Ken Delaney and Joe Sweet of NINEBALL discuss reconnection; upcomming release
Posted by Christine Palmer
In the early to mid nineties, grunge and alternative metal ruled the airwaves! In upstate New York, there were definitely some bands that were catching the attention of the recording industry. The movement was on! Utica was the home of Nine Ball! They were one of the bands that you went to see, and envisioned playing to a much larger national audience. The band was aggressive, progressive, and lyrically and vocally so far beyond their peers, that I still have a tough time not believing that they were not on the national stage. Towards the end of the nineties, the band called it quits and left a bevy of fans upset and hungering for more. Well, close to fifteen years later, they will get their wish! After playing the clubs for the past year, Nine Ball released their new CD in June! And, quite simply, it is a monster of energy! I was able to catch up with Ken Delaney and Joe Sweet recently to get the scoop on all things Nine Ball!
Erik: How did Nine Ball come together as a group in the early 90’s?
Ken: Nine Ball was the vision of Joe, and Scott. They had put together the original version of what we call 9 Ball in the early 90’s. They played alot of shows in the area, and picked up a large following at the time. Joe, and Scott decided that they wanted the band to go in a different direction musically, and parted ways with their guitar player, and drummer at the time. Joe had his mind set on one guitar player Jay Wiley to fill the spot, and Scott had suggested that Joe get in touch with me to fill the drummer position. We clicked instantly, and began writing song after song.
Erik: When a band is gaining the momentum you were as a group in the 90’s, what made you call it quits back in the day?
Joe: Back in the 90’s there was a lot going on. I’d have to say it was a combination of a few things. For starters, we were very young and still learning who we are and who we wanted to be. Some of us moved on to have families and explore that side of life. It was very difficult to do both at the time. And for me, my outlook on life was changing. I felt like a lot of the questions I was asking were being answered and my music was becoming less aggressive. Plus back then, there was still smoking in all the clubs. That made it very hard on my throat night after night. I thought there was no way it could last if I keep going that route. Performing is a big part of my life and I have to stay healthy in order to do it full time.
Erik: I know that you guys were looking to do different things after the break up of Nine Ball? How did your other projects come about after Nine Ball’s split?
Ken: I think it was a combination of many different things. Some of us went on to other projects, and some of us decided to take a break from music all together. Joe decided to pursue a different style of music, and started a great project called Jomamma and the Funkdaddys. I went back to my metal roots, and hooked up with two great musicians to form a band called Duck Duck Goose.
Erik: What made you guys re-connect and decide to put this band back together?
Ken: It all started with a text message between Me, and Joe in October 2009. We were getting alot of requests, and motivation from friends posting stuff on Facebook about how they would like to see a Nineball reunion. During our text conversation we agreed it would be fun to give it a shot, and see if we could spark some interest. I figured it would be worth a shot to reach out to Scott, Nineball”s original bass player, with a text and see if he would be interested in getting Nineball back together. He responded with a Hell Yeah within seconds. So with three past members of Nineball set to go, the big question was who would we find to play guitar? Both of Nineball”s guitar players from the past were in other states, and doing other things with life. We tried out a couple of local guitar players that did not fit what we were looking for. In December 2009 Joe suggested that he would reach out to one of the area’s most talented guitar players (Dallas Sheppard) and see if he would be interested.. Dallas said he would join the group for the reunion show that we had scheduled at The Electric Company on Febuary 12th. 2010 and within 2 weeks Nineball was rehearsing for the show..
Erik: For me, you guys were an important part of my music seeking youth? I remember my first show was the NORML benefit at Atlantis back in 93 or 94. Did you guys catch any grief from fans and friends to re-unite during the long time apart?
Ken: During the 15+ years that we were apart, I know that I was confronted by many old fans, and friends of the band, and I would say that it stands true for all of us. We had a really loyal fan base back in the 90’s that never wanted Nineball to part ways when we did. It seemed like every time I ran into someone they would always say Nineball should get back together.
Erik: Obviously, there is a new member that joined the fold. Could you tell me a little about him?
Ken: Our guitar player Dallas is the only one in the band that is not a former member of Nineball. Dallas is one of the area’s most respected guitar player’s. When he joined Nineball, he was in three other bands ( Band Whore) as we call him. He is without a doubt the best choice we could have made to fill the spot. He has added so much to our sound with his techniques, style, and sound.
Erik: Your new CD is due for release in June, can you tell me about the process of putting this album together?
Ken: We all decided it was time to record our first album in August 2010. We set a goal of getting in the studio the beginning of 2011. We decided that we would record some old material, along with the new to give this album some history of Nineball. Next was deciding on where we wanted to record the album, and It was a clear cut choice to all of us that we wanted to do this album with Jocko at Moresound studios in Syracuse. Jocko had reached out to us, previously and said he was really interested in working with us on this project. We scheduled 4 days in February, and decided that we also wanted Jocko to produce the album. The album was completed in five full studio days, and we worked our asses off to get it done in 5 days. Drum tracks were done in 9 hrs. Bass in 1 and a half days, and guitar, and vocals covered the rest. If anyone knows Jocko, they know how amazing he is at his craft. If you don’t know! You need to! We could not be happier with the finished product. We decided to have Brendon Flynn ( Jocko’s Roommate) do the artwork for the cover after looking at his artwork in the studio.
Erik: This CD is a very cohesive piece of music that soars musically, vocally, and lyrically. Some of it seems quite personal, and even autobiographical in many senses. Can you tell me about the origin of the song’s themes!
Joe: The older material mostly comes from a part of me that was questioning things. As young adults I think it’s very important that we question things. I’ve questioned everything from Religion to Government just to make sure that I feel that I’m doing the right thing, and that I can make decisions that I can live with for the rest of my life. That’s how we get the answers that we are looking for. For example in the song “Enterprise” I was really searching for enlightenment. I knew in my heart that there was something there but just didn’t know what yet. So I questioned…because I wanted to know more. It was a burning desire I had as a youngster. The newer material like “Martyr, Soldier Boy and Stand Up” comes from a different perspective. It still has that edge with a touch of anger, but ultimately I’m more confident in my beliefs. Not as much questioning and more reasoning. For example “Soldier Boy” reflects my feelings about our troops still being at war while our government has claimed victory. There has been no victory if we are still at war. Like the war on terror or the war on drugs. We still have hundreds of thousands of our brothers and sisters still over seas when they where promised they would come home. We seem to shift the war from one country to the next. They never really come home. My heart goes out to them and I pray for their safe return.
Erik: What can we expect from Nine Ball this year?
Ken: We are already set to start writing material for our next album, and plan on hitting the studio early next year. We are booking alot of shows throughout central NY to support our CD.
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