Q&A: Ball Park Music riding high on ‘GOOD MOOD’

By Alyssa Richie 1 month ago

Aussie indie rockers Ball Park Music are riding the high of their latest release GOOD MOOD all the way to Splendour and back before hitting the road with San Cisco in September for an Australian tour.

We sat down with Ball Park’s Sam Cromack and Jen Boyce to chat Nirvana, politics and keeping one foot in front of the other.

We’re so excited to catch you playing with San Cisco on your Australian tour. What can we expect from two of our local favourites?

We’ve been toying with the idea of a tour like this for years. We’ve spoken to a few great bands about putting on a massive co-headline tour, but it’s always hard to nail it down with everyone having separate touring schedules/album campaigns blah blah blah. So, we’re thrilled that San Cisco are up for this! We’ve always been big fans and we think it will be really cool to do this together. Putting the power of two groups together means we can step into some bigger venues and hopefully put on some razzle-dazzle bloody shows!

It’s been a decade since you were first featured on Triple J Unearthed. What’s the journey been like from garage rock to headlining festivals across the country?

When you’re inside of the whole thing, it just feels like one foot in front of the other. We’ve had big highs and lows but we’ve just kept at it. You watch other artists come and go; they rise and/or fall all around you and in a way it’s perfect because you learn to just focus on yourself. I feel like we’re on our own path these days and we try to just better ourselves and do what makes us content as artists.

Sam, you’ve mentioned previously that you’re not loving social commentary in music, but is it unavoidable in 2018. How do you manage commentary in your writing?

I don’t think that’s entirely true. I believe artists have always expressed the sentiment of their time. I think the artist’s role is to be sensitive, to absorb reality and spew it back out for people to consume. Naturally, this is going on all the time. The artists who are particularly deft at this will strike a chord with people, whether it’s through a love song, a political song or a song about ping pong. It doesn’t matter. I guess a lot of conversations in 2018 (and to be fair, some people having been fighting the good fight for many years prior) are around whether, structurally, we have an environment in which all voices are given equal opportunities to be heard. And in my opinion the answer is clearly no. We don’t have that. I feel like the tide is slowly turning, which is encouraging, but there’s a way to go.

In answer to your question, I don’t think any given socio-political discussions necessarily have to become the subject of every release in 2018. That’s crazy. I don’t like the idea of having any kind of rules around what obligations artists should have. But again, I think talented artists can read the room. Sometimes it’s your turn to speak and other times it’s your turn to listen. I think now is a time that a lot of people could do a lot more listening.

You just missed out on making it into the Hottest 100 last year with your cover of ‘My Happiness’. How are you feeling about GOOD MOOD taking out some spots this year?

Fingers crossed!

‘GOOD MOOD’ is certainly a departure from the indie-pop featured in your early records. What led to the change? Any particular artists that help shape the sound of your latest record?

Again, everything on my end just feels like a small and logical step forward. To me, GOOD MOOD felt like an amalgamation of all our prior records; something to summarise everything we’ve learnt so far. I tried quite hard when writing/recording GOOD MOOD to not shy away from anything I found interesting. There were a couple of singles from Asgeir, particularly that song called ‘Unbound’ – the production was so lush and intricate and I thought, yeah, I really wanna make more of an effort with the little details. At the same time, I was getting nostalgic for my teenage faves, listening to lots of Nirvana and thinking, fuck it, let’s rock out. I don’t care whether that’s in fashion or whatever. Making GOOD MOOD was one of the greatest times of my life. It was a very freeing and optimistic record.

Speaking of influential artists, what music will you be listening on the road?

I love the new Emma Louise song ‘Wish You Well’. It’s a triumph in my opinion. I’ve been flogging that SZA album called Ctrl, especially the song ‘Go Gina’. The new Courtney Barnett album is such a good little guitar feast. What else.. Ooh, love a lot of the production in that flurry of new Kanye releases. I found a cool American band called Hop Along which have some super interesting indie songs and I love the singers voice so much. And as always, my favourite “I’m gonna be sulky and look out the tour van window now” album is Nick Drake’s ‘Pink Moon’. Ooh you know another good oldie is ‘Nights in White Satin’ by The Moody Blues.. I was listening to it with my Mum in her car and it really is a moody banger.…

Chatting With The Alien – Joe Satriani

By Alyssa Richie 1 month ago

If you know a thing or two about guitars, chances are one of those things is Joe Satriani. The sexagenarian soloist is renowned among the musically minded for his genre-bending compositions and virtuosic guitar performances, both of which can be found in abundance on his latest record, What Happens Next.

After a 32-year career playing oddly timed, finger-breaking guitar parts alongside literally every big name in progressive music, Satriani has simplified things a little bit on What Happens Next, getting back to roots he swears are in rock and roll.

Having spent most of 2018 sharing the record with fans around the world, he is gearing up to bring the ‘What Happens Next Tour’ down under for six dates across the country (and one in New Zealand).

In the lead up to the final leg of the tour, we sat with Satch to talk shop on the band, the album, and the psychology of being called ‘the best’.

MI: You’ve been off the road for a few weeks. Enjoying the break?

JS: “Definitely. I’m home right now because we’ve got some carpenters working, so I’m just writing some music and watching them. The other guys needed to go out with their bands anyway, so it worked out well.

“My bass player, Bryan Beller, is going out in September with his band, The Aristocrats. The other two guys, Joe Travers and Mike Keneally, are working with the Zappa family. So they’re back in LA working on some sort of hologram Frank Zappa tour for March. So, everyone needed some time off, and we’ll come back together in Australia.”

Seems like they’re all in pretty high demand. Is it hard locking down a tour with such busy guys?

“You have to compromise and communicate. Everybody’s gig is important, so we just sit around and talk about who’s available and how we can make it work. It takes a village, as they say, to get a tour going.”

Joe Travers is a highly technical performer; a real drummer’s drummer. It’s surprising you guys didn’t link up sooner. How did it finally come about?

“It’s funny how it all got started. A number of years back I was at the Jammy Awards in Madison Square Garden – it was an award show for jam bands and things like that. I was walking around backstage when Zappa Plays Zappa came on, and I’m right behind the curtain, behind the drummer, and I was just blown away by how great this guy was.

“I thought, ‘How does a musician do that? Keep track of the most complicated music but still make it sound like you can tap your foot to it.’ He never turned around and I never saw his face.

“So, a couple of years ago, I’m in the studio with Mike Keneally, and we’re trying to figure out who’s going to replace Vinnie Colaiuta. I just happened to relay that story about the Jammy Awards, and he said ‘You’re talking about my best friend, Joe Travers.’ So we called him right away.”

“Joe fits perfectly into this tour. As the new record was being developed I realised that it isn’t so progressive, and that I was really moving back into straight forward rock. So I need somebody who can hang with not only the stuff that Chad Smith laid down on What Happens Next, but also my whole catalogue which is now 30 years of different drummers.”

 
If your roots are in Rock and Roll, how did you end up an icon of the progressive rock scene?

“I started that way back in the beginning of this century, whatever that year was when we did Strange Beautiful Music (2002). I went to Jeff Campitelli and said, “I’m going to try and put more progressive rock elements into this.”

“Jeff and I are not prog heads, we’re both straight forward rock heads, so we thought that was cool and decided to go bit by bit and not overdo it. But by the time Unstoppable Momentum came I really wanted to ramp it up, and by the time we hit Shockwave Supernova we had sort of taken it as far as we could.

“But, you know, when someone does a huge drum fill twenty times in one song, it gets repetitive to someone who doesn’t listen to that music. ‘Why is that guy hitting everything all the time? Why doesn’t he play like Ringo?’ It’s just a different head space.

“If they don’t appreciate the artistry of progressive rock then it goes right over their heads and seems repetitive. But you get repetition in any other style, like pop or dance. Where’s dance music without four on the floor?”

Was writing a ‘straight forward’ record a bit of weight off the shoulders? I mean, is it easier to find and express a melody without all the pressure to be a ‘prog guy’ and do it in 9/8?

