Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Q & A with Randal Ball of WreckingBall Entertainment.

Earlier this month I posted an interview with Ben Mueller-Heaslip who does the "What's All This Then?!" podcast. That turned out great, and it made me want to do more Q & A features with local scenesters (if you don't mind me using that language). The local music community is populated by bands---many, many bands---but the other characters who we see out and about, working and spectating, have good stories to tell, too. Here's the second installment of this interview series.

Randal Ball is a local music promoter and avid support of the local scene, from punk to folk to hip hop and everything in between. He recently started collecting canned food donations at his shows, and has begun a new series, Punk 4 Parkinsons. So, it seems like a good time to check in and see what's what. Randal books under the "WreckingBall Entertainment" banner. Join his Facebook group to find out more information on his upcoming shows. Contact him at wreckingballbookingsATgmailDOTcom.

Jen: How did you get into booking and promoting local bands in Toronto?

Randal: The whole reason I moved to Toronto four years ago was to pursue a career in the music industry. I distinctly remember arriving in the city, and finding it very overwhelming. There was definitely a huge adjustment period before I felt comfortable immersing myself as far into it as I have this past year.

Jen: Why "WreckingBall"?

Randal: The name came more from what I saw was happening with the industry at the time. We’ve all witnessed the impact that things like internet have had on the industry, and as bleak as some people have seen it, I very much see it as a natural progress. To put it into perspective, up until 1964 publishing companies mainly existed to hire songwriters to write music for people to perform. With the arrival of the Beatles, there was a huge shift, and publishing companies had to re-adapt to an industry that was mainly the performers writing the songs themselves. I see that as a good example as to what has been happening this past while. The old way of doing things has been slowly dying, and we are all forced to rebuild with new and exciting ideas of what we see the industry being.

It’s a time where bold new ideas are being introduced, and I think that is exciting. WreckingBall implies the start of something new, and not the end.

Jen: What's your mandate as a concert promoter?

Randal: I value the independent music community, and really want to contribute to that on a positive level. For that reason, I have many concerts featuring a wide array of different genres. There are a few promoters who have been inspirations to me. Keith Hamilton (Pitter Patter) and Dan Wolovick (Two Way Monologues) to name a couple.

On the bigger picture, I want WreckingBall Entertainment to be recognized as a company known to present shows that challenge the audience on what their concept of a concert can be. I have shown some signs of that in my Bowser Attacks series, where the audience members play old school 16-bit video games on a giant screen onstage, while the performers play chiptune music as a soundtrack. It sounds off the wall, but blurring the line between entertainer and audience is something I want to explore more of. And in the next couple of years, I will definitely be showing more of that.

Jen: You've recently started a new charity series, Punk 4 Parkinson's, and have also accepted donations at your shows for the food bank. Why did you decide to do these things?

Randal: Punk 4 Parkinson's is something that has been an idea in my head for years now. My father was diagnosed with Parkinson disease about six years ago. In that time I have watched him debilitate to a point where at 56 years old, he has to live in a nursing home. Punk music is, and will always be, a music that I love. It was there for me at a young age and I still play it till this day. It is my way of handling a situation that is seemingly out of my control, with a music that encourages me to lose control (joke!).

The food bank concept that now applies to all my shows is something I just really wanted to be done. I love the entertainment industry for everything it is, but if there’s one thing that needed to change with what I do, it would be the lack of social purpose. A social purpose is never a bad thing, and I honestly believe good things can be accomplished often with minimal effort. All I have done is offer people a discounted price at the door if they bring a canned food. It isn’t much, and it cost me nothing at the end of the day, and ultimately . . . if it can contribute something positive to someone else's life, then what good reason would there be to not do it? With that point in mind, I decided it should apply to all my shows, and not just the occasional.

Jen: What's coming up in 2010?

Randal: 2010 is going to be a year where I step up in terms of creativity in my shows. You will also be seeing a larger volume of events that are happening. I feel 2010 is going to be an exciting year for me, and I am excited for it.

I am very excited for my Queen Tribute show April 17th. A ton of great Toronto bands will be playing the Poor Alex, and doing their own take of Queen songs we all know and love. Organizing this show has often put me in a place where I feel like a kid again, just listening to queen over and over. Loving every minute of it.

Jen: Can you share with us some of your favourite moments from your shows?

Randal: When I bring a new band into a show, and its my first time experiencing them live, there is sometimes a feeling I get that almost takes me to that place you were when you heard a life changing album at 15. I personally will never forget the feeling I had when I first listened to the downward spiral, and any time I have a band play that brings to life that feeling inside of something new and daring, or even sometimes just sincere and raw, then that’s the total payback right there. I live for that.

Jen: What local Toronto acts that we may not have heard should we pay attention to?

Randal: The Vicious Guns is a band I really get behind. A good hip hop group that just gets a killer fun party going is Owel Five & Corboe . . . totally a blast every time. I really love Carnival Moon. The music she composes is so beautiful. The list goes on.

Jen: Awesome, thanks for taking the time to do this, Randal! Good luck with your upcoming shows.

WreckingBall Entertainment's got 5 shows coming up in the next while:

CrackerJack Wednesday feat. Fashion Tips, Blacklist Manifesto, Tofu Meat, and Free Man On the Land @ The New Poor Alex, 27 Jan, 8:30pm, $7 (or $5 w/ canned food donation).

B'MO Crazy and Owel Five & Corboe @ The New Poor Alex, 28 Jan, 9:30pm, pwyc w/ canned food donation.

CrackerJack Wednesday feat. Living With Jane, A Fourth World, The Danger Bees, and Mark Harris @ The New Poor Alex, 3 Feb, 8:30pm, $7 (or $5 w/ canned food donation).

Punk 4 Parkinsons Does Metal feat. APE, Nanochrist, The Isosceles Project (acoustic set) @ Hard Luck Bar, 4 Feb, 9pm, $7 w/ canned food donation.

CrackerJack Wednesday feat. The Peter James Project, First Rate People, Lincoln & the Marshin Academy, and Sebastian Rafael @ The New Poor Alex, 10 Feb, 8:30pm, $7 (or $5 w/ canned food donation).

1 comment:

The VICIOUS GUNS said...

Yeah! Thanks for the shout out, Randal! :)