joey batts & them
Gig Seeker Pro

joey batts & them

Hartford, Connecticut, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2012 | SELF

Hartford, Connecticut, United States | SELF
Established on Jan, 2012
Band Alternative Hip Hop




"Featured Interview / Album Review"

Joey Batts is one of the most recognizable faces in Connecticut's hip-hop scene. This is, in part, because you can see his smiling face on just about any telephone pole, or road sign, in the eastern half of the state thanks to his "Joey Batts is your best friend" promo sticker. Batts is about more than promotional tactics, however, as he and his band, Joey Batts & Them, have been making a name for themselves with their combination of hip-hop aesthetics and hard rock sound. Whether he draws a listener in with a freestyle about what the people in the crowd have in their pockets, or someone is digging a drum solo, the band's goal is to have something for everyone, and have all of it be great.

This week, RapReviews caught up with Batts to find out more about his music, his latest album, Bowtie Chronicles, and the insanity of attempting to film at every landmark in the 860 area code for his video for "860." Batts also revealed the ups and downs of being everyone's best friend, which is not as easy as you might think!

Adam Bernard: We have to start this interview by talking about your promo sticker, which says "Joey Batts is your best friend." What kind of a responsibility is it being everyone's best friend?
Joey Batts: It's really tough, bro. At a show I'm giving out stickers, or people are buying CDs and they're getting stickers with CDs, and I want to rap with them, I want to talk to them. "Hey, where are you from? Is this your first time seeing us? What song did you like? Can you come to another show?" But there are always so many people, and I can only smile for so long, so it's definitely crazy difficult.

AB: Is that feeling of wanting to talk with everybody how you came up with the concept for "Joey Batts is your best friend?"

JB: The concept came up in a really backwards way. I had a bunch of fucked up relationships, and friendships, ending, and there were big arguments where they were like "stop trying to be everybody's best friend." I was so obsessed with the public persona of being an entertainer, and so many of my personal relationships took the brunt of it because I was so busying being quote-unquote famous, so "Joey Batts is your best friend" ended up being kind of a slap in the face of "fuck yeah I can be everybody's best friend, watch me prove to you that I can be everybody's best friend." That's really where the concept came from. Then I wrote the song "Best Friend" and I was just like this is perfect. Before it was recorded I was like I need to make stickers because I'll be doing this song all across New England.

AB: It seems to have worked out pretty well.

JB: Yeah, I was talking to Klokwize about it and he was like dude, "you had a genius idea to put your face on the sticker. I wish I could go back and do the same thing." Now I can't escape it. "Oh shit, how do I know you? I've seen your face on a Taco Bell," or "I've seen your face on a No Parking sign." It's great. It probably will eventually get me in trouble with the cops, but I'm OK with it for now.

AB: Moving to your music, you are an emcee who has always been a part of bands. What about being in a band do you prefer to working with a beat?

JB: I never want to make fun of anybody else and how they're doing it, but I think when you have the live music it's a little bit more magnetic. If you go to a hip-hop show it's different because you want to see rappers, but so many other times we're not playing to a hip-hop crowd, and we're not playing in a hip-hop venue, so at any given moment if someone walks into the room you need to make sure you captivate them immediately. The cool thing about the band is if you're not a typical hip-hop person you'll stick around because you'll like the guitar, or maybe the drummer's doing something cool, or maybe you'll like the bass line. So I think having a band behind me just opens people's minds up a little more because they'll stick around for the guitar and all of a sudden they'll like something I'm doing, as opposed to just opening the door, or hearing the first couple lines, and saying "fuck this, I'm outta here if it's rap."

AB: Let's talk about your latest album, Bowtie Chronicles. What was the thought process behind the writing and recording of this album?
JB: I was sitting on a bunch of lyrics, and I sat down with my drummer, and my bassist at the time, and said let's try to come up with some stuff. We were really worried about sounding like a shitty rap-rock band. We wanted to avoid that. We wanted to get the hip-hop, the boom bap essence of it, and the kind of guitar riffs can we do to make it sound not TOO rock-y. We ended up doing a lot of lyrics driven stuff and the guitar would accompany it -

"Best Friend or Bad Guy: The Live Version"

What can I say about Joey Batts that hasn’t been said….mostly by him, heh. All jokes aside Joey is one of the most hardest working Emcees in the area. You don’t believe me check his facebook page. It almost seems like every week he is either shooting a video for a song or traveling to perform somewhere. Or if you are looking tearing it down with friends at the local hot spot. You see Joey beats the pavement for his craft. He is the perfect example of an artist that thrives on the live stage. It is almost to the point where Batts’ live performance is the real product and the album he released is the side dish to that. I had a chance to catch up with this busy guy and get his views on how importance it is to get your live show and tour on in today’s industry.

