Kurt Ballou

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Kurt Ballou
Kurt Ballou in 2018
Kurt Ballou in 2018
Background information
Born (1974-02-01) February 1, 1974 (age 49)
OriginMassachusetts, U.S.
  • Guitar
  • bass
  • vocals
  • keyboards
  • saxophone
  • percussion
  • melodica
Years active1990–present
Member ofConverge
Formerly of

Kurt Ballou (born February 1, 1974) is an American musician and producer based in Massachusetts, best known as the guitarist for hardcore punk band Converge and for his prolific recording and production work at his own GodCity Studio.

Early and personal life[edit]

Kurt Ballou started playing saxophone in elementary school.[1] He performed in jazz band, concert band and orchestra, dabbling between baritone saxophone, bassoon and bass clarinet. Ballou was accepted to join the Hartford School of Music, but he opted to study aerospace engineering instead.[2] His father used to have a guitar that Ballou played occasionally, but it did not interest him until a school friend gave him Slayer tapes around the age of sixteen.[1][3]

He is a vegan[4] and follows a straight edge lifestyle.[5]


Since 1990, Kurt Ballou has played in the metalcore band Converge. From 1996 to 2000 Ballou played in the hardcore punk band The Huguenots. From 1996 to 1999 Ballou and Stephen Brodsky played in the rock band Kid Kilowatt. In 1998 Ballou established GodCity Studio. From 1999 to 2002 Ballou and Ben Koller played in the hardcore punk band Blue/Green Heart.

God City Studio[edit]

In the late 1990s, Kurt Ballou was working as a biomedical engineer when his then-project got cancelled. Instead of selecting a different position within the same company that he had worked with for six years, Ballou opted to receive a severance package which he used to build his own recording studio.[6][7] His experiences and knowledge in engineering carry over to his recording work. In regards to Ballou's technical precision as a producer, Jacob Bannon (of Converge) has stated, "Nothing gets by him—it is inspiring to watch him work."[8]

Established in 1998, God City Studio is located in Ballou's home state of Massachusetts. One of the earliest recordings from the studio was Cave In's Until Your Heart Stops. Ballou handled all production, engineering, and mastering for the record.

Ballou has stated that collaborating on Jane Doe with co-producer Matthew Ellard was a huge learning experience for him as an engineer and producer.[9] Ellard jokingly stated Ballou "watched him like a hawk" during the engineering and producing process.[9]

In 2005 Ballou remixed and remastered Converge's Petitioning the Empty Sky and When Forever Comes Crashing. Ballou has stated that because of the quality of [Converge's] recordings has improved so much that the original recordings were "becoming distracting".[10] Ballou has also produced and co-produced several Converge albums, including 2001's Jane Doe, 2004's You Fail Me and 2006's No Heroes. He has also produced a number of independent metal and hardcore bands, including Genghis Tron's Board Up the House, Torche's Meanderthal, Disfear's Live the Storm and Darkest Hour's Godless Prophets & the Migrant Flora.[11]

One reason that motivated Ballou to get in to the studio side of music was to have "maximum control over Converge's music." He further stated, "When we were starting out, no one wanted to help us anyway, so if we didn't take control, nothing was going to get done."[12] Ballou has claimed to admire producers such as Ken Andrews, Martin Bisi, Fred Drake, Steve Albini, and Don Zientara.[12]


  • Guitars commonly used: GodCity Instruments guitars, Wild Customs The Savage One w/ EMG P85 bridge pickup, First Act Custom Sheena Guitar w/ EMG 81 bridge pickup, Warmoth Custom Jazzmaster W/ EMG 89 bridge pickup, First Act Custom Offset-Horns Double-Cutaway, Rickenbacker 650A w/ EMG 81 bridge pickup.
  • Amps commonly used: Orange OR50 head, Sparrows Sons overdrive std (aka Sparrow amp), Bad Cat Black Cat head, Bad Cat Lynx head, Marshall 1987x Plexi Reissue, 1978 Marshall 50-watt JMP 2204, Ampeg V-4 head, Guild Thunderbass.[3]
  • Speaker Enclosures commonly used: Emperor 6x12 cabinet (2), Marshall customized 4x12 cabinet w/ four "Eminence vintage 30 clone" 12-inch speakers, Marshall 8x10 cabinet w/ stock 15-watt Celestions.
  • Effects commonly used: Providence Stampede Distortion, Boss GE-7 Graphic Equalizer, Akai Headrush, Earthquaker Devices Avalanche Run, Boss PS-3 Pitch Shifter/Delay, Boss HM-2 Heavy Metal, TC Electronic Polytune, Boss Noise Suppressor, TC Electronic Mimiq.


With Converge[edit]

With The Huguenots[edit]

  • The Huguenots (1998) (EP)
  • The Huguenots / Sevenpercentsolution (2000) (split with Sevenpercentsolution)
  • Discography (2007)[13][14]

With Blue/Green Heart[edit]

With Kid Kilowatt[edit]

As an additional/guest musician[edit]

