Dizzy Balloon and The Art of Having Fun
“Raise a glass, hold it high and make it last, here’s a toast to all of the boys and the girls!” sings Petros of Dizzy Balloon. Then, in the background we hear the playful piano, the rhythmic drums, the lead guitar and the base all blend together by five guys dressed in their casual jeans and a shirt or a t-shirt, without much jumping or rolling on the stage, without standing nailed in front of their mikes either, just sort of being there and going ahead with their music.
Those who have ever heard about the band named Dizzy Balloon, probably have done so only because they have seen them play somewhere, or know a friend who has.
Are we talking about one of the numerous, in this case in the Bay Area new indie-rock-pop-punk-whatever–you-can-play–in-your-garage local bands?
Dizzy Balloon is the band that won last year’s Live 105’s (KITS 105.3 FM) battle of the bands contest and this way secured themselves the opening slot at Not So Silent Night concert at the Oakland Arena (Oakland, CA), which featured The Killers, Death Cab For Cutie, Bloc Party, Franz Ferdinand and Jack’s Mannequin.
This past summer, Dizzy Balloon played Live 105’s annual summer BFD concert at the Shoreline Amphitheater, which featured headliners such as, The Offspring, 311, The Yeah Yeah Yeahs and more.
The most recent event you may know about was that they played The Matches’ (Epitaph) last show at the Fillmore.
Still, Dizzy Balloon is not yet a very popular band. It is also too early to say that they are the next big thing. However, if you have seen them, you KNOW and TELL: to summarize all the YouTube, anonymous responses- “They are fantastic! “, “Pretty awesome” ,“All of their songs are sick”
“ A phenomenal live act” (Noisepop.com) with “Infectious pop sensibility” (SF Weekly).
So this is the interesting moment I am trying to document at this point.
It’s not a bet. It is rather a documentation of the joy in witnessing someone starting, taking off, enjoying themselves before the burdens of success or, respectfully – failure.
Plus, the guys are cool. They ‘re fun.
Dizzy Balloon are most definitely not agents of some rock revolution, nor skilled students of any of the “indie” trends. They are not angry; they are not punk, or any hard-core of that matter.
I suspect that one of the reasons why they started getting some extra attention is due to how little they seem to care which format will eventually claim them.
It seems like they are stylistically faithful to mostly having fun.
Not the pop music kind of dumb fun, after all they are a rock band, but rather it feels as they have started a cool party of their own with some good friends somewhere out there, and you are welcome to stop by, if you wish.
And that’s the attractive part about the 19 year olds Joey, Jonny, Louie, Petros and Raffi.
The beginning of the story is common:
They met by going to the same schools, Piedmont Middle School and Piedmont High School in Piedmont, CA (inside of Oakland, CA) and playing in the same and different bands since 6th, eventually forming the current lineup in 9th grade (2003-2004).
After I interviewed them I also found out that, they were originally named Panda when they started gigging and releasing music on iTunes and online, just to find themselves later threatened by legal actions by a Mexican band also named Panda, which is huge in Mexico, so before they released their full length CD and any music online they had to change their name.
“First we wanted, Balloon”, says Louie, “then Dizzy, but both were taken, so we settled on Dizzy Balloon, which is ours, yes! “
The guys are more than just musicians and this is how Louie describes his band mates:
“Raffi builds guitars, he built his own bass and works at a very high-end boutique acoustic guitar shop in Oakland that sells about 1-2 guitars a month at $15-30,000 each! Clientele includes John Denver, Carlos Santana and random multi-millionaires that have money to splurge. Raffi also writes some jams that will blow your mind, everything from Shins influenced folk pop to weird/funky Talking Heads style rock”.
“Joey is a very talented salsa dancer and occasionally brings a girl on stage during a song to salsa dance with him mid-set; it’s hilarious and awesome. He also has a huge altruistic streak in him, in that he loves giving back to communities and the world (he went to Africa for a month for charitable purposes and most recently Belize in Central America). Joey also writes jams himself, in the style of Maroon 5 mixed with Stevie Wonder and some Gospel (Joey loves Gospel)”.
“Jonny is a very talented filmmaker/editor, he puts together most of our Dizzy Balloon videos, and I am consistently shocked and very impressed with how awesome they all turn out. I also beat his a** in tennis – Louie laughs — when he gets the courage to play with me, which is not too often. Jonny also writes jams, I think they’re amazing, everything from Radiohead stuff to Beach Boys to Beatles to weird techno/electro pop”.
“Petros is not only a bada** skate boarder (he can olley so high!), but he can free-style rap like no other. Being in the music industry, says Louie, we have our fair share of encounters where everyone’s feeling good, spitting rhymes, having a good time, etc. A lot of guys (even some rappers we know personally) don’t have anything on Petros’s free style abilities. When he’s comfortable and feeling good, ask him to spit something, he’s a natural”.
Louie calls himself a “pretty fat nerd for current events and the NY Times”. He can serve a pretty mean tennis ball, got some chops on the piano and love writing fat, huge, over-produced hip-hop/electro beats.
“My melodic sense is unfortunately not as good as anyone else’s in the band, so I cajole them every now and then into singing on a track, however usually they insist on me doing it myself, so they can laugh at how nasty my tone is” — he finishes with a big smile.
The most exciting event for them as a band?
“Winning Live 105’s battle of the bands contest, which put us at this past year’s Not So Silent Night concert at the Oakland Arena in Oakland, CA was the most exciting thing that happened to us so far. To be able to play that big of stage in front of that many people with those huge bands was an unforgettable experience I want to relive again sometime soon hopefully! It also really helped us get our feet off the ground even more so and was rewarding after all the hard work we put into the competition getting our fans to vote for us and come out to the show.
Another more recent event was playing The Matches’ (RIP) last show at the Fillmore (San Francisco). That experience was phenomenal beyond belief; the venue is sooo legendary and to be able to play a show there in front of a sold out audience was one of those once in a lifetime experiences I will cherish for the rest of my life and makes me feel so gratified to be playing in this group.”
The band’s own favorite song?
“Young Love”- because of its lyrical ambiguity (it actually is not about a literal young/early relationship, although most people think it is), production, orchestration, outro and context within our CD (it is last song on the CD for a reason yo!)”
Dizzy Balloon in fact have such a thick performance schedule, that you can really go check them out without a problem: October 24 @ The Catalyst Atrium in Santa Cruz, CA, November 28 at the Rickshaw Stop in SF – to name a few; new songs and hopefully an EP or CD Release by mid-January of 2010.
Sure, you can first go ahead and Google them, YouTube them, … You can play “Raise a glass” (or “Chinatown”) about 100 times (it’s that catchy!) before you go to one of their on stage events, but trust me – now is the time to do it, when we can secure for ourselves the special place of those fans who can say one day that “Oh, yea, we knew them from back when…”
So go see them.
As Louie the drummer told me “Come by to a show and say hi.”