BHB - Ballas Hough Band
"We wrote the majority of our album ourselves. It's not like we looked through a catalog and picked out some songs." To that end, the Ballas Hough Band's debut puts a deeply personal spin on pop, with songs like "Fall" and "Devastated," which recount worldly lives that left a trail of broken hearts. "When we first started playing our music for the label, our A&R guy was, like, 'Man, what's wrong with you guys? We need more positivity!' All our songs were negative and hurtful, because Mark and I have been in a lot of relationships that have really hurt us. We were just going off life experience. He was probably thinking we're not old enough to know, but we do. We get music from hurt, so we had a lot to work with."
To channel those emotions in the studio, they turned to in demand producer John Fields (Jimmy Eat World, Jonas Bros., Andrew W.K.), who, not unexpectedly, didn't have high hopes for an album by a couple of dancers. "When we first went in to work with him, you could tell he was pretty skeptical," says Derek, who was a big fan of Fields' work with Switchfoot. "He'd only agreed to do one song, but once we started laying down tracks, he saw that we could write and play and we had this great chemistry. We ended up doing nine songs with him." Adds Mark: "Once he jumped on board, it was like a freight train. He has amazing vision and we were on the same wavelength 100 percent of the time. Everything turned out exactly like I hoped it would." On the Maroon 5-flavored "Devastated" and "She Was The One," Ballas Hough Band worked with Eric Valentine, who produced the latest album by All American Rejects. "Where John is, like, boom, boom, boom, Eric is more about cool and controlled mayhem," says Derek. "He doesn't wear shoes, he's very soft-spoken, and he looks at music as a science."
Of the songs that aren't BHB originals, the first single, "Do It For You," was co-written by new American Idol judge Kara Dioguardi and makes for the perfect introduction to the band's pop sensibilities. "It's really catchy, like one of those songs you walk away singing that gets stuck in your head," says Mark, "It's rhythmic, hooky and huge." But he's perhaps most proud of the song "Longing For," the final song he wrote for the album. It features Mark's intricate guitar-work, Emily's wistful harmonies, tug-at-your-heartstrings melodies and lyrics that read like the love letter ever girl pines for: I remember the first time that you and I met / And the look in your eye was something I could never forget / When you're with me baby you never need to pretend / Tell me what do you need / I want to be the reason you breathe.
"We've been working extremely hard, putting in 14-hour days, playing two shows a night," Derek confesses. "But we do it because it's what we love. And hopefully, this album will speak to an audience who will look at us as singers, writers, and players. We want to be known for our music."
1. Do You Love Me
4. She Was The One
5. Longing For
8. Do It For You
9. Break Through
10. Together Faraway