Year Band Album Contributions
1998 Cave In Until Your Heart Stops Guitar, percussion, vocals
2000 Supermachiner Rise of the Great Machine Guitar, saxophone, electronics
2000 Garrison A Mile in Cold Water Slide guitar
2002 Nationale Blue A Different Kind of Listening Melodica
2002 In Pieces Learning to Accept Silence Harmonica, melodica, slide guitar
2002 Curl Up and Die Unfortunately, We're Not Robots Vocals
2004 Old Man Gloom Christmas Guitars, drums, drum programing, vocals
2004 Last Perfection Drawing Conclusions Guitar
2004 Suicide Note Too Sick to Dance Forever Guitars, vocals
2005 Mi Amore The Lamb Guitars, solos
2005 New Idea Society You Are Awake or Asleep Drums
2006 Kahoots Fourteen Ghosts Saxophone
2007 Animosity Animal Saxophone
2007 Pygmy Lush Bitter River Saxophone, melodica, slide guitar
2007 Coliseum No Salvation Keyboards
2007 Trap Them Sleepwell Deconstructor Guitars
2007 The Casual Lean Swears Guitars, vocals
2007 The One AM Radio This Too Will Pass Drum engineering
2007 New Idea Society World Is Bright and Lonely Guitars
2008 Genghis Tron Board Up the House Toy drums
2008 Verse Aggression Drum engineering
2008 Torche Meanderthal Guitars
2008 Pygmy Lush Mount Hope Percussion
2008 Trap Them Seizures in Barren Praise Bass, guitars, noise
2008 Clouds We Are Above You Synthesizer, saxophone, guitar, slide guitar
2009 Supermachiner Rust Guitar, saxophone, electronics
2009 Rise and Fall Our Circle Is Vicious Additional percussion
2010 Trap Them Filth Rations Glockenspiel
2011 KEN mode Venerable Slide guitar
2011 Des Ark Don't Rock the Boat, Sink the Fucker Space bong
2012 High on Fire De Vermis Mysteriis Guitar
2013 Oathbreaker Eros/Anteros Guitar
2014 Trap Them Blissfucker Guitar
2014 Old Man Gloom The Ape of God Guitar
2015 Sweet Cobra Earth Guitar
2015 The Armed Untitled
2017 Full of Hell Trumpeting Ecstasy Bass
2017 Mutoid Man War Moans Guitar
2017 All Pigs Must Die Hostage Animal Guitar
2017 Chelsea Wolfe Hiss Spun Guitar
2017 Wear Your Wounds WYW
2017 Examination Of The... The Whitest Of Elephants Slide guitar
2018 Baptists Beacon of Faith Vocals, soundscapes
2019 Crowhurst III Drum programming
2019 SECT Blood Of The Beasts Guitar

Awards and nominations[edit]

Heavy Music Awards[edit]

Year Nominee / work Award Result Ref.
2018 Himself Best Producer Nominated [16][17]

See also[edit]



  • "Kurt Ballou – Credits". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved September 6, 2010.


  1. ^ a b Jonathan K Dick (November 14, 2012). "The Longest of Rivers - A Conversation with Kurt Ballou". Steelforbrains.tumblr.com. Archived from the original on February 18, 2018. Retrieved February 18, 2018.
  2. ^ Fryer, Peter (October 10, 2009). "Converge: The Kurt Ballou Interview". SLUG Magazine. Denver, Colorado (published October 29, 2009). Archived from the original on February 18, 2018.
  3. ^ a b Gardner, Josh (July 22, 2010). "Kurt Ballou (Converge) talks gear and guitars". MusicRadar. Archived from the original on October 7, 2011. Retrieved February 18, 2018.
  4. ^ Miller, Liz (November 23, 2009). "Converge Rock Compassion: A Q&A". VegNews. Retrieved May 21, 2016.
  5. ^ Wedge, Dave (October 18, 1999). "Straight-edgers just say no". The Sun Chronicle. Retrieved April 15, 2017.
  6. ^ Borthwick, Andrew (November 14, 2005). "Kurt Ballou / Converge interview". LambGoat. Retrieved September 16, 2010.
  7. ^ Bennett, J. (December 2009). "A Cut Above". Decibel. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: Red Flag Media Inc. (62): 69–74. ISSN 1557-2137. Archived from the original on February 11, 2010. Retrieved September 16, 2010.
  8. ^ Bennett, J. (December 2009). "A Cut Above". Decibel. No. 62. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: Red Flag Media Inc. pp. 69–74. ISSN 1557-2137. Archived from the original on February 11, 2010. Retrieved October 17, 2010.{{cite magazine}}: CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  9. ^ a b GodCity Music (June 28, 2015), The Making of Jane Doe at Berklee College of Music, archived from the original on December 21, 2021, retrieved May 18, 2017
  10. ^ Lee, Cosmo (June 22, 2006). "Kurt Ballou – Interview – Stylus Magazine". Stylus Magazine. Retrieved November 12, 2011.
  11. ^ "New Converge – 'Dark Horse'". Stereogum. August 25, 2009. Retrieved September 15, 2009.
  12. ^ a b Lee, Cosmo (June 22, 2006). "Kurt Ballou – Interview – Stylus Magazine". Stylus Magazine. Retrieved November 12, 2011.
  13. ^ Parker, Rob (February 27, 2008). "Review: Discography". LambGoat. Retrieved September 6, 2010.
  14. ^ "Discography, by The Huguenots". The Huguenots. Retrieved December 26, 2016.
  15. ^ "Blue/Green Heart". Iodine Recordings. Archived from the original on May 26, 2011. Retrieved September 6, 2010.
  16. ^ Köke, Linda (April 26, 2018). "Heavy Music Awards Announce Their 2018 Nominees". Genre is Dead!. London. Archived from the original on April 10, 2021. Retrieved July 10, 2021. And the nominees are...
  17. ^ "Metallica, Architects, Gojira among Heavy Music Awards 2018 winners". Music Week. London. August 24, 2018. Archived from the original on March 27, 2021. Retrieved July 10, 2021. The full list of winners

External links[edit]