With their debut Happiness and Surrounding Suburbs released less than a year ago, Ball Park Music have a sunny, pop-tinged follow up Museum, which hits shelves tomorrow. On top of that, the Brisbane five-piece are nominated for Best Independent Artist at this year’s Jagermeister Independent Music Awards. Frontman Sam Cromack weighs in on Justin Bieber, Aussie hip-hop and John Lennon. Interview by Angela Allan.
What are your favourite Australian indie releases from the past year?
Royal Headache. And can we say New Zealand bands? Because I really like Opossom.
What does being “independent” mean to you?
I think I get more and more confused to what it means every day. I mean, we have a record label and we get representation through EMI and then we get nominated for an award because we are independent. I have to confess, I have no idea what type of musician I am. I think I just show up with my guitar and try to have a good attitude. I mean even though we have a label, I still very much feel that I am an independent artist because being a band of our stature in this country is a pretty big challenge, and even though we’ve had some great success over the past year, which has been very flattering, but to keep up this game involves some commitment. I mean, we’re involved with so much stuff beyond the music and I think being an independent artist incorporates all that stuff. I was reading about Justin Bieber this morning on Wikipedia…
Wait, why were you looking up Justin Bieber’s Wikipedia page?
Well, I was interested because everyone is so in love with him and I wanted to know about this kid. That whole world is just so far away from what bands I know experience. We have to work so much harder to achieve all these little goals, you know, just to keep going.
Any tips on great up-and-coming Australian artists?
Young Professionals, Major Leagues, and Go Violets. They are from Brisbane and they’re all amazing.
Apart from yourselves, who do you think will win in your category of Best Independent Artist at the Jagermeister Independent Music Awards (nominees are 360, Chet Faker, The Jezabels, Royal Headache)?
Ball Park Music is gonna win, of course! Um, I think 360. He wins a lot of things. A lot of artists in rock’n’roll like to bag out hip-hop artists but I saw 360 at Splendour In The Grass and it was of the most fun gigs I ever saw.
What’s the best hangover cure post-awards night?
Well, prevention is better than cure! So in order to prevent it, you have to not drink too much, that’s my number one tip. But I do understand that people give into temptation and consume too much alcohol, again, with prevention, a good idea is drink as much water as you possibly can before you go to bed. But again, I understand that people are too intoxicated to remember to drink water. So in the morning, you descend into a world of pain and you have to cope as best you can. But I can’t say I really have any hangover cures, I just sort of lay around feeling sorry for myself. But drink lots of coffee and eat lots of fruit.
What inspires you?
Anything. Life. That sounds really naff, I know. I’ve always played music and I love it. I guess that is how I deal with things; I turn all my experiences into songs.
Your second album Museum has just been released, which is less than 12 months since your debut. So why do you think you didn’t suffer from so-called second album syndrome?
I’m quite prolific at writing. Any idea sort of sets me off and I’m going. During all the touring we did for Happiness and Surrounding Suburbs, I was sort of piecing all the songs for Museum together. The band has a good, hard-working attitude; they are just awesome. We figured if we did the album quickly, it was going to help us with a few things. We are still a relatively new band, so we thought we’d strike while the iron is hot while we have some popularity now and take advantage of that. Some people do get the second-album jitters, and we thought if we put it out really quickly, even if it’s shit, we could be forgiven because we turned it around so quickly. What could be worse than taking three years off and delivering something and it’s still shit? As musicians, it’s our job to make good art and churn it out.
Which song by another artist do you wish you had written?
Dirty Projectors’ Impregnable Question. It’s so simple and I love it. John Lennon could have written it.
Is John Lennon your hero, then?
Yes, he’s my hero. I admire him. He’s one of those larger-than-life artists. I kind of envy him because I could never lead the life he’s led; he’s just so bold in everything he did. He fills me with wonder. He just had such substance in his songs, and he was an artist for the people. He made songs that everyone could love and they were still creative and challenging.
Who do you think will win big at the Jagermeister Independent Music Awards?
Chet Faker and 360!