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Interview von: arne mit Balboa, am: 25.04.2005 ]

Balboa aus Philadelphia haben sich vertracktem Post-Hardcore mit sattem Sound verschrieben. Den Songs der aktuellen MCD “Manifeste Cannibale“ schwingt eine schön noisige Note mit und Metal-Elemente werden zwanglos, jedoch nicht dominant, integriert. Ziel der Formation scheint es, möglichst ausladende und breitgefächerte Songs zu erstellen und das gelingt dem Fünfer auch.


Musicscan: Give our readers a short briefing about Balboa at first, please. What should listeners know about you?

Balboa: We are a group of young men living in Philadelphia, USA. We have been playing with one another (musically, only.shhhh) for the past four years. Starting earlier this year, we became a four-piece when one of our old guitarists left to pursue other avenues. The band is a creative outlet for all of us.

Musicscan: Do you feel that Balboa has found its "own" sound, or is it still evolving? How did your sound develop since you founded the group?

Balboa: I think "evolving" connotes that something is moving towards a standard or changing to fit the times. I believe we have found our own sound, while at the same time remaining open to new forms and expressions. Sure, we have become better and more creative musicians over time, yet we try our utmost to be our own band and not evolve towards what is popular or fanciful at a given moment.

Musicscan: How do you feel about your place as a band in the independent music scene?

Balboa: I would say we are comfortable where we're at. All of Balboa has jobs that take up so much of our times. Luckily each of us is able to dedicate their working ours to things they love. So the band is at a point that none of us are making huge sacrifices in order to do too many things. From a more macro standpoint, we continue to exist as DIY as we can be while still being able to get our music out there and have it look and sound the way we are comfortable. I think the point here is that "independent" is something that means different things to different people. To call Victory Records, for instance, independent is a joke. I think the general infiltration of big business-style marketing and promoting in hardcore is a step in the wrong direction and away from what we in Balboa believe in.

Musicscan: What about the mass of post-hardcore music that's been flooding the independent scene lately? What are your thoughts on it? This seems to be the "new trend" in some ways.

Balboa: This point is certainly connected to the question above. I can't tell you how many bands we used to play with in cramped sweaty basements in West Philly are now on MTV. Good for them I guess, but it makes the whole experience different, and comical in a way. There is definitely a new trend, or so it would seem, but the idea of companies taking subculture into the mainstream is not new and has been happening for eons. As long as we continue to exist parallel to what is going on, I don't really care to be involved in who is selling what to whom. What I have noticed at some of our shows is that the new generation of kids who are like 13, 14 and 15 buy more of our merch than anyone else. This is what they know how to do and what they are taught when they go to warped tour or ozzfest in the summer. These trends go up and down, and punk, etc. go in and out of the mainstream, but as long as our scene that WE make continues to exist, I'm happy to continue playing music.

Musicscan: Your newest release Manifeste Cannibale covers a lot of bases musically - there's something for everyone of metal, rock or (post) hardcore. Were you going for a more inclusive approach?

Balboa: Like I said before, we have no set goal that we work towards when we write beyond making music we like to listen to. I think that MC is a more inclusive portrait of what the members of the band themselves are about than anything else we've released. Having said that, as we've matured as a band, its been easier for us to manipulate influences and turn them into our own music rather than a different version of someone elses ideas.

Musicscan: What bands do you consider to be truly inspiring to you? Do you think that your songwriting is affected by music your hear, or do you try not to be influenced by that?

Balboa: Very often we'll be writing and come to a point where we say, ok, what would the typical band do here?..let's do the opposite. All of the members of the band have fairly disparate styles that they like. Drew loves metal, Dave loves punk and hardcore, I love reggae, etc..Our sound has been compared to bands like Majority Rule, Hopesfall, the Swarm, City of Caterpillar and Portrait. But at the end of the day we don't sound like any of them particularly. As I said above, we are influenced by everything we listen, we just try to produce something original out of it.

