Entertainment » Television

Derek Hough Spins Band & Lil Kim

by Padraic Maroney
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Wednesday Mar 11, 2009

Being a musician is a fulltime job between rehearsing, recording and writing new material. But try to be a musician who is also on one of the top rated television shows and you'll find there's even less time to go around. As Derek Hough prepares for the release of his band's debut album, this is the exact predicament the "Dancing with the Stars" professional dancer finds himself.

Playing guitar as part of the Ballas Hough Band, along side DWTS dancer Mark Ballas, Hough has a full plate as the band's self-title disk drops on March 10th, the day after the new season of the hit dance competition returns to the airwaves. Already the band has been promoting the album and their first single "Do It For You." The band also performed while Ballas and Hough were out on the road with the DWTS tour, doing shows at most of the tour stops. But pulling double duty isn't something the 23-year-old Utah native is worried about.

"Even when I was a kid I was either doing karate or football or basketball and then dancing. I was playing drums and dancing when I was ten or eleven. I was always used to doing music and dancing at the same time," Hough said. "It is difficult rehearsing all day and then doing the music. But it's not so difficult when you are doing what you love."

Balancing Act

"Even when I was a kid I was either doing karate or football or basketball and then dancing. I was playing drums and dancing when I was ten or eleven. I was always used to doing music and dancing at the same time," Hough said. "It is difficult rehearsing all day and then doing the music. But it’s not so difficult when you are doing what you love."

Hough, whose sister Julianne has recently broke out from DWTS as a country singer, is aware of the critics out there who are going to just write the band as not being real musicians. It’s a criticism that the guitarist can understand because he admits to having been one of those people growing up.

"To be honest with you, I totally get it and understand because I was at one time like that," Hough admits. "I think you accept the criticism because at one point I was one of those people. But I believe we can turn people on. I really believe that if somebody comes to see us live, they won’t have any room to talk."

Hough, who plays guitar and sings for the band, began playing music by learning to play the drums at the age of eight, but later switched to the guitar due to his travel schedule and the increased portability a guitar allows. On the debut disk, "BHB," the band proves their worth as a legitimate band - not just one trying to capitalize on the dancers’ television fame - by writing their own songs.

"The majority of the album was written by us. It’s not even like we wrote one or two songs on the album, we wrote the majority. It was important to us," Hough explained. "We are not just a put together band. It’s not you’re the two guys from the show. Mark and I are like brothers. We are best friends. It’s been a long thing coming."

The band, which has been together for seven years after forming in London, had previously gone by the name of Almost Amy. Unfortunately, due to the same name already having been claimed, the band was left without a moniker. After trying to come out with other names with no success, they decided to not over think the naming process, and ended picking a combination of their last names, which gave them the acronym BHB. Hough liked the choice because it gave him the opportunity to come with a logo for the band.

"From a more shallow standpoint, I drew a logo, which was the BHB logo and I thought that’s a cool logo," Hough said with a laugh. He adds that the new name is a much better fit. "It also makes more sense. Mark and I, we started the thing when we were kids - this whole dream and adventure. We never gave up this idea of playing music and writing music. We changed bands all through the years, except this one. This band has been the band that we have grown with."

Looking to Repeat

Ballas and Hough moved to Los Angeles, where the television show is taped, and it wasn’t until after the fifth season ended that the fivesome got back together. The pair had begun to play music using session musicians, but it didn’t feel right.

"They were awful. We were just like this sucks. The people in our band - Harry, Sam and Emily - are, all three of them, are A-class musicians. So we were like, you know what, let’s fly them out here," said the dancer.

The decision was made by the duo without first talking to their bandmates.

"We literally booked their tickets before we called them. We called them in England, it’s 4 in the morning o’clock their time and I just ’say you have a flight in four hours. Catch the flight and get out here to L.A,’" recalled Hough. "Luckily, they picked up their phones because they are really hard to get a hold of."

The Ballas Hough Band is unique in that it’s the only band in history that has two disco ball trophy champions. (The trophy is awarded the winner of the "Dancing With the Stars" competition.) They are currently known more for their dancing prowess than their musical abilities and are continuing to perform on the show.

After the pair won back-to-back victories (Ballas with partner Kristi Yamaguchi and Hough with last season’s Brooke Burke), they are looking to keep the trophy in the band. This season Ballas is dancing with Olympian Shawn Johnson while Hough takes on Lil Kim. The diminutive rapper has impressed her partner with her dancing skills.

"When I first met her I was like uh oh," Hough said. That initial reaction quickly faded and the two get along well now. "She is just unbelievably sweet and when you see her she just glows, she is a beautifully spirited woman and to match that she can dance. She is not bad, she’s actually really good."

Luckily, Kim and Derek haven’t suffered any injuries like some of the other contestants this year - like singer Jewel who recently had to leave the show due to a fracture tibia in both legs. With so many injuries, Hough is confused as to what might be causing them suddenly.

"Maybe the choreography is getting harder," Hough suggests, adding, "Maybe people are pushing their partner’s a little bit harder."

As long as they stay healthy, the reigning champion is confident about making it far in this year’s competition, but can’t predict a repeat of last season because he hasn’t yet seen any of the other dancers. He did have one thing to say though about his bandmate’s couple.

"I told Mark, dude listen if you don’t get that girl to the finals you are the worst teacher in the world," jokes Hough.

The Ballas Hough Band’s debut album, BHB, is available on Hollywood Records beginning on March 10th. The new season of "Dancing With The Stars" premieres March 9th on ABC.


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