Aussie indie rockers Ball Park Music are riding the high of their latest release GOOD MOOD all the way to Splendour and back before hitting the road with San Cisco in September for an Australian tour. We sat down with Ball Park’s Sam Cromack and Jen Boyce to chat Nirvana, politics and keeping one foot in front of the other.
We’re so excited to catch you playing with San Cisco on your Australian tour. What can we expect from two of our local favourites?
We’ve been toying with the idea of a tour like this for years. We’ve spoken to a few great bands about putting on a massive co-headline tour, but it’s always hard to nail it down with everyone having separate touring schedules/album campaigns blah blah blah. So, we’re thrilled that San Cisco are up for this! We’ve always been big fans and we think it will be really cool to do this together. Putting the power of two groups together means we can step into some bigger venues and hopefully put on some razzle-dazzle bloody shows!
It’s been a decade since you were first featured on Triple J Unearthed. What’s the journey been like from garage rock to headlining festivals across the country?
When you’re inside of the whole thing, it just feels like one foot in front of the other. We’ve had big highs and lows but we’ve just kept at it. You watch other artists come and go; they rise and/or fall all around you and in a way it’s perfect because you learn to just focus on yourself. I feel like we’re on our own path these days and we try to just better ourselves and do what makes us content as artists.
Sam, you’ve mentioned previously that you’re not loving social commentary in music, but is it unavoidable in 2018. How do you manage commentary in your writing?
I don’t think that’s entirely true. I believe artists have always expressed the sentiment of their time. I think the artist’s role is to be sensitive, to absorb reality and spew it back out for people to consume. Naturally, this is going on all the time. The artists who are particularly deft at this will strike a chord with people, whether it’s through a love song, a political song or a song about ping pong. It doesn’t matter. I guess a lot of conversations in 2018 (and to be fair, some people having been fighting the good fight for many years prior) are around whether, structurally, we have an environment in which all voices are given equal opportunities to be heard. And in my opinion the answer is clearly no. We don’t have that. I feel like the tide is slowly turning, which is encouraging, but there’s a way to go.
In answer to your question, I don’t think any given socio-political discussions necessarily have to become the subject of every release in 2018. That’s crazy. I don’t like the idea of having any kind of rules around what obligations artists should have. But again, I think talented artists can read the room. Sometimes it’s your turn to speak and other times it’s your turn to listen. I think now is a time that a lot of people could do a lot more listening.
You just missed out on making it into the Hottest 100 last year with your cover of ‘My Happiness’. How are you feeling about GOOD MOOD taking out some spots this year?
‘GOOD MOOD’ is certainly a departure from the indie-pop featured in your early records. What led to the change? Any particular artists that help shape the sound of your latest record?
Again, everything on my end just feels like a small and logical step forward. To me, GOOD MOOD felt like an amalgamation of all our prior records; something to summarise everything we’ve learnt so far. I tried quite hard when writing/recording GOOD MOOD to not shy away from anything I found interesting. There were a couple of singles from Asgeir, particularly that song called ‘Unbound’ – the production was so lush and intricate and I thought, yeah, I really wanna make more of an effort with the little details. At the same time, I was getting nostalgic for my teenage faves, listening to lots of Nirvana and thinking, fuck it, let’s rock out. I don’t care whether that’s in fashion or whatever. Making GOOD MOOD was one of the greatest times of my life. It was a very freeing and optimistic record.
Speaking of influential artists, what music will you be listening on the road?
I love the new Emma Louise song ‘Wish You Well’. It’s a triumph in my opinion. I’ve been flogging that SZA album called Ctrl, especially the song ‘Go Gina’. The new Courtney Barnettalbum is such a good little guitar feast. What else.. Ooh, love a lot of the production in that flurry of new Kanye releases. I found a cool American band called Hop Along which have some super interesting indie songs and I love the singers voice so much. And as always, my favourite “I’m gonna be sulky and look out the tour van window now” album is Nick Drake’s‘Pink Moon’. Ooh you know another good oldie is ‘Nights in White Satin’ by The Moody Blues.. I was listening to it with my Mum in her car and it really is a moody banger.
And Jen, how’s Dave the Cat going? We’re all a little worried about him!
Dave was found two weeks ago. Very dirty and lost a kilogram, but he’s home now.