They’ve been championed by John Peel, David Shrigley and Kevin Spacey, but BALLBOY aren’t about to let the small matter of universal acclaim go to their heads. Words: Doug Johnstone
hatever happened to intelligent popular music'.’
Bands that can simultaneously write a catchy
chorus and actually have something worthwhile to say'.’ Bands that don‘t think ‘hcy. sexy lady‘ is the only valid message a pop song can convey? Welcome to ballboy.
Swimming against the twin tides of garage-rock dumbness and vacuous pop bilge. the Edinburgh-based foursome blend an incisive lyrical wit with a stripped-down. straightforward musical approach to create songs as thought-provoking as they are hurnrnable.
If it‘s proof you‘re after. check out their forthcoming second album. A (:‘uirlejor tlze Daylight Hours. Ranging from indie to orchestral pop to country and beyond. the record oozes intelligent attitude at every turn. as song titles such as ‘You Can‘t Spend your Whole Life Hanging Round with Arseholes‘ and ‘I Wonder if you‘re Drunk linough to Sleep with me 'l‘onight‘ evince.
Among the band‘s celebrity fans are legendary DJ John Peel and renowned artist David Shrigley. who likes the band so much he‘s providing the artwork for the new album. The band‘s focal point. singer and guitarist (‘rordon Maclntyre. has been an equally big fan of Shrigley‘s work for years and sees similarities in their approaches.
'Although what he does is something that comes from within him. it‘s definitely supposed to engage people as well.‘ .‘Vlaclntyre says. ‘lle‘s trying to make you think slightly differently. which otrr songs do as well. They try to make you think a little bit as well as just entertaining you. I think he does it better than us. though. because he can do it in just an outline drawing which is pretty good going.‘
Having just returned from a successful tour of the States and with a track on the forthcoming Kevin Spacey lilrn. The United States of Leland. ballboy‘s stock is rising. and they seem ready to break through into the r‘nainstream. Maclntyrc is happy to hide his time. though.
‘It would be great if someone put our stuff out to a bigger audience but left us alone. which is a catch 22.‘ he says. 'lf
16 THE LIST 31 0C?»- ‘4 Nov 200.?
someone pays you a million pounds to record your album they‘re not going to allow you to do what you want. We have a partnership with SL Records [local indie label] that could enable us to have a career. and if things succeed off our own backs we‘ll be much better off than taking a big advance from Johnny Bigknob.‘
Anyone who‘s seen ballboy live will know there‘s more than a whiff of confrontation about Maclntyre. Tracks such as ‘I Hate Scotland‘ and ‘All the Records on the Radio are Shite‘ are wonderfully vitriolic jibes at their targets. and Maclntyre doesn‘t hold back in interview either. ‘But all the records on the radio are shite.‘ he argues. ‘and the way the record industry works is shite. You don‘t have to be good to get signed. you have to have Johnny Marr or Noel Gallagher as your manager.‘
And he‘s off. ‘1 got asked once why we didn‘t move to London.‘ he continues. ‘lf we‘d done that three years ago we‘d probably have been signed two or three times. but we wouldn‘t be half the band we are. We‘d be some shoddy. shitty. flimsy cardboard cut-out Menswear-type band. London‘s full of shite bands. it‘s full of absolutely rank. shite bands that that will be famous for . . . (iod. l5 minutes and they‘d be lucky. Famous for. like. 26 seconds probably. then disappear.‘
Not a fate that awaits ballboy. if Maclntyt‘e‘s got anything to do with it. 'I may be misguided in this.‘ he says. ‘but I firmly believe that if I write the songs. and we work hard enough at it. then everything else will follow.‘
ballboy play King Tut’s, Glasgow, Sat 2 Nov. A Guide for the Daylight Hours is released Mon 1 1 Nov on SL Records.
‘We'll be much better off than taking advance from Johnny Bigknob'