Interview: Ball Park Music on their eponymous album, recording in summer and the Big Prawn

Ball Park Music are undoubtably one of the biggest indie pop-rock bands in the Australian music scene. With their sixth studio album on the way and over a decade of packing out shows, the Brisbane five-piece have shown no signs of becoming irrelevant.

In fact, their upcoming 13-show residency at The Triffid has just a handful of tickets remaining to one of the nights with the rest of the dates rapidly selling out. The proof is in the pudding(head): fans cannot get enough.

With a steady two-year turnaround between LPs, 2020’s release marks a turning point for Ball Park Music. Their eponymous record is the most encapsulating of their twelve years together and their first album released through their label Prawn Records. It’s both a sonic and physical feat for the band that originally formed through a university group assignment (the most successful group assignment in history, if you ask us).

We dialled in with the full band to catch up on Ball Park Music, their upcoming residency and hear about their photo with the Big Prawn.

Ball Park Music. How we all doing?

Ball Park Music: Good!

Congrats guys on your sixth studio album. I had a cheeky listen, and I would put down on record that it’s my favourite out of your six albums.

Jennifer Boyce: That’s awesome.

You’ve gone for an eponymous title for this one, and I’m pretty curious about that decision because that’s normally kind of a debut thing when people go for a self-titled album being like, “This is us in a package, this is our brand.” But you’re obviously more than a decade into your career as a band. Why did you decide to do that now?

Dean Hanson: I was saying before we had definitely… I think every band that hasn’t had a self-titled record finishes all their records and goes, “Can we call this one a self-titled album”? I think it’s always up in the air.

I think we’ve thought about it for every record we’ve made, but it just didn’t feel right. And I think that this one is probably the latest in the pace that self-titled was suggested pretty much after we’d already named it as something else and released it.

Yeah, Mostly Sunny. Yeah, yeah, yeah. And then announced it was Mostly Sunny as well!

Dean: It was extremely late in the piece. But yeah, when we suggested it this time it just felt right. It felt like a no brainer. It was just absolutely. It’s our first record we’re releasing independently on our own label and yeah, I think the music reflects lots of different sides to our band over the years that we’ve kind of taken ownership of and yeah it just feels good.

That’s nice. Yeah, so you think it’s like kind of the most encapsulating of your journey so far?

Dean: Yeah, definitely. But it also, like I’m a personally a hater of people thinking bands get stale as they release more and more music. I’m a believer in the evolution you can just keep going. So if anything, it’s kind of a bit of a rebirth, you know, calling this one Ball Park Music. Like, “Here we are” kind of putting our front foot forward and yeah.

The Renaissance, I love that. I wanted to ask you about Prawn Records. When did this all launch, your newly founded label and what’s the big vision for Prawn? And why ‘Prawn’? Why did you name it ‘Prawn Records’?

Sam Cromack: Oh, the story behind how it became Prawn is like really bad, but possibly worth telling, guys?

Jen: It’s definitely a long, weird story.

Sam: Daniel and Dean, a very long time ago, started saying things were ‘pimp’, like, not just like…

Dean: There’s was a quote from the movie Dukes of Hazzard with Johnny Knoxville. And what’s his name? Sean William Scott. And in there’s a guy that just says like, ‘Oh, this is Pimp’. So it just was a catchy quote thing. And then we realised saying ‘Pimp’ is just a horrible saying, when then started just changing the word until like, ‘Oh, that’s brrrr’ or ‘brrrppt’. And then one day, one of us said that’s ‘Prawn’ to mean something was good. And then it stuck. And it’s one of those horrible things. It stuck. And that’s the name of our label.

Sam: We’ve been legitimately being saying things are ‘Prawn’, when they’re good, for a really long time.

Jen: And you accidentally use it in day-to-day conversation with someone else and they’re, ‘Is that good or…?’. Oh yeah, it’s great. It’s a really good thing.

Dean: And that prawn is just a lovely, humble creature like all of us.

Jen: We celebrate the Big Prawn!

Guys, you should get a little photo under the Big Prawn. That’d be sick.

Ball Park Music: We’ve got one, we do have one.

I’m late to that party!

Sam: We’ll email it to you.

Please do. I’ll set it as my desktop background. No, I’ll set it as my Zoom background! I’d love that. Because there’s also the saying of like, if someone’s a prawn, I’ve heard, it’s, “keep the body, leave the head” sort of thing. Which is a little bit mean?

