LOS ANGELES, May 7, 2014 — Old Man Markley is bluegrass music played by punks. The band took its name from the nickname of washboard player, Ryan Markley. Formed in Los Angeles in 2007, Old Man Markley released its first 7” on Fat Wreck Chords in 2010. On May 6, they released their fourth 7” via Fat called Stupid Today. OMM also has two full length records on Fat as well. Old Man Markley’s bass player, Joey “Balls” Garibaldi, took some time to speak with Wells On Music regarding the bands formations, touring, the new EP, and Dodger baseball.
Scroll below video to read the interview.
Kevin Wells: How did you get your nickname?
Joey “Balls” Garibaldi: At Punk Rock Bowling in 2002, I asked for my money back at a blackjack table. What happened was I actually put $100 down on the table to get change back. I was a little drunk and I put my money down and all my friends started to say, “Look at Joey with the $100 bill. Look at the balls on Joey. Joey Balls.” I guess I was caught up in the moment and I didn’t realize this dealer thought I was trying to bet $100. I realized I was playing a totally terrible hand and the dealer was showing a face card. I knew I was about to lose all my money and I didn’t mean to do it. So I asked the dealer guy if I could have my money back and they called the pit boss over. He says, “You can have your money back, but tell your friends never to call you Joey Balls again.” And it stuck. True story.
KW: How did Old Man Markley originally form?
JBG: The band started in 2007. We had a party for our washboard player, Ryan, for his birthday. We were all just drinking, screwing around, jamming on instruments, playing punk rock songs on acoustic guitars. My roommate at the time, Nick, had a banjo. I was playing piano. We all just started jamming and were like, “This is really fun.” That was in the summer of 2007. We had a couple more jams and they started to turn into band practices. At the very beginning of January 2008, we had our first show as Old Man Markley. It just started organically, just us jamming around, a bunch of people from different bands. It was 11 of us back then. It was a different kind of thing, but the same kind of idea and it was just born out of that. When we started we had already been friends, but since then, we’ve had some lineup changes.
KW: How did Fat Wreck Chords, traditionally a punk label, come to sign Old Man Markley?
JBG: Johnny, our lead singer, and I were playing in Youth Brigade, the old LA punk band with Mark and Shawn Stern. We opened a couple shows for NoFX. Johnny and I had been huge longtime Fat Wreck Chords fans and Fat Mike just asked us what else did we do. We’re like, “Oh, we got this weird bluegrass band. He said, “I’d like to hear that.” And he heard it and he liked our demos. They weren’t the best recording quality. Then we made our better record and he goes, “Ah!” We recorded an album with Joby Ford from The Bronx at Big Game Lodge Studios where The Bronx had just finished doing their Mariachi El Bronx thing. We had a nice recording of it and told Fat Mike he should check it out. He liked it. Boom! The rest is history.
KW: Can fans ever look forward to an Old Man Markley tour with Uke-Hunt supporting?
JBG: I would be way into that. I would be really into that. I hope so. I love Spike. I would do anything with that guy.
KW: You cover Reeko from NoFX on the new EP and a little bit of Perfect Government as well within the Reeko cover. What made you guys want to stuff one cover inside of another?
JBG: It was Johnny’s idea. When we are doing our covers, we kind of experiment a little bit with it. We worked through the demo and, I don’t know, Johnny thought it would be really cool to have some sort of voice over during the solo and he thought of it himself and did it himself. At first when he had the idea, he was even asking Mike before he even did it and Mike was like, “Eh, I don’t like the idea,” and then he did it and Mike was like, “Whoa, that’s really cool.” I thought the same thing too. I was like, “I don’t know, Johnny.” Then he does something and I think it’s really cool. Just like that, I guess, trial and error.
KW: Have you started working on the next full-length?
JBG: We’re always writing. There’s no set plan. I think that after this next little chunk of touring is done, we’ll hunker down and all get together and really try to write the record all together, I think. We’re all song writers in the band, but we kind of always go on our own. I’d like to all hunker down together in a big room for a month and not leave. Just put a bucket in the corner.
KW: Speaking of touring, was it hard at first to figure out how to tour happily with so many band members?
