Ball Park Music's Dean Hanson Talks Touring, Downtime and Quality Vans
In support of fifth album, Good Mood Ball Park Music have hit the road on a massive Australian tour. Across 21-dates Brisbane's indie favorites will be hitting up every corner of the Australian continent including many regional areas they’ve rarely visited and others the band have never been before. Shortly before it all kicked off, guitarist Dean Hanson caught up with Lennox Groove's Tayla Sudall to talk all things Ball Park Music. The full interview below.
LG: What have you been up to today?
DH: Just rehearsing this morning actually.
LG: Oh yeah, I did see that, I saw you on Instagram Live.
DH: Yeah. That was a bit of a cheeky live video. [Laughs] Unplanned.
LG: Is that what you guys have been up too? What you will be up to most days leading up to your regional tour?
DH: Yep, today and tomorrow. Then we’re off to Byron Bay on Friday [the 24th of May] to start the real thing. So yeah, hopefully, if we give ourselves two days of rehearsal, we should be up to scratch.
LG: Last year as well was a massive year for Ball Park Music with the release of Good Mood your newest album. You guys played a ton of shows and there’s obviously no sign of slowing down because of this epic regional tour that’s about to kick off. You guys always seem to be either practicing, touring or writing new music. Do you get any downtime at all?
DH: We, sort of. We had a little bit of downtime at the start of this year. Sam [Cromack] and his wife had their first child.
DH: Around the birth of the baby we made sure we weren’t planning anything for at least a couple of months so they could enjoy that time together as a family. But, yeah. We were sort of, in-and-around that time anyway, just working on songs. Sometimes when you take that time away is when you’re most productive with writing and creating because you sort of, I dunno, get bored and pick up the guitar and start working. But it was definitely a relaxed start of the year leading into this and now the rest of the year is pretty crazy.
LG: This regional tour is going to be massive. There’s 21dates across a wide variety of destinations. A lot of these you haven’t performed at before…
DH: It’s been a while since we’ve been out around the regional towns. I think it’s probably been two years since we did anything that was comprehensive, and I think it’s been a really good year for us. We always like to think that we owe a lot to Australia. There’s people in regional Australia that actually care about our band and I guess we sort of want to give back to them by you know, showing our appreciation and putting the effort in to go out there.
It can be a little daunting to travel to a regional place. [You don’t know] whether there’s that many people that even care about your band and if it’s going to be worthwhile. But to be honest, even if you know, 10 people showed up, at least there’s 10 people in some regional town that like Ball Park that would’ve never been able to see us in any other circumstance. That’s the most important part.
LG: Not many other bands make the effort to go.
DH: Yeah, exactly.
LG: Is there anywhere on the regional tour that you guys are most excited to get too?
DH: Um, good question! I’m excited to play the Gold Coast show. [It] looks really good, obviously, that’s where you’re from so that show will be really exciting.
DH: It’s selling really well, and we’ve always had a good time there. We’ve played Miami Marketta before and the venue’s awesome as well.
LG: Yeah, it’s really cool there!
DH: So that’ll be good! Playing around Queensland is always fun, that’s where we’re from. Especially playing places near home like [the] Sunshine Coast, Toowoomba, Gold Coast is fun. Byron Bay which is [this] Friday night is um… Sam, Daniel and myself all grew up in the Northern Rivers of New South Wales so Byron Bay sort of feels like a hometown show.
We never want to be those people that are like - people joke about people that are like, “Oh I live half an hour from Byron Bay, that’s where I’m from.” But we sort of did. That was the town where we spent time going to gigs and stuff as kids so being able to go back and, you know, hopefully, there’s a lot of kids that went to our high school and stuff, and that still do, that will come to the show.
LG: As you said, Byron is quite special. But is there anywhere else?
DH: I love going to Fremantle over in WA. It’s awesome. I think the reason I like it so much is because when we go to WA we often will go a day early. It’s a decent length of travel and you don’t wanna be… sometimes the flight will be five hours or something from the East Coast so you don’t 2qnt to be on a plane for five hours, get off, rush to soundcheck and do the show because by the time you’re playing your show… the time difference is only a couple of hours but sometimes when you’re going on stage at 10.30pm, that’s after midnight our time, you’ve been on a plane for hours travelling so you end up putting on a crap show.
So we go early which means we can just spend a full day at most of these places and Fremantle is just an incredible place to kill a day - beautiful beaches, beautiful restaurants and cafes and you know, bars. The people there are really friendly so I think whenever we see that place on the line-up for a tour we always get a bit excited and know that we’re gonna get that full day of relaxation and be able to do some fun stuff.
LG: Butternut Sweetheart, Tia Gostelow and Sweater Curse are all be joining Ball Park for a few of the dates as supports. What made you choose these guys to take on tour?
