INTERVIEW: Dean Hanson, Ball Park Music
Brisbane band BALL PARK MUSIC have entered 2013 radically. Included at the starting point of the Australian Summer festival circuit, their name popped up on the Falls Festival and Southbound bills, they supported Weezer on their Blue Album tour, were one quarter of Triple J’s One Night Stand lineup and have started working on their third album after releasing Museum in just October last year.
A super jam packed schedule over the past three years of writing and recording for these dudes and gal has seen the quintet really grow as a band, strengthening and possessing a sound that can only be described as their own.
The Thank Ewes Tour will be Ball Park‘s last headline shows for 2013 taking place in June and July, before they hit up the studio for some major creativity flow that will be transferred to their planned third album.
With all this in mind, we grabbed 1/5 of the band, Dean Hanson, for a chat on what has been and what is to become of Ball Park Music‘s work before we lose them to their Brisbane studio.
First thing’s first, how did Ball Park Music get their name?
“It was a name Sam had when he was back in high school a long time ago, and he wanted to make a name that was “Ball Park Figure” cause you know that sort of expression. He put it into Myspace and there was already a Myspace page that said “Ball Park Figure” so he just went, “ah well, I’ll just put Music now and see what happens.” And yeah, it just stuck. And when we got together as a band, a gig came up and we were like “Oh I don’t know what to call ourselves!” and thought well Sam already has this name so we’ll roll with that for the first one and yeah! We rolled with it and just stuck from there.”
As they’re just about ready to hit the road for what will be their biggest tour yet (in terms of venue capacity), what aspect of The Thank Ewes Tour is Ball Park Music most looking forward to?
“Probably just the bigger venues. We get pretty excited about playing the bigger venues, especially like Enmore Theatre in Sydney which we’ve played before supporting Boy & Bear. And yeah, we’re headlining it this time so it’ll be awesome to have that packed full of people who like to sing along to our songs and stuff like that. Yeah, just getting into those venues and playing them, it’s a bit of a challenge as well trying to fill them up and keep everyone entertained. We’re keen for a challenge.”
It’s also the last headline tour for the year so that the five piece can utilise the rest of 2013’s time to push their third album out. Although this is the plan post-touring, have they already started working on it?
“Yeah we have. I just got the go ahead and the okay from our team that I can talk about it so [laughs] this is the first official scoop on the album. Yeah we’ve been working on it already. We set up our own studio up in Brisbane, we’re going to be producing it ourselves. We’ve already done a few tracks so yeah we’ll probably be spending the next six months or so just self-producing the next record and hopefully we’ll do a pretty good job!”
In that case, have the songs already been written for the record?
“Yeah we’ve probably already got about ten songs or so or maybe a few more that are little skeletons and then we kinda just get them into the studio and into the rehearsal room and flesh them out and then work on them. We’ve got about ten written but it’s just an ongoing process. We’ll probably end up writing maybe.. We want to have you know, about 30 songs or more and just choose from those.”
Museum was more mature, and a little bit depressing in comparison to Ball Park Music’s debut album according to Hanson’s band mates Sam and Jen. What theme can we expect on the third LP?
“Um, I think it’ll be a good mixture of both albums to be honest. I think the second album was a little bit darker, I wouldn’t say it was like overly dark compared, but the first album was just a lot of fun and was really happy and I think that, yeah, this album will get big with mixture. I think it’ll definitely have the best elements of the first album. I’d say it’ just has a lighter mood altogether. I don’t think it will be as angsty or anything as Museum was.”
I butted in, “And I guess you’ll kinda figure that out as well along the way.”
“Yeah, exactly. We’re experimenting with a lot of different things, but I think the mood is to try and get an album that sounds pretty positive; none of us really want to put out a depressing or angsty album but yeah. There might be some ups and downs on it like any good album I hope.”
Without speaking on behalf of the band, who is Dean Hanson’s personal favourite Australian artist at the moment?
“I really like Paul Dempsey, I’ve gotten into Paul Dempsey a lot like in the last year which is – I’m way behind the eight ball. But, I know he’s been around for a while so I’ll try and think of somebody new who I really like, hmm.. Who do I like seeing.. I really do like Matt Corby live. I was a bit of a Matt Corby sceptic but then, saw him live and met him, and he’s a really lovely guy. Their band is just a super band, they’re just awesome musicians. I think like a lot of his music is under-appreciated. Like the big singles, sure. People you know, appreciate those, but yeah a lot of his other music is really special too and I think it’s under-appreciated. It’s kinda nice you know, watching backstage, being impressed by it.”
“I think it’s the whole Australian Idol thing as well that has kind of kept people away,” I said.
