When WANARB met: Cerebral Ballzy

If you’re yet to hear of hyper hyped New York punk-outfit Cerebral Ballzy then where have you been? Their bad taste name and abrasive sound – imagine a piece of meat Rancid have spat out as it’s simply too gristly – destines them to be a band that will always divide opinions. To date they have released one EP, ‘You’re Idle’, which was packaged in a skateboard grip tape sleeve – perfect for destroying all other records that dare to be stored next to it.

The band were spending a few days working on tracks for their new album in the Red Bull Studios. Lead singer Honor describes the as yet incomplete album as sounding like, “A lot of fun. Great punk rock. New friends. To be impressed. To be sexually stimulated. And aroused. Drug dealers will call you if you buy this album. I dunno… fun.” The band had just completed an intensive tour of the UK. “Every show has been super brutal,” he says.

He looks exhausted. “I haven’t woken up this early since seventh grade.” It’s 2.30pm.

Where did you get your name from? “My name’s Honor.” No, not your name, Cerebral Ballzy. “Oh,” he says. “Actually I came up with it three years ago, I was with a friend of mine and he threw a piece of pizza on the train track. He jumped down to get it as it hadn’t toppled over, it was still on the tracks. He went and got it, I was like ‘man that was ballsy’. He was like, ‘yeah, cerebral ballsy’.”

Honor has opted to recline for the interview and is stretched out infront of me on a sofa. As I perch on a stool next to him, I can’t help but feel like a therapist. Suddenly, I begin to act like one too. ‘What would you have said if he’d been squashed?’ I ask. ‘Rest in pizza?’

He laughs, “No, I would have been bummed.”

Continuing with my probing, I ask him what toppings Cerebral Ballzy would have if it was itself a pizza.

“Well, Jason’s a vegan so that would throw it off. He’d be the crust, a soy cheese crust. It’d be a bacon and grip tape pizza. With black olives. And nipples. Chick nipples.”

As well as cannibalistic feasts, Honor is (unsurprisingly) influenced by punk bands of the past.

“The Dead Boys are probably my favourite band ever. Stiv Bators was the front man, he’s a hero. I have a tattoo of him on my shoulder.” The Dead Boys were a late 70s punk outfit who frequently performed at legendary New York venue CBGBs. They were renowned for their energetic and often lewd performances, a reputation also shared by Cerebral Ballzy. Honor recalls numerous shows where things have gone less than smoothly – but that’s punk for ya. “We played a show in Germany where I was naked.”

Despite assurances that “every show’s the best show”, he is able to recall the worst. “That’s easy,” he says. “We played a show in Florida. We had just finished and we were walking down the street to play another one. This fuckin’ lame-ass pop punk band played the longest set I have ever seen. They did a weird-ass cover of ‘Every Little Thing’s Gonna Be Alright’. When it was our turn to play no-one was there as they had played for so long. Then Mason fell off stage and cracked his face – and there was like, two people there. It was really bad.”

It’s no surprise that the band get through a lot of equipment. “The equipment we use changes so much. It does get broken but also sponsors change. Just put Peavey, Gibson, and some drum shit. I don’t know what it is.” he says, adding, “I don’t play in the band but I do play guitar. I’m a hollow body gretsch kinda guy.”

What would Cerebral Ballzy do the best cover version of? “We’re working on a cover of Sabotage by The Beastie Boys right now. We did a Zombies cover before. I’d like to hear Beethoven cover our track ‘Drug Myself Dumb’.”

The Zombies are another band he loves alot. “I have a tattoo of them on my ankle,” he says. Honor has 15 tattoos in total. “I like the Beach Boys too,” he says, revealing yet another tattoo, this one dedicated to the 60s surf pop band.

So he gets a tattoo of anything that he likes? “No! Not anything! Just things that are really important to me, like my mom and my favourite bands.” During this trip Honor has had a portrait of his mother etched on the back of his hand. It’s his first tattoo to be done outside of New York.
He also has a tattoo of a cat wearing a tweed suit. So very bizarre, yet so very charming – what an unlikely but perfect summary for Cerebral Ballzy.

Kara Simsek

Cerebral Ballzy’s latest single “Insufficient Fare” is out now on Moshi Moshi Records.



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