Band Name: The Balboas
Genre: Punk Surf
Geographical Area: Born in Akron, Ohio. Done time in Philadelphia. Currently, wherever we want to be.
Interview with Rich (lead guitar) by email on 2/20/13
1. What is the current line-up of your band (include band member names)?
Our lineup hasn't changed much since we began. I play lead guitar. Rick Frei plays rhythm guitar, and Caitlin OíShea plays bass guitar. Mark Healy is our lead singer. In the day we had the second-best surf drummer in the world, and since then we upgraded to the best drummer on the planet, Dusty Watson.
2. How and when did you get started with your band?
The story sounds like BS, but the core of the band was traveling to see Dick Dale in Chicago. He hadn't toured in years, but he decided to go on tour after Pulp Fiction came out. I had been a fan for a long time, and I didn't know when he would go back into his recluse stage so I decided to see as many shows as I could. We drove from Ohio to Chicago to see him play at the Cubby Bear. This was literally one of those perfect weekends. We couldn't find a place to stay in the only open room in town was in the newly opened Surf Hotel on Surf Avenue. It was the grand opening and they were actually giving out free beer. The show was awesome, we stayed with a really hot stripper, and hit the road in the morning. My car broke down in Elkhart, Indiana. It died on the freeway just before a rest stop, and we coasted in. About 10 min. later Dick Daleís RV rolled in. Ron was playing bass for him then. He walked over and asked if we were the opening band. We told him no, but we had driven from Ohio to see Dick. He told us Dick would want to hear about this and asked us to come over to the RV. Dick was amused by this and started calling us the Dick heads. Cute eh? Anyway on the way home we decided that this was a sign from the surf gods, and the Balboas were born.
This is before Dusty was drumming with Dick Dale. We first met Dusty in 1997 when we opened up for Dick Dale in Cleveland on the opening day of baseball season. We played in the flats and the place was packed. It was awesome. It was way more awesome to meet Dusty. He is the best drummer in the world, but he is a great mentor and he's taught us a lot about being efficient in the studio and he's really raised our bar in terms of our goals for recording.
3. What bands or music have influenced you most?
Dick Dale, The Ramones, Agent Orange, The Cramps, a bunch of punk bands, a bunch of other stuff.
4. What is the break down of cover vs. original material in your live shows and/or recordings?
We do mostly originals, but we also do some covers. I would say that we are about 80% original, and then choose the surf standards that we like. We do a wicked version of "Wipeout", pretty good version of "Pipeline", "Bombora", and a few others.
5. What recording have you done?
We have four recordings. Our first was "Heavy Surf Advisory". We then did "A Little Bit of Fear". We have a live recording from Europe called "Duvelís Advocate", and our most current release, "Big As You Need".
6. What kind of gear do you use?
We are not too gear crazy. The guitars are all Fender. I take that back: Rick is now playing a DePinto. I play Stratocaster, and Catie plays a P bass. We generally play through Fender amps, but Catie is pretty flexible as long as it is low and dirty. Sometimes I play through a '63 Showman with an outboard reverb tank. Sometimes I play through the jacked-up Vibrosonic. Rick got a lot of miles out of his Princeton. Dusty plays on the Ludwig kit.
7. What is your bandís favorite food/beverage?
Beer. We like to eat anything that Dave Wronski throws in the trash; we try to absorb any small bit of Wronski we can. One time I hid in his mailbox for four days, just so he might touch me.
8. How do you get gigs?
Just like everyone else. We started touring in '97, and you build relationships. Sometimes we break relationships too. At one of our last shows that we played in Akron, Ohio, the bar owner canceled the show on us the day we were going to play. He said he had some MTV band that was coming in, and apologized to us like that was going to be cool. I told him he had better get another band, because when those guys pulled into his parking lot we were going to kick the sh** out of them, so there was no way they would be playing his club that night. And then we'd come inside and break everything in his bar. Surprise, surprise - he found a way for us to headline that night.
9. What are the difficulties you find playing your kind of music in your area?
We don't play in any one area. Our band members live all over
the country. Rick is in Philadelphia. Catie is in Akron. Mark
lives in Oakland, California, and Dusty lives in Los Angeles. I
live in Florida. So it can be tough to get us all together. Our
area is whatever we want it to be. We don't play live as much as
we'd like, but it's probably more than you can handle.
10. What positive attributes does your band have that sets you apart from other bands (of any genre)?
We are the loudest, toughest, fastest, most irreverent surf band that you will ever see. We do what we want, when we want, how we want. We look good, we feel good, we will give it to you good. And you'll like it.
11. What have you found to be the single most effective promotional tool youíve used to further your bandís musical path?
We started the Balboas prior to the time that the internet took off. Like most bands of that era, we might play a couple local gigs, get frustrated and called it quits. But our stuff is a bit different than everyone else, so it started to catch a little momentum. We toured a lot for an indie surf band. We toured the East Coast a half dozen times. We toured the Midwest constantly. We even had a crappy West Coast tour and managed to tour Europe earlier than many surf bands.
12. Whatís the most interesting performance experience youíve had?
We've had a ton of gigs that were interesting, but the Europe tour really was awesome. The promoter was named Gert. He was famous for not liking bands that drank or did drugs or were a--holes. We maxed out on most of those things. Gert really wanted to hate us, but we were playing really great. Every day that we played in Europe we got better and better. And we started out really good. So we were just smoking every show, and making Gert madder and madder. He really wanted me to sell him my reverb unit, and I told him I wouldn't do it unless we could shave his head. We partied our way across his territory. We partied so hard that when we were done, Gert invited the Apemen back to play on his circuit. (If you know the Apemen, you know how hard they party.) We all took it as a point of pride that we changed Gert's bar for wild bands so much that he asked the Apemen back.
13. What do you hope to get out of being a NESMA member?
We just hope that Mike Rosado will start sending us some Valentines cards; he don't love us no moí.