Seattle has a thriving music scene, and Ball of Wax Audio Quarterly really helps showcase the true indie bands – both local and global – in music today. Levi Fuller, founder of Ball of Wax, puts it best: “The hope was that this series of compilation CDs and the release events associated with each would be a way to build community among musicians, whether local to Seattle and the Pacific Northwest or from across the United States and the world, while hopefully bringing their music to an audience that might not otherwise have stumbled upon it.”
Fuller’s involvement with Ball of Wax is enormous. He founded it back in 2005, curates the music, books the release shows, masters the CDs, gets the CDs printed, and of course prints the cover art. While being humble Fuller boasts, “…so pretty much everything as far as the compilation goes, except of course for making all the wonderful music.” Although you will be able to catch Fuller making some of the music, as he will be one of the artists performing at the Sunset Tavern on May 11th. Ball of Wax as a website has grown over the past year and it shows, with Fuller bringing on about 6 more contributors to help make it more of a blog-like site. There are now more posts about shows, reviews, and videos, covering more music for the reader’s enjoyment.
Ball of Wax has really brought that community feel back to music. I asked Fuller how Ball of Wax has helped expand and nurture his relationships with local and regional artists, and he responded “It’s been huge. I really feel like I’m part of this local/regional/national/global network, and to be able to feel connected in that way (and hopefully to help those artists feel connected to each other) is invaluable these days.” Ball of Wax has helped a lot of smaller not-as-well-known bands get their music out to the general public and gain quite a loyal fan base, so I asked Fuller if he had any advice for local bands that are just starting out, “Honestly, I don’t think I’m anyone to be giving advice to bands. I think the only thing I could say is know why you’re doing what you’re doing, and be true to that. If you’re making music because you love it and it brings you joy in and of itself, I think that is the best way to be satisfied and not get burnt out. If you desperately want to become the next big thing (or a next big thing) and/or make a living playing music, that’s certainly not impossible, but it requires a very different mindset, and usually a lot of compromises. Or so I’ve heard.”
While Ball of Wax 24 is not a themed compilation, Fuller did mention that there have been themed volumes before and there will be more in the near future. The first themed CD was Volume 4, with 16 artists covering one another; Volume 7 was the first and only (so far) DVD; Volume 8 was entirely non-lyrical tracks; Volume 11 was when a variety of artists broke into 11 separate bands and each made a song in one day; Volume 13 was chock full of swear words in honor of George Carlin; and Volume 18 was the much-loved One Minute Singles, with 45 different minute-long tracks. The next themed CD will be Volume 25 and will be titled Songs About Books, which was in part made possible by a grant Fuller received from the City of Seattle Office of Arts and Cultural Affairs. In mid-August Ball of Wax will be holding a Songs About Books show at the Fremont Abbey that will feature Levi Fuller, Joshua Morrison, The Pica Beats, Led to Sea, and Bright Archer (Johanna Kunin).
When asked if he could throw a Ball of Wax Veterans’ Party show and who would perform, Fuller mentioned that all of the artists performing at the Sunset on May 11th were on the first few volumes Ball of Wax, and all were on Volume 4. So not only will you get a fantastic show, but it will be quite the special event. Ball of Wax will also have a showcase at the Indie Roots stage on Sunday from 12:30-4pm at this year’s Northwest Folklife festival, which is happening Memorial Day weekend. Artists featured will include Levi Fuller, Pickwick, Joshua Morrison, Shenandoah Davis, and Sunday Evening Whiskey Club, all of whom have participated on previous Ball of Wax compilations. Fuller mentioned that Northwest Folklife is his favorite music festival, based on the variety of local and international artists, the non-inflated festival food and beverage prices, and the fact that it is free to attend (but donations on the way in are great karma for you.)
I asked Fuller if he could make a Ball of Wax super-group that was made up of artists that have been featured in recent or previous volumes, who would be in the group and what instruments would they play, and his response was: “I think for starters I would go with Casey Alexander and Rick Wright (both of Wesafari and various other things) on bass and drums. I’ve played with them both in various forms, and they’re just fantastic multi-instrumentalists and songwriters. Alex Guy (Led to Sea) on viola would be great. Ainara LeGardon, a brilliant songwriter and guitar player from Spain whom I have yet to meet, would be a great addition.” His other super-group would be compiled of “Johnny and Ola from Cock and Swan/Dandelion Gold, with Kelly Minnis (Great Unwashed Luminaries) on drums and synths and Brad Dunn on guitar/vocals. That’s not entirely fair, since Brad Dunn & Dandelion Gold is already a band, but they’re great and I’d love to hear what they could do with Kelly.”
On the bill for the May 11th show at the Sunset Tavern will be Levi Fuller, Casey Alexander (formerly Troubleshooting), Robert Deeble, Amateur Radio Operator, and Sun Tunnels (formerly The Graze.) All artists are fantastic and the show will truly have something for everyone. This is also true of Volume 24, which you get a free copy of if you attend the release show. It is filled with 21 tracks that vary from chill indie folk music like Galapaghost to indie rock (City Light) to hard rock (TheM all).
Ball of Wax is constantly looking for new artists to feature on future volumes; please contact them via their website by clicking here.