Ball Park Music channel sweat and tears into eclectic self-titled record

HECTIC: Ball Park Music are performing a 13-show residency at Brisbane's The Triffid starting on Friday to launch their self-titled sixth album. The shows will feature a unique set list each night.
HECTIC: Ball Park Music are performing a 13-show residency at Brisbane's The Triffid starting on Friday to launch their self-titled sixth album. The shows will feature a unique set list each night.

IT'S no accident that you can hear the tension and frustration seeping out of the speakers during the first half of Ball Park Music's new self-titled album.

That's exactly how the indie-rock five-piece felt.

Early last summer the band moved into a new studio space to begin work on their first album on their own label, Prawn Records. Initially, the new studio appeared ideal. It was bigger and excitement within the band was palpable.

But as a brutal Brisbane summer took hold, the studio's air-conditioning unit kicked the bucket.

"It would ice up and the leak all over our equipment," Ball Park Music frontman and chief songwriter Sam Cromack says.

"It destroyed one of [guitarist] Dean's [Hanson] amps and our studio had all these rehearsals rooms with drummers all around it and we had a mechanic on one side of the wall.

"It just wasn't ideal circumstances. We'd get rolling on a song each morning when it's cool and quiet and by lunchtime it would be so hot and we'd have drummers playing all around us.

"We couldn't work. We couldn't get any momentum on whatever we started. It was so predictable, that every session we'd lose it."

While the conditions produced a gruelling experience, it did infuse tracks like I Feel Nothing, Nothing Ever Goes My Way and My Bedroom with a frantic psych-rock edge not generally found on Ball Park Music albums.

"A lot of that felt out of necessity because he had to work quickly," Cromack says.

Ball Park Music - Cherub

"We weren't going for this real multi-tracked thing where we layered the drums and then explored all these other options. We'd just mic everything up and we'd have some quiet so we'd say, 'let's play' and we'd bash out these songs so loud and angry."

Initially the album was due to be called Mostly Sunny. But Cromack, ever The Beatles fan, felt it was finally time to deliver their own self-titled record.

The album's heavy side A and more reflective latter half was also influenced by Cromack's favourite Neil Young album, 1974's On The Beach.

"On every single record we've at least tossed the idea out there," he says. "Most people do it for a debut album, but in our minds we were thinking of albums like The White Album by The Beatles which is self-titled.

"It's been almost 10 years since our first record, I think we wanted to put a line in the sand that we could almost start a new chapter. It's almost fun to imagine it's the beginning of something new."

Ball Park Music arrives after the band's most celebrated record, Good Mood, which was voted album of 2018 by triple j listeners and featured their beloved tracks The Perfect Life Does Not Exist and Exactly How You Are.

Cromack has also taken the monumental step of becoming a father, welcoming the birth of his daughter in February 2019.

"It's indescribable how much life has changed since having a child," he says. "There's been personal growth in that time and you see the world in new ways.

"I feel like a lot of the new album was written prior to my daughter being born, but it's definitely influenced everything since then and our approach."

LIVE: Sam Cromack on stage with Ball Park Music at The Drop Festival in Newcastle last year. Picture: Andrew Brassington

LIVE: Sam Cromack on stage with Ball Park Music at The Drop Festival in Newcastle last year. Picture: Andrew Brassington

Previously Cromack has stated his concern about Ball Park Music becoming older and losing airplay on youth broadcaster triple j, who have been a passionate supporter of the band since their debut album Happiness and Surrounding Suburbs in 2011.

But the 31-year-old says he's become more confident about where he and his bandmates Jennifer Boyce (bass), Paul Furness (keys), Dean Hanson (guitar) and Daniel Hanson (drums) are heading in their careers.

"Music is primarily a young person's game and it freaks the shit out of you as you get old, but you've also got to try and forget about that shit and do what feels right to you," he says.

"I'm really proud of where the band has been able to go over the course of 10 years. I feel optimistic about being able to keep it up.

"I think you really start to keep your eyes fixed on heroes who have stayed in the game for a really long time and even gotten better as they've gone along.

"Nick Cave is the obvious one. He's a real hero of mine and he's in his 60s and is making some of the best music he's ever made.

"I think you need to have people like that you can keep in mind just to see it's not impossible to get older and make good music."

Ball Park Music's self-titled album is released on Friday.

This story Ball Park Music sweat out the big stuff for new record first appeared on Newcastle Herald.