Spark Up with Ball Park Music's Self-Titled New Album
A stunning new self-titled album, a residency at The Triffid and Ball Park Music (BPM) signature cocktails? I can definitely get around this.
The first taste of Ball Park Music’s self-titled album came in February just as the world was heading into lockdown. ‘Spark Up!’ was an instant pick-me-up to help us through these challenging and changing times. In June we were treated to yet another taste of what’s to come with the release of ‘Day & Age’, followed by their gorgeous slow-burn track ‘Cherub’ in August. With three cuts from the record now roaming wild, their new LP is set for release on Friday 23rd October 2020.
We were lucky enough to get in touch with BPM’s guitarist, Dean Hanson, and have a chat about the new album, as well as their new record label, and being inspired by themselves.
The Creative Issue: So, this is your sixth studio album, did you guys record this before or during the COVID pandemic?
Dean Hanson: I think the record was pretty much 99% recorded before COVID. The day we released the first single, ‘Spark Up’ was pretty much the day the government started to panic and start closing everything down, so it’s kind of bookmarked the beginning of our album cycle.
TCI: That’s pretty good timing! You didn’t have to go through that difficult recording process that most musicians have had to go through during COVID.
DH: Yeah exactly! When it first kicked off, we didn’t see each other for like eight weeks because like everyone else, we wanted to be as cautious as possible.
TCI: As well as the upcoming album, you guys will also be releasing your record label, “Prawn Records”. What are some of your goals for the label?
DH: Well, initially, we’re sort of just getting our head around the whole label thing at the moment with our own record, which is a great way to learn – our team are helping us as well to understand the ins and outs of everything that’s involved, and yeah hopefully once we’ve gotten through this record campaign and learned everything, we’d love to start fostering a Brisbane music community around our label, whether that’s signing bands, or if it’s just hosting events, helping people where they need help, and basically just being a shoulder to lean on really! In terms of commercial success, we don’t really have any goals toward the label at this point in time, but we would love to be able to help people out if they’re interested. We’ve got a lot of experience in the industry now, so we have a willingness to share that experience.
TCI: You guys are doing a residency at The Triffid – thirteen shows, with your own signature cocktails and food named after the band which is pretty huge! How did that idea come around and what are you hoping for?
DH: Obviously, gigs have been few and far between this year, so we’ve been hoping that we could possibly put some sort of event on around the record release. Typically, we would do a free show in the city mall or something, and go and play in record stores and do signings, but all those things are kind of difficult at the moment, so then we just tossed up the idea of playing a single show at The Triffid, which is what we did for the release of our last record – we just did a little acoustic thing in the beer garden at The Triffid, and then we sort of just threw that one out there and then the negotiations with them started, and then it kind of turned into us playing a few shows over the weekend and ‘oh what if we keep selling tickets’ and then it turned into l just keep doing shows as long as people keep buying tickets and wanna go and it just snowballed into – if we’re gonna be there for a week, might as well rather than loading in and out every night, let’s just bring a whole heap of Ball Park memorabilia and do a little bit of a take-over so it’s pretty exciting!
TCI: Who and/or what were your inspirations behind the album?
DH: Funny, I haven’t been asked that one yet. My answer is gonna sound super corny, but I think we were mostly inspired by ourselves this time around, like our attitude towards the whole thing was like, let’s not try and massage this record into a certain place or make it sound like anything else, let’s just get every individual song and then treat them as their own individual theme and lean into it, like everyone play to their own strengths and instrument and yeah we sort of just went about it that way, so I guess that’s why we self-titled it too because it’s quintessentially Ball Park, and in saying that, we’ve covered so much ground over our last few records that it’s probably inspired by everyone and anyone who’s ever released anything!
TCI: I heard that the album wasn’t always going to be self-titled and had a different title – what made you change plans?
DH: The title we were working on was ‘Mostly Sunny’ and we did announce that it was going to be called that, and then we decided it’s not a great album name for this year and it just didn’t feel right. At first, we were like “oh yeah that’s really nice” because it follows off our last record which was called Good Mood. We started listening to this record a bit more and started thinking about it and it was just an inappropriate name, and the attitude on the record isn’t really ‘Mostly Sunny’ at all. There’s some darker themes, I mean, the music is upbeat and stuff. When we were talking about changing it, we suggested self-titled and it just felt right. It feels like a bit of a new beginning for us as well, you know, after a few albums into our career, we’re confident with where we’re at now.
TCI: I was lucky enough to have a listen to the album and I’m already in love – which songs are you most excited for people to hear, apart from the singles that have already been released?
DH: So many of them! It’s so hard to answer, like, I love that the singles we’ve released so far aren’t necessarily a perfect representation of what the rest of the record is, so I’m really excited for people to put it on and hopefully be surprised. The whole first side of the record is kind of rocky, upbeat and energetic and I’m excited for people to hear that, and every song on the record has a little easter egg or a little surprise in it – we threw so many curve balls where the song will just have some weird bridge that doesn’t belong anywhere near that track, and I’m excited to see peoples’ reactions to those kinds of risks.
TCI: I particularly loved ‘Bedroom’, such a tune!
DH: Definitely excited for people to hear that one too. As a band, we really love that song and we feel like it just reeks of Ball Park Music – when we finished recording it, we put a tweet up saying, “I think we’ve just recorded the most Ball Park sounding song we’ve ever made”. So, we’re interested to see if people dig it or they don’t, it could be a polarising one.
TCI: Is there anything you’ve learned about yourselves or anything else during the creative and recording experience for this album?
DH: I think that we’re confident and feel relaxed with where we’re at in our career this time. I think we did the least amount of searching on this record for anything, you know. We sort of just started the recording process and writing process without necessarily having too many crises or conversations about “where do we want to take this one?” – we just kind of went “let’s keep doing us”. It’s the first time ever that we didn’t need to go out searching for where we wanted to land this year or in the physical soundscape in Australia in particular or what lane we were going to occupy, we just went “I think we found it!”, let’s just stay in that lane, you know I think that’s why people have been interested in our band for so many years and it doesn’t really feel like we need to do that much soul searching anymore. Who knows, our next record will probably be ridiculous. I’d say if we’ve learned anything, given we’ve made a few records now, it would be that just playing to your strengths and sticking to your guns can sometimes work out really well.
Listening to this album was an emotional rollercoaster – in a good way of course. Prepare your feels for the release of Ball Park Music’s self-titled album on this Friday the 23rd of October.
Buy tickets to The Residency here.
Pre-order album + merch here.