Artist Spotlight: Eli Wallace & His Three Balls

Pat Brooks

Funk group Eli Wallace & His Three Balls were inspired to start playing first term last year. “We were listening to bands at parties, and all they do is jam, so we started a jam band in protest — a jam band that jams,” explained guitarist Gabe Davila. Before their first gig, The Balls, consisting of Eli Wallace on keys, Kyle Traska on drums, John Merritt on bass, and Davila, were “going to be a sh*tty band, but then [Traska] told us we had to be good because Adam Meckler was going to be there,” said Davila.

When asked, the band offered multiple explanations for their name. “The three balls symbolize unity, pornography, and masturbation,” explained Traska. Davila offered an alternate point of view: “Eli is an idiot.”

The band has played several parties on campus in the last year, and has a gig coming up at the Viking Room soon, which came as a surprise to some members during the interview. “I don’t know if I have ever been more excited for a gig I just found out about,” exclaimed Traska.

The band’s ambitions are boundless, and they hope to play in a more orchestral setting, with plans for an album with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, entitled “Eli & His Three Balls meet the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.”

The Balls are heavily influenced by funk/jam groups like Soul Live and Medeski Scofield Martin & Wood, but they aren’t afraid to rock out on a Led Zeppelin tune if need be.

All the members are participants in the Lawrence jazz scene as well, so don’t be surprised to hear something besides a pentatonic scale every now and then.

The band thrives on the party atmosphere, and prefers payment in the form of 40 oz. to money. “A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush,” said Eli. The Balls would love to play any party, all it takes is two 40s per band member.

Age permitting, you can check them out at the VR in the next couple weeks.