By Brooke Magalis
Ballyhoo! is a band from Aberdeen, Maryland. On their social media outlets, you can find their band lineup, which reads as follows: Howi – guitar/vocals, D – drums, Nick – bass, Scott – cutz/keys/programming. Ballyhoo! has the uncanny ability to blend genres seamlessly. In every song, a listener can find hints of reggae, pop, punk, and rock. It’s not terribly difficult to pin down what their music sounds like. It sounds like summertime, being happy, and hanging out with friends. It sounds like a good time, and, in my experience at the very least, it possesses the unique ability to make you want postpone your second eight-hour Netflix binge so that you can go outside for a bit. I got to chat briefly with Ballyhoo!’s singer, Howi. He told me that there is “enough angry rock music out there,” hence their push toward the more positive vibe. Certainly, the band isn’t always talking about the happiest of times, but when they are down, they still manage to sound positive and hopeful. You can hear their influences, UB40, Sublime, 311. These are only some of the people who inspired them.
Ballyhoo! has been going at it for quite some time. Their first release, “365-Day Weekend,” was released in 2000 by Hooligan Records. Their following two releases, “The Green EP” and “Do it for the Money!,” an LP, were also released on Hooligan Records in 2004 and 2006, respectively. They have produced a myriad of albums since on labels including Surfdog Records, LAW Records, and their most recent label, Right Coast Records on which they have released two albums, “Pineapple Grenade” (2013) and “The Cool Down: Vol. 1” (2014).
Ballyhoo!’s social media presence is a millennial’s dream-come-true. You can catch up with them virtually anywhere (no pun intended). Ballyhoo! is currently on tour with The Expendables and Katastro on the Winter Blackout Tour 2015. You can get ticket information on their website.
First, I’d like to take it back to the beginning. What happened that made you all think, “Hey, we’ve got something here. Let’s start making music together.”
Howi: It wasn’t until the first show we ever played in 1996. We had practiced for eight months leading up to it. We were all nervous, but as soon as we got into the first song (a Green Song called, “Armatage Shanks”) I knew this was where I wanted to be.
Ballyhoo! lives in this strange land of reggae meets punk meets pop meets rock. Did you naturally gravitate toward that sound? Or did you make a conscious decision to go there?
Howi: Yeah. I feel like that sound is in my blood, my bones. Just a fun sound that doesn’t get boring even in the chill songs. There’s something festive about it whether we’re singing about getting drunk or being depressed. I think people need that. There’s a lot of angry rock music out there.
How do you all approach writing music? Is the process the same each time? Do you like to change it up?
Howi: I write all the time. It’s different with each song. Sometimes it starts with a melody in my head for vocals or a one-liner that I sing over a guitar riff. We don’t get together to rehearse that much, but when we do, we try and jam someone else’s song ideas.
What artists influence your music the most?
Howi: Green Day. Sublime. UB40. Those are my go-to’s.
What are some of your favorite tours you’ve done? Did you establish relationships that are still important personally and/or career-wise?
Howi: We went out with Pepper for five weeks in the fall of 2011. There were a lot of fun and took care of us. 311 Cruise was the shit! Both times it was just four days of blurry vision and love.