The Bill Ball: An Interview w/ Eric Bill — October 9th @ Swan Dive
With all the buzz about Austin music dying and what not, I think it’s interesting to note that there have been a ton of like-minded individuals coming out to create their own curated shows. We did ATX Popfest, Raw Paw had the Alien Zine, Vegas has Good Vibrations and now there’s the Bill Ball at Swan Dive on October 9th. These things have always been around, but they seem to be gaining prominence as people try to create a sense of community here in town. I caught up with Eric Bill of the band Big Bill to grab some of his thoughts on the First Annual Bill Ball…and his band too. Read on for the answers and a video for the Bill Ball!
ATH: What’s the story behind the Bill Ball? Is this something you’ve been planning for awhile, or did it just sort of pop into place?
EB: OVRLD asked if we’d be interested in doing some kind of “prom” show, and we were all about it. They may have even used the phrase “Bill Ball.” At first we thought like two, maybe three bands. Then they said seven or eight. We ended up booking fourteen bands. It was hard to stop.
ATH: Do you plan on making this an annual thing? Or just a one off?
EB: We want to do it again next year. Probably the year after that, too.
ATH: Along those same lines…people keep talking about Austin music “dying,” yet this is the third rad show of this sort (Alien Zine, ATX Popfest) that’s gone on in the last few months. So what say you? Does the “scene” have a chance of survival?
EB: Well, it’s certainly a music hub. There will probably always be multiple decent options every night in Austin. This city might be too big for there to be anything you could call the “Austin Music Scene,” but there are plenty of micro-scenes.
ATH: Seems like a lot of the bands on the Bill Ball bill are some of the more unique acts in Austin. How’d you guys go about setting up the bill?
EB: All of the acts on this bill share something special that’s hard to describe. They make you forget that you’re watching a band on a stage. We just thought about all of our favorite bands that had personality, and maybe a taste for the absurd like we do. A lot of the bands we have great histories with, like Slugbug (AKA Paul Millar, who produced our second EP) and Party Plants, who we played a lot of our first shows with. Others are fairly new to us, like Teenage Cavegirl and CAPYAC, both of whom we are seriously super psyched about. But all of the acts at Bill Ball have what we like in a band, which is some indelible beautiful thing that makes you smile really big and dance awkwardly.
ATH: What’s the one band on the show that people might not be aware of just yet that people need to take catch live?
EB: It’s really hard to pick just one. Sailor Poon is like this amazing gang. They don’t shy away from sex, politics, or humor, and neither does Popper Burns, a self-described “queer-core” punk band that totally reminds me of classic Austin hardcore bands like Big Boys and Dicks. Slugbug and Pataphysics are underrated legends—both frontmen play in cult weirdo icon Gary Wilson’s touring band the Blind Dates. Oh, and Daniel Francis Doyle is playing his first set with The Dreams since April.
ATH: The Ball takes place during one of crazier times of the year, smack dab in the middle of all the ACL Fest madness. Is this going to be a challenge to get people out? Or, do you think it might pay off to your advantage having more people about town interested in local music?
EB: I think our crowd is maybe people who would prefer something a little weirder, a little more DIY, a little more curated than a big festival. I read that 36% of acts performing at ACL Fest will feature at least one woman, which is actually higher than most big festivals. At Bill Ball, that number is 64%. We just picked the acts that we feel are truly making the best and most interesting music in the city, period, and it turned out that way. We’re ending our show with the amazing (and amazingly named) all-female Devo cover band We Are Not Men. We’re encouraging people to dress up in, like, “prom” outfits. I expect to see a lot of old dresses and ugly tuxedos.
ATH: How can we convince people to come out to Swan Dive and catch the whole show? What do we need to do for promotion for you?
EB: I think people should watch the video we made with our good friend Tim Bond to promote it. We created opening credits for a fake sitcom called “It’s a Zit.” If you like that video, you really are the type of person we want to attend our party. And seriously: we very much encourage people to dress up like it’s a real prom. Whatever that means to you.
ATH: Does Big Bill have anything special planned for the event? You’ve got to have something up your sleeves?
EB: We might have a few secrets.
ATH: Along those same lines…what’s next for Big Bill? What do you guys have planned for the upcoming months as a band?
EB: We might be working on a rock opera.
ATH: You’ve got one word left in this interview to convince people to come out to Bill Ball. What’s that one word?
Check out the promotional video for the Bill Ball: