time lucky, maybe?

It’s not like they haven’t been working at it- it’s been a hectic time for them, with a long list of gig dates. Tomorrow they fly home to New York for one day, before embarking on a tour with long time tour friends the Black Lips along the West Coast of the states. “That should be fun” smirks Jason. I’m surprised to hear that they actually give a shit. They released their single ‘Insufficient Fare’ on Moshi Moshi, a great label, but not exactly renowned for its thrash punk output, “Yeah, I can’t tell you how that happened, they just really liked us… and it went from there really” They also seem pretty relaxed at having New York’s artist of the moment Ray Pettibon, (who among many things designed a certain Black Flag cover) doing the artwork for them. Apparently that came about just from “hanging out at each other’s shows and stuff”. Still, they seem chuffed to bits about it.

Their full studio album is due out in July, this time it’s to be released in the UK through Cooking Vinyl, and Adult Swim in the states. Is it a continuation of their EP? “I’d say its more progressed, there are definitely similarities to the singles and shit, but we tried to do more melody (and shit). It’s still extremely hardcore… there’s a lot going on, things we haven’t even tried in the past.” Would they ever consider toning things down to secure a deal if it meant making big bucks? “No way man, I’d just fucking start my own fuckin’ label. Fuck that!”

Among the band members there’s a whole range of influences from both extremes of rock, metal and punk, (Bad Brains, Slayer and Black Flag to name but a few) but somehow “all that shit intertwines” to form their own sound, which of course has been time and time again compared to Minor Threat, “Yeah… sonically, there are similarities… but they’re straight edge… and we like to party” (cue sniggers).  And where do they party in London? “The Macbeth… it gets pretty crazy in there, people like to have a good time, the crowd seem pretty up for it… and then there are various gutters and kerbs… wherever really.” One person they narrowly missed partying with was Bill Murray at SXSW. “Ah man! We weren’t there… but apparently he was in this bar, pouring shots and DJing, and our friends were calling us like “what the fuck- it’s Bill Murray!” More recently, they were at Camden Crawl, pre-empting the whirlwind of Odd Future, and even hanging on the stage during their set. “Yeah, it was pretty crazy” An understatement, I was there and they riled up the crowd something chronic.

Before our time is up I try and wing some skateboarding questions their way, but I end up sounding pretty lame- apparently Abe “learned a double flip in London”. I nod politely and feel like a fool. Damn. Suddenly various people are interrupting and the background noise is increasing. There’s an air of tension as the support band, the Death Set, are still not here and supposed to start in half an hour, so I excuse myself, and I try not to fall over as I totter out of the room. I still haven’t been offered a beer. That’s punk rock baby.


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