Musicscan: I'm interested in how you came up with records title. What's the idea/meaning behind Manifeste Cannibale?

Balboa: I stole the title from Dada artist Francis Picabia, it means the Cannibal's Manifesto and it was written around 1920. Read it for yourself:

Musicscan: "You are all indicted; stand up! It is impossible to talk to you unless you are standing up. Stand up as you would for the Marseillaise or God Save The King. Stand up, as if the Flag were before you. Or as if you were in the presence of Dada, which signifies Life, and which accuses you of loving everything out of snobbery if only it is expensive enough. So you have sat down again. So much the better. You will listen more attentively. What are you doing here, crammed in like a lot of serious-minded crustaceans? Because you are serious-minded, aren't you? Serious, serious, serious unto death. Death is a serious matter, isn't it? One dies a hero's death or an idiot's death - which comes to the same thing. the only word that has more than a day-to-day value is the word Death. You love death - the death of others. Kill them! Let them die! Only money does not die; it only - goes away for a little while. That is God! That is someone to respect: someone you can take seriously! Money is the prie-Dieu of entire families. Money for ever! Long live money! The man who has money is a man of honour. Honour can be bought and sold like the arse. The arse, the arse, represents life like potato-chips, and all you who are serious-minded will smell worse than cow's shit. Dada alone does not smell: it is nothing, nothing, nothing. It is like your hopes: nothing. like your paradise: nothing. like your idols: nothing. like your politicians: nothing. like your heroes: nothing. like your artists: nothing. like your religions: nothing. Hiss, shout, kick my teeth in, so what? I shall still tell you that you are half-wits. In three months my friends and I will be selling you our pictures for a few francs."

Balboa: Do you guys feel that the this record is a pretty good representation of bands sounding as of right now?

Musicscan: Yes and no. At the time we recorded it we were still a five-piece. With only one guitarist things are bit different now, but you'll have to decide for yourself when you hear our new material.

Balboa: When you produced the record, did you only think about the NOW or was it also important to you what you yourself will think about it in a couple of months/years?

Musicscan: Looking back on what one has done, there are always things wish you hadn't said or had done differently. I'm sure this record is no different and in ten years I'll probably be completely unable to understand what possessed me to write the lyrics I wrote or the way I sang them. On a less abstract note, MC is really meant to be document and critique of the times here in the USA. There are very specific people and policies targeted in the record, but they all operate on the same principles of greed, power and corruption that I'm quite sure will be around for a long time.

Balboa: For Manifeste Cannibale you chose to work with Josh Jakubowski (u.a. Hot Cross and Lickgoldensky). What's behind this cooperation? Why did you pick especially him and what was his impact on the record?

Musicscan: The only sound we were going for was a more "live" sound. I had people tell me that they loved our previous "S/T" cd, but it was a totally different experience for them when they saw us live as our songs were always louder and more ferocious than on cd. I wanted the recording to be as warm and inviting as it was devastating, yet still sound like us in the live setting. Josh really knew the type of sound we wanted to bring to the table, and worked hard himself to help us achieve that. I think Josh perfectly captured Balboa in the live setting, where things sound highly dense and rough at the seams, but still very powerful. We plan on going back to Josh to record the next split cd and split 7" we have planned for the end of the year.

Balboa: What message where you trying to portray through the record? Do you > feel you were successful in this respect?

Musicscan: This record is about desperation and hope; Like the proverbial flower growing out of a pile of shit. Some amazing and beautiful things happen when things get bad or oppressive. The first track, Ostracon, is about the way people come together to fight injustice. Beyond that the record is a critical look at the way neoconserative politics and hegemony work in our country. Especially on the title track (#3) we tried to let the people's own words be their condemnation.

Balboa: Your biggest wish to happen for the band?

Musicscan: We are supposed to tour Japan with NitroMegaPrayer this December. I hope this happens because I've always wanted to go to Japan. Who doesn't?