Sam: I like those people. I think people with ugly faces, they’re so cool.

They’re more interesting people, I agree. I agree. Okay.

Well, let’s go back to the album instead of the prawn. Tell me about the process for this one, because you made this a little bit differently. It was entirely your creation from beginning through to production. And I heard it was kind of the most gruelling album to make, is that correct?

Sam: Yeah.

What’s the realities of that?

Dan Hanson: I don’t know what it is. But, we always end up going into a recording period at the height of summer, it’s always just hot as f**k. And the space that we’re in this time is a dedicated music space. But, it’s in a tin shed and the sun would just beat down on the roof.

It had an air conditioner that would turn into a water feature and it would just ice up and then spit out water. And it didn’t, it did nothing to cool the room down. And then when, you know, you’ve got to turn the air conditioning off as well to get some of the recording done.

So it was just so disgusting. There was no reprieve from that. And then the space is surrounded by other musicians as well. So…

Sam: And a mechanic.

Dan: Yeah and there’s a mechanic next door. So we’d be, we’d get there early in the morning and have a few hours of recording that was pretty clear while it was still cool. But nearly the same time every day, four or five drummers would rock up at the same time, right as we were getting really involved in the recording that we were doing, and we called it ‘drumageddon’, same time every day. And it would just completely spoil the momentum that we had, add that to the heat and it was just, it just was really unpleasant. There were so many good moments that were just constantly interrupted by this f**king chaos that was happening.

Sam: It’s made me laugh, realising that the one record we’ve recorded during winter, we called GOOD MOOD.

Jen: And it was, it was such a good mood!

That’s got to say something. It’s almost literally the most blood, sweat and tears you’ve put into a record then. A lot of sweat!

Jen: So much!

Dean: The biggest trough for me of whole thing was when I got a banana smoothie from the cafe around the corner, it was like $11. And it came in a little takeaway cup and I finished it in two minutes. And that’s when I was just thinking, this is bullshit, this whole thing is a hoax. I was thinking that I’ll just get a little bundle of joy in, you know, my day, a little banana smoothie and it just sucked. And then we went away for Christmas and we came back and the vibe was high.

You need a little break. It’s almost like… In summer when you just want a cold drink and like… You know at music festivals, there was just one stage where they were selling watermelon slices and they were $12 for a single slice because they knew people would pay for it, because you like, “Oh, you just want this little piece of happiness, it’s so hot”

Dean: Exactly.

Speaking of good times ahead then. You’ve got a residency at The Triffid, which is huge. How many dates is it ended up? How many shows is it ended up?

Jen: 13! Thirteen shows.

Geez. That’s insane. That’s going to be awesome. You must be pumped?

Paul Furness: So good.

Jen: We’ve had to start working out to get back to be match fit because we are not match fit.

Is it actually very physically demanding? Do you find that you sometimes when you get back into touring, you’re like, “Oh my God”

Jen: Yeah. Pretty much with every single show, I feel that we get home after every show and then just be like, ‘ah, my body’!

Sam: It’s a weird ask on the body, hey, it’s not really like comparable to any exercise.

Jen: It is a strange thing.

Sam: Us guitar players all get terrible shoulders from like, after not doing it for so long, just standing with like this heavy object slung across your shoulders. I guess Daniel and Paul have got to squirm on a stool for a couple of hours each time.

Paul: I do nothing!

Jen: Paul is actually probably the one who does the most exercise outside of times.

Dean: We definitely put on weight during shows – it’s the beer that goes in.

Jen: Oh yeah, the amount the beer that goes in!

Dean: Yeah, the beer keeps going in, but nothing’s coming out!

Sam: Can confirm.

Hey, life’s about balance, am I right?

Sam: Absolutely.

Dean: In saying that, one time at Groovin’ The Moo once, Paul literally ate his dinner during our set. It was on the keyboard and what did you have? Was it like nachos, or something?

Paul: There was definitely vegetables.

Jen: He had a steak and veggies, one time. You had a steak knife and everything!

Dan: There was a baked potato and you held it up on your fork to me like ‘ha ha ha, look at me!’.

Jen: ‘Look a me, I can eat!’.

That is a big rockstar energy just there.

Paul: Bit crazy.

Jen: Biggest rockstar in the band.

