“Q*Ball was born of one Brooklyn-based bald man's love of electronic music. As a huge fan of 80's synthpop (Depeche Mode, Tears For Fears), 90's industrial (Nine Inch Nails, White Zombie), & experimental pop/rock (U2, Faith No More, Radiohead), young Q decided to put together musical ideas in a cost-effective way, incorporating the sounds of all his favorite bands. Besides making quality music, Q has always had the business side of the industry in mind - finding new ways to market & promote, creating a new style, & following the path of the true Do It Yourself artist. Q*Ball music draws comparisons to the ethereal sounds of Moby, the vocal stylings of Bono & Mike Patton, the 80's funk of George Michael & Prince, and an eclectic array of more popular acts like Beck, the B-52's, & Duran Duran.”
Grave Concerns: As team collaborators, what have been the most difficult compromises to been made, regarding lyrics and music? How do you move forward, when something you’d really wanted to be considered, is not mutually felt?
Q: The working relationship between Bumblefoot & I is unique. He respects that this is my music, and that what I bring into the studio, both musically & lyrically, is personal, and usually the result of hard work. So 99% of the time, there really are no compromises, per se. Rather than shoot anything down, Bumblefoot strives to make something that may be a bit subpar better either thru the use of his guitar, his production skills, or his brain. All are welcome assets to any Q*Ball song, and that's why he's been my co-producer for three albums. That said, there's been a time or two when Bumble has shot down an idea or been considerably opposed to a lyric or a piece of music - but in those cases, we just mudwrestle, and problem solved.
BBF: Mudwrestling can solve anything.
Grave Concerns: You’ve been a member of MySpace since July 8th, 2004. How has MySpace helped, or hindered your musical endeavors? And which countries do you feel have embraced your music the most from being a member of MySpace?
Q: When I joined MySpace, it was hardly what it was now. It was just another site that allowed me to upload a few free audio pieces for exposure. I belong to about a dozen similar sites like that, big & small. Exposure is exposure. Now, MySpace is this behemoth of a thing, and while you can't deny its power, it's unfortunate that just like anything else that catches the eyes & ears of teenagers and becomes part of pop culture, it's become corporate-sponsored & oversaturated with spammers, porn, and bots. And a small indie artist like Q*Ball can get lost in the shuffle of what's become, in my humble opinion, a musical wasteland. Still, in spite of that, I've surely made a few fans thru MySpace. I'd hate to give MySpace credit for anything, it already gets too much.... Damn you to hell, MySpace!!
Grave Concerns: Will there be a tour in the near future? I’d love for you guys to come back to Boston. What are some of your favorite hot spots when you last visited here?
Q: Touring is a sore subject for me. Q*Ball isn't a traditional band. Finding supporting players is a chore - this one's in another band, this one needs to get paid more money, that one doesn't know the parts, this one can't make rehearsals, that one has to change his kid's diapers so he can't leave get away to play some dates. Welcome to the wonderful world of musicians. I can't expect people to bend over backwards to be involved in the live Q*Ball experience when it's not a democracy, and when I can't afford to throw my wallet at them. Bumblefoot has been my only "rock" from Day One - but he's a rare breed, and now that he's in Guns N Roses, I can't deny him the opportunity to work on that level rather than travel with me in a van for 3 hours to play for 40 people in some dingy club. He's earned the right to be where he's at ten times over.
I do love to play live, in spite of the typical on-the-road nightmare stories that I - and every other musician - have had. It's cathartic, it's fun, and I really miss not playing shows regularly. Boston is a great town for live music. Axis is a great club that plays all the music I love - electronica, alternative rock, old hip-hop. Well, at least when I was there last, it did. The culture of nightlife changes so fast these days. The Middle East is another great Boston club. We've also headlined the Block Island Music Festival on two separate occasions - a real stress-free, low maintenance environment - a real good time.
Grave Concerns: How do you differentiate a real good song, from a classic? In other words, what really makes a song stand out and last? And with your music, which song or songs do you feel have met that challenge, have come close to it, or are you currently just enjoying the creative bliss?
Q: Like most musicians, I'm a fan first. You don't decide that you want to make music your life if you don't hear & experience music as a fan, and as a kid growing up. I was brought up on the sounds of The Beatles, Billy Joel, Fleetwood Mac, The Police. So I had a pretty good idea of what I thought was great from the get-go. When I started making my own decisions about music, my tastes "evolved," if you will, just like any other music fan. I was embracing everything from Tears For Fears to Depeche Mode to Metallica to Nine Inch Nails. We as a society have given music those labels - "classic," "one-hit wonder," never mind all the hundreds of genres & sub-genres out there. A classic song is subjective - personal to the listener, it resonates with them, maybe strikes up a specific memory or special person in their lives. It just so happens that the bands I mentioned are usually personal to generation after generation, so I think they're classic. Only time will tell if the likes of Britney Spears, Nickelback, & Puff Daddy will have that same sort of timeless appeal, say, 20 years from now. God, I hope not.
