By Brian Ossip, DC Music Live
There are some bands that form and expect to immediately get famous, tour the world, and make millions. But for most bands the journey is much more difficult and arduous, and it takes work and perseverance to achieve their goals. Ballyhoo! dream of playing Saturday Night Live and being on the cover of Rolling Stone, but they know that they need to work hard and do things the right way to achieve those goals. We talked to frontman Howi Spangler before their recent show at Jammin Java (which was AWESOME, by the way. They are a band that you need to check out live!) about their journey, and what the future holds in store.
DC Music Live: How’s it going, brother?
Howi: Going well, man. Yea, we’re home for a couple weeks. About six weeks. We just got off the 311 cruise, and before that a winter tour around the country, and that went really well. We spent all of January in the studio recording, so it’s been a crazy three months.
DC Music Live: How was the cruise?
Howi: It was awesome, yea. The weather wasn’t as good this time. We went in May last year, this year we went in March. It was a little cold, windy, the sun didn’t come out for like the first two days. But then it came out, and everyone was really pumped up. It was even better for the band as far as awareness, in terms of people knowing who we are. I would get mobbed everywhere. The thought of walking from one end of the ship to the other was crazy for me, because I kept getting stopped constantly. And I’m fine with that, it’s totally fine, it’s actually more, I’m more astonished by it than anything, that anybody would want their picture with me, I guess.
DC Music Live: Was it a lot of people, you think, from last year as well?
Howi: Yea, 311 has a hardcore fan base. So they are one of our favorite bands, and to be able to do shows with them now is an honor. And their fans, for their fans to appreciate us and show us the love like that, it’s very awesome. They welcome us. And they got us on the boat. They would say, ‘Who do you want to see on the boat this year?” when people registered for the trip. And everybody was suggesting Ballyhoo! We kept hearing it for months, and we had no idea we were doing it. And then eventually we got the call. And we thanked the fans every night. We did three shows, and every night we made sure to thank them for having us, getting us on the boat.
DC Music Live: That has to be awesome, especially interacting with the fans because you guys seem like an extremely accessible band.
Howi: Yea man, we really try to be that way. We do like our privacy when we want it, but we go hang out at the merch table, we love talking to the fans, and we really try to interact with them as much as we can, you know?
DC Music Live: So you guys have been in the studio and you just released a new single, “Marijuana Laws” [READ MORE: Ballyhoo! Release First New Tune of 2013 FOR FREE!] about two weeks ago. What was the idea behind releasing it as a free download?
Howi: Well, we recorded 19 songs, and we were trying to think of what to do with the songs that weren’t going to make the album proper. And we came up with this Hardcore Hooligan idea to give exclusive access to people who buy the package certain extra songs. And then with this song, we decided that we really loved it and wanted everyone to be able to have it, so we decided to release it for free online.
And it’s funny because friends keep hitting us up being like, “Oh so you guys are a weed band now, huh?” And for me, that’s not what it’s about at all. It’s a song about the stupidity of the law, how it’s outdated, how we are basing our law off propaganda from 100 years ago. It’s just stupid to me. It’s a completely different time now. So, it was just my take on it. I’ve had friends get busted, known people who have gotten busted, and it’s just sort of like, “Why?” So I wanted to make a tongue-in-cheek, lighthearted type of song. Political but passive-aggressive political. I want to keep it fun more than confrontational.
And we really loved the way it turned out so we decided, “Let’s just put it out, get it out there.” Something cool to tide people over until the record comes out in a few months.
DC Music Live: I know you said there isn’t a release date for the album yet, but how far along in the process are you?
Howi: We are mastering. We have the tracklist and everything done. Song titles. We are still working on the album title, though. But all of that stuff, we are going to do a Hardcore Hooligan chat pretty soon and we are going to do some big announcement once we figure out the title and everything, and give it to them first. And then it’ll go public.
DC Music Live: So you guys are off the road for the most part, hanging around home for a few weeks. But you are still playing some shows, right?
Howi: Yea we are playing a bunch of weekend shows. We had off St. Patty’s Day weekend, which was interesting because we never have off, haha. But it’s been cool to just be home, be with our family and friends and then play on the weekends. So we get out there and play, and it’s good because it keeps us from getting rusty.
DC Music Live: Well listen, man, I have a lot of respect for you guys. There are a ton of bands that are looking for the shortcut, easy way to fame and bigger shows. So I always love it when I see a band busting their asses, actually trying to earn everything they get.
Howi: Thanks dude, I appreciate it. Definitely means a lot. We’re working hard, and we still have a long way to go, but man are we thrilled with where we are at.