Q and A with Mace BallardOctober 22, 2012
Mace Ballard is a pop punk band out of Pittsburgh, PA. The band is made up of Chris on vocals, guitarist Brandon, bassist TJ, and Steve on drums. For this feature we got the opportunity to have a great talk with Chris and Brandon about their band. Take a look here at this fun and very talented band.
BS: First I am curious how did you get the unique name Mace Ballard?
Chris: Mace Ballard is a character from a Western series, the outlaw, the punk, if you will.
BS: How do you respond to the current assumption that Pop Punk is a dead or dying genre? Are you in the fight for the genre with bands like New Found Glory?
Chris: I always wonder where that came from. There are a ton of pop punk bands, even in our local Pittsburgh market alone and as we tour the region, it’s a popular genre. I think the fight is perhaps for the “soul” of pop punk. Is every song going to be in the key of G and about staying up past your bedtime with your friends to impress a girl or are you going to actually make a claim at social commentary, some type of meaning. We fall on the latter. I’d totally fight with NFG if they wanted us to; most of those dudes are huge.
BS: I actually have 2 fan submitted questions for you. “Do you believe pop punk (or just punk) is just a genre or a passion and way of life?”
Chris: I think a lot of people can tie their way of life to their preferred genre of music, especially if that genre stands for something like I think punk does. Pop punk may not quite be there yet as a ‘way of life,’ but punk is. I think the thing about punk is that there isn’t one way to do it “right,” just do it your way and don’t judge people that do it their way.
BS: “Do you draw inspiration from that for your music?”
Chris: Yes, definitely our music is inspired by our worldviews, as it should be!
BS: You can thank Josh Jerez from Elkhart, IN a fan of you guys for those questions.
Chris: Tell Josh Jerez from Elkhart, IN that he is a gentleman and a scholar and that he seriously is the kind of person that we want to listen to our music.
BS: Speaking of inspiration, what bands would you say inspire or influence your music?
Chris: I think you’re going to get a ton of variety here from each of us, so log in to Spotify NOW. Lyrically my inspirations are Bright Eyes, Brand New, Bayside (bands with B’s are lyrical gangsters, no?) Saves the Day.
Brandon: We are empowered by the ideas we come up with every day and the things we see day to day. These really fuel our songs. Not to mention bands like I Am The Avalanche really get us going!
BS: Can you explain the moment you knew that you wanted to make music for a living?
Chris: We can’t claim that we make music for a living financially, but we make music in order to live more fully. So, in that way you can definitely say we “make music for living”. Going to shows and feeling the connection between the audience and the bands was what got me hooked going to shows, and it turns out, also what got me hooked playing shows.
BS: For those of us that are not in a band, can you take us through a typical day in the band like on tour or when you’re working?
Chris: A typical day on tour with Mace Ballard. Wake up within close proximity to one of your best friends. Consider punking them in some way. Decide you are too hungry. Forage for snacks. Wake everyone up. Explore the city you are in, including landmarks, friends who live there, most famous food source, take photos, promote show with fliers or random shouts, possibly busk on the sidewalk. Arrive at venue early, load equipment, and try to make friends with other bands and the venue. Canvas the surrounding blocks to convince people to come to the show. Listen to bands we’ve never met and probably won’t meet again. Appreciate what they do well. Get stoked to play. Play our set like there are a million people watching, even though there may only be 50, there may only be 1. It’s liberating to play on tour because the people you meet don’t have any predetermined opinion of you or your music. Introduce yourself to everyone and their mother. Convince them they would all look great in our t-shirts and posing with a CD. Collect funds and e-mail addresses. Load out and explore the living space for that night. Repeat.
BS: What types of tours have you been on?
Chris: All of the tours we have been on have been DIY that we set up and embarked on ourselves.
BS: If you had to pick one tour what one has been your favorite and why?
Chris: Every tour or out of town show has its own set of kickass moments and challenges, I think our last tour: The Jorts and Shorts tour was the best to date. It was our first extended trip out with this lineup and it really brought us together as a group. For the most part we meet great people and bands and come back with a ton of photos and memories.
BS: If you could go on a tour with any band who would it be and why?
Chris: DANG THIS IS A HARD QUESTION! Probably Brand New because they are awesome and I really want to have some beer with Jesse Lacey and find out what the hell is happening in his mind. Also, that tour would be rad because the crowds at those shows would probably be like us: a killer balance of a good time and a good idea.