I can't consider any of my songs "classics" - they're too new, they're too unknown. I think Bumblefoot & I do a damn fine job of making music together - how that translates to listeners is an entirely different beast. That said, I'd say that the "real good songs" would include John Hughes, Fortune Favors The Bald, Get On The Bus, This Is Serious Business - at least on a "mainstream appeal" level. Creative bliss comes from hearing something in my head before a song is recorded, and then hearing the finished product sound how I heard it in my head.
Grave Concerns: What do think makes your music stand out among other artists in your field?
Q: I'd say that, bar none, the production values on all three Q*Ball albums are top-notch, considering the next-to-nothing budgets. And I owe that to Bumblefoot. A great song can sooo easily be ruined by a lack of production. And Q*Ball music certainly wouldn't benefit from a 'lo-fi' quality of sound - it's too electronic, too layered, too quirky. I'm not trying to sell myself short, but the music I make is merely good. I'm not a virtuoso player, I'm not a gearhead, and I'm blessed to have a guy like Bumblefoot guide me in the studio & bring out the best in my talents as a singer & a songwriter. I think I stand out because I'm still standing three albums later, and my sound is still viable. Most musicians don't have the attention span nor the intelligence to see things through. They get day jobs and have babies instead. Not that there's anything wrong with that. That stuff just isn't in the cards for me right now.
Grave Concerns: OK; say you just finished a concert, in your hometown. You’re famished! Do you call for takeout from your favorite local eatery, or do you just walk in, place an order, and chill out?
Q: Nothing is more simultaneously invigorating & draining to me than getting on a stage & belting out 30 minutes of electro-rock. The exhausting part comes from all the before-and-after bullshit involved with playing live - lugging equipment around, driving to the venues, finding parking, making sure you have your merch, that the other guys in the band have their shit together, etc. Maybe one day I'll just be able to get up and PLAY, sign a few autographs, talk to the fans, have a beer, and call it a night.
Regardless, I always go out to eat after a show. It's a ritual & a reward. And I'm always famished because I love to eat. The beauty of playing out in NYC is that there are plenty of places to hit after a show - sushi joints, diners, pizzerias. It's the city that never sleeps, and I'm the guy that never sleeps, so it's a good match. I also love to hang with whoever's man (or woman) enough to get a burger at 2am on a school night after watching me jump around like a lunatic for an hour.
Grave Concerns: Other than musical influences, where do you look for inspiration, when it comes to writing lyrics and music?
Q: I try to toe the line between personal experiences & fantasy. The music & the vibe are too eclectic & fun to deal strictly with mundane life experiences. My experiences with women - god love 'em - have been integral when it comes to songwriting. "Everything," "John Hughes," "This Is Serious Business" are just a few that deal with my time with members of the opposite sex. My struggles to achieve what I consider success is a recurring theme in my lyrics. Then there's a song like "Pez Dispenser" which is what you think it's about. I collect them & they appeal to me, simple as that. I've embraced the whole "bald" thing, and that shows up in everything from the band name, the label name, and songs like "Super Ball" & "Fortune Favors The Bald." Then there's a song like "The Man With No Name Who Saved The Town from the Scourge of Evil." Good luck with that one.
Grave Concerns: Hey, I saw that you guys had a picture taken with radio and television personality Eddie Trunk. That’s very cool. I’ve always enjoyed watching his show on VH1 Classic “Hangin With”, and feel his honesty, knowledge, and insight into bands and singers was like getting a “thumbs up” review, back in the good ol’ days of Siskel and Ebert.
What’s he like in person, and has he given you guys any of his creative feedback on your music?
Q: Eddie is the type of guy that, if we were the same age, we would have been hanging out together in high school shooting the shit about the latest Anthrax & Van Halen albums. He's a genuine metalhead & music fanatic, and he's a pretty standup guy. Growing up, he was a source for my metal news & "insider" info on all my fave bands. He was the radio version of Rikki Rachtman, except he wasn't a poser douchebag. I love that he's just some dude from Jersey in jeans & an Skid Row t-shirt who loves metal. There's no pretentiousness that's indicative of guys in his field. He's also been around the business, so I admire the fact that he's still a relevant personality even after that era of music & metal has kind of faded away. His presence keeps it alive. Definitely a great guy.