“Yeah exactly, it’s off-putting, Initially, yeah it’s definitely off-putting but you look past it. It’s undeniable the dude’s a talented guy, and not to mention super nice and probably the most attractive guy in the world [laughs]”
“Do you have a little man crush there? [Laughs]”
“[Laughs] yeah, a little bit.”
Say Ball Park Music never actually occurred, what career path would Hanson have chosen?
“It definitely would have been something musical. I studied music at University so, I’m pretty sure the only real valid thing to do after studying music is to be a music teacher, so, I think that would have been my last resort, but I definitely don’t want to be a teacher. Never really did, but you know, you’ve got to pay the bills so I guess that was the backup plan.”
Ball Park Music has received a lot of Triple J love over the years, and have recently returned from One Night Stand. What was that experience like in Dubbo?
“Yeah it was craaazy. There was a lot of people there; it’s easiest the biggest crowd we’ve ever played to. But it was a little bit strange for all the bands there because, like the best way I can explain it is gigs can either normally go one or two ways. It’s either people are there to see you, like specifically there to see you so it’s great, and they have a great time, or people aren’t there to see you so they don’t really care, so you just get up there, do your thing and go. But One Night Stand was a lot of people who weren’t necessarily there to see you but were still super stoked to be there? So they were loving it and having a really great time, even though, you know, not necessarily even half of them were there to see us or there to see The Rubens essentially or, even Flume. And I think every band came off the stage that night and was kinda like, “Was that good? Like we can’t even tell, was the crowd vibing?” And they always were, but it was just, yeah, a bit weird.”
“Probably the whole experience of it as well, like the regional town and everything.”
“Yeah exactly you know, like it’s on TV and there’s cameras in your face and yeah it was definitely just a little bit bizarre.”
Whether it’s marvellous, absurd, or plain horrid, what’s Hanson greatest memory from being on tour?
“[Laughs] I think the greatest one that I’ll always remember is when we – I tell this story all the time [laughs] – we played at Southbound Festival like three years ago or something like that. It was our first festival and it was the first time I’d ever been to WA to do any show. It was New Years Eve and we all went to bed and woke up in the morning at 6 o’clock, and I went to go to the bathroom and open the door, and there was just a stranger like naked, sitting on the toilet in our room. [Laughs] so I woke everyone up saying “there’s a dude that I don’t know, naked, passed out on the toilet” and yeah, it was just a weird guy who had snuck into the room. Like we had thousands of dollars of musical equipment and laptops, phones, wallets and everything like that in the room, and this complete stranger just walked in, just to use the bathroom. We woke him up and he got all aggressive and started telling us he was going to fight us when he came out of the bathroom and stuff. Yeah, he eventually he just sort of strutted out like between all of us and yeah. It was just the craziest thing in the world. He seemed like he was a bit sort of scummy too, I can’t understand why he didn’t just steal stuff. He came in, used the bathroom and that was it, just outta there.”
The Thank Ewes Tour is one dedicated specifically to the fans. Holding such a loyal following, have any bequeathed young Ball Park Music with any physical gifts?
“Maybe last year, we played in Sydney on my birthday and a few people, I dunno, threw cards and party hats and things like that. We get a lot of pictures from fans. This girl showed me a crazy pencil drawing which was just the most phenomenally real, photographic, lead pencil drawing I’ve ever seen. It was creepy at the same time as being really cool, but yeah, other than that I think we give away more presents than we get. Jen gave away, well auctioned off a fingernail once and got like 15 bucks for it which is pretty cool [laughs].”
Can we expect any new Ball Park Music material at these upcoming shows?
“Yes, definitely. Well, I think we’ve already been rehearsing one new song for the road, and if we get confident enough we might add another one, but trying to keep it under wraps. Sometimes it’s really easy to get too excited and be like “yeah let’s do three new songs” and then other kids will film them and put them on YouTube and then everyone knows them and can watch them before they’re even released which is a little bit scary. But yeah, we’ll probably pick one and play it and definitely give people a bit of a sneak peak.”
“So this is what to expect for the third album.”
“Yeah, exactly. It’s something like that, just a little bit of a taste I guess. Maybe assure people that we haven’t gone too crazy and still sound like us.”
THE THANK EWES TOUR
W/ EAGLE AND THE WORM & JEREMY NEALE
Friday, 28th June
The Tivoli, Brisbane
Tickets available at TICKETEK.
Friday, 5th July
The Forum, Melbourne
Tickets available at TICKETMASTER.
Saturday, 6th July
Enmore Theatre, Sydney
Tickets available at TICKETEK.
Thursday, 11th July
Tickets available at OZTIX.
Friday, 12th July
Tickets available at OXTIX.
Words by Hannah Galvin.