INTERVIEW: Ballroom Boxer

Hi guys, welcome to VENTS! How have you been? 

Doing mighty fine, thanks for having us.

Can you talk to us more about your latest single “Damn Fine Characters”? 

For sure. “Damn Fine Characters” surfaces the tension between small towns, the kind we were raised in, and large urban environments, the kind we were reside in now. This tension comes out in both the music and lyrics. You kind of feel it dancing between the super crunchy riffs Donnie’s playing and the driving bass line Jared pulses. Together, these punch up the melodies and call and responses of the chorus – illustrating the different paces, ambitions and values of each environment. While there’s some depth to it, its also just an interesting observation of extremes that we like to focus in the music. That healthy tension between dichotomies, extremes and people of opposing viewpoints. Hell, you see it in our damn name ; )

Did any event in particular inspire you to write this song?

Like everything else, it started with Netflix. After binge watching Tom Hanks series on the various decades (70s, 80s, 90s) and the Goldbergs with our family in Akron, OH, we started talking about tech, music, pop culture and the state of the world in those generations. it got real interesting fast bc I think regardless of the decade, we all have a lot of good fight in us in youth, but perspectives shift and complacency can kick in as you grow older. You feel it most in the line “do not deny us, a better way to roll…we will design for anyone with soul”.

Any plans to release a video for the single? 

No plans, but def want to. There’s an idea floating around about a lyric video but seeing how these singles do out in the interwebs first before we craft something.

The single comes off your new album A Little Wild – what’s the story behind the title?

By now you’re prolly starting to feel a theme and a lot of it is around the archaic thinking and ideas that popular today among a lot of our parents and grandparents. All we’re really asking is that maybe ‘a little wild’ is ok and in fact, very necessary to keep improving on our worlds.

How was the recording and writing process?

This was a great adventure for us because we went back through all the little song fragments we’ve had over the past few months and started fleshing out the concepts and the songs. What we found was we could move a lot faster by building on these small ideas and making them full songs. From there we synced up with Tim Rusin who has helped develop, cultivate, mentor, produce, record, engineer and inspire our dream, @ballroomboxer. We met Tim when he was sound engineering our acoustic sets at the Hard Rock Hotel in Chicago. From there, he helped produced “County Jail” on Tides and we went back to him because he really brings a lot of great energy and ideas to the songs. Needless to say, “A Little Wild” is a little wild because its got Tim’s crazy attention to detail in it!

How has Bill Murray influenced your writing?

From Groundhog Day to Rushmore, William’s got a contagious swagger we do our best to emulate in both thinking and music. He’s got a playfulness that just makes you think, “damn, I wish I were able to be him.” But we do think t

here’s a bigger point there that we shared with the world in the aptly named song. The idea that we could all be as welcomed as Bill Murray, a stranger to most, but an instant friend should he crash your wedding, night out, etc.

What aspect of the 90s did you get to explore on this record?

 Hahaha, everything. We’re loving the resurgence of 90s pop culture, from art to fashion to the music but we really started thinking about the big box office movie soundtracks. We dug deep into our classics vault of Capital Records, Angus (the absolute best!), Rushmore, 10 things I hate about you, Clueless, the Big Lebowski, Home Alone and Con Air and we started finding common drum themes and chord progressions from Goo Goo Dolls, Pearl Jam, Third Eye Blind, Gin Blossoms, etc. Even the scores to some of these gems really bring you back so we started experimenting with some guitar parts, keys, synths, melodies that give an ode to some of our favorite movies.

Where else did you find the inspiration for the songs and lyrics?

People and places. The past year we’ve been across the US playing music and for work (day jobs) in Portland (OR), Austin, Louisville, Nashville, NYC, New Buffalo (MI), Detroit, Cleveland, Akron, Reading (PA), Denver, Milwaukee and Jamaica and South Africa and we found US themes from the local spots we visited. As always, its such a brief glimpse into someone else’s world, walking in their shoes a bit but we came back from conversations a little wiser, with a little more context and some real actionable insights we could write about and focus on.

Any plans to hit the road?

Always. We’re working Chicago hard like we always do but planning on hitting Detroit, Cleveland, Akron, Milwaukee and possibly Nashville in the next 60 days. Look for us on both coasts in ’19!

What else is happening next in Ballroom Boxer’s world?

We’re always writing new songs, experimenting with some new sounds that we’re stoked about at the moment and touring. Oh, and those videos – times right to get on those videos.

Please keep up with Ballroom Boxer on socials via:

About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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