We – Flagrant Délice and Socrate Flagrant – entered Miami Marketta as little boys get into into a video games store. The place was amazing. It was the perfect venue to see our newly favourite Aussie band Ball Park Music play live. But first, we had to… meet them! We pulled chairs aside in a quiet place – and by quiet, we mean INCREDIBLY NOISY thanks to another band’s soundcheck – and started talking.
| Read also the review of their concert at Miami Marketta (Ball Park Music live at Miami Marketta: a smash hit!)
Hi Sam and Jennifer! I believe you are sick of answering all the same questions, so how about we talk about how the Magpies scare people to death?
Jennifer: [Laughs] You’re not the first person to ask us that question actually. Yes, Magpies are scary.
Sam: When I was at the university, I lived near Magpies, especially a female Magpie and her babies. Every year, I would walk or ride my bike to uni and she would sweep me so much. It lasted for months and there is nothing you can do about it.
J: They are really dangerous because their beaks are so sharp, they can put a hole in your head! I heard that if you have one you can train it to attack. They are so smart, they always remember you. If you give them food they will most probably like you, become good persons.
“Hey you five, play together!”
Where did you go at the university?
S: We went to QUT (Queensland University of Technology) in Brisbane. That is where we all met. We were all studying music there.
How did Ball Park Music start? In a garage like everybody else?
S: We met at uni. There were actually a handful of classes where you had to play in a group. So that’s how we started playing, as part of a class.
J: The most successful group activity ever [laughs]
S: We did not know each other. It was just like “You five, play together”.
J: Dean and Daniel knew each other.
S: Yeah. But the rest of us, not at all!
Why this mysterious name? Where does it come from?
S: This is really not an exciting story. I was already using the name Ball Park Music when I met the guys. I was a teenager when I made up the name, and I really just liked the expression “gimme a ball park figure”, meaning “gimme an estimate”. And then we called the band Ball Park Music… It stuck… And now we found out that ball park music means the music that they play at baseball. We did not know.
J: Sometimes, if you look at the Instagram hashtag #ballparkmusic, you’ll find pictures of us and also photos of baseball!
We were actually wondering if it was your target, playing in baseball stadiums…
S: Well, I felt a bit stupide that I did not realize that.
J: Oh, don’t feel stupid, you’re alright!
Did you always know that you wanted to play music, as a career?
S: Personally, I had always had the ambition to play in the band and I think most of us pretty much did.
J: I think we all wanted to do music, at some degree or another. So, it kind of worked out for all of us to pursue that.
S: We were all very young when we met, sort of 20 or under. At that stage, no one had become a responsible adult yet. We were just like “yeah, let’s become rockstars!”, just at the right time.
How do you compose music? Altogether?
S: Traditionally, I would be the main songwriter. I would write songs and then bring the songs to the group and work it as a group. It began to change with time. The new record was much more collaborative. I probably still right most of the songs but there’s a few songs that were written by other people and a few co-writes that we wrote together. The whole process was more collaborative on the new record. It’s becoming more flexible. If everyone has an idea, we’ll explore it.
“Mistakes became part of the songs”
We heard that you decided to record Ball Park Music new album on a 4-track tape. Why did you choose to do that?
S: Well, a few reasons. I think, whether it was 4-track or 8-track or 100-track, I really wanted to do an album that would be really live, playing altogether. We found a really good studio that had a great room for us to play in, which had a bunch of tape machines. It was actually our producer who went to the studio to check it out. I was thinking of maybe an 8-track machine, which would have been more normal. But he was like “you know, the 4-track machine is my favorite machine. Let’s use it!”. So we were like “ok…”. But it went so well! On the first day, we started doing a song and I think we were seduced all of a sudden. It was even better that what we could have imagined. Exactly what he had hoped it would be. It was a revelation: this is the best, we should do all our music like this.
J: I don’t want to do it differently again, I liked it so much!
In Nihilist Party Anthem clip, you will get a pretty good impression of how Ball Park Music recorded Every Night The Same Dream
Did you feel like you were recording like bands in the past?
S: Yeah for sure! We definitely liked that feeling. The tracks included a mistake here a mistake there, from at least one of the members. But at the end you’re like “it doesn’t matter, this track has a good vibe”. It was fun, just good fun. Our producer is big on getting this sense of magic and vibe over being technically perfect. A lot of the songs that we have put on our records have obvious mistakes in them. But we’re like: who cares.
