Ball Park Music: Why we’ll keep playing the old songs

Ball Park Music has been busy writing and producing their upcoming album Every Night the Same Dream, as well as performing at Splendour in the Grass and planning their upcoming national tour. Lead vocalist Sam Cromack found time to speak to us about the new album, loving and hating old songs and the joy of touring in Australia again.

How was playing at Splendour? Any highlights from the festival?

It was awesome. It went much better then what I could’ve anticipated. The highlight was playing It’s Nice to Be Alive which is an old song of ours which I’ve become pretty sick of performing to be honest. When we were rehearsing during the week I started noodling through it by myself and the band and I thought that’s actually a bit more meaningful when I play it just by myself.

So we decided to do it that way and ended up getting an amazing response. I think it was the biggest singalong I have ever enjoyed and we got a nice write-up about it on Triple J. It just ended up being a good moment.

Did it feel like an unofficial kick-off to the upcoming tour?

Absolutely. It did make me excited for the tour. Obviously we will be playing new material, but it was kind of nice to have an old song, do something special for the fans.

The new album is called Every Night the Same Dream. Where did the name come from?

That’s a lyric from another song which we never recorded which is not on the album or anything. We just really liked it. We had another title which we thought would be the title for ages but then at the last minute we decided it was lame and pretentious, so we scrapped it.

I found an older lyric I had written down somewhere. It doesn’t really mean anything; it’s just a poetic sounding phrase. I don’t think there is necessarily always a great story behind a title – sometimes it just feels right.

The first single from the album is called Nihilist Party Anthem and has a teensy cynical tone to it. Has the band attained a nihilist streak at all?

Everybody keeps asking me about this song and it’s a weird thing when I start discussing stuff I’ve written. I just float along in this bubble, write stuff and don’t really think twice about it – and when it comes time to do press everyone starts asking me about it and I am forced to think about why I wrote things that way and what it means.

I basically wrote it to this Facebook page called Nihilist Memes. I was in New York at the end of last year, I was by myself one afternoon and I did feel a little bit depressed and I happened to stumble upon that page and I was just laughing my arse off. Some of it was so funny and grim. Even though on one hand I’m making out it’s not a big deal and it’s just a throwaway interest of mine I guess it has to appeal to my personality in some ways.

In the past we have put on a brave face and tried to have this sort of rock-star bravado, but we really don’t possess any of that. I think this time around we have just been upfront about our anxieties and our self-loathing because it’s there and it’s real. I guess it’s just seeped into the music.

So do you want people when they listen to the single to get a nihilist feel or just appreciate nihilist memes?

Yes, a bit of both. I totally want people to get on the memes and enjoy them like I do. Look, I don’t know, I don’t care (laughs).

What can people expect differently from Every Night the Same Dream compared to previous albums?

We really changed the process of recording this album. The last couple of albums we recorded in a typical, modern fashion – constructing the song part by part; laying down the drums, laying down the bass guitars, thinking about the layers and finally putting the vocals on. This time we went to a studio which was completely analogue, we recorded everything at the same time live to a four track tape.

I think that’s resulted obviously in our most live sounding album. It’s our roughest, rockiest affair. I think it’s my favourite album.

So you wanted to capture the live aspects of your performances into the album.

Exactly – I think I finally just was able to look at the band and realise that’s our strength. We’ve played hundreds of shows together. Every night we go up on stage and all five of us perform and why would we not do that in the studio, feels like that’s the one thing we can do which no other band can imitate. The way the five of us human beings interact is an especially unique thing and that’s what we should celebrate, that’s what we should put on our record. 

After spending a lot of time producing and writing, what does the band miss most about touring?

We make money when we tour in Australia which is a nice thing. We have had a whole year of touring Europe and getting poor and writing. I am really excited just to be active in Australia. Playing in Australia is the best – it’s our home, it’s where our fans really are so I am pumped to get back on the road.

Will there be any homage to old tracks whilst on tour?

As we’ve grown we’ve gotten sick of some of our old songs. I think all bands do that. But we have never really put a bullet in them. There have been nights where we’ve said ‘fuck this song’ and not played it, but then afterwards said we should have played this song. We’re definitely the kind of band that’s included all the old favourites in the set.

Every Night the Same Dream will be released this Friday, August 19.

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