Keeping NEPA Strange an Interview w/ Josh Balz by Emily Sulkowski

 

Being odd is typical for artists. It’s what makes us all unique. Josh Balz took the idea of odd and amplified it. Owner of the Strange and Unusual Oddities Parlor in Kingston and Philadelphia, PA, Josh has certainly added a little gem to the often dreary North East, PA. I sat down with him to talk about how life has been after his transition from being in a touring band to running his store full time.

I started by asking if the transition from touring to being grounded back in PA was strange?

“ I love the area, I grew up here and always lived here.” He says.

He certainly thought the transition was strange, since the hectic touring life took a lot out of a person, “ I never felt busy, I felt like I wasn’t doing enough, since I was only running the store, not doing both.” He said while talking about reconfiguring his life after leaving his band.

I asked about his music, Strange Kids, which he’s released two singles under, and more importantly if he was releasing more music, “ I’d like to, it’s more of a hobby right now.” Genre wise, Strange Kids and Motionless in White are very different. Josh said, “ It’s all based on my emotions, what I’m feeling at the time.”
In NEPA, Josh is somewhat of a hometown hero. I asked him if support from local fans had ever changed after coming home. “ I think there’s more support now. The store and Motionless have the same vibe. It goes hand in hand.” His employees at the store said his fair share of fans still come in, excited to meet him. Fans and locals alike still love the shop, enjoying how different it is among the repetitiveness the Valley seems to see often.

Owning a store like this comes from a love for weird things. “ I always enjoyed them (oddities). The stuff comes from all over. A lot of vintage taxidermy” He said when I asked how he finds his unique items, “ It’s definitely a process.”

In a town full of pizza shops, I wondered how a shop selling human bones and spell books does so well, “ I wanted to do something different here,” Josh said when I asked what inspired him, “ Everyone told me I was going to fail.”

Balz said that the shop does very well, being able to sell such unique, incredible items and still stay afloat, where in a huge city it would be difficult. Having the backing he did, it’s no surprise the shop is well loved and received. While wrapping things up, I asked him how it feels to know his music and his parlor help so many people. Being weird isn’t always easy, and he’s always made people like him feel a little less like outsiders. I asked if he ever wanted to have that effect on people. “ Always. I’ve always been a very supportive person. I love helping other people.”

Josh has always encouraged people to be themselves, and be interested in unique things. He’s very proud of who he is, and everything he’s built. “ I hope people come in, to see the shop and try the cafe.”

The Strange and Unusual Oddities Parlor sits at 467 Wyoming Avenue in Kingston, Pennsylvania. Now boasting a Harry Potter themed cafe called Steamy Hallows, serving cookies, Butter Brew coffee and hot chocolate covered in glitter, The Strange and Unusual is a little gem in a town that people seem to forget. Give the shop a visit, buy a skull or two with your coffee, and never be afraid to be a little weird.

Interview courtesy of Emily Sulkowski  | SHOP NOW :  The Strange and Unusual

Follow Josh Balz here

 

 

Motionless In White | Vans Warped Tour 2016

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Photography by : C.Trimarco Photography