Jack Nickelz: Alright Joey, I guess the first question is how important is to get out there and do shows?

Joey Batts: Doing shows is the most important thing in the world. It’s a close third behind oxygen and sex. These younger, newer cats think they can hang out on the internet all damn day and never rock stages. Fuck that. You better get your dumb ass out there and meet motherfuckers face to face. Bottom-line. Stay relevant. You’d be surprised how often dudes are in the same room with their “facebook friends” and won’t even say peace – c’mon man… you gotta be OUT THERE! Showing people your music first hand

Jack Nickelz: Ok, performing live at venues is just half the battle. What else goes into doing live shows?

Joey Batts: Phone calls. E-mails. Texts. Updates. Carrier pigeons. Messengers. Everything man. Checking in to make sure the $ is right, keeping the owner happy, keeping the GM happy, keeping the bartenders happy, keeping the bar backs happy, keeping the sound guy happy, keeping the bouncers happy. It’s a lot of shaking hands and kissing babies. But real talk – that’s what makes people love JOEY BATTS. Because I sell myself, my damn SELF – like a fuckin’ mayor. Plus – you gotta make sure your backing musicians are as bad ass as you are. Or you’ll sound like shit.

Jack Nickelz: Now recently you dropped your project, how has that change how you approach your shows?

Joey Batts: I keep my ears open – I find out what tracks the people like, and make sure that we play them at our shows. People LOVE ‘Bad Guy‘ and ‘860’ – so we make sure that people get a chance to see us do it live. Plus I try to wear more bowties in public.

Jack Nickelz: Beside the material on your project, do you have a set playlist at shows or is it interchangeable depending on the venue?

Joey Batts: I freestyle it bro. honestly –a couple of cats in my band – have asked for it, but I’m like ya know what – “we’re gonna fly by the seat of our pants tonight!” Plus – everywhere I go, there’s rappers in the crowd – and if I fuck with you, chances are, I’m gonna ask you to rock a freestyle with me – and bring the crowd into it – even more.

Jack Nickelz: Now outside of the shows you have done here through friends, how do you go about getting yourself booked at shows?

Joey Batts: Me. Myself and I. I’m mad fuckin’ famous dude, and everyone loves me – I have clubs calling me all the time – sometimes the money just isn’t right. I’m currently looking for a manager, and currently looking for someone to help me with promotion… so if you know people – get at me. ASAP. I’m the busiest man in Hartford…

Jack Nickelz: Now at your shows you are virtually up on stage by yourself, outside of the band. How hard is it to make sure you get everyone’s attention?

Joey Batts: Are you serious? Have you ever been to a Joey Batts show? I have everyone’s attention. All. The. Time. My shit’s amazing. #freestyleking #bestfriend

Jack Nickelz: What is the smallest and largest show that you have ever done?

Joey Batts: Damn. That’s a fucked up question. HaHaHaHaHaHa… Good news or the Bad news first? Shit – I once rocked a show in Northern Maine that was so poorly promoted – it was literally 6 people. No joke. And that was like, the fuckin’ bartender, the bouncer, the sound guy, two regulars that hated us and the sound guy’s girlfriend. But on the flip side – I’ve opened up for Method Man & Redman, Cyprus Hill and The Black Eyed Peas – all at huge college festivals – I’m talking 3 – 4 grand… maaaaaad people – holding up shit for me to rap about! Hahaha!

Jack Nickelz: Has there ever been any shows that you wish you wouldn’t have done?

Joey Batts: No sir. I’m a grown man. I live by my decisions. I don’t have any professional regrets.

Jack Nickelz: What are some of the mistakes you see some artist make when it comes to their shows?

Joey Batts: Mistakes? Jesus. I’m a showman, a veteran, a professional, and a perfectionist. I see a billion mistakes every time I go to a show. My top 3? One – Please don’t rap over a track that has vocals. EVER. Two – Don’t be so fuckin’ angry – people will relate to you more, and give you a more sincere listen if you’re humble -

"Joey Batts Hip Hop Night"

Connecticut needs anti-heroes. Joey Batts (aka Joseph Battaglia), a 30-year-old rapper originally from Long Island, N.Y., who bleeds Nutmeg pride, deserves your vote.

His face, in sticker form, adorns street signs all over the state. His new album, Bowtie Chronicles: The Album, is a decisively rockist step away from his seven-album mixtape project, 7 Deadly Sins. (Batts has already recorded five of them; the sixth, Gluttony, is on the way, with Lust breathing down its neck.) One Bowtie track, "860," name checks everything Batts likes about Connecticut (an Advocate newspaper box appears in the accompanying video), and a few things he doesn't ("Stay out of Torrington, 'cause the place is a bore...").

