We always have a great time covering the Vans Warped Tour every summer. We get to learn about and discover new bands, and sometimes we are even lucky enough to get to interview them. For the event in Dallas this year, we were only able to interview two bands live. We set up some afterwards this year, and today we are excited to present the first, Ballyhoo!
A rock band with punk energy and pop, reggae grooves, Baltimore’s BALLYHOO! are a fun, fan-loving powerhouse. These road dogs have tirelessly toured coast-to-coast taking their music to the people. Between the road and the studio, BALLYHOO! has crafted a sound distinctly their own; fresh, fun, and embodied by the soul of the party lifestyle. Lead singer and guitarist, Howi Spangler, has a reputation for mixing slick lyrics with his smooth but powerful voice. Drummer Donald “Big D” Spangler lays out the hard-hitting beats, which are underlined by JR Gregory’s funky and witty bass lines. Scott Vandrey (aka DJ Blaze) rounds it out on the turntables and keys.
BALLYHOO!’s unique sound, hardcore devotion to the road and their fans has pitched them into snowballing success. The band has performed with a myriad of national touring acts; 311, Slightly Stoopid, SOJA, The Dirty Heads, Matisyahu, and more. In 2011, after concluding the Last Calls and Liabilities tour with respected contemporaries, Pepper, they were honored with being included on the ever-popular Hollister Holiday Playlist. They were listed on MTV’s Top 100 Bands to Watch and even featured 2 downloadable songs on the popular video game ROCK BAND. Tour highlights include the 2011 311 Pow Wow Festival, the 2012 311 Caribbean Cruise, Bamboozle 2012, & the entire 2012 Vans Warped Tour.
The band’s latest single “Last Night” is currently in rotation at various alternative radio stations including WHFS Baltimore, WRFF Philadelphia, KUKQ Phoenix, Star 101.9 Honolulu, & SiriusXM/Faction, as well as various specialty shows around the country. Yesod Williams, owner of the band’s label LAW Records says of his newest addition, “Having BALLYHOO! join the LAW family is a perfect fit. They are an incredibly talented band with a really catchy style”.
We got to exchange emails with their lead singer and guitarist, Howi Spangler.
Something most people don’t know about us:
A couple of us are really good at Disc Golf. Beer Pong champs as well. JR can take anyone out on Mario Kart 64.
How do you most often listen to music? (CD, iPhone, Spotify?)
I find myself pulling a lot bands up on Spotify lately. Just for something different. I have the same stuff on my iPod all the time, so it’s cool to get outside the box. I always load up some tunes when I drive.
What’s something that you have seen or heard another band do that you wanna do or not do?
I’ve seen bands make a lot of money playing music. I would LOVE to do that.
How does this year of Vans Warped Tour compare to the past?
This is our first one. I guess the thing that’s changed the most is the type of bands nowadays. There aren’t any 90′s punk bands like there were a few years ago. But there are a ton of new bands out there that are getting exposure. And I think Kevin Lyman just knows what the kids want. He definitely keeps his ear to the ground.
If you could have one artist cover one of your songs, who and what would it be and why?
I’d like to cover “Sleepwalker” by Santos and Johnny. That song is so sexy, eerie, sad…just very emotional. There are no lyrics, just a slow doo-wop groove and that slide guitar melody. It just moves me.
Have you read any good books or articles lately?
I don’t like to read. I play hidden object games. Mystery Case Files are the best ones, for all the geeks out there.
What is more important, music or lyrics?
I think they’re equally important. The music should move you in some way and create a nice canvas for the lyrics, which in turn should have some substance or meaning.
What are some up and coming bands you can recommend to us that need attention?
The Bastard Suns from Atlanta, GA. So sick. Just check ‘em out.
What are some bands from this Warped Tour you can recommend?
Stepdad. Champagne Champagne. Mod Sun. T Mills. Tomorrow’s Bad Seeds. Emily’s Army. Echo Movement. The Green. The Constellations. G-Eazy. That’s just the House of Marley Stage. ;) We’ve also enjoyed Dead Sara, Every Time I Die and Motionless in White.
Most unique Vans Warped Tour Memory?
Our van’s A/C stopped working for 2 days in Texas. This is NOT a tour you want that to happen on. Every breath I took while trying to sleep on an overnight drive felt like I was suffocating. We were all very irritable too. Lots of hate those 2 mornings. It’s effing hot out there!
What is your favorite cover song?
We used to play this medley of Sublime songs when we were doing the bar scene before touring. “Smoke 2 Joints” into “Garden Grove” into “Don’t Push”. It was always a lot of fun. We’ve been known to get drunk and do it our shows recently for fun.
Have you watched any cool music videos or new music videos recently?
The best music video I’ve seen is “Evil Boy” by Die Antword. The song is all about his “thing” and how strong it is or something. Just silly.
Describe your creative process.
I write a lot when I drive and also really late at night before bed. Sometimes I wake myself up with a riff or vocal melody and I’m forced to get up and grab my acoustic in the middle of the night. Inspiration can come from anywhere at any moment. It’s weird. Most of the time, I’ll have some demos that I’ve done on my laptop or iPad and present them to the band. But whenever we have a long soundcheck or some practice time, we try and write stuff together. Whatever I write, it has to be melodic and stand out in some way. I like to try and make the hooks explosive coming out of the verses or pre-choruses. I grew listening to a lot of pop music, so that’s probably where that comes from.
What do you do during the break before the encore?
Usually, we’re backstage going “Are they saying ‘One more song’? Should we go back out? Let’s do a couple more before they leave!”
How do you plan your set lists?
We try to mix it up every night. Old stuff and new stuff from “Daydreams”. We try to feel out the crowd and decide if we should do more of a rocker or a laid back set. There are staples and favorites that we have to play every night, as well as requests from Twitter and Facebook. We try to get to all of them. Usually a band member wants to do a certain song too. With Warped Tour, we usually rock out more than anything.
What’s the most valuable thing you own?
Probably my blue Telecaster. It was only $280, but I would hate to lose that thing! We’ve been through so much.
Any legendary venue or fest you dream of playing?
We would love to play on SNL. That would mean we have our shit together and I could buy as many hidden object games as I wanted.