Saturday 7 December 2013

NME RADAR TOUR 2013 // Cerebral Ballzy- Interview & Live Review

It’s been a couple of years since we last caught up with New York punk outfit Cerebral Ballzy and, it is safe to say, they have been causing chaos ever since. Back over in the UK they are coming to the end of a headline run on the NME Radar Tour 2013. Est.1987 headed down to The Cockpit in Leeds to catch the final night of the tour. Click below to read the live review and to find out what happened when we caught up with front-man Honor Titus before the show to chat about the new record, working with Julian Casablancas and partying in a more expansive way…

So, tonight is the last night of tour- how’s it been so far?
It’s been sick, it’s been super exciting. Radio 1’s being playing us almost everyday too and really embracing the new album; and the kids are really excited and we’ve been partying a lot. I sound a little haggard and dying [laughing].

Your show’s renowned for being pretty wild…
I don’t want to say we’re tamer but we’re partying in a more expansive way now, it’s a fully rounded party; there are hors d’ourves at the party now [laughing].

How much chaos have you been causing this time over here? Last time we saw you it was with The King Blues back in 2011.
A lot of chaos…

Well, The King Blues split up…are we blaming you?
No comment [laughing]. We toured with Black Flag in the States recently and speaking of chaos, touring with the most seminal punk band ever, that gave Ballzy the stamp of approval. So, there’s been a lot of chaos to say the least.

You wouldn’t be Ballzy if you weren’t causing chaos…
Yeah. The Queen would like us though I guess [laughing].

You’re headlining it- is it an honour to be selected?
Yeah, it totally is y’know, because to have such a classic magazine want to take us out, especially the album coming so soon, I just feel like it’s a lineage thing somewhat. The second album is going to really hit hard and it’s a nice build up.

The new album- “Jaded & Faded” is out next year. It’s been a couple of years since your debut- does it reflect the changes over the past 2 years, where you’re at now in your career and lives?
Yeah, we’re neurotic, dark New York boys and ‘Jaded & Faded’ totally encompasses that vibe. We’re still working on the artwork but it’s going to be something really cool. This album has a lot of style and chic to it that we couldn’t necessarily show on the first album, it was so splattered and ruthless and drunken.

What will it sound like compared to the first?
Working with Dave (Sitek, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Santigold, Foals), he has such an amazing ear, the second album couldn’t help but sound refined and there’s such melody on it and the tunes are big. Dave really harnessed it; it’s still punk and ruthless but it’s got such a style to it, it’s like runway punk or something.

I don’t get the idea that you guys would be phased or under pressure with it being the follow up?
And you’re completely right; we showed a few people and the response has been so mega, we know what’s cool and we’re just going to go after what we like.

The word “punk” gets banded about a lot nowadays- what do you make of the punk scene?
The modern punk landscape is something else; there are rad bands out there, you just have to seek them out. Black Flag playing again has made people turn over some rocks and find some new bands. People just have to seek it out; New York is especially shredding right now but a lot of people use the word and don’t really hold up the ethos. It’s kind of sad; there aren’t many rocking bands out there, apart from Ballzy of course [laughing].

You recently signed to Cult Records which is Julian Casablancas’ label- was it easy an choice to work with him? Is it easier with him being a musician, he “gets” it?
Yeah, and you said it. He’s a really good friend, really talented and he really harnessed the record. It was just obvious to work with him.

The last time we spoke to you, you said; “Not having an ethos is our ethos.” Do you still stand by this?
Yeah, because Ballzy has so many intricate characteristics that trying to put us into something would be a travesty. We don’t really feel any confinement and that’s obvious on the next album, there’s some tune there. There’s a lot of shred to it but a lot of cool to it. I think people vibe with that; all kinds of kids go to our shows, we’ve taken an interesting route. We can’t wait to get the album out, but we’ve been really busy in the meantime; I’ve been writing in New York, modeling over there and I have this other project which is a goth band. And no we’re ready to go back out, with the new stuff.

And here’s what happened when Cerebral Ballzy took to the stage…

Cerebral Ballzy don’t mess around, they aren’t a band to do things by halves, and stampede the stage with vigor and purpose to cause chaos. Loud, fast-paced and thrashy, ‘Puke Song’ kicks the evening off and we wouldn’t expect anything less. A few mic problems to begin with but soon enough ‘Another Day’ follows; the second song in and front-man Honor Titus is already climbing up the rigging and swinging over the crowd below. In terms of Ballzy shows this is a relatively mild beginning. “We’re Cerebral Ballzy out of New York City” announced Honor, “It’s the final night and we’ve been drinking” he laughs as they burst into one of the crowd favourites of the evening, ‘Insufficient Fare’. Each song is a couple of minutes in length; the set is short but not so sweet. Ballzy’s performance is filled with gutsy, aggressive high octane numbers, one after the other and if the band aren’t throwing themselves around on stage then the crowd below is. Songs such as ‘Cutting Class’ and ‘Sk8 All Day’ compel vicious pits and stage-divers in abundance

Debauched and without care, Honor is the perfect punk front-man as he commands the stage, oozing in confidence. A Cerebral Ballzy show isn’t about being note perfect, it’s about the feeling they give the crowd, the feeling to let loose for 45 minutes and not give a damn. With a new album, ‘Jaded & Faded’, on the horizon the band treat fans to a new offering. ‘City’s Girl’ is punk at heart but with more melody than we’re used to, and it goes down a storm. And when the band aren’t playing, chants of ‘Ballzy, Ballzy, Ballzy’ echo through The Cockpit. Cerebral Ballzy come to life up on stage; their anarchic show is impressive tonight and it isn’t hard to see why they’re headliners of this year’s NME Radar Tour. Ending the night with the aptly named ‘Causing Havoc’ gives fans and band alike one last opportunity to get raucous, and the crowd go wild. And with that, the night is over and the band pretty much jet straight back to the US to work on the hotly anticipated sophomore record. With Honor hyping the album up to be something quite different from what we would expect, it is safe to say that we can’t wait to see what is to come from the Brooklyn punks. And judging by their performance tonight next year will be a big one in the Cerebral Ballzy camp. 8/10