JBG: When we first started to branch out of town, we had 11 people. I forget specifically how many of us there were, but we tried different things at first. We would take three or four cars to gigs, then we started to borrow Johnny’s parents’ RV for the little out of town stuff we started to do. Once we got signed to Fat, we knew one thing Fat Wreck Chords bands do is tour a s**t ton. We decided to do what everybody advised us against doing, which was to get a shuttle type of bus and convert it to a touring type of vehicle and, yeah, I’m talking to you from a Ford dealership right now because it’s broken down again.
It was really tough at first to figure out just logistically-wise how you get X amount of people in one vehicle and travel all around the country and do it happily like you said, but that was our decision to make the shuttle bus. She works pretty well and she’s taken us around Canada twice and the United States a dozen times. She works hard and she needs a lot of TLC.
KW: Does she have a name?
JBG: We have many names for her. Sometimes she’s the Screeching Deasel. Fiona from Shrek. We call her Fiona sometimes. We have a big green bus and Shrek’s wife is kind of big and green.
KW: What are your favorite foods on tour?
JBG: That’s funny you say that because right now I am looking at John Rosen, our banjo player, and he is munching on veggie chips. The 355 brand from Whole Foods, every day value. We tend to go to a lot of markets on the road. We have a couple of vegans. I’m in my mid-30s and I can’t get into an enclosed vehicle and eat cheeseburgers and fart constantly. We’ve been trying to eat healthier these last couple years. We go to a lot of markets. If we go to people’s houses to stay, we’ll cook and make our own food, but I’d have to say my favorite road food would have to be cereal. We’re gonna go with cereal because we have almond milk on the bus and it’s my go-to. I know it’s there. It’s a comfort thing.
KW: Is there a city you look forward to because of its food?
JBG: We’re on our way to Austin and Austin’s got tons of really good food, tex-mex and green chili. Every place, I think, has their own little specific type of good food spots, you know? New York has everything. I don’t really f**k with the Philly cheesesteak stuff. I do like Primanti Brothers out there. We try to go to the little foodie spots. I had Voodoo Doughnuts in Portland and I think I’ll never do that again. That stuff is just pure sugar and poison.
I’m gonna give a special shout out. I like the burritos from Illegal Pete’s in Colorado in Denver. They make really good burritos and they treat musicians really well. They always go out of their way to hook up the starving musician. Or the moderately hungry musician, I don’t think you have to be starving. It’s a chain out there. Anybody who’s never been to Denver or if you ever go or if you’re in a band and have never heard of Illegal Pete’s, research Illegal Pete’s and find out what they can do for your touring hunger needs.
KW: You also have a side project with a piano. Can you talk about that a little bit?
JBG: I wouldn’t call it a side project. I’m a piano player. I started playing piano at six. The first band I played in was me and Johnny and another guy playing in church. Johnny on acoustic guitar, my buddy, Case, on acoustic guitar, and me on piano. I’ve always been a piano player. It’s always been my go-to instrument. On our last tour with Me First and the Gimme Gimmes, I sat down in front of a piano in Paris and just started playing punk songs and had everybody interested.
I had all the Me First and the Gimme Gimmes guys, like Joey Cape and Kent, their tour manager, just kind of hanging around the piano and going, “You should do this. This is good. You should do this more.” I was like, “What if you let me open for a few Me First and the Gimme Gimmes shows?” That gave me the confidence to be able to do this on the side.
When I think of side projects, I think of people writing their own music and trying to do something completely different from their band. To me, we tour so much I can’t keep a regular job off the road. So, I have just been starting to book myself piano gigs and doing mainly covers.
For Me First and the Gimme Gimmes, I opened up two shows and did all punk covers that had some sort of significance to the band members in Me First. I did a NoFX song for Fat Mike. I did a Lagwagon song for Joey and Dave. I did a No Use For A Name song for Scott Shifflet, even though his brother Chris played in No Use, so there was a slight affiliation there. I even threw in a Bad Religion cover because Jay Bentley was on tour with Me First in Europe. And then I played a show at the Fat Wreck Chords store and I did 30 Fat Wreck Chords songs from Fat Wreck Chords bands.
I did a couple of other gigs where I just grabbed some local musicians and we did covers songs reimagined though. Not even punk rock stuff. I played the Top Gun theme. It’s more, I would say, on the side. I do want to maybe try to write and turn it into a side project, but my piano punk thing is mainly just a good excuse to reimagine punk songs, like if Billy Joel was really into Rancid. That’s the best way I can explain it.