Dan: It gets so wild over at Ball Park…

Going off! You should see how far you can stretch that, like what sort of banquet you can bring out onto your keys and get away with. Entree, main dessert…

Sam: We’ll put a lazy Susan on…

Jen: Can you eat your dinner during these shows, Paul?

Paul: I can, absolutely.

Jen: That’d be lovely.

Sam: How good would a sushi train running around the stage be…

Jen: That would be so cute!

That is actually such a good idea. That’s a great idea! And then they’re all in their own little containers, so it’s kind of like COVID safe, you know? Pretty good.

You do have memorabilia all around The Triffid though. That’s pretty exciting. What’s your most exciting piece to dig up for the decking out?

Sam: Well, we’ve actually still got to kind of sort through all that shit. We basically have done all our tours over the years and we finished the tour and all the props and banners just kind of get shoved in a box and put in the corner of our studio. And we’ve literally not opened any of those boxes. So maybe we’re just going to find a whole bunch of silverfish. I’ve still got the Puddinghead. What do you call that thing?

Jen: Helmet mask.

Sam: Costume headpiece at my house. My daughter likes it, actually.

Dean: Have we all still got pieces of the guitar that we smashed in the “iFly” clip? I think I’ve got some, so that’s, that’s my contribution to…

Sam: Really, I did not know you had that.

Jen: I didn’t either. Get that framed and we’ll chuck it up on the wall, Deano.

It could be like, you know that scene from Monsters Inc. when they re-piece the door back together that’s been shredded to get Boo back and they have that one little portal.

Dean: So satisfying when that little piece goes in the light, bing!

I’m intrigued by your Ball Park Music signature cocktail. What’s in that?

Dean: What have we ended up on?

Jen: I think it’s essentially…

Paul: Bourbon, mint and something?

Jen: It’s essentially a Mint Julep.

Ooh. Okay. Mint is kind of a divisive one. Like, I feel like you can, but it’s not exactly like a big crowd-pleaser. You’ve got a little bit of an edge with that.

Dan: That suits Ball Park perfectly… Not a big crowd-pleaser.

Are you serious you guys? You guys have been like headlining! What are you on about?

Dan: I’m just playing.

It’s the Renaissance.

Paul: None of us has tasted it yet though.

Jen: I wouldn’t be surprised if like they make it at the venue, they taste it and then be like, ‘we’re not doing this’. And then they’ll just come up with their own easy BPM cocktail and be like, ‘yeah it’s a mystery, we don’t even know what’s in it’.

BPM. What else could you…? Bourbon…

Jen: Beer, Malibu…

Pineapple.

Jen: There you go. Beer, pineapple and Malibu!

Paul: You could do Bacardi as well.

Jen: Bacardi, milk and pineapple.

Just your own take on a Pina Colada.

Dean: Malibu would have been great actually.

Jen: It can be coconut milk. You don’t have to say what kind of M it is. Coconut, pineapple and Malibu.

All right, before I let you guys go, Sam, I want to check in on your new year’s resolution of using single use coffee cups. How’s that going?

Sam: Oh, what a f**king joke.

What do you mean? You’ve been at home for half a year. Surely that’s all right.

Sam: I can’t believe that I was like, ‘Oh, I’ll just, I’m just going to pick one new year’s resolution and I’m actually going to stick to it’ and you know, I’ve, like everyone else, seen all that info thought time to get serious with the keep cup. Yeah. Nek minnit COVID. Not even allowed to f**king use a keep cup. And hell no am I going without coffee, so I’ve probably thrown more bloody coffee cups into the ground the in the last ten years combined, this year.

Jen: Yeah. It’s a shame.

That is a shame. What about you guys? What did everyone else have on their resolution list, that’s absolutely failed?

Jen: Oh, I don’t think I made one. So maybe I’m winning.

Dean: Yeah, whatever it was, it failed.

Jen: Whatever it was, I’m not doing it.

I’m right there with you. Ball Park Music, thank you so much for chatting with me guys and best of luck with your run of dates. I am so jealous I can’t be there. And congrats on the new album! It’s awesome!

Ball Park Music: Thank you so much!

Ball Park Music’s self-titled album Ball Park Music is out Friday 23 October. Pre-order your copy HERE. You can keep up to date with BPM via Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

BALL PARK MUSIC THE TRIFFID RESIDENCY

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