After almost 10 years on the scene, indie pop-rock band Ball Park Music have become one of Australia’s most revered and prolific ensembles. BPM launched 2018 with the release of their fifth album, GOOD MOOD (which received a glowing review here at Catalyst), and the quintet are set to embark on their thirteenth(!) tour kicking off in September, co-headlining with seasoned virtuosos, San Cisco. Catalyst’s Siri Smith spoke to frontman Sam Cromack about the evolution of Ball Park Music and what lies ahead.
It’s been a big year so far for BPM, and GOOD MOOD has ruled as their most positive writing experience. “We were trialling a new approach with everything,” Sam told me, “It’s really in our nature to overthink everything, we have a tendency to doubt ourselves and lose our minds.” But GOOD MOOD was approached with more confidence and optimism than previous albums, living up to its attuned title. “By the end of it we realised ‘wow,’ this is what this experience has been like, and that’s why we wanted to call the album that.” With a new studio space, BPM self-produced this record (just like 2014’s Puddinghead) and drummer Daniel Hanson helped Sam co-write songs on GOOD MOOD – a feat different to previous albums. “The whole recording journey is rinsing and repeating; but the emotional one you as a songwriter go through with a group of friends is what is changing and evolving.”
The tour veterans will start their co-headlining shows in the coming weeks, stepping up to much grander stages. “We were unsure as to whether we could fill those bigger venues on our own,” Sam noted. “We thought a cool way to do it would be to get another act similar to ourselves to co-headline.” Energies are high for BPM going into rehearsals accompanied by the accomplished indie band San Cisco and Unearthed J Award Nominee Ruby Fields. “[San Cisco] have been in the game for a long time, we always see them at festivals and have always caught up for a yarn.” The Australiana themed tour may even include an Aussie anthem cover by the headliners. Fronting the social media promotion is Jen, Scarlett and Ruby, bringing girl power to the Australian music scene. “Jen had a really awesome time with the girls – Ruby is a legend.”
After the massive shows, BPM plan to wrap up their GOOD MOOD album campaign – but there are whispers of something not too far beyond the horizon. “It’s been quite a few years since we’ve done a big regional tour.” Once touring is finished, BPM will be taking some time off to focus on the future and figuring out “whatever the hell is going to come next”. Sam has been “tinkering away” at songs for future albums recently, spending more time jamming in the studio with band member Dan. Having spent years together, Dan told Sam he sounded more liberated in his writing, saying he was “doing whatever” and not worrying. “I feel like it’s taken a long time to get to that point, but writing feels like the natural thing to do.”
Being in a band is a “real mix of emotions” for leading man Sam Cromack. A decade of Ball Park Music has brought one of the most positive album experiences for the band but staying relevant in the musical sphere can be daunting for the artists. “The other side of it is like ‘oh god’, we must be getting older.” Despite anxieties, the Aussie stars are very proud of what they have accomplished in both their music and friendships, leaving them in a pretty good mood for future tunes.