Ball Park Music interview: ‘It’s just getting weirder and weirder out here, baby’
27.05.2022

Ball Park Music interview: ‘It’s just getting weirder and weirder out here, baby’

ball park music
words by james robertson

With their seventh album 'Weirder & Weirder', Ball Park Music went into recording with nothing to prove. Forgoing meticulous planning, the band got together in the midst of 2021 with no aim in mind.

“It was mid last year when we were really bored and wanted to hang out together in the studio and just have some fun,” says guitarist Dean Hanson. “Sam Cromack (lead vocalist and guitarist) had a few ideas floating around he wanted to try. It was at this point we hadn’t decided to start a record or anything. We’re lucky enough, we have our own studio and produce all our own stuff so we have the opportunity to go in and start recording things whenever, without any real plan.”

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But this laidback approach clicked for the group, allowing for a moderately fast writing and recording process. “It was happening pretty easily and the songs we were making were pretty cool.”

Ball Park Music couldn’t escape the grasp of the pandemic however, as bassist Jennifer Boyce had to make a quick decision: to stay in New South Wales with her partner as a lockdown approached, or drive up to Brisbane to record with the band. “Last minute she threw all her possessions in her car, called her partner and said ‘I’m off to Brisbane, I don’t know when I’ll see you’.” Her sacrifice didn’t go unacknowledged. “She’s such a trooper,” says Hanson. “Last year she made so many sacrifices so that Ball Park Music could keep going.”

Keep going, they did. Hanson and the band launched themselves into the production of this new LP with abandon, relishing a sense of freedom after the release of their self-titled album in 2020. “We didn’t have any unfinished business with our last record. We didn’t release that thinking there was anything we could’ve done any different. And then sometimes when you do have a record out with unfinished business, you may have all of those things playing on your mind. But this time didn’t feel like that at all.”

 

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“It almost felt too easy,” Hanson recalls with a chuckle. “It was the easiest album we’ve made. You do start questioning if it’s really as good as you think it is, because you didn’t have to work as hard for it. But we’re all unbelievably proud of it.”

Weirder & Weirder certainly feels like the band pushing their sound forward, realising the best parts of Ball Park Music that fans love them for. All their weird sonic and lyrical oddities are dialled to eleven, exploding crunchy psychedelia through the lens of 21st century quirkiness. Their album title works as both a mission statement and a comment on the undeniable conditions artists such as themselves are creating in today.

“Some records you’ve made are influenced by what’s going on around you; like the pandemic, of course. But nobody wants to make a COVID record,” quips Hanson. Hoping to encompass the general state of the world, he shies away from singling out one issue. “This isn’t about one particular facet of the world. It’s literally the whole thing. The themes of the record overall relate to this weirder and weirder attitude, about the world in general just getting weirder and weirder.”

This sense of weirdness permeates the entire album, tracing down to the lyrical content of the title track. “I first remember thinking holy shit, these are bizarre lyrics. But no one else can get away with that. Sam just has a way of putting shit in songs. If I wrote that down on a piece of paper, I don’t think I’d ever show a soul.”

Recent singles, ‘Manny’, ‘Sunscreen’ and ‘Stars In My Eyes’ show off just a taste of the weirdness to come, with eclectic guitar and synth coupled with relentless, driving drums. But even choosing these songs as the first preview for fans was tough. “We’ve never had an album where it’s been so difficult to pick what the singles might be,” says Hanson. “There’s so much depth on this one. It’s a good problem to have, but still a problem when you’re trying to pick a single and you’re not sure which one to go with, because all of them could play a role. I’m so excited to get feedback from people who aren’t directly involved in making the record.”

This feedback is crucial for Ball Park Music. Reflection on their previous six albums has often enforced where the band goes next, particularly in regards to where they’ve pushed their sound in the past. “You think in the moment that you’re pushing it too far. We think at the end of every record; we did push it, but we could’ve gone further. Maybe it’s when you get to that last moment in the mixing, you get a little bit scared that you’re making an alienating record, or it sounds a bit too polarising, so you shy away from it. But I think with every record we get a little more confident about it.”

Confidence is not only emblematic of their recording process, but within their attitude towards the music industry. Working with their own record label Prawn Records has allowed the band to guide themselves, making their own bold decisions. This is exemplified by their recent response to the delay of Weirder & Weirder’s vinyl release.

“We did everything we could to get the vinyl here on time for the tour and the record, so we had to be finished at the start of January, really pushing to have it mixed and finished. But then five months down the track we got the call from the vinyl printing plant that they can’t get nickel, because of the war in Ukraine, so they said the earliest they could get stock was December. It was the most down in the dumps I’d been in ages. But this is completely out of our control. We tried our best and there’s no one to blame.”

“The earliest we could have the record out on vinyl was by July, but we’ve got the album tour starting in June,” Hanson laments. “So we were faced with this dilemma of whether to push the whole album back or not. But we can’t go out on our album tour without our album being out.”

Frontman Sam Cromack said in a statement that “after more than two years of our industry suffering non-stop setbacks, we’ve decided to give this situation the middle finger and run in the other direction.”

The simple solution was laid out for them. “Let’s just move it forward,” says Hanson, recalling the conversation with their distributors. “Hey, is it possible to change absolutely everything and move it forward a week?”

Ball Park Music fans have a lot to look forward to now, with the earlier release of Weirder & Weirder slated for May 27, coupled with an extensive tour, landing them at the Forum Theatre on the 17th of July, accompanied by King Stingray and RAT!hammock.

Catch them when they come to Melbourne on July 16 (sold out) and July 17. Grab your tickets by heading here