Interview with Ball Park Music

Ball Park Music are the Brisbane indie-pop outfit we have all come to know and love. With the release of their third album Puddinghead fresh upon us, we caught up with Sam Cromack before he shoots off on their big fat Australian tour…

ball park music illustrationIllustration by Joana Waszaj

HAPPY: Just quickly, can you take us back and give us a snap shot of how Ball Park Music came to be?

BPM: Yeah, wow… such a long time ago now. Well, we all met at uni in 2008 doing our Bachelor of Music and had our first show that year. We all graduated in 2010 so yeah, we gigged pretty quietly those few years and put out a couple of EPs.

HAPPY: Congrats on the new album! The tour is looking HUGE. Was there any particular reason for venturing out from the capital cities?

BPM: Oh, thank you very much. Yeah absolutely, we did shows in the middle of last year for the Thank Ewes tour, our last Australian tour, and that was only 5 shows in Melbourne, Sydney, Adelaide, Brisbane and Perth. So a lot of the places on this tour we haven’t visited for probably a good year. More so, we deliberately took some time off to a) work on the new record, and b) to take some time away and build some anticipation for whatever we were going to do next. Because we had toured pretty relentlessly over the last two or three years and released music pretty relentlessly, too. It feels awesome to be back and release the new album and we are just excited to do a tonne of shows, that’s what we love doing and its what we do best I guess.

HAPPY: Do you think you’ll get sick of each other’s faces over the tour?

BPM: I don’t think we will get sick of each other. I think I’ve just accepted the fact, and I think it’s the same for the other guys, that it feels so so normal for us to do this now. We have become really good friends and experienced so much together, done so much together that I think we almost feel a bit lost when we don’t get to see one another now. Our whole friendship has been based on traveling and now I think it’s just what we do best. Being in airports and hotels and venues with those four faces just feels so familiar. I guess in some ways we are lucky to have a dynamic that works. We very rarely annoy one another in a serious way. We certainly bicker a little bit [laughs], but there are never any falling outs or anything. I think Daniel and Dean do the most, but that’s probably because they are twin brothers.

HAPPY: Any new venues you are excited to play, or return to?

BPM: Yeah, a lot are ones that we have done before and are returning to but there are a handful of places that we haven’t been to. Even some of the towns we haven’t been to, so we are going to Darwin, Coffs Harbour, Bernie… I hope people rock up! It’s always the same story, the capital cities are sold out and you look at Coffs and maybe 20 tickets have sold and you’re like ‘FUCK’! But we try to remember that people just rock up on the night; they’re a little bit more chilled.

HAPPY: I couldn’t help but think of that book The Magic Pudding when I heard the new album’s title was Puddinghead, but I read it was actually inspired by a Shakespeare reference. Could you tell us a little more about the title choice?

BPM: Yeah well Puddinghead was the title of a song that I had kicking around for a number of years and I actually got the name from high school when we had to study a Shakespeare piece, and I can’t remember exactly which one it was, but one character calls another a ‘puddinghead’ as an insult and I remember someone asking the teacher you know ‘What is the deal with that? What does that mean?’ and he said it was a common insult back in the day, which we found pretty funny. Certainly much milder than being called a fuck-wit or something.

But yeah, Daniel was wondering about why I had been using it, why it was popping up and ended up looking it up on Urban Dictionary and it said “persons who have the ability to fuck up the easiest of tasks”, so we thought that was all pretty funny. The song didn’t actually end up making it on the record, but we all just loved it so much that it stuck.

HAPPY: What can we expect from the new album?

BPM: I think there are a few things…

I think for us in terms of the song writing we were able to reflect on first two records and work out what we liked and what we didn’t like and what we wanted to do for this one. We tried to make song writing more direct you know, all the songs are short, sharp and to the point. There are no low lengthy ballads, its very up-beat and energetic. We felt that worked for us on our first record and wanted to capture that again.

The biggest new step forward for this record I guess, is that we produced it ourselves which meant that the recording process and techniques used were new for BPM. We all worked together, but a lot of that was my responsibility engineering the record.

Our first two records were done to tape, some were done digitally which now has forwarded us more possibilities to edit and manipulate the recording process. So,  I guess now we can be a bit more adventurous than people are used to, and I’m really excited to see what people think about it.

HAPPY: That energy you guys have playing live makes your shows super fun. Is that something that comes naturally?

BPM: I think it does come pretty naturally. It’s almost a bit out of control.

If anything, we are actually all saying to one another that we need to wind the energy back a bit, because sometimes it’s so out of control it actually affects how we play a little bit. I know, myself, it always feels so natural when I’m up there to get out of control, but afterwards I look back and I’m like ‘Oh my god! I was way to energetic and, pretty much yelled that song.’ I’m such a fidgety little dude you know, I just need to chill out.

HAPPY: Is there any Australian acts any of you are currently really digging that we should know about?

BPM: We really liked that new Violent Soho record; it was recorded in the same studio that we rehearse in so that’s pretty cool. That new song though, well the one that was in the Hottest 100… Covered In Chrome! I think you would be pretty hard pressed to find someone that doesn’t enjoy that song.

HAPPY: Such an anthem. And who doesn’t love a bit “Hell Fuck Yeah”. Is there anyone that you would ever want to collaborate with?

BPM: When it comes to song writing, I definitely prefer to work on my own. But in terms of jamming, music making and expanding on musical ideas I think it’s really healthy to play with others. It’s refreshing.

HAPPY: Finally, what makes you Happy?

BPM: When the house is really clean. And I get out the shower and put my slippers on and ahh… laying down in bed eating pizza.

Puddinghead is out now. Catch Ball Park Music touring ‘Straya right now, tickets here.

Our creepy and beautiful Ball Park Music illustration is from the lovely and cool Joana Waszaj, who started life in Paraguay and is now chilling in Melbourne. Her work is always inspired by a sense of wonder and the search of the unknown. It is also inspired by experimental music, fantastic realism, monsters, different cultures, mythology, philosophy, dead writers and human beings. For more of her work, head to her website.