Batts snuck into open mics at Hartford bars at 19, "just so I could get on the mic, just so I could rap," he told the Advocate by phone. The scene back then felt inclusive, "a beautiful movement of singers, songwriters, the rappers, the musicians, the drummers, the guys who played djembes. It was such a cool vibe that hippies could get along with rockers, could get along with rappers, could get along with metalheads, could get along with classical pianists... I was happy to be a part of a movement and to really plug into that."

Those days are behind him. Batts teaches literature and creative writing at Hartford's Opportunity High School. Teaching is a full-time gig ("It adds to my Bruce Wayne/Batman persona," Batts said, "teacher by day, rockstar at night."). His grown-up friends have grown-up problems. Babysitters are scarce. Batts presses on; he performs frequently. "People became more lazy, and they don't want to go out and support live music like they used to," Batts said. "You can't party as much."

On "860," Batts raps about being Connecticut's adopted son. While sunlight-deprived, winter-hating cynical types shudder at the thought of a Nor'easter, that sort of thing is exactly why Batts loves it here. "When you spend your winters in Brooklyn, the snow doesn't really accumulate," he said. "When I came up to college, this was the first time I really saw snow accumulate. I fell in love with the fact that the snow was everywhere. You could just jump in the snow, and get lost in two feet of snow. I just love the winters."

He's clearly proud to have stuck with it for so long, but you get the sense Batts wants his signature project, his Sins, over and done with. (The first installment, Pride, came out in the summer of 2005.) "I remember tackling Dante's Inferno when I was a junior in college and becoming obsessed with the thought behind it," he said, "the craziness behind the Christian persona coming out in music. Bottom line: it all comes down to seven deadly sins." For various reasons, Batts can't always produce band albums, he said, but many of his friends are producers; it's easy for them to lend him some beats, over which he freestyles.

For Batts, writing is like breathing. "Rappers always produce mixtapes. They might put out an album, but before that comes out, they're dropping a mixtape here, a mixtape there. The process is just a straight mixtape. It's a way to throw some freestyles on there, to do some stuff that I can't recreate with a band, and I just dive into each one... Not to sound like a nerd, but it's mental calisthenics for me. I write and devour books at such a fast rate that it helps my brain."

A lot of mornings, Batts wakes up freestyling. "The freestyle is coming up with things as you go. You're basically improvising." He first heard kids freestyling when he was 9, and he figured it was something he should do. "Being able to come up with words off the top of my head that not only make sense but have a cadence and a rhythm to them — that's when I have the most fun."

He freestyles constantly. He walks around with his iPhone voice recorder. He freestyles in the car. He freestyles during his lunch period at work to write. Still, time is tighter than it used to be. "I go home from work, go to the gym, and I'm shot," he said. "My creative hours, as a grown man: that's definitely waned."

Not everyone loves Batts. Wesleying, a Wesleyan University student-run blog, took umbrage with a line from "860": "Wesleyan girls, they got great brains." "The Wesleyan people hated that," Batts said. "In the rap community, when a girl is giving you a blow job, they say, 'That girl's giving me brain.' That's where the line comes from. They took my line and used it as a double-entendre, basically."

The blowjob reference, Batts admitted, wasn't misinterpreted. "I've definitely hooked up with a couple of girls from Wesleyan," he said, "so it probably was the intention. I think if I was talking to the president of Wesleyan, I would probably backpedal on that."

The touring band for Joey Batts & Them, since th - By Michael Hamad


Still working on that hot first release.



After almost a decade of being in the New England hip hop scene, both with highly respected groups, and as a successful solo artist, Hartfords own adopted son returns to the stage with a full lineup to get the crowds going, and to let you know that hes your best friend. Joey Batts isnt just a talented wordsmith and MC, hes also one of the most interactive and funniest stage presences around. In a scene where bragging about how big your watch or car wheels are is the norm, who else can get a crowd going while rapping about fighting crime as a superhero, being your wingman, or life in the 860?
Joey Batts and Them are a five-piece alternative hip-hop band, starting in 2011. In 2012, the band reached the current lineup, comprised of Joey on vocals, Tony Volpe on guitar, John Dotson on bass, and Mike Beatwiz Spellman on drums and percussion. Taking the live hip hop scene by storm, Joey Batts never takes no for an answer -you either love his sound right away, or his voice kidnaps you until you change your mind. A lyrical genius, and an amazing front man with impeccable crowd control, rolled into one Joey Batts has proven to be an asset to CTs growing underground hip-hop culture.
With funky grooves, and plenty of hooks, Joey Batts and Them can turn any show or event into an outright party. And with shows all over New England, the Northeast, and beyond, be sure to check them out, and you can be the best of friends!

Band Members