keyboardist

Editor’s note: Some answers were edited for length and clarity.

Australian indie pop-rock band Ball Park Music is composed of frontman Sam Cromack, bassist Jennifer Boyce, keyboardist Paul Furness, guitarist Dean Hanson and his drummer-brother Daniel Hanson. The band, which formed in 2008, released their latest album, Puddinghead, last April. The group is going on a tour in Europe this summer. Ball Park Music will play three official shows during SXSW. Dean Hanson spoke with The Daily Texan about the band’s music and Australian roots.

The Daily Texan: How was Ball Park Music formed?

Dean Hanson: The five of us studied music at university in Brisbane, and that’s where we began playing together. It wasn’t too long before we realized we had a good chemistry as a band, and we should see how far we could take it. The rest is history.

DT: How would you describe your sound to people who have never heard your music before?

DH: We play alternative pop-rock music. We like to break your heart and fix it again, make you laugh, make you cry, and, all the while, we’ll be there partying with you. 

DT: Who are some artists that influenced you?

DH: I think, as children of the ’90s, we can’t help sneaking twinges of ’90s pop-rock into our records. We like to explore lots of different influences and ideas track-to-track while always trying to maintain our trademark Ball Park Music sound.

DT: Do you think that being from Australia influences your music?

DH: There are definitely a few in-direct references to Australian themes that occur in some of our tracks. I think, by living in Australia and writing personal lyrics, you can’t avoid referencing where you’re from. We all listen to a lot of Aussie music, new and old, and we’re proud to be a part of Australian music, which is so great right now.

DT: What are any favorite memories or interesting anecdotes from tours you’ve been on?

DH: There have been so many that I could write a book about them. My personal favorite, which might not excite anyone else, was last year after our concert in London. [Furness, Ball Park Music keyboardist] and I found ourselves riding “city hire” bikes across London Bridge at 4 a.m. after a few beers. I looked to my left and saw the Big Ben and realized I was surrounded by all these beautiful London landmarks, and it was such a great moment. I thought to myself, “How did I end up here?”

DT: Do you have any favorites among your own albums or songs?

DH: I’m really proud of all our records, and I love them for different reasons. I guess the songs I love the most are the ones I most enjoy playing live because that’s how I feel them once the record is released. I always enjoy playing “Fence Sitter” from our second record, Museum, and “Cocaine Lion” from our fourth record, Puddinghead. “Cocaine Lion” is a real slow burner that just builds and builds to a great climax. It’s got a great energy, and I love playing it.

Faces flushed and out of breath, lead singer Marshall Newman and keyboardist Brett Moses of the indie pop band The Frontier Brothers gave quick waves from the door before dashing off to order iced coffees. The other half of the band, drummer Travis Newman and bassist Matt Hudson, were on their way.

It has been a busy summer for the foursome, as they are playing weekly at local venues and working diligently on their upcoming EP, while making time for summer fun with their college friends.

Known for their whimsical, free-spirited take on indie pop and their metallic spandex space suits worn for their galactic-themed full-length album, Space Punk Starlet, The Frontier Brothers have been making a name for themselves. What makes this rising band stand out from the rest is the palpable brotherly love the four have for each other. One bandmate could not start a sentence without another finishing it for him. This chemistry creates a lasting impact on The Frontier Brother’s sound and performance.

The Daily Texan: How did you become the Frontier Bros? I call you guys The Frontier Bros. I hope you guys don’t mind. [Laughs]

Marshall Newman: The brothers are trying to fight off the fro’ bros’. But I don’t mind.

Brett Moses: I don’t mind. We’re not really “bros” though. Well, Marshall [Newman] and Travis [Newman] are bros in the literal sense, where they share the same parents, but ...

BM: But yeah, Marshall and I went to school together, and Marshall’s always like the guitar guy, you know, playing weepy songs for the ladies.

MN: I was playing cool songs, I was playing the Pixies and stuff, man, not weