Interview with Sam Cromack
Interview by Andy Nguyen
Two legends of Triple J — Ball Park Music and San Cisco — are teaming up for a tour all across Australia starting in September. With so much indie goodness packed into one show, it is bound to be a ripper of a time. I was given the opportunity to interview to Sam from Ball Park Music about the tour — we also discussed a potential setlist, his relationship with some of his songs and his preference on chip condiments. Take a look
S: Sam Cromack
A: Before we get stuck into it — I have to say that I am a huge fan of Ball Park Music and I have been for so long. I remember back in year 7 when I made YouTube playlist and I’d whack on “It’s Nice To Be Alive” on repeat. It’s just such a wholesome song that still slaps so hard — I’m sure you know what I mean.
S: Stories like this are just the best. I remember all the songs that I loved in high school and they are still very dear to me. It’s such a nice time in your life where you’re really sensitive and stuff really hits hard — those memories kinda last forever. I really get a huge kick out people saying, “I remember in high school I listened to…”
A: “It’s Nice To Be Alive” is a song that I really love — but not everyone shares these same feelings. I’ve read a couple of interviews where you seem to have a bit of a love/hate relationship with this song.
S: I wouldn’t say I “hate” the song because that’s not true. I have a great deal of respect and admiration for the song because it’s just been such a key part of my career. I think what happens is that the song elicits a bit of a sad feeling — through playing it so many times, you just lose your connection to the meaning of the song. It’s like if there’s a nice view in your neighbourhood and you see it every single day: it’s hard to appreciate it. That’s all it is — just one of those funny things.
A: It really is nice to be alive right now — especially given that you guys are teaming up with San Cisco to go on a kickass tour all around Australia in September. You two are arguably some of the biggest names that have come out from Triple J — can you tell me a little bit more about the origins of this tour and where the idea came from?
S: [Ball Park Music] had just been loosely planning some kind of tour and it was just a real nightmare approaching the usual support acts — everyone was busy and nothing was coming together. So then we’re like “why don’t we ask someone similar to us if they wanted to do a co-headline event?” I remember thinking “I don’t think San Cisco would want to do it — they’d probably just want to do their own thing.” But they were heaps keen — I can still remember the moment when they said they were keen to do it and I had this feeling in my gut like “if we can pull this off, this tour will be so huge.” Adelaide was the first place that sold out too.
A: I’ve been to a couple of Ball Park Music concerts, and one of the best things about it is that you guys are always doing something that’s just fucking weird. When you guys went on tour for Puddinghead and you gave out a bunch of 3D glasses (I still have mine at home) — and we all just had a ballistic time on this 3D tour adventure thing. In saying that, are there any other similar shenanigans that we can come to expect from the upcoming tour with San Cisco?
S: Everyone is always asking me these questions — I swear, if people want to get these answers, they need to interview us two days before we go on tour, because that’s where we think of them. At this point, nothing is planned — but I promise you something weird always happens.
A: In terms of rehearsals, are there any special covers that you’ve got planned for the tour? I was wondering if there would be a Ball Park Music cover of a couple San Cisco songs, and vice versa?
S: That’s actually an awesome idea. It seems so obvious now that you’ve mentioned it, but literally no one has said that even once. I’ll message the band right now and tell them.
● Daniel says, “huge idea — let’s swap songs”
● Paul says, “a song swap is a fucked up good idea”
It’s going off. I can’t promise you anything but I do like the idea.
A: San Cisco have done some amazing things in the past. One of the biggest things that I love from them is that a couple of songs have Scarlett (the drummer) doing the main vocals — just to shake up the San Cisco sound a little bit. In relation to Ball Park Music, do you think we could ever see a song where Jen takes front vocals and we just see what happens?
S: It’s funny because people always ask us about this. One of our early managers was saying to us that he thought that a band having steady roles was a huge part of the audience understanding your band. I guess we always took that as gospel in those early days and that’s really remained the case. I’m not saying it’s something totally out of the question, but it’s just never really come up naturally. Jen did write a little song that she shared with me when we were making the last record — that was the first time when I was like “holy fuck, this is a really beautiful piece of music.” Who knows — maybe on the next album?
A: Obviously, I’m a huge fan of Ball Park Music and San Cisco — this is pretty much the dream combination for me. In terms of your dream co-line-up, who would you pick and why?
S: In another reality where time and death don’t matter — my ultimate double pick would probably be The Beatles and Radiohead. I think I’d like to see The Beatles actually be the opener — they’d do a classic old-school set like they did back in the day, and then Radiohead be the headliner with a full-scale production.
A: Just to finish off, I just wanted to do a quick rapid fire round of questions. The game is called “Would You Rather.” I’m going to give you two options, and you’ll have to pick between the two. Try not to overthink it — just go with your gut reaction.
- Fresh tin of brownies — a crispy edge piece or an ooey-gooey centre piece?
S: The edge piece for sure — if they’re fresh out the oven then the edge piece has some ooey-gooey bits anyway. I’m the small, burnt crunchy guy — same with hot chips, I love the little crunchy bits.
- Star Wars or Harry Potter?
S: I want to say neither but I’ll say Harry Potter. I don’t know any of the Star Wars movies. I’ve read the first Harry Potter book, and I’m stuck reading the second one at the moment. My wife loves Harry Potter and I’m reading it to please her.
- Tomato sauce — fridge or pantry?
S: Neither, I hate tomato sauce! It’s fucking shit. I hate BBQ sauce as well for what it’s worth. They’re cretin sauces.
- Horror movies or rom-coms?
S: Rom-coms. In recent memory, I’ve tried to watch a horror movie because I’m an adult and I shouldn’t be scared, but I literally watch like five minutes of it and turn it off. Why do people do that to themselves?
- Allstar by Smash Mouth or Africa by Toto?
Hmmmm. I feel like they’re equal calibre songs. I feel like I want to say Smash Mouth — I mean I like Africa but it comes on all the fucking time. It wouldn’t be a terrible idea if we covered Smash Mouth in the future (laughs).
A: Thank you so much — you’ve been such a pleasure to chat to. Heaps keen for you and San Cisco to come down to Adelaide — no doubt it’s going to be a funky jive session. Aside from that, I’m super keen for all your future work in terms of upcoming albums and what not. All good stuff coming out in the future
S: Thanks very much dude — it was a pleasure chatting to you, and I’ll see you in Adelaide.
Be sure to catch Sam and the BPM gang, as well as the San Cisco disco, when they come to Adelaide on the 19th of October @Thebarton Theatre. Tickets have already sold out — so bad luck if you’ve missed out ☹.