Greg Ball is an upcoming singer-songwriter from Kingston (currently on tour with Paul Langlois and Pete Murray). Just before their Ottawa gig, I got in touch with Greg to hear about what makes him tick. He’s an interesting fellow, who’s worked as a bartender and spent a lifetime watching people around him. He’s a storyteller, and songwriter from the Lightfoot school. And I am really digging his new (second) album, Mr. Rightplace.
I’m just loving the new record, Mr. Rightplace. You recorded this one pretty quickly (in comparison to your first record), what changed to speed things up?
Well, having the band sure did help! Rob Radford on drums, Joe Carscallen on guitar and Paul Muller on bass. We flew through the songs and we really went in to the studio rehearsed. Thank you for saying you’re loving the record!
You’ve spent some time tending bar. I can’t help but think of bartenders as psychologists…how did the experience working in that job that influence your music?
I’m a real watcher of people. There is one song, “my forté” that is based on a guy whose girlfriend was in the bar with her new man, and the guy was losing it. Looking down at them, trying to be noticed, trying to make a scene. I watched it from the safety of being behind the bar and went home and wrote that tune the next day from the point of view of the jealous guy.
Who else has influenced you as a songwriter?
Wilco and Neil Young for sure. The Hip and Sloan have always been in heavy rotation in my life.
You’re on tour with Paul and Pete, how did the three of you come together? What are you looking forward to with the gigs?
Paul produced my last record, he had decided he was doing another record and was going to tour it. He asked me and my band to go out on the road and we jumped on the opportunity. Pete was buddies with Paul’s bass player Jeff Montgomery and decided to make the trip from Down Under. Pete is a good dude, and a great fit for this tour.
How did you connect with Paul? He signed you to his label pretty quickly, from the sounds of things.
Well, to be honest, I asked Paul when my first record was done to give it a listen as I had heard he had the record label. He gave Excessive Until August a listen and said it sounded like a Ching music release to him. Made me pretty happy.
You cover a lot of ground lyrically. What drives you to write songs, and are there any personal topics you won’t get into?
The songs I write are all sorta personal, at least on some level. I guess I wouldn’t write anything that would hurt anybody I care about.
As an emerging artist, what’s the greatest challenge to getting your music heard?
That’s the challenge! That’s why it’s great to be out here, great opportunity for me and the guys in the band to get into people’s ears!
Check him out at http://www.gregball.ca/
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