An Interview with Daniel Ball

In an October 2006 interview, I had the chance to introduce the Ball Brothers to the readers of this blog. I recently had the opportunity to talk with Daniel Ball about changes in the group since the interview.

DJM: Since your last project, you’ve added a fourth vocalist, moving Josh from the soundboard to the stage. How has this changed your group’s sound?

Daniel Ball: I think what it has done is that it’s really opened us up to not be bound to arrangements that are done by a trio. Whenever we go into the studio, we’re very open-minded about what we can and can’t do.

When we’re a trio, we’re very limited—you can’t do some chords since it won’t sound right live. With a fourth part, you can do a lot more exciting chord structures in your songs. This releases everyone to do different chords, even discordant harmony—stuff that really opens up our sound selection. There was some stuff from Vocalized [their last release, an acapella project] that we really liked, but couldn’t do live with three voices.

This has opened up whole new horizons for what we can do vocally.

Our general sound is pretty much the same, because you add another brother in there that has a similar voice, we sound a lot like we did before. It doesn’t really change our sound—it changes what we can do with our sound.

DJM: Does he now sing a fourth part on all songs, or only on selected songs?

Daniel Ball: Only on selected songs—on some songs we just had the trio arrangements down so well that we haven’t messed with what’s working. Plus, in the studio, we arranged some of our tracks for a trio, heavy on the bass end tracks. With a fourth vocal part, some of the tracks got muddy sounding.

He’s up there on stage with us on all the songs, from the beginning to the end of the concert.

He’s just sometimes doubling with Stephen or me on the trio stuff.

DJM: I think you said you don’t call his part a bass part. What do you call it?

Daniel Ball: I don’t know. We don’t call it a bass part. Anyone who talks to him knows he’s never going to rumble the floor or anything. His range is baritone / lead, and we try not to put him out of his range. We just refer to him as a fourth vocalist.

All of us have fairly high pitched voices. In fact, on some of the Christmas stuff we were looking on, Stephen even sings a part lower than Josh.

One thing about our group is that any of us can sing any part from bass to tenor on any given song. Sometimes we’ll go in and switch things up just for fun—Andrew will sing lead, Stephen will sing tenor, Josh will sing baritone, and I’ll sing bass.

DJM: How set is your song list at a typical concert?

Daniel Ball: When we set out to do a concert, we have several know songs we know we’ll be doing. We usually start with “I’m Already Living Forever,” and we’ll always sing “Peace of God” and “Mercy Said No.”

We know about 50% of what we’ll be doing, but we do switch a lot of times depending on the circumstance. We’re limited to the soundtracks we have. We’ll go into a concert with a pretty good idea of how it will start, but the ending can change depending on the audience and whether it’s a concert or a church service.

DJM: Random question of the day: If you could sing bass, who would you most want to sound like?

Daniel Ball: George Younce, without a question. We were just listening to him on the radio, in fact. His voice was the best of both world—one, he was low, and two, his voice was clear. His voice had a lot of resonance to it. No matter what version it was of the Cathedrals, you could always pick out George Younce.

DJM: I’m not sure if the nominating deadline for the Fan Awards has passed, but if it’s still open, should your fans put you under the trio or the quartet category?

Daniel Ball: Quartet—it’s four-part harmony. But I doubt any of us would ever be nominated for favorite or anything—there’s so many great quartets out there. There’s good trios, too—Greater Vision, Booth Brothers. But we’re a quartet, even though our harmonies aren’t traditional.