Since my music doesn't qualify as "metal," I honestly haven't asked him to sample any of it. He probably wouldn't dig it. Metalheads love metal. And more metal. But he's been kind enough to feature Bumblefoot on his show, and he's become a friend of the label, so god bless his metal-loving ass!
BBF: Mr. Trunk is a great guy - very cool, knows his shit, fun to hang with, all good.
Grave Concerns: I see there’s a wine connoisseur in the house---Pinot Grigio, nice, nice choice. Would you be so kind, as to recommend a label you enjoy? And do you prefer that on the rocks?
Q: I prefer wine in my gullet, not on the rocks. Pinot is definitely my favorite white - Santa Margarita is a great, fairly inexpensive choice. Bella Sera is good, too. I'm also a big red guy - my fave is Wolfblass. It's from Australia, and it's a combination Cabernet & Shiraz. Great with a good steak. God, I sound like such a snob right now.
Grave Concerns: OK; now for a fun question! You’ve just been given exclusive free range to invite family, and a few friends during the approaching holiday, Halloween, for six days, staying in a hotel suite where each of the six nights, a horror movie “theme room” of your choosing had been authenticated. Also with you, are three musical artists (of your choice) who’ll be performing two-sets each night; or, inviting them to 11 days at a haunted castle (accommodations of your choice) in Scotland, Ireland, or England, with Stephen King and Tim Burton as your tour guides. Which do you choose, and why?
Q: This question is pointless, since the only place I'm ever at on Halloween is in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, in the area where I grew up, trick or treating, carving pumpkins, & watching scary movies. I'll do it til I die. And yes, I still go trick or treating. Free candy, you get to scare little kids - how can I give that up??
But ok, I'll indulge you: it's that time of year, so I'll pick three dead artists: Lennon, Morrison, & Cobain. We're going to Ireland, since I've never been. Screw the haunted castle, King & Burton are scary enough. I can finally ask Tim what the deal with "Mars Attacks!" & that remake of "Planet of the Apes" were all about. Now THAT's scary.
Grave Concerns: OK; you guys open the door, my friends, to have me ask you about one more of your “influences” under your MySpace general Info. I’m going to let you ponder on that question, and ask that both of you reply to the influence you think I’m referring to. I’ll let you know if you chose correctly. (;
Q: I sure hope it's porn. Everyone loves porn.
Grave Concerns: Ah, I must say that one or both of you have great taste in movie actors; John Cusack is one of my favorites, too! I just saw his new movie 1408. Have you seen it? He’s an amazing actor. If you were able to have your music be heard in one of his previous movies, which one would it have been, and which song, do you feel, would’ve made the best impression?
Q: Cusack is my fave, but he's in a slump. "Must Love Dogs." Enough said. The best Cusack movie is "The Sure Thing." "High Fidelity" & "Say Anything" are great, too - he plays that "everyman" role so well. I haven't seen "1408" yet. I'm afraid. Not of the movie, but of its quality. Cusack starring in a movie based on a story by my favorite author? There's no way that can be good - it's too good to be true. The '80s sensibility of my stuff would work perfectly in any of the early Cusack flicks - I'd like to hear a song like "His Name Is Goliath" in the ski race at the end of "Better off Dead" or the boat race of "One Crazy Summer." John Cusack was always racing back then. He's probably really tired now.
Grave Concerns: Bumblefoot, being a guitarist in Guns N Roses’ is a sweet accomplishment, to say the least. What is it though, musically and lyrically speaking about Q*Ball that stands out among other singers/ musicians you’ve worked with?
BBF: He surprises me - never know what he's gonna come up with next, haha.
Grave Concerns: It’s 3:38 on Friday morning, and you’re about three-hours away from your hotel room, on a road, in a city you’ve never been to before, when your tour bus breaks down. It’s snowing, cold, and none of the cell phones can get reception. What do you do?
Q: I either kill the driver & survive on his carcass until help arrives, or I die. I'll probably die. Bus drivers are too salty.
BBF: I eat the bus driver. Then Q*Ball. I'll deal with the salt.
Q*Ball and Bumblefoot, it’s been a fabulous to interview you guys. We here at Grave Concerns wish you much in the way of creativity, and success with your new album “This Is Serious Business”, and I’m looking forward to what the future will hold with your musical endeavors. Cheers!
Q: Thanks for the continued support! Shazbot.
BBF: All the best to ya - take care :)
Check out the music of Q*Ball at http://www.myspace.com/qball