J: It just became part of the song.
S: I remember our producer showing us Black Dog by Led Zeppelin. And it’s got a massive mistake in the middle of it, and I don’t know if people are aware of that, and our producer is like “come on, listen to this! They fucked it up. It’s one of the most famous rock songs ever, who cares?”.
Do you play the mistakes live?
J: Yeah, for some of the songs. We had listened to the record so many times that we felt it should be played because it became part of the song.
S: One of the songs on the new album called Every Since I Turned The Lights On. It was just a jam that we had. Our drummer Daniel makes a massive mistake, it totally falls apart for a second. And when we play live, I look at him in the corner of my eye, I’m like “come on, do the mistake”.
What is the craziest thing you have done on stage/touring?
J: The one that always brings to mind for me is the time, in Brisbane actually, and you [talking to Sam] poured a bottle of red wine in front of the audience, stripped down to your underpants, and you jumped into the audience, covered in red wine and nearly naked.
S: Yeah, that was a good one!
Ready to do it again tonight?
J: Well that was a long time ago. We certainly grew up since. We like to put the wine inside our bodies now.
“We realized things are going really well for us if we don’t care too much”
Do you have one big target in mind for Ball Park Music? A huge dream?
S: For me personally, we used to have a lot of obvious goals. And then as years have gone on I stopped caring about that. I still kind of secretly have a few goals in my heart, but I’m not worried about them so much. If they happen they happen.
J: We stopped thinking about future. We do what we’re doing, focus on this and enjoy it.
S: I think we realized that things are going really well for us if we don’t care so much. If we just focus on ourselves and focus on ourselves. If we’re less ambitious, things come better for us.
It can be a good motto. What are your greatest influences?
J: We have quite an eclectic mix of artists that we listen to individually. There’s a hit that all Ball Park Music members love: The Beatles. And Red Hot Chili Peppers.
S: I always say the same bands! They are not necessarily our biggest influences but we happen to listen to them altogether.
Funny because the question we traditionally ask at the end of interviews to every band is: what’s your favourite Beatles’ album. So what is it?
S: Mine… Oh, this is such a difficult question. Sometimes people ask “which album would you bring to a desert island?”. And I say the White Album because it’s great and it’s long [laughs]. And then I sort of think, if I was a critic then I’d choose Revolver. But I think my personal favourite is Magical Mystery Tour.
J: I’m not sure that I can answer that question. I’ve always been a Revolver fan. I would go for that one!
Do you still listen to a lot of music?
J: I think I’m a bit different to Sam on that matter. I get a bit fatigued. I don’t feel like listening to music all the time, but I go through periods when I find new music to listen to. And that really excites me because I’m usually stuck to old music that I’ve been listening to all my life.
S: I am sort of disappointed that I don’t listen to more music. I think that when music becomes your whole life, it’s becoming harder to find some space. It’s not the same magic when I listen to music than when I was a kid. It’s a lot more analytical. I think too much and don’t use my heart enough. But sometimes I think “yes, this is awesome”. It has happened for a couple of records this year.
Whitney’s album. Then… Car Seat Headrest. We listened a lot to their new album Teens of Denial. A really cool American band.
“We got in in the morning and nailed it!”
Do you have a favourite track on Every Night The Same Dream?
J: My favourite one is Leef. It’s been my favourite since long before we recorded it, when it was still at demo stage. I was so hard to record it, it brought tears and stress and worry. It was the hardest one to record. But all the good memories it brings have taken over those memories.
S: Yes, I would agree. The song is very dear to me and it was such a struggle to get it right in the studio. We did like 40 takes, compared to some other songs that took only two takes. It’s the only time we gave up and said “let’s try again tomorrow”.
J: Then we got in in the morning and nailed it. It was such a relief to know that we had done it, and exactly in the way that we wanted it. It makes me cry still.
Leef, Sam and Jennifer’s favourite song on Ball Park Music new album
Where did you record the new album?
S: We did most of the recording in a studio in a town near Victoria called Castle Main, and the studio is called Sound Recordings. It’s a cool place, many people have recorded there. So we recorded there and did the vocals in my house in Brisbane.
We’re now more than excited to see you on stage.
J: Thank you guys, we’ll play a lot of songs of the new album!
That’s great, we must say we have a big crush on it. It’s our favourite Ball Park Music album so far.
S: It’s my favourite too!