Maybe it was the Texas heat or all the alcohol, but I found Honor and the rest of his Brooklyn punk rock crew to be insanely magnetic and intensely entertaining—they really know how to rile up a group, whether it’s from the safe confines of a church pulpit, or some dangerous crevice seven feet above stage-level. I was there to worship the stage that Cerebral Ballzy built and I got the message loud and clear: They do what they want, have fun doing it, and DGAF about what you think.
The band’s sophomore album, Jaded & Faded, examines the intangibles of relationships and a human being’s sense of belonging, but the LP still channels the unabashed rage and fury of past punk staples Bad Brains, Black Flag, and former tour mates OFF! In addition to the raucous tunes, the album is backed by star power, as it was produced by TV on the Radio and producer extraordinaire Dave Sitek, and released through Cult Records, the label founded by The Strokes’ Julian Casablancas.
After a series of very punk rock interview snafus—including the unfortunate incident of trying to hear Honor talk while near a very busy street because the band was on the road in between U.K. gigs—we finally decided to settle on an e-mail interview. Please excuse the “LOLs.”
How did your Cult Records deal with Julian Casablancas come about? Can you describe the process that led to the signing?
We were courting with a few labels but none really gave us the feeling that we would be a priority, whether it be because of our name, our reputation, or the perceived “roof” for a punk band. Julian and I had been hanging quite a bit and exchanging little bits of music/art/literature and I’d maybe dropped a line or two about the label situation. It happened so organically. Signing with Cult sided with our punk ethos in the sense of signing with a friend who truly believed in us.
We were courting with a few labels but none really gave us the feeling that we would be a priority, whether it be because of our name, our reputation, or the perceived “roof” for a punk band.
What kind of input or influence did Julian Casablancas have on Jaded & Faded, if any? What’s the working relationship and/or chemistry like?
He influences the album a bit. We’ll have a word about my singing and toss ideas around about artwork.
You’ve mentioned that you wanted Jaded & Faded “to be plain big.” What was your inspiration, or what were you listening to at the time of recording?
There are certain tunes that when you first hear them, regardless of the time recorded, that completely level you and mandate that you immerse your conscious in the song immediately. Songs like The Buzzcocks “Ever Fallen in Love” and The Nerves ”Come back and Stay.” That notion of driving power pop was something we were listening to mega.
You’ve mentioned that the album has a darker aesthetic and is about finding your place in NYC. What inspired this theme? What is your place in NYC?
Living in NYC can be very vapid and unfulfilling and unrewarding at times. The album captures how fleeting emotions are in a place that operates on such a manic wavelength. Sometimes things can be insular and introspective and sometimes you beam with joy ’cause it’s “pretty in the city.” Ok, maybe not beam. Lol
The album was done in Texas, not NYC. How much did the location affect the recording process and the album itself?
It allowed us to take a step away from the nuances and utter barrage of the city to focus on ourselves and the actual tunes. It was a lovely experience.
Dave Sitek is such a talented and multi-faceted producer and musician. What exactly did he bring to the Cerebral Ballzy table for Jaded & Faded?
He not only brought direction but I love how weird he is in applying that direction. Ballzy is this strange neurotic band that listens to obscure power pop/garage/punk and wanted to apply these vintage nuances to our approach. He got it immediately.
What’s your favorite song on the album and why?
“City’s Girl” is up there cause I love the city slicker brashness of it as well as the lyrics. It reads to me like a Bahaus version of ”She’s Leaving Home.”
We played this one show in LA so brutal that I saw a mop being used to sop up blood.
You guys have such an intense live show. What’s the weirdest place or venue you’ve played in and what made it so bizarre?
We’ve played abandoned warehouses where it was sooo packed that structures started collapsing. We’ve played house parties where the cops have rushed the floor and tripped in spilled beer and were circle pitted around. We played this one show in LA so brutal that I saw a mop being used to sop up blood.
How has the band changed since the last album?
Were not as brazenly loaded anymore. We actually care for the tunes. As simple as that. Also more influences both internal and external are finding their way into my work.
Cerebral Ballzy’s roots are in NYC, but has the evolution of the city (gentrification, rising prices) affected the band at all? Would you ever leave NYC?
Yea, it’s really hard man. I’ve done things like chill in London for months just to get away from the city. I’m thinking Paris for a bit next.
In a recent interview you did with Julian Casablancas, Julian mentioned that Bob Marley was one of his heroes. Who or what are yours?
The Velvet Underground and French literature.