Interview: Ballyhoo!

Interview: Ballyhoo!

It’s hard to believe that since 1995, Ballyhoo! has been a force representing their hometown of Aberdeen, MD. With 3 full length albums to their name, Ballyhoo has been known for constantly releasing new music in being featured on various soundtracks & compilation albums each year. Having toured the US several times over, The Pier sat down with Ballyhoo! front man Howi Spangler to talk about some new music, being a proud new Dad & where us fans can expect to see the group moving forward….Enjoy!

The Pier: First I want to say congratulations to you, Howi, in becoming a father this year, how exciting is it now being a Dad?
Howi: Thanks, man! It is quite an adventure being a Dad. I’m still sort of in disbelief really. I look at him and think Wow, I made that. And now he’s got a tooth coming in and about ready to crawl. He eats from a spoon. It’s pretty wild to see him grow up so fast and adapt to life as we already know it. A couple weeks ago, he rolled off of his play mat and started touching my Xbox…I think all my stuff is going to be destroyed soon! He’s the greatest little dude ever!

The Pier: Now that you’re a proud Daddy! How challenging or motivating would you say it is having a successful band that demands a bit of attention with touring and being on the road?
Howi:It was always in the back of my mind, what would happen with the band when kids got thrown into the mix? For us, we’ve always truly believed in what we were doing, so really nothing was going to deter us from the path. There are plenty of bands that have broken up for less and that’s just not an option for us. I’ve seen bands call it quits over the years without ever trying to take it to the road and really give it a shot to see if their songs were sticking. People sing our songs everywhere we go and that’s enough to keep fire going. We are absolutely Road dogs, but these days we do tour a little differently. Smarter. More strategically. We used to go out for 4 months at a time, completely immersed and wasted all the time. Ha ha… But shorter, more effective “power tours”, we call them. We can do a coast to coast tour in 3 weeks. It sounds like it’s pretty brutal, but it’s actually more lucrative. You’re not out there spending money on so many days off. You’re in a different city every night, in and out. There’s no time to lay around. It keeps things interesting for sure. We woke up in Chicago 3 days into the last tour and our van was broken into. They stole our Tour Manager’s back pack with the show money from the night before in it. Of course, we were fucking pissed, but we made the calls and 5 hours later had a brand new window installed and we were on our way to Des Moines. That’s what you’ve got to do to keep it rolling. If you’re serious about your craft, and want others to take you seriously, you do what you gotta do. We could’ve easily canceled the show, but that’s not the way to get things done.

The Pier:Speaking of being serious about your craft, you guys recently signed w/Surf Dog Records. How did that come to fruition and what kind of change has that brought in further enabling your group & music?
Howi: Our agent knows the GM at the label and put us in touch. They dug what we were doing and wanted to put our album in stores. It definitely helps to make a band look legit. We’ve got a record on the shelves at Best Buys and other record stores around the country so people can see it. Although, our music has sold a lot better online at iTunes and such.

The Pier:After signing w/Surf Dog, you guys re-released Cheers!, followed by a few US Tours. How has the response to Cheers been since signing w/Surf Dog?
Howi:Everywhere we go, the crowds are singing every song. It’s nice to have that. Weird, but very nice. To see people singing the words I wrote on my couch is powerful stuff!

The Pier: Since releasing Cheers! in 2008, you guys put out new song The Front Porch on I-Tunes, Love Letters on the new Sense Boardwear Acoustic Comp, When Worlds Collide on The Pier Comp Vol. 1 and we’ve heard you guys playing new songs live with Meat Head, & Rosalind. Are we in the early stages of expecting a new album soon? Is there a tentative time frame for the release of a 4th full length album?
Howi: We always get ancy and feel like we should keep throwing out new jams here and there. We’re expecting to have a record out in the Spring as of now, so it’ll be over 3 years since Cheers!. It is definitely time!
We’ve been writing songs for a while now, working them out at the shows and sound-checks. Just trying to see what sticks. I think it’ll be the best stuff yet. All bands say that, right?
We’re talking to a label right now. That’s all I can say about it at the moment….It’s pretty cool though.

The Pier:Nice and you guys have such a knack for consistently releasing new material every year. Are there any new songs that you’re especially excited about playing and releasing?
Howi: We love playing The Front Porch and Rosalind. We’ve got some other jams that are still in their baby stages, but we’re pretty excited to start playing them next year. We’re definitely moving to some bigger sounding songs, but no matter what, it’ll still have the Ballyhoo! sound.

The Pier: In 2010 the group did The Pier Summer Soundsystem tour w/Mike Pinto and The Fall Ehh Brah, Party tour w/The Supervillians & The B Foundation. Are there any other tours lined up or in the works moving into 2011?
Howi: This Ehh Brah, Party fall tour is the last one of the year for us. We’ll do some local stuff and probably some weekend warrior shit. But it’s gonna slow down in December. As for 2011, we’ve got some plans to go out with some bands from the scene. At this point it’s just talk, so again, not gonna say too much. We’ll know more in the next few months.

The Pier: Having been in a group with such great tour experience, what advice would you give to new groups looking to set out on a US Tour? What are some things you’ve learned over the years with toughing it out on the road?
Howi: Expect everything to go wrong. Expect no one to show up. Expect to not get paid. Expect to sleep in the van….A LOT. You will come home broke. All this while maintaining a positive attitude.
We’ve learned a lot about ourselves. You have to learn how to tour. How to be in a van with the same dudes for hours and months at a time without killing each other.
If you stick with it, you will see and do great things. Things that many people will never experience. Live it up and keep your balls on the… I mean, your eyes on the ball.

The Pier:Yes! and your balls on the road! haha. So after years of touring the states, has the group thought about playing internationally? Any place in particular you’d love to go play outside the states?
Howi: We would love to do that! It’s a matter of money and logistics. But the second we get a chance, we’re going abroad. We really want to go to Japan. My bro and I would look like fucking Godzilla in that country.

The Pier: Haha! I have to ask this because me personally, I’m a huge fan of anything you do acoustically! Love Letters, Scarlet Blue, Close To Me then of course the live recordings you’ve done w/MoBoogie Videos. What are the chances of an Acoustic album or E.P being released?
Howi: We’ve been talking about doing that for a long time. We always seem to focus on the rock side, but hell yeah, an acoustic album is definitely going to happen. I love my acoustic guitar. I always have one with me on tour. All of our songs are written on the one at home.

The Pier:Well I look forward to some updates on the acoustic! Being on the road so much year round touring, what are you guys listening to driving from venue to venue? Whats on the I-Pod?
Howi: So much. Just yesterday it was The Dirty Heads’ Any Port... We listen to everything from Slipknot, UB40, Green Day, 311, 25 to Life, Tool. The list could go on forever.
We do love listening to our friends’ bands as well. The B Foundation, Iration, Pepper, Stoopid, Can’t Hang.

The Pier: You guys spend a lot of time on the road touring & entertaining. Whats the general outlet for entertainment when your not entertaining?
Howi: We all have fucking smart phones now. Angry Birds, Words with Friends, and I love hidden object games like Mystery Case Files. It’s sad, really.

ThePier: Thanks to Howi & Ballyhoo! for the interview! Looking forward to some big things for the group in 2011. Sounds like they’re talking to a label, but as he said, its all in talks right now, so lets hope that all comes to fruition as we look forward to the announcement!

– Interview by: Mike Patti