“If you look at progressive rock, what it does is that it asks everyone in the band to sort of accessorise their part. And that works better if you’re doing stuff in 5, 7 or 9, because it gives everyone more chances to be clever.

“But, at some point, all that accessorising and filling up space makes it harder for me to put a melody down.

“I do find, though, that when you pull away all the progressive stuff, and you’re just trying to play a melody, you’ve got to handle the arrangements very carefully. Everything has to be extremely specific, just like a set of lyrics would be specific. And that’s where I think the straight forward rock instrumental starts to shine, when you start to listen to those really specific choices.”

You’re widely regarded as being among the best guitarists in history. Was there ever any ego attached to that? Pressure to be ‘the best’, or to compete with the other big names?

“It’s when I’m talking to journalists, like yourself, or meeting fans that I have to come to grips with the way people perceive who I am. But 99% of the time I’m just me, who I’ve always been. I feel like a struggling musician; someone who needs to practice every day, someone who has that healthy anxiety about ‘Am I going to write something new today’?

“So being one of those guys does me no real good. It’s interesting, and it has been helpful in my career, for sure. But I write songs with melodies, and that, not the technique, is why my catalogue has stood the test of time.

“These days, if you develop some amazing technique, within 24 hours every kid on Youtube knows how to do it better than you. So technique is transitory. It’s just a tool to get your musical ideas into the ears of your fans.

“It’s a good introduction to an artist, like finger-tapping was good for Eddie Van Halen. It was his incredible, wonderful sounding writing that made him famous, though. And Mariah Carey; yeah she can hit those high notes, but it’s the songs that made her a superstar.

“So everyone has that cool thing that they can do, but ultimately it’s the music. It has to be the music.”…

UKIYO’s Top 7 tips for bands and artists touring Perth

By Alyssa Richie 1 month ago

21 year old Perth producer Ukiyo can’t wait for you to get your ears around his new EP, Fantasy, which drops Wednesday, 1 August.

Fresh from a touring run that included a support slot alongside Detroit’s Quinn XCII, Ukiyo has put together some tips for up-and-coming artists who are hitting his hometown on tour for the first time, whether you’re looking for a night on the town or a last-second cable replacement.

LIVE MUSIC:

Jack Rabbit Slim’s

The best venue around for a mix of top quality DJs and electro-centric live acts.  All themed around the iconic diner from Pulp Fiction.  Be sure to check out their milkshakes, and rock up early for the support acts cause they’re always top notch!

Mojo’s Fremantle

If you prefer acoustic instruments and pool tables then Mojo’s is the place to go.  Never had a bad night here. The acoustics are fantastic as well so you’ll surely be in sonic heaven.  Grab a burger at Flipside next door as well for the ultimate package.

FOOD/DRINKS:

Little Creatures

Arguably the best place for a pint and a pizza, and it’s in one of the best spots in Perth too.  As a recovering Rosemary addict, I highly recommend checking out the Rosemary pizza.

Yagan Square

The newest development in Perth has got a fancy outdoor amphitheater for live music and a huge range of food to satisfy any craving.  Walk another street up into Northbridge and you’ve just doubled your options.

Fremantle Markets

If you’re in Freo on Friday-Sunday, definitely check out Fremantle Markets.  There’s a heap of mini stalls selling everything from hot food to Australian tourist knick-knacks.

MUSIC EQUIPMENT:

Store DJ

It’s certainly not exclusive to Perth but I can definitely back the friendly and overly helpful staff here.  Highly recommended for any of your music tech needs.

Mega Music

Huge range of music equipment from acoustic instruments to electronic production gear.  I could spend hours in there, and frankly, I usually do.

Be sure to suss Fantasy when it drops on August 1st!…

Top 5 Most Innovative Guitarists with Michael Brigante of Attonbitus

By Alyssa Richie 1 month ago

Adelaide art-rock trio Attonbitus are champing at the bit to unleash their debut album, David Street, which drops in earnest on 31 July, accompanied by a launch party on 3 August at The Jade in Adelaide.

David Street fuses music and poetry to create a compelling aural experience, hinting at a multitude of genre influences including prog, art-rock, and reggae. Every track is written by Brigante and documents the emotional highs and lows he experienced during his years living on David Street.

In the shadow of the album’s upcoming release, we sat with guitarist/vocalist Brigante for a rundown on the five most innovative guitarists that he feels have pushed boundaries and shaped his own musicianship.

#1. Tom Morello – Rage Against The Machine

Probably the most innovative guitarist associated with the use of effects peddles.  Tom’s use of experimental methods in sound design gives RATM this eeriness, somewhat emulating the sound of sirens at a riot or war zone. Watching him play live keeps you puzzled as you struggle to comprehend the sounds he is getting out of that guitar.

#2. Robby Kruger – The Doors

One of the main reasons why I refuse to use a pick; Robby Kruger’s finger-plucked method spun with rhythmic jazz inspired me to explore natural harmonics and a variety of abstract, flamenco methods. I will never forget the first time I heard that short, sharp, supercharged solo from The Doors song ‘Peace frog’. It always left me buzzed out, dancing about on the kitchen table.

#3. Les Claypool – Bassist – Primus

The strangest yet most progressive bass guitarist; on most occasions I refer to him as the King of Bass. Charged with a hint of bluegrass and alt-jazz, Les Claypool’s slap bass method will keep you gobsmacked. First time I heard the bass hooks from their hit track ‘Tommy The Cat’ I was hooked.

#4. Jimi Hendrix – The Jimi Hendrix Experience

Can’t go past possibly one of the craziest guitarists known. As evidenced when playing his hit track ‘Hey Joe’ live, Jimi, without hesitation, plays a soulful solo with his teeth. I don’t think I could ever pull off his incredible improvisation and stamina but I sure do appreciate it. Merging the best of blues and psychedelic rock, he is possibly one of the best guitarists of our time.

#5. John Fogerty – Creedence Clearwater Revival

On some days I’m broke and a little without hope and about to go out busking, I chuck on ‘Fortunate Son’ by Creedence Clearwater Revival. This track truly gets me pumped for battling out the hard knocks, playing to a crowd of people passing by. John Fogerty’s alt-country melodies and battle-hardened riffs help me feel a little better about the bitter weather and little coin tossed my way.…

Tim Minchin Announces Massive 2019 Australian Tour

By Alyssa Richie 1 month ago

Award-winning musician, comedian, actor, writer and composer, Tim Minchin is set to return to Australia for the first time since 2012.

The Aussie-born Minchin will be bring his BACK tour to capital cities all around the country, kicking off proceedings in Adelaide on Friday March 8 at the Thebarton Theatre.

The musical virtuoso and renowned philanthropist has also announced that a portion of the tour profits will be donated to a local charity in each city.

Fans will have to quick to secure tickets, with Minchin’s most recent Australian one-off performance as part of Dark Mofo in June selling out in under 15 minutes.

TIM MINCHIN – BACK TOUR DATES – AUSTRALIA 2019:

Friday, March 8 – THEBARTON THEATRE, ADELAIDE SA

Saturday, March 9 – THEBARTON THEATRE, ADELAIDE, SA

Friday, March 15 – CANBERRA THEATRE, CANBERRA, ACT

Friday, March 22 – CROWN THEATRE, PERTH, WA

Saturday, March 23 – CROWN THEATRE, PERTH, WA

Wednesday, March 27 – STATE THEATRE, SYDNEY, NSW

Thursday, March 28 – STATE THEATRE, SYDNEY, NSW

Friday, March 29 – STATE THEATRE, SYDNEY, NSW

Friday, April 5 – PALAIS THEATRE, MELBOURNE, VIC

Saturday, April 6 – PALAIS THEATRE, MELBOURNE, VIC

Wednesday, April 10 – QPAC, BRISBANE, QLD

Thursday, April 11 – QPAC, BRISBANE, QLD…