Gomez’s Ian Ball will go solo acoustic for ASCAP gig
January 22, 2013
Guitarist and singer Ian Ball of the independent rock band Gomez said he inherited his musical tastes from his father who liked heavy metal music.
"He is a huge Iron Maiden fan, and I was that age to get into classic thrash metal," Ball said during a telephone call from the backseat of his car in Los Angeles, Calif., where his five-year-old son was asleep on his lap. "So, my formative years were spent listening to Metallica, Slayer and Megadeth."
Ball, who will perform two solo acoustic sets at the Sundance Film Festival’s ASCAP Music Café today and Thursday, formed a thrash-metal band with some friends and began writing his own songs.
"We would write about Satan and axes and all that good stuff," Ball said.
However, at some point, Ball discovered English singer and songwriter Nick Drake.
"That took me into a totally new direction and that’s when the songwriting really kicked in," he said. "I still love metal music, but as you can see, I’ve branched out a bit."
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Growing up when the record companies were reissuing all their best-selling vinyl records on CD, Ball discovered truckload of new music.
"Between the ages of 18 to 25, everything was available to me," he said.
Taking advantage of the newfound influences, Ball formed Gomez in 1997.
"In the Gomez camp, it’s pretty much anything goes," he said. "We have never been defined by a certain style. It’s kind of like a soundtrack thing, because we have different singers who write in different styles."
While Ball was comfortable with that, he still wanted to record a CD comprised of songs in the electronica style.
"I’ve always been interested in electronic dance music and enjoyed listening to Leftfield and the Chemical Brothers," he said. "Working outside the band allows you to work on one specific thing and try to make something in one cohesive genre."
So, Ball and Gomez drummer decided to join forces with Joachim Cooder, the son of Ry Cooder.
"Joachim plays drums for his father, and I met him in a random, lets-go-into-the-studio situation," Ball said. "He emailed me a few bits of instrumental music that he wrote, and they were cool, weird soundscapes."
Ball liked what he heard and began forming songs on top of the music.
"Within two weeks, we accidentally wrote four songs," he said. "I would take one bit and chop the legs off and put a head on it."
The trio ended up with eight songs, which was exactly how many they needed for the new CD.
"It was perfect because we used up all the music Joachim had," Ball said.
At the moment, four of the songs are in the hands of Adrian Bushby, who mixed the 2006 Gomez CD "How We Operate" with Gil Norton.
"I still have to do some vocals on the other four songs and, once those are done, I’ll send them over," Ball said. "I do a lot of arranging with Gomez, so with what I’m doing with my own stuff is more composition in a more classical sense. I’m piecing together the music in an intricate way. It’s dense in a way that it’s light an fluffy.
"I don’t have a timeline when it will be finished, but it will be done whenever he is done," Ball said. "I’m optimistic that it will be released in two months, but we’ll see."
In order to fund the CD, Ball raised money on http://www.pledgemusic.com , where fans could donate money and, in turn, receive some exclusive goodies such as a signed finished CDs, T-shirts, handwritten lyric sheets, or a VIP access to the preview party in L.A.
Last week, Ball played an intimate concert in the backyard of someone who donated $100, Ball said.
"It was very cool, and also very surreal," he said. "I’m very fortunate we have a lot of hard-core, long-term fans and that made it possible for us to pre-sell the album before we made it."
Even before Ball began working on his new CD, he was interested in pledgemusic.com.
"It was something that popped up during conversations with other musicians," he said. "I know some people prefer kickstarter.com, but I really like the guys who run pledgemusic.com. They are all musicians and really are super easygoing and on it in a great way. So, I figured I’d just do it with them."
Using these websites is an "obvious way forward" when making music, Ball said.
"As opposed from taking your money from a record company, you invite your fans to help you make a record," he said. "It’s been cool, because they know they are helping you and are able to get involved with the record."
When Ball performs in Park City, he’s only bringing himself and an acoustic guitar, so he doesn’t think he’ll be able to play any of the new songs.
"Those songs are like epic compositions," he said. "There are a couple I could play on acoustic guitar, but I haven’t really thought about how to play the new songs live.
"To tell you the truth, I’m a little scared about doing that," Ball said with a laugh. "I think I just need some wiz kids to help me out and then I could do it."
Throughout his music career, Ball has a stack of highlights that kept him focused on the future.
He enjoyed the time when Gomez first played the New Orleans Jazzfest in 2006.
"I think we were the only English band there and that was pretty awesome," he said. "When you’re invited to a heritage event like that, it’s really cool."
He fondly remembered opening for Pearl Jam during the Seattle band’s European tour in 2009.
"That was an unusual adventure in the realms of arena rock," Ball said. "I’ve enjoyed the tours we’ve done when we’ve had our friends supporting us. I like to get them out in front of some pretty decent crowds."
The Park City show will be another new highlight for Ball.
"I haven’t played the ASCAP Music Cafe before, but I did play something at Sundance a few years ago," he said. "I didn’t get to see much of the festival because I was on a tightly-scheduled tour at the time."
Ian Ball will perform at the Sundance Film Festival’s ASCAP Music Café, 751 Main St., today, Wednesday, Jan. 23, at 3:20 p.m. and on Thursday, Jan. 24, at 4 p.m. The event is free and open to Sundance Film Festival credential holders. To see the schedule, see story titled "The remaining schedule for the ASCAP Music Café." For more information, visit http://www.sundance.org/festival.