READ ALSO: Interview: Joey Cape from Lagwagon
KW: I have been told that you are a Dodger fan.
JBG: Oh yeah.
KW: Are you one of the lucky 30 percenters who have TimeWarner to watch games?
JBG: I am. I have to give a big shout out to my roommate, Todd Fenton. Thanks for paying the bills, brother.
KW: Have you been to any games this year?
JBG: I went to one. I went to Dodgers – Tigers on a Wednesday. I want to say April 8 or something like that. [It was] an extra innings game and I’ll even tell you that I was that f**king idiot who left right at the top of the ninth.
JBG: Because we were down and then we came back. We tied it, but we lost it in extra innings, but, umm, yeah.
KW: What is your favorite section of the stadium to sit during games?
JBG: I don’t go to too many games, as much as I used to. I used to have season tickets in the Infield Reserve level. It was third base side. I don’t really care. Any seat. I consider myself a freegan. There’s vegans in the band, but I’m more of a freegan. I usually get free Dodger tickets, so my favorite section is wherever the free seats land and I’m lovin’ it.
KW: What do you like to eat at the stadium?
JBG: I used to have a really bad Western Bacon Cheeseburger problem. It’s just disgusting. Why would you want to go to Carl’s Jr. at the game? You can get it anywhere, but that’s what I do. Now that I have been a little more selective of my eating, the only thing I ate at the last game was I got one of those little Dodger helmets with the soft serve swirl. I know they got some new spots out there. Tommy Lasorda has his new, out in the pavilion, they have this Italian restaurant. They’ve got a barbeque place with really good brisket, I’ve heard. Next time I go back there, if I can smoke enough doobs and work up a good enough appetite, I may have a brisket sandwich. You never know.
KW: You’re killing me. No Dodger Dogs?
JBG: No Dodger Dog. And it’s not for any other reason than I’ve had to give up hot dogs. I’ve had a late night hot dog problem too. I’m a recovering hotdogaholic. If that’s any consolation to the cause. I have nothing against Dodger Dogs and/or anything else that Vin Scully endorses.
KW: Did you have a favorite player growing up?
JBG: Growing up, I’m gonna kill you, um, growing up I wasn’t much of a Dodger fan. I didn’t have anybody in my immediate family or area that was really into sports, per say, at all. I became a baseball fan working at a baseball card shop when I was 14. So, growing up, my very first celebrity baseball player was Jose Canseco. I didn’t really watch him, I just had his baseball cards. I thought it was cool he had 42 homeruns and 40 stolen bases in ’88 or ’89. I think it was ’88.
KW: Yeah, it was ’88.
JBG: Yeah, ’88, the year they played the Dodgers. I’m gonna look like a total douchebag here, but I don’t care. All of my mom’s family was from the Bay Area. My aunt got me the Dave Stewart autograph and I was also into the old school. I was a really big Willie Mays fan too. I had a Willie Mays children’s book just talking about how he was bad ass. I was into those guys and I became more of a Dodger fan in my later teens, early 20s. I moved out of my house and started hanging out with my buddies who actually watched baseball and I was like, “Whoa, these guys are rad.” Ever since 2000, I’ve paid pretty close attention to every, I don’t know about every game, but a lot of ‘em. We won a double header yesterday.
KW: Yep, and swept the Twins.
JBG: Yeah, that’s not the greatest feat we’ve ever done, but I’ll take it.
KW: I’ll take it, but we’re still making a ton of errors.
JBG: I know! A ton of errors!
KW: It’s crazy.
JBG: Three errors yesterday alone.
KW: It’s almost like if they don’t get three, it’s a good day. Two errors? Hey, we actually did pretty well today.
JBG: The hitting’s fine and the starting pitching is fine. It’s the bullpen and I think it’s the errors.
JBG: I’ll definitely give a shout out to Dee Gordon. He’s looking real sound out there.
KW: Yeah, finally. He should take his dad’s nickname, Flash.
JBG: Yeah! Go for it!
Old Man Markley’s most recent 7”, Stupid Today, was released on May 6 through Fat Wreck Chords. Their 2013 full-length, Down Side Up, is also available on Fat Wreck Chords.
Kevin J. Wells is the Sports Editor for Communities Digital News. He also writes about Major League Baseball, punk rock music and food. Kevin plays guitar in the Los Angeles punk band Emmer Effer. Follow him on Twitter @WellsOnBaseball