Brandon: Probably Every Time I Die. Every live show and behind the scenes video I’ve seen the guys are always ridiculously funny.
BS: What would you say are your band’s biggest accomplishments to date? And what are your hopes for the future?
Chris: We’ve won a couple of awards around Pittsburgh, best band or whatever, which sometimes came with a plaque and sometimes came with a cash prize, both were great. But I think our greatest accomplishment was putting out The Next Time You See Sky. The goal is 100% for as many people to hear it as possible, that’s what we’re doing this for. But that being said, that album represents a lot of collaboration between us and an evolution of the band, not to mention I think its a pretty dang good album, an actual album, if you will, so I’m proud of that. For the future I want 10 times as many people to hear us, play a warped tour date or two, keep opening for awesome huge bands like Anti-Flag, Silverstein, Set Your Goals, etc. and pushing ourselves to write meaningful songs in interesting ways.
BS: What has been your favorite song to play live? Why is that?
Chris: Favorite song to play live is probably “When Were We Emergencies” because we play it like a bunch of tough guys who just won a foosball tournament. Its fun because everyone sings, the breakdowns and buildups are fun and it’s usually the last song we play, it feels like a “drop the mic and walkaway” type moment.
Brandon: I really love to play “We Were Here”. It really breathes and is about slugging a beer around with your favorite gents. Which is a really useful effect when playing bars and clubs.
BS: There are a lot of great tracks off of your latest album “The Next Time You See Sky.” What song are you most proud of or think people will be most blown away by?
Chris: Hey thanks! I think people should pay attention to Brandon’s intricate guitar riffs and Steve’s intense drum parts in “Close Reading,” they should try to follow TJ’s bass in “Fight at the Museum” or “Treasure Chest Target Practice” and realize that the bass isn’t walking around, its damn near winning Dance Dance Revolution. We like to blend the melodic and the heavier, I think, “Fight at the Museum”, “Close Reading”, “Words with Friends”, “Research in Commotion” all do that. I think if you listen to the album the whole way through, there won’t be a ton that you can say ‘I’ve heard this before,’ at least I hope not! I think that’s because Brandon, TJ, and Steve are seriously unique musicians and songwriters.
Brandon: I’m most proud of how the album open and closes. In public speaking and written word (and in law lol) your opening and closing statements can sometimes make or break you. We wrote this album not song by song, but all the way through as a single piece of music that will even gain momentum as the album ends and starts over again. Think of it as a vacuum tube or wind tunnel of limitless forward motion.
BS: Your single “Time Machines Exist” is a great song what was the inspiration behind it?
Chris: This single was number one on THE CHARTS! I can’t tell you which charts… TME is a love song that goes along the lines of how almost anything can be a time machine; sometimes it’s a smell, a sound, and an idea. Something that takes you from where you are to where you have been. Keeping perspective and focus on the good times is the key to a good relationship, so my wife Bridget inspired the lyrics.
BS: The video for it is very unique, and fun to watch, what made you want to make the video that way? [Video at end]
Chris: Musicians are creative, right? Videographers are creative, right? Then why are their so many boring formulaic music videos? We think it’s a cool song and a cool concept, so wanted to do it justice on screen. We love making videos, but Quanti Studios/AltarTV was on top of their game when coming up with that one.
Brandon: yeah we didn’t want the normal “punk band playing in a basement” or “pool party scene”. We know the song has a bit of a sweeter meaning than the rest of the tunes and needed something cinematic to portray. When we came to the boys at Quanti we were so impressed with their ideas. They really aligned with the meaning of the song and brought to life something amazing.
BS: The album is almost a year old; can people expect any new music from you soon?
Chris: They grow up so fast. People can DEFINITELY expect new music from us soon! We’re writing a new EP now and to hold everyone over we released a free song this summer:
And we’re on a Movielife tribute album that comes out next month as well.
BS: Anything you would like to say to your fans?
Chris: A big sincere thank you to everyone who listens to us, please tell a friend and don’t forget about us, we’ve got more tricks up our sleeve…
Brandon: Thank you so much for the questions. It’s people like you that keep us going. Spread the word!!
You can give this great band a like on their page here: https://www.facebook.com/MaceBallard