Joshua Balis might have a familiar last name, but with the release of his debut EP, Modern Gospel, he is quickly gaining his own musical identity.
The 24-year-old son of Danny Balis — Dallas musician, radio personality on The Ticket and co-owner of Twilite Lounge — has grown up with music and musicians. Splitting time between a father in Dallas and a mother in McKinney, he got to know the members of Sorta, since his father was a member. He especially connected with Carter Albrecht, who was tragically killed in 2007. "He was a towering example of what adulthood as a musician looked like," Balis says. "More than the music, being around them, I saw that lifestyle as a reality."
He had played guitar since he was 15, thanks to a guitar his father gave him, and learned the main seven chords. Plus, he had seen many shows that had a lasting impact on him. He cites Kelly Willis, Weezer or Sorta, music was a vital form of expression to him.
Instead of going to college, he moved to Washington D.C. Something clicked there, and he started writing songs. He moved back to Dallas and made plans to record the tunes he came with on the east coast.
The bulk of the six songs on Modern Gospel — which comes out October 21 — were recorded with some high quality microphones and a Mac in an apartment in Denton. His friend Leland Kracher had never recorded music before, but he decided to take out a loan and buy recording equipment. Guests are on various songs, including Grady Sandlin on guitar, Buffi Jacobs on cello and Chad Stockslager on keyboards, but Balis played most of the instruments himself.
He plays his guitar every day and when he thinks he's onto something, lyrics simply come to him. "When you're writing a song, you're afraid if you analyze anything, it will kill it," Balis says. "Most of the time, when I find something I really enjoy, I deliberately try not to think why it is."
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The songs don't sound like a bedroom recording with the hiss of a working air conditioner or the squeal of loose floorboards, thanks to the work of Paul Williams on engineering and Tom Bridwell doing the editing.
Balis looks forward to playing shows with his band Windomere while holding down a regular job for now. "I'm just gonna find another job that'll pay the bills over the next couple of years while we play music," he says. "I want to play the best music we can make. I want to make the best records you can make. I want us to tour as far and as wide as we can."