New York City's Cerebral Ballzy tear up the streets of London in the name of punk.
New York City's Cerebral Ballzy tear up the streets of London in the name of punk. To celebrate the release of their new LP Jaded & Faded we dug up this photo essay from the Huck archives.
Cerebral Ballzy don’t want to talk about the why’s and how’s of their meteoric rise to punk rock prodigy status. They don’t want to talk about technique or wordplay because ballzyness does not translate into neat phrases and poppy sound bites. This band – made up of five skateboarders from Brooklyn, New York, where “most kids were into hip hop and basketball” – are all about new experiences.
“It’s just a sense of urgency, I guess,” says bassist Melvin Honore drinking a coffee outside the Fix 126 cafe in Shoreditch. “It’s a reaction to the immediate environment that you encounter… Maybe a sense of impatience that comes across. That’s something we all relate to growing up here and I think that speaks through naturally. It’s not some deep thought-out thought.”
Their gigs are sweaty pits where “punks, moshers, thrashers, metalheads and people who just sing along, bobbing their heads” smash their heads together in the name of fun. “We’re just here to party,” says Mel, “we’re not here to separate; we just want to have a good time.”
They get into trouble – “sure, I guess, our drummer Abe is crazy” – they drink, they smoke, they skate, they let loose and there’s nothing cerebral about it. It’s just pure sensation. “It’s music to skate to,” says Mel. “It’s fast-paced. Like, imagine if you were carving out a bowl just fucking zipping across and doing tricks – it just goes with the energy. Stylewise, I’d say we’re abrasive. From the sound to the artwork [designed by Greg Ginn’s brother Raymond Pettibon who came up with Black Flag’s ‘four bars’ logo], to the energy of the performance – we’re abrasive and aggressive.”
And despite starting as a “joke band” three years ago, they’ve gathered fans (and some pretty impressive endorsements) from all corners of the globe. The recent video for their ‘On The Run’ single – which “pays homage to eighties skateboarding” – features old-school skate legends Lance Mountain and Christian Hosoi. And in the last year, they’ve played with some big-dog bands, from OFF! and Murphy’s Law to Fucked Up and Trash Talk.
So during their last UK tour, Huck decided to tag along for the ride. In an immersive throwback to the gonzo days of Rolling Stone-style rock reportage, we jumped in the van and documented forty-eight hours on the road with punk’s young, wild enfants terribles.
Jaded & Faded is released by Cult Records in the UK on June 16 and the US on June 17. Cerebral Ballzy have a ton of tour dates in Europe and the UK over the next few months, make sure you catch them live.
This article originally appeared in Huck 29 – The Travis Rice issue.