DH: We had Tia play with us at The Riverstage [in Brisbane] last September. It was the only gig where we had four bands play - that was with San Cisco and Ruby Fields -and yeah, we just really liked her music, we wanted her involved in that show. She is from Brisbane, we really love her music. She’s an up and coming young Queensland artist and it’s just really good to have people on tour that write good songs that we like. It’s always nice because every night you get to listen to them play your favourite tunes. So she was a no brainer, one of our first picks.
And then Butternut Sweetheart is actually our friend Luke [Moseley who] has actually been our stage tech for probably the last six or seven years. It’s his solo project.
LG: Oh, that’s awesome!
DH: Yeah, so it was one of those things. We’ve known about his music for a long time, we’ve heard it all before it had been released and some [of it is] really accomplished stuff. He’s an extremely talented musician so we just thought, knowing that he wanted to do some more gigs and start pushing his music a little bit further, we were just like, “Mate it would be our absolute pleasure to have you open the shows.” You know, [he can] hopefully play to some people that might never have heard him before.
Which I think is most people. It’s a very new project and yeah, hopefully, he can get a bit of a leg up from that. His tunes are awesome. I’m really excited to sit down and watch his set every night.
LG: What do you do to keep yourself sane on the road?
DH: We play a lot of cards! [Laughs] we play like a weird derivative of the game called ‘500’, which - Oh God! Thinking about it now, the amount of times I’ve spent doing that over the years would be ridiculous. It’s almost embarrassing. So that’s when we’re sitting around in airports and stuff but in the van - when you’re in Europe sometimes you have vans that have like a little table and the seats face each other and that’s awesome.
LG: That’s pretty cool.
DH: But yeah. Travelling in Australia we just have these stupid Toyota vans that [when you are in them] everyone just probably puts headphones on. It kind of ebbs and flows. [Laughs] Like you get in the van I swear everyone’s really excited, it’s just like a bunch of kids just yelling and then all of a sudden you just hit this drop and it’s like, it’s quiet, everyone starts reaching for their headphones and it’s like, “Alright we’re sick of each other already!” And then you get closer to your destination and all of a sudden everyone’s excited again.
LG: That’s good! At least you don’t fight or anything like that…
DH: Exactly. Look, it’s pretty good. We get along pretty well.
LG: Ball Park have been teasing us a lot on social media with posts about writing new music for a new record. Can you give us any hints as to when we are going to hear some new music from you guys?
DH: Hopefully as soon as possible. As long as we can get some time to actually record something. We’ve got a lot of demos sitting around. Probably over an album’s worth of stuff. And we’re really excited about it too, we’re really digging all the music but just need to find some time to get into the actual room with all of us and start properly working on stuff.
And I know we’d like to be doing it. If we weren’t going on this tour, we would probably be doing it next week and hopefully, have something out by the end of the year. But that’s still the aim. To have a song by the end of the year would be awesome.
LG: Do you think you’ll play any of this new stuff on this tour?
DH: We had a rehearsal this morning, we practiced one [new] song but we’re not sure on adding it into the set for the whole tour. On these regional runs when there’s 20-something shows you end up getting a few shows in and it starts to feel a bit monotonous so you have to have things up your sleeve to throw out there just to keep us interested and excited because then that translates to the crowd too. So yeah, we learned one just to be like, one night. I dunno when it’ll be. It might be in somewhere weird and we’ll just go like “Let’s play it tonight!” See how it goes.
LG: Once you guys wrap up the massive regional tour, you’re heading off to Spin Off Festival to perform alongside Wolf Alice, Childish Gambino, and Kwame. The line up’s really good, is there anyone that you guys are most keen to see?
DH: Pretty much everyone. And obviously seeing Childish Gambino! He’s the big fish there, we’ll be excited to see him… is Catfish And The Bottlemen on that one?
LG: They are!
DH: Yeah cool! I don’t know a lot of their music, but I enjoyed their last record when it was playing on the radio. So yeah, [I’m] interested to see those band. It’s such a good line up for just a one-day festival. Obviously [there are] a lot of Splendour kind of acts because the two are linked. So yeah, that’s going to be such a good time.
LG: Ballpark has released a fair bit of music over the years. Is it challenging putting together a festival setlist when you’re trying to balance new and old music?
DH: Yeah for sure. Sometimes, obviously, a festival crowd is a little less patient. A festival set now, we’re lucky if we even get an hour so having five albums and trying to fit even just the singles from those albums into that much time isn’t easy. And then you’ve got to try and keep yourself happy by playing maybe one album track or something that wasn’t a single. So it is pretty tricky but it’s a good problem to have as well. We’re pretty spoiled for choice.
Words by Tayla Sudall