music morsels indie music July 2007



MUSICAL GENRE: Electronic Indie Rock
CDS SOLD: 4000
FAN BASE: 5000

MM: What inspired you to seek a career in music?

QB: My parents forced piano lessons on me when I was a kid. I grew tired of it as many kids do, but I never lost interest in music. I then became a drummer, and that is how I actually started playing in bands. I did that for four or five years and got sick of that as well. I was more sick of the restriction of drumming, because I couldn’t write a song on the drums. That led me back to keyboards at about eighteen years old, and I bought a Korg sequencing keyboard, and that was it for me. Once I knew I could write all the chords and samples and loops and bass parts and strings with one little hard drive, that was it for me as far as finding out what I wanted to do.

MM: Is that how Q'Ball was conceived?

QB: I was actually in a band in my early 20’s called The Substance. We made a pretty decent go of it. It was a straight forward rock band, and at the same time, I was in an electronic band who was also doing fairly well in the New York/New Jersey scene. Those bands kind of came and went, and I always had roots in electronic music. So Q’Ball developed from my love of electronic music and my desire to be the jack-of-all-trades. The guy who sings and does everything from the beginning to end. It was as much a business decision for me as it was musically. When you are in a band with four or five other guys, and then you have a manager and a booking agent and a label and producers in the studio...I am sure you have heard the expression “too many cooks.” With Q’Ball, it was my own music and I felt more intimately involved in it. It allowed me to be more self-sufficient than being in a band. I also started working with Bumblefoot who played all the bass and guitar tracks, because if there is one instrument I can’t even begin to master on my own it is guitar.

MM: When you released your first album “Q’Ball in Space”, what did you do to get the name out there? Were you able to glean some fans from your previous bands or did you have to find a whole new fan base?

QB: That was five years ago, and all the lessons I had in the bands I was in - dealing with booking agents and club owners and radio and everything - I had no regrets about being in those bands because in that aspect it was a learning experience for me. With Q’Ball, we started about the time when the whole scope of independent music was making a ninety degree turn. It wasn’t about making a demo and sending it into a major label anymore. It was about making and producing your own music and in turn being able to do all the leg work to try to sell your albums. With a label, just because they can do the leg work doesn’t mean that they will. I worked in the record industry through college so I kind of had my ear to the wall, and what I found disturbing and hasn’t changed is if you are signed to a major or even a lot of indie labels, you sometimes get lost in the shuffle. So I wanted to make Q’Ball this self-sufficient entity, and try to do what I thought others should be doing for me. But no one is going to take care of your stuff better than you; that’s the bottom line.

MM: Did you start doing live performances and how do you carry out producing the way the music sounds on your album while you are in concert?

QB: When the first album came out, we quickly did four or five shows in and around the New York Area. We played at Six Flags Great Adventure and did the Block Island Music Fest, so it was rather encouraging right off the bat to be able to do shows like that. The blessing and the curse of having your own band is finding people who are going to be as intimately involved in it and as willing to put in the time and effort of rehearsing and doing the shows as you are. So shows in general have been few and far between the past few years. Bumblefoot is now a guitarist for Guns N’Roses, which is great for him but not as great for me although it does help put me on the map a bit more. I guess I can make a Star Trek reference here. I’m Kirk, Bumblefoot is Spock, and I’m still looking for people to join the Enterprise here. He’s an anomaly, because finding a guy like Bumblefoot is rare. The guy gives so much of himself and is such a major talent that you expect to find three more people like him to play other instruments in concert. There are not too many guys like him out there. I do try to play shows when I can, but for me it is about other ways to promote my music. I've gotten my music into independent films and reality TV shows, and that has been a great resource for me to continue to making music. The live aspect is a tough go, but there are other aspects that make it worthwhile.

MM: Sounds like you are quite the multi-tasker since you also created your own label Bald Freak Records to release Q’Ball’s music. How do you balance your time to write and record your music while also pursuing all the different revenue streams and gaining new fans for Q’Ball?

QB: My history in the working world is that I worked for a major market radio station for about ten years. Once I started my own label, I realized that I had just turned thirty, and after working with these labels at the radio station, the window is not going to be open forever. The days of me thinking I will be seeing my mug on MTV are over, and I am okay with that. There are a lot of changes to keep up with in today’s music scene with all the revolutions of I-Tunes and Myspace and portable music devices and everything. I try to do everything I can to be current with what is happening, and I realized that this is a business and if I want to put bread on the table and live the life I want, to do and do it without the benefit of being on a label, that then I have to do it this way. So I left a basically good-paying job in radio to do this, and only time will tell if that was a mistake or not. But this is my passion and what I want to do, and my theory is it is now or never. I’m not going to sleep as much as I should and not be socializing as much as I would be so I can make sure that this gets done in hopes that the rewards down the road will be fruitful enough. It’s all about keeping my nose to the grindstone and trying to make it work.

MM: Getting back to the music, is the writing spontaneous, or is it more methodically planned out, or a combination of both?

QB: There is no real method to my madness. I don’t really consider myself a poet of sorts when it comes to the lyrical aspect. For me, it is always about loops and sequences and creating a structured environment. So I will sit down at the computer and then have my keyboards there in my home studio, and find an inspirational sequence, whether it is a bass line or string or piano piece that moves me, and then I will lay it down and work from that. Then I take the structure of it to the studio and working with Bumblefoot, we flesh it out. He plays all the guitar and bass tracks and  also brings other ideas to the table, most of which I OK because they always seem to fit the project.

MM: Do you feel you are going to make a success out of Q’Ball, and what do you feel it will take to get there?

QB: I would be remiss to say that it is going to fail. You have to believe in what you are doing to have any chance to make it happen. I come from a background of responsibility. I have been working jobs since I was twelve years old, and my parents always instilled the hardworking attitude into me. I sort of rejected that to become a struggling artist at thirty, and for me to do that I have to believe it will be a success. Levels of success is what it all comes down to, and I am OK if I make a comfortable living out of my music - being able to live the way I want and also keep up the label and take care of things in the way I want to. It is a learning experience because you basically start with nothing. I had a benefit of having some of my music featured on television shows which helped bring in some money for me to start the label. Some people suggested at the beginning that I get investors, and down the road that may be something that works. But right now, I don’t want to owe anybody anything. So I took the money I made, started the label, signed a couple other acts and put Q’Ball out there, and right now I don’t owe anyone a dime. To make this succeed, I think it takes know-how. It takes determination, and the biggest thing I have learned is you have to accept rejection. You have to accept that you send your CD out to three hundred college radio stations, and two hundred fifty of them are not going to respond.  It can be tough to accept that, because here is something that you put your blood, sweat and tears into and you have all these copies that have disappeared into a black hole or are collecting dust on some music director's shelf, who are not returning your calls. You have to have that suit of armor. It is about that, and working hard, making the right connections, and creating quality music. It sounds cliche, but that is what it’s all about.

Division of Serge Entertainment Group