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Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Crystal Balls, a Gainesville band made up of Kendrick Lemke, Nick Herrera and Erick Ubiles, is hitting the scene with their self-described “blackened swamp sci-fi doom metal.” I sat down with the band to talk sound and the music scene before Crystal Balls’ Saturday show at the Hardback Cafe.

Kirsten Chuba: How did Crystal Balls get started?

Kendrick Lemke: Nick and I have been playing in bands together for eight years now. We met Erick a couple years ago through Max, the bassist/vocalist of our last band, Waste. Waste played a few shows with Erick’s old band, Railgun, and we’ve been friends since. Last November, after Waste disappeared in the spring, Nick and I started jamming on what eventually became “Baby Prison,” and we wanted a vocalist and a bassist to fill out the sound and help with writing before we recorded anything. Erick liked the music and was down, so that’s when Crystal Balls really came into existence.

KC: How would you describe your sound?

KL: Frank Zappa said “writing about music is like dancing about architecture,” and I think that’s true to an extent. But if we had to put it into words, we think we pretty much sound like a doom metal band with elements of stoner rock and black metal. Sometimes we’re crushing, sometimes we’re groovy.

KC: How many shows has the band played?

Nick Herrera: We played our first show as Crystal Balls in January at a DIY venue in Gainesville, and since then we’ve played a couple Gainesville house shows, Loosey’s and Uncle Lou’s Entertainment Hall in Orlando. We also have a show scheduled at Hardback Cafe and another one in early June at The Atlantic. We haven’t done any touring yet, but we’re working on playing some more out-of-town shows and maybe doing a short Southeastern U.S. tour this fall.

KC: What can people expect from your show at the Hardback?

NH: Lots of fog, loud amplifiers, a few epic 10-minute pieces of music, maybe an out-of-body experience.

The other bands playing, Thunderclap and In The Stone, are both fantastic as well, so it will definitely be a great night for anyone who’s down with dirty riffs (and lots of fog).

KC: Can you talk about your new digital album?

Erick Ubiles: The “Roots” EP is the beginning of an interplanetary saga of betrayal, revenge and agriculture, and it is Crystal Balls’ first published release. It’s only two songs long but is still quite lengthy. We recorded with Rob McGregor at Goldentone Studio here in Gainesville. Roots is available as a free download on, with the option of buying a CD that can be shipped out, and it’s also available on Spotify, iTunes and other major digital music retailers. We plan on releasing a full length album in the near future, so it should be ready by the time you’re done listening to our EP.

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KC: What do you think about the Gainesville music scene, particularly for local bands?

EU: The music scene in Gainesville is great. It has a wide variety of genres to offer, and a lot of the local acts are world class. Bands like Post-teens, Gaul, Consent, Dozier, The Duppies, Thunderclap, etc. are putting on excellent shows in town and around the entire state of Florida.

If you haven’t yet, check out some of the local Gainesville bands and artists, you’re sure to find something you like.

Tickets for Crystal Balls’ show at the Hardback, located at 211 W. University Ave., will be $5 at the door, with doors opening at 9 p.m. and the show starting at 10 p.m. There will also be specials on Florida craft beers, according to the Facebook event page.

Know of any other local bands I should check out? Send Kirsten an email at

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