The New York punk band talk to Topman about pizza, their wildest shows and why their hometown is a Petri dish of culture

Words By Jamie Carson

Forget what the meaning of life is, the real pickle these days is ‘what is punk?’ Is it power chords? Is it drinking super strength lager out of a Doc Marten? Or is it something much more profound? So many bands in the 21st century have blurred the lines of what punk can be defined as. Towers of London were the biggest head f**k. They had the sound, the awful attitude and leather jackets, but their core was rotten. Miley Cyrus’s twerking has more authenticity.

New York’s Cerebral Ballzy impressed with their debut jam packed full of anger, pizza, drinking and not going to school. They seemed to embody something completely honest and genuine - just a group of kids having fun. But is that really enough to be remembered these days as a proper punk band? When you get into your late thirties and are still singing about how you met a girl at a rock show it's...Well, it’s just sad (still love you though, Blink).

Topman caught up with the guys ahead of their stint at London’s Old Blue Last to talk modern punk, their wildest shows, and their new record.

Topman Generation: How do you feel about modern punk?
Honor: I think there’s a lot of frivolous garbage out there. That goes without saying. But in the age we live in, it’s a double edged sword, you can find something amazing if you really look for it. But a lot of kids don’t seek out anything. There’s a lot of amazing bands out there, like the Spits.
Mason: Punk is an interesting genre, you play punk and it’s categorised as punk, it didn’t really have an experimental stage. It didn’t really go off on tangents like other music. I feel like we’re trying to build on that, progress punk.
Honor: We do everything in a way people don’t really know how to categorise. People group us as a hardcore punk band. People don’t know how to categorise us, but punk is an anti-category entity. There’s no need for categories, it opposes the purpose. Punk is doing what you want.

TG: Has New York been a massive influence on you?
Honor: New York is a Petri dish of culture. A lot of rad stuff is coming out. It has nothing to do with New York, but then it has everything to do with New York. A band we listen to every single day is the Velvet Underground. New York has bred the most amazing bands in music history.

TG: Although not audibly punk, Lou Reed is probably the most punk guy alive.
Melvin: Yeah, people take other bands that have nothing to do with that stuff and they just call it punk.
Honor: Lou married a tranny in ’79, he was ahead of his time. People don’t really get us, and in some respects I think we’re ahead of our time. But I don’t want to say we’ll be like some seminal band like Black Flag in 20 years.

TG: How does your new record compare to your debut?
Honor: We just knew what we did when we were 19 years old - living off pizza and drinking. We wrote that album traveling and messing around, getting to know each other. We’ve grown up, seen a lot of the world, and now we’ve got a lot more to say, we’ve got a lot better at our instruments. People that have heard the album have been like (does head explosion sound)... This is the last thing they were expecting. That makes us blush, because, in our mind, that’s what punk is. Doing what we wanted to do and not adhering to expectations.

TG: So what does it sound like?
Honor: Way more melodic. A lot of it is rooted in our favourite power pop bands like the Nerds and Blondie. Melodic punk that really holds something. Still aggressive too. Kids that attach themselves to ‘Skipping Class’ and ‘On The Run’, there’s a melody there, every time we play it the kids are down.

TG: Is pizza and drinking still a big part of it all?
Honor: That stuff is like a tattoo - it ain’t ever leaving. But we’re not gonna play dumb and sing about 18 year-old stuff for the rest of our lives, we’re going to move on. There are a lot of girls on this next album, there’s a lot of frustration, a lot of failures, a lot of winning. We were so young when we made the first album we were devoid of emotion - that’s not the case anymore.

TG: What’s been your wildest show?
Melvin: It was at this old warehouse in Brooklyn. It’s not there anymore...
Honor: We played with a band called the Black Lips and 2000 kids packed into this abandoned warehouse and a fire broke out. Another one we played in Brooklyn, I was on acid, I think Mason was too. A gang of motorcycle dudes pulled up because they heard our music, and there was a girl getting eaten out on stage.