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Ball of Flame, as we will hereby forever call them, make songs that sound slightly familiar but mostly strange, as if the weirdo-voiced trifecta of Dan Bejar, Spencer Krug and Carey Mercer flopped between fronting a vaudeville troupe and Animal Collective—also a prog-rock band and a circus. Erratic, at-times-cartoonish vocals run all over their full-length debut, Jokeland, overlapping mini orchestras of guitar, organ, trumpet, saxophone, upright bass, electronic samples and everything else under the sun. But there's a dogged devotion to melody too; those spastic yelps may tempt it off course, but the rest of the band refuses to let it get lost. With so many cooks in the kitchen (all five members live together, putting in time as songwriters), it's clear that they're a band with lots of ideas. They just happen to also be really good at turning them into interesting, unpredictable songs. And you know what else? Best band name ever.
Favorite NYC Venue:
Union Hall is pretty great. We've only played there twice, but we've seen plenty of shows there and it always makes for a great night. Also, the sound guy there, Jesse, is extra friendly and helpful and they also have great burgers and bocce.
What NYC band would you give up your spot on the list for?
Elizabeth Devlin has been around for a bit, but we're into her music right now. She plays autoharp and her sound has this delicate but engrossing feel. It's like you're seeing her play in a snow globe.
One thing you'd like to change about being a band in NYC?
One problem is that you try to see as much as you can, but once you do, you get the feeling that you're probably missing just as much as you're hearing. Since we're relatively new here, it's hard to have gripes about being a band in the city. I feel like we haven't earned that yet.
What's the biggest misconception about being in a band in NYC?
We knew that moving in together and trying to drop right into the city would be tough, but we never expected so many other bands to be so helpful and friendly. It's difficult because there are so many different bands trying to get heard through so many different avenues, not because anyone is cutthroat or anything. I think we kind of expected it to be more like Glengarry Glen Ross.
If you could be an NYC band in any other year in history, which year would you choose?
We're split between 1979 and the late 19th century, when our money would be worth a lot more, not having a van wouldn't seem as bad, and we would have been the loudest non-thunder sound anyone had ever heard.
Favorite song about NYC:
Harry Nilsson's "I Guess the Lord Must be in New York City." That or most Moondog songs.
Ball of Flame Shoot Fire
Catching up with the Class of '09
Mar 31, 2010