Monday, May 21, 2012

Joey Balls of Old Man Markley on the intersection of punk and folk

Old Man Markley takes the stage at the Bottleneck tonight.

Posted By on Mon, May 21, 2012 at 7:19 AM

old_man_markley_Fred_Morledge.jpg
  • Fred Morledge
Fat Wreck Chords' Old Man Markley falls in line with a long tradition of folk-punk artists, going all the way back to the Pogues. The band's sound - lots of fiddle, banjo and washtub bass - is a fun time, communing as it does the energy of a punk show with the chops of a well-oiled bluegrass band (unsurprisingly, really, given that the band counts members of Youth Brigade and other SoCal punk acts among its ranks). The band plays the Bottleneck this Tuesday, May 22, with Street Dogs, the Aggrolites, and local pop punks the Rackatees. We chatted with OMM's upright washtub bass player Joey Balls about the band's influences and live show.

The Pitch: Folk music has been creeping into punk rock since the late '90s with Dropkick Murphys, Flogging Molly, and frontmen recording acoustic albums. Where do you see Old Man Markley in all of this?

Joey Balls: We get compared to DKM and Flogging Molly often. Johnny (OMM vocalist/guitar player/bald) and I played in L.A.-based punk band Blue Collar Special and opened locally for Flogging Molly several times, and they definitely had an influence on me.

I hear a lot of everything in your music. The Pogues, Dylan, et al... But from who in particular do you draw your influences?

Hard to say, with as many members as we have in the band, I think our influence is really across the board. Katie Weed (fiddle/rad smiles) and John Rosen (banjo/maps) come from more of a traditional bluegrass background as Johnny, Ryan (washboard/whiskey) and I came from the punk-rock scene. I think we have a pretty even blend of both punk and rock and folk and bluegrass in our sound and approach. Lyrically our songs are about everyday life stuff: making mistakes, drinking too much, religion, politics, friends, enemies, parties, cancer, going crazy, the usual. But we have fun. So in answer to your question, we draw a lot from everywhere.

The diversity is even reflected in this tour you are on. A punk band, a reggae band, and you guys as a folk-bluegrass act. What do you expect these shows to be like in terms of audience?

Fun. I hope the audience will be having as much fun as we are. In fact, we dare ya!


The recordings you put out are really crisp and clean. How does that compare to your live show?

We aim for that crispness live. Touring a lot helps, and we've always tried to sound as close to our recordings as possible.

OMM's got people coming and going with some regularity. What does that contribute to the band?

Touring makes it hard (that's what she said), but we've had the same lineup for the past three tours. I think we are making and playing the best music we have ever made or played, and are working harder than we ever had with our current lineup.

When is the next album coming?

We are recording in June and aiming for a fall release.

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