On its new record, Balloon Ride Fantasy avoids the generic | Local Beat | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

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On its new record, Balloon Ride Fantasy avoids the generic

"Even if it's not as good. I don't care. I wanna be different."

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From the opening notes of "Species," the first single of Balloon Ride Fantasy's new self-titled full-length, the band makes something very clear — the song could only be theirs.

The six-piece "fantasy rock" band sounds like something out of a sci-fi thriller — think Daft Punk meets Swimming With Dolphins, with spacey vocal harmonies. "I can't be [generic]. I'll have to add shit until it's not," explains singer/guitarist Chris Olszewski. "Even if it's not as good. I don't care. I wanna be different."

It's that need to stand out that drove the creation of the band's LP, which will officially be released on April 7 — the band will play its release show a little early, on Saturday.

Balloon Ride Fantasy Band
  • Photo courtesy of Dan Peluso
  • Balloon Ride Fantasy

 BRF started in 2009 as a Postal Service-like collaboration between Olszewski and guitarist Phil Conley, both of whom had been members of prog-rock band Federali. Conley would send music to Olszewski, who would add lyrics. After releasing Monocle City in 2011, the two solidified a larger lineup, and in 2013 started working on Balloon Ride Fantasy.

Even without knowing the band's distinct sound, the name will likely stand out. Years ago, during a post-Federali practice hangout at Dee's Cafe, Conley joked that they should start a side project called Balloon Ride Fantasy. Others at the bar thought it was stupid, but Olszewski liked it. Immediately, he knew what he wanted the band to sound like: something from the '80s, something that could have come out of the movie Legend.

The band may have started as a joke, but Olszewski took the making of this record seriously. Everything on the forthcoming LP, apart from the live drums, was recorded in Olszewski's bedroom in Sharpsburg. Taking a meticulous approach, he re-recorded the guitar and bass parts multiple times, and even mixed the record himself which, in this case, was a particularly daunting task: to get the sound wanted, he created 70 to 100 tracks on each song.

"[I'm] not a professional by any means, but I can pull it off ... I've been doing it for awhile," adding with a modest chuckle, "I'm alright."

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