Cerebral Ballzy in the studio at Sonic Ranch, Tornillo, Texas
“I think our first album has shredding, ripping tunes, but the second album,” says Cerebral Ballzy leader Honor Titus, “has tunes that are just plain big. This album is a lot about girls, a lot about finding your place in [New York City].”
Sometime in June, Cerebral Ballzy will unleash their sophomore full-length, Jaded & Faded, a 13-track effort due to arrive on Julian Casablancas’ Cult Records. Roughly two years in the making, the forthcoming follow-up to the Brooklyn punks’ 2011 debut is both darker and more melodic than its predecessor.
“There is definitely a cataclysmic undertone,” Titus says of the long-gestating LP, which, as of late March, was in the final stages of mixing. “It’s a bit about pushing away a lot and being fucked up a lot.”
Cerebral Ballzy’s first, self-titled record landed like a steel-toe to the skull, with nods to hardcore greats Black Flag and Bad Brains, and New York-specific lyrical references. When Titus (who describes himself as having a “New York neurotic transient mind”) wasn’t celebrating drug use, vomiting, or skateboarding on record, he was railing against subway fares.
“The first [album] was such a monumental punk rock smash,” the singer says. “But we really wanted to take our time with the second — not let our fans down, but also not write the same thing twice.”
As such, Cerebral Ballzy have widened their range of influences by keeping albums by power-pop heroes the Nerves and the Exploding Hearts in steady rotation as they assembled their latest outing. The five-piece also opted for a change of scenery to record Jaded & Faded, leaving behind the chaos of the five boroughs for southern Texas, where they worked at the Sonic Ranch with Dave Sitek of TV on the Radio.
“It was comforting being in a rural, walnut farm in the middle of Texas,” Titus says. “Sitek is really good at presenting other ways to look at things and just changing your perspective, adding new things to the mix.”
So far, Ballzy have shared four tracks from Jaded & Faded: “City’s Girl,” “Another Day,” “Better in Leather,” and “Speed Wobbles.” And judging from, say, the burning love song “Better in Leather,” which features the sneering chorus “As a matter of chance / We’re in a better than leather romance,” it’s clear that the troublemakers have moved on from spraying puke and hopping subway turnstiles.
“People didn’t really envision Ballzy to be writing big tunes,” Titus says. “I think we will definitely prove to people that we can.”