Ball Park Music want to thank ewe
First things first, Australia Day saw the announcement of Radio Station Triple J’s Hottest 100 with Ball Park Music achieving two slots in the top 30 with “Surrender” and “Coming Down”. What was your reaction to this and did you have a celebration on the day?
Yeah, I did, I was just at Matt’s house, he’s recorded both our albums, it was really crappy weather in Brisbane and everybody was just sitting by the pool, I was swimming in the pool and there was a bit of joy amongst everyone but this year was a bit different. I mean, last year was the first time we ever got in the Hottest 100 so everybody was well and truly drunk and really going hard so this year was a bit more of a subdued affair but we were still stoked. It was a great result and a great response from our fans; it was lovely.
Last time we spoke, it was still in the months preceding the Weezer January tour and you expressed a little bit of apprehension that the audience would take to your performance considering the enormity of the band. How did you find it in the end? Did you enjoy yourselves?
The Weezer tour was really, really fun, everything about it was a real delight. It was really well organised, playing in those venues where the backstage area was massive, really nice and there was awesome catering, which I know is really quite a minor point but it’s extremely exciting for someone who goes on the road a lot. We played to some surprisingly good crowds, who showed up early to see us, which was very courteous of them. It was awesome; we had a great time, made a lot of new fans and got our name out there. I think it was a really beneficial tour, I think Weezer were grateful for having us too, we exchanged contacts and asked what we were up to in the future blah blah blah, so that was great.
Where did the idea for the Thank Ewes tour come from and what is your ultimate aim for it?
Well, I often hang out with my friend (who is my girlfriend’s cousin) and he’s a designer, he did the artwork and design for Museum, that whole album. We get together to talk about art for covers, design and stuff like that and I was talking about the tour and we were just saying that we couldn’t believe we were doing another Australian tour because, from my point of view, it feels like I’ve toured Australia a million times, I can’t believe people still want to come to the show. We were saying that we really want to thank the fans and give quite a sentimental pitch. I mentioned that inside the Museum album cover where we did the ‘thank you’s’ for the record we wrote it ‘thank ewes’ and he suggested we do a poster with the band and a sheep and just call it the Thank Ewes tour, I was like, “that’s genius”, plus, it meant that we got to do a photo shoot with a sheep. We just pitched it to everyone and made the whole thing happen, it’s going really well and I think it would have been boring to just call it the Thank You tour…puns are a significant part of life.
Are we to take it then that the tour is largely for the fans? To give the massive fanbase you’ve accrued another chance to see you perform with one more round of Australia?
Yeah, as I said before, it feels weird for us touring Australia so often so we may as well go out with a bang, put on one final tour of the capital cities and to take the opportunity to thank everyone who’s supported us over the years because this will be our only headline tour in Australia for the rest of the year. After that, we’ll probably retreat a bit, take the time to focus on some overseas markets and also start chipping away at our next record.
It seems that Ball Park Music has a propensity for producing albums fairly quickly, with Museum being released about six months after the debut, Happiness and Surrounding suburbs, are we to gather that a new album will be on its way out this year?
Well, we have started working on it but I don’t think we’ll be releasing it in that same sort of time frame. This time we’ll take a bit longer to hone what we’re doing. We’ll probably aim for a release some time next year and that’s nice because it’s the first time we’ve done that, you know, take our time. I don’t think that we screwed Museum up but it was interesting doing an album really quickly and I think we’re really proud of it, given the circumstances but I think from a song-writing point of view, there’s a few things that I would have either cut from the album or just changed, had I had a bit more time to think about it. We just did it so quickly that everything got thrown on and there was a lot of shit going on at that time too, so we did our best. I think, given the circumstances, it was good, but this time we’re definitely looking forward to going a bit slower and letting some of the songs linger for a good couple of months so we can really think about what they need and how they need to be structured.
Are you going to be testing the waters with new tracks by playing them on the Thank Ewes tour at all?
Yeah, I think we’ve agreed to play at least one new song on the tour but I think we’ll probably rehearse a few, to think about what we like the best or what we’re capable of playing the best. I have no idea what it’s like to be a fan of Ball Park Music so I don’t know if that’s an exciting thing; if people want to come wanting to hear something new or they just want to hear the old stuff that they’re already familiar with, that they love. I guess if we give a little bit of a teaser that keeps people thinking about what lies ahead.
To be fair, I remember Ball Park playing Fence Sitter at the UNSW Roundhouse before Museum was even released and it seemed to spark a great reception from the audience, I think you produce enough of a good live atmosphere that people are willing to be enthusiastic about new tracks… ”
I remember that gig actually and it’s awesome that you were there because that was a really fun show; I had a really fun night. That was the first time that we did bust out some new material and it’s weird to think there was a time we used to tour Australia and no one knew who the hell we were, we played songs no-one had ever heard. Now we play sets where everyone knows nearly everything and you feel like you’re being a real arsehole or risk-taker for playing something they’ve never heard before. I just think you have to remember where you came from and remember that the audience aren’t stupid, a lot of people are interested in what you do and they want to hear all sorts of songs. The other thing is, you’ve always got the expectation to play the upbeat kind of shit and not do the weirder, slower, ballady kind of stuff. I mean, it’s awesome that ‘Coming Down’ became a single as well because that’s a fairly slow, humble little song; it’s awesome to play gigs now and have people singing that back at us.
Ball Park Music performed year’s Triple J One Night Stand, I’d imagine you must feel some sense of loyalty (for want of a better word) to Triple J as it is where most of your fans have discovered your music, do you feel you have a good relationship with the station for the opportunities you’ve been given?
Yeah, you’re totally right, we’ve been loyal to them and they’ve been loyal to us, too. I know lots of people in Australia get funny about Triple J in the relationships they have with some bands. It’s easy to be cynical about it but it’s a real relationship that we’ve nurtured, we’ve always tried to step up to the mark when they’ve given us opportunities and we’ve tried our best to keep delivering good music for them to play; they’ve treated us really well.
As much as is seen on the band’s Facebook page and photographs in media releases, you all seem to get on extremely well, is this accurate? Particularly regarding the huge amount of time you must spend together, does it ever get taxing?
I know it’s a bit of a cliché but the best comparison is family because it’s kind of like when you think about your own family, you’re typically very close to these people but then you also have times when you think, “why are we together? We have nothing in common,” and “how did I get into this situation?” because it is kind of strange. We know each other so well but again, like families, we often don’t share everything as you would with your closest friends. We have this closeness in our bond but there’s also a distance there, we don’t have to share everything about ourselves but whatever our dynamic is, it works. We’ve spent so, so many hours around each other in the same van, the same room or the same venue, often hungry, bored, irritated or tired, hungover, whatever and we still manage to make it work. It’s to the point where, if I travel with anyone that isn’t one of my band members, it feels strange. It’s just a familiar and comfortable feeling to see their faces and know we’re together. It really is like family, we can travel for hundreds of kilometres in a van and not have to say a word to one another; you know when you achieve that with someone? There’s no need to try and have to stimulate one another, you’re just happy in each other’s presence? It’s like that. It’s a really good friendship that I’m really blessed to have.
Ball Park Music are on tour in Australia this June/July. Find the dates on Facebook.
Interview by Elfy Scott.