Vinyl Record: The Balkans, Violent Girls
Equally inspired by ’60s surf, the Beatles and Radiohead, the Balkans churn out fast, trebly rock that teems with elated melodies and ruminating vocals. Chemistry binds the lineup of Stanley Vergilis (drums), Brett Miller (guitar), Woody Shortridge (bass/guitar) and Frankie Broyles (guitar/vocals). But don’t let their shy demeanor and baby faces fool you. The rambunctious lot of mop-topped youngsters has an endearingly juvenile quality that feeds the energy behind the music, and makes the group more than a handful.
— Chad Radford
We got into surf music when people started telling us we sounded like a surf band. We never listened to it until after we started playing together. I had been playing with Frankie since elementary school. Then I met Stanley in middle school. He was drumming on his desk one day so I said, “Hey, come over to my house and play my drum kit.” He didn’t know how to play and didn’t have any drums of his own. His parents were Russian immigrants, so they didn’t have a lot of money. Brett joined during our sophomore year in high school.
Me and Brett were both in these little mall rat cults that hung out at Phipps and Lenox and caused trouble. We had a crew and we would hang out at the Publix by Phipps and try to get people to buy us beer and wine, and then we would go hang out in the stairwell at the mall and smoke cigarettes. We would tell our parents that we were going to the movies so they would drop us off there, and then we would just go and hang out.
Eventually most of us all got banned from the mall. I got kicked out because — on a packed night — you could go into the garage and run across the roofs of cars.
We used to play at these battles of the bands and we used to win, but we didn’t have a bassist. We used to take a blow-up penguin and put him on stage with a bass around him. Then I met Brett and asked him to play with us for just one show. Now he plays guitar. Back then, he was into shitty punk rock, like Rancid, but then he got into better stuff. Before he came along we weren’t really a punk rock band at all. It was whatever Frankie was into. He liked Radiohead and the kind of stuff that you’re into in high school. Brett introduced the punk rock element, but it took a minute for Frankie to come around.
Frankie writes all of the lyrics, and when they’re recording he won’t let us into the room.
When we won at the battle of the bands they didn’t want to give us money because they were afraid we would spend it on drugs, so they gave us gift certificates to Guitar Center. That’s how we got our eight-track that we use to record all of our songs.
— Woody Shortridge of the Balkans