Antigone Anagnostellis chats to the boys from Ball Park Music about fame, tea and multi-tasking.
They say men can’t multitask, yet Sam Cromack can entertain a huge crowd while at the same time making a cuppa. It seems a difficult task, but Cromack is used to the juggling act. He and the boys from Ball Park Music are concurrently preparing for their national Thank Ewes tour and writing and producing the third album they’ve released since 2011.
It’s this all-or-nothing mentality that has helped the band progress from a bunch of rag-tag musicians playing small gigs in Brisbane to radio regulars. Much of their success can be attributed to their ability to balance pop allure with skilful song writing, sweet harmonies, shredding solos and the occasional F-bomb in the chorus. So far in 2013, Ball Park Music have played South by Southwest, hit up Dubbo for the 10th annual One Night Stand gig and made their way onto the triple j Hottest 100 list.
All of which means that Cromack will have to update the bucket list he made for himself at age 17.
“It was kind of cute, I was so modest about it. A lot of that stuff I’ve already done – things like ‘I want to make an album before I die’, ‘I want to do at least one tour before I die’. I just did that so long ago and so many things that I never thought would happen have happened.”
Ball Park Music have set themselves a new challenge for their latest, as yet untitled, album by taking control of production (they previously worked Brisbane producer Matt Redlich). “We’re taking all of that knowledge and we’re setting up our own studio with all our own equipment and I’ll be sitting in the hot seat pressing ‘record’,” says Cromack.
“The aim…is to get in touch with a lot of the really direct songwriting that we had on the first record… and just release a really solid and creative album. It’s going really well so far and I’m super excited about it. We’re working in the studio three or four days a week so it’s pretty intense.”
By taking complete creative control, Cromack and the boys hope to return to the type of sound that built the foundation for their friendly relationship with Australian listeners.
Nowhere is that friendly relationship more evident than at Ball Park Music gigs.
“It’s still so exhilarating because a lot [of people]…who are there are super into your band which kind of scares me a little bit. It doesn’t make any sense. I still can’t believe that that many people show up to see us play our music. It’s really hard to take it in.”
However, Cromack says that sometimes their relationship with their fans can get a little out of hand. “We had a bit of a rock ‘n’ roll moment last time we played. We played at the Great Northern which was sold out. It was really great because we’d done shows there with really shitty crowds so it was awesome to feel like all of a sudden we could sell out a concert there.”
They started the set and a girl in the audience threw a pair of yellow knickers on stage. Being the fun-loving, playful nerdy boys they are, Cromack wore them on his head for the rest of the gig as a gag. The girl must’ve taken this as a good sign, as she came up to meet him after the set. “I think she was a bit older than me actually which also made it more awkward. I thought she was my age but she looked a bit older when I saw her up close and I didn’t know what to say.”
Ultimately, Cromack took the memorable incident in his stride, which is perhaps indicative of his laidback Brisbane attitude. “When it comes to making music everyone [in Brisbane] has that playful sort of attitude. No one wants to look too serious or too cool and they’re all really willing to take the piss out of themselves and have a laugh and I guess that translates to the music.”
As for that bucket list, after crossing off so much this early in the game it’s only natural to raise the stakes.
“The first time we got in the Hottest 100 we were in the 30s and this year we were in the 20s so it’s only natural you go…come on we can get in the teens or the top ten! Instead of selling 20 000 copies of your record let’s try and get a gold record. There’s always new things that you want to try and do if you can. We have to keep adding things to the list,” Cromack says.
After completing the national Thank Ewes tour and polishing off of their third album, Ball Park Music have plans to perform in the US, UK and Europe.
“I mean that’s exciting but it scares the crap out of me too. I think once we go those new territories and we’re back in square one we’ll have that real hunger all over again because there’ll be really clear goals when you’re there because you’re starting from so small again, so that will be kind of exciting.”