INTERVIEW: Ballyhoo!

Baltimore, Maryland’s punk rock and reggae band Ballyhoo! came to Reggies Rock Club in Chicago, Illinois this past Saturday evening.  They are currently on the “Night and Day Tour” with San Diego, California roots reggae band Tribal Seeds.  Local support for the evening was provided by Mathien who put on very upbeat performance.  Their blend of jazz and funk rhythms mixed with a modern groove made for a very interesting performance that was well received by their hometown crowd.  It was also a very special night for the venue as it was celebrating its fifth year of being open.  A variety fans came out to enjoy the diverse lineup of reggae infused bands performing along with celebrating Reggies five year anniversary.

After local group Mathien had finished up, Ballyhoo! took the stage.  The jam packed venue erupted with screams as Ballyhoo! did not waste any time jumping right into their set.  The band’s catchy blend of pop punk infused with reggae rhythms had everyone in the venue bobbing their heads.  Ballyhoo’s upbeat pop punk rhythms transitioned into smooth reggae tones flawlessly back and forth throughout their entire performance.  Fans were treated to a nonstop assault of in your face punk rock infused with crisp reggae rhythms and tones.  Ballyhoo! played a variety of old and new hits as the crowd loved every moment of it.


Ballyhoo! put on a top notch performance that had every patron in the venue bobbing their heads.  From melodic piano medleys to upbeat punk rock choruses, Ballyhoo! play their own style music how they see fit.  They are not jumping on any hip current trends in hopes of success and fame.  Instead it is four friends making the jamming music that they want to write, and they refuse to compromise their style for anyone.  This is certainly evident through their music, especially with their live performance as each member is blatantly having fun and rocking out on stage.  Ballyhoo! consists of Howi Spangler – lead vocals and guitar, JR Gregory – bass, Donald “Big D” Spangler – drums, and Scott Vandrey aka Dj Blaze – turntables and keyboard.


With a fresh and original sound, fantastic live show, and support from Law Records, Ballyhoo! certainly have a bright future ahead of them after years of hard work and dedication.  Front man Howi Spangler was kind enough to do an interview before the show.  Howi is definitely a down to earth guy who is the polar opposite of your typical egotistical rock star.  Read the interview below to hear what Howi had to say and learn more about Ballyhoo! and how they came to be.  A huge thanks to Howi and all of Ballyhoo! for their time and putting on a terrific show.  For feel good music that is not the latest flavor of the week and a fantastic live show, check out Ballyhoo! as they are not to be missed.



1.   What inspired the name Ballyhoo?

Howi:  We started the band when we were kids.  So a friend of ours was just kind of goofing off and said hey, call your band Ballyhoo!.  We were like what the hell is that?  It’s actually a real word, and it means crazy events or like hey look at me type promotion.  They say there is a lot of ballyhoo at the carnival; just a lot of stuff going on.  It also means loud noise, and at that time I thought we were loud noise in my mom’s basement, so it sounded cool.  In my mind, it was like big block letters and I put the exclamation mark on there so it was in your face.  It was very colorful in my head, and it just kind of stuck; once we put it on the first flyer that was it.


2.   How has the tour been going with Tribal Seeds so far?

Howi:  It’s great, the guys are really cool!  Nice fellas, they put on a killer show; good times.  It is fun to watch them.  The crowds go off.  Their music is like reggae/roots reggae, like laid back but still a lot of energy.  That is what I love, and the show has been really good.  I knew it was going to be fun, but I was actually worried about what their fans would think of us.  Like would they dig what we are doing because we are kind of in your face; but it has been good!


3.   What it was like playing the entire length of Warped Tour this summer? 

Howi:  It was awesome.  We had a really good time, but it was a lot of work.  Even waking up in the morning, we had to drive overnight.  We had a Rocket Ship; which is a Sprinter that is customized with bunks, couches, and satellite TV.  We tried to be as comfortable as we could.  We’d leave it running all day because it was diesel with the air conditioning on, and we had a driver so that helped a lot.  We’d get up in the morning at 8 or 9, and our crew would go set the stage up and just go out and put up posters, and walk around with signs all day promoting our time and saying come see us at the Marley Stage.  It was a lot of work, but it was awesome!  We played to a lot of people that never heard us before and we sold a lot of CDs, so it was really good.  This was our first Warped Tour too.  It’s weird too because we had like 7 months of preparation.  We got asked to do it last year, I think in November or something, but we had to keep it quiet until April.  The whole time we were asking friends bands that had done it before, or management, what can we do to make this easy as possible?  We got a lot of tips so we went in super prepared.  All these bands started copying what we were doing in a couple weeks because it was working.  People were looking at the signs and even if they just look at them, they saw the name.  It was great!


4.   How was recording “Daydreams” with Law Records compared to your previous albums?

Howi:  A pleasant experience; we didn’t have a lot of songs written when we went in.  We had like 4 or 5 jams and the rest was like little ideas and things.  We were able to lock ourselves in the studio for three weeks solid and we had never done that before.  Law gave us some money up front and we never had that.  So instead of being like okay we only have until 8 o’clock tonight and then we can come back 4 Tuesdays from now.  We had time and the pressure was not on as hard.  So if something wasn’t working out and someone storms out for 2 hours, it wasn’t really a big deal.  There was always something to do.  3 weeks man, went in, wrote it, banged it out, and we were done.  It came out awesome and we are really proud of it!


5.   Who were some of your biggest musical influences?

Howi:  For me, I was the primary songwriter for years and all of my influences came out in

the music and kind of formed the core sound of the band, like Green Day, Sublime, 311.  Vocally, I was trying to develop it to sound like Brad Nowell, of Sublime and Brandon Boyd, of Incubus, and to try and kind of like mix them together; to sort of get the soulfulness of Brad and the sweetness of Brandon.  I’m somewhere in the middle there, no where near as good as either one of them


6.   How has your music evolved since you first began playing music together?

Howi:  We have got better instruments.  I wouldn’t say we have done anything daring; nothing that has drastically changed our sound.  It’s just been a little more progressive over the years.  We added piano as a layer and horns on a song on our last record.   I think that the music has been about the same stylistically. This record was a little hard because we realized we wanted to rock out!  Whereas, Do It for the Money! was kind of a more chill album, but there is still a few songs on there that are rockers.  I’ve come to realize that anything we do is going to sound like Ballyhoo!.  With new songs we kind of just see where the direction goes, again I’m sure it’s not going to be anything drastic we always want to expand ourselves and make sure we try new things.


7.   Any future plans or new material in the works once this tour is over with?

Howi:  We are going to finish this tour with Tribal Seeds at the end of the month and head home.  We just locked in a festival for a radio station in Columbia, South Carolina for the first week of October.  A week or two later we head to Hawaii for the first time.  We are going to stay out there for a few days since we have a show out there for a radio station.  Then, I think in November we are doing an East coast tour, from Boston to Florida maybe some Midwest, I’m not sure if we will make it to Chicago or not.  Then we will chill out for the holidays, and then I do not know.  We are going to record at some point, we’re just not sure when.  We’re trying to go overseas.  We would love to go to South America or something next year; we keep getting a lot of fans asking us to come to Brazil lately, which is wild.


8.   Is there anyone you’d like to acknowledge or thank, or any last words?

Howi:  Thanks to everybody coming to the shows all these years, buying merch, giving the songs to their friends and bringing people out.  It is really the reason why we are still able to do this.  It started as a fun kind of thing, but I always knew I wanted to make it a career.  These people that are coming to the shows are making that possible for me and the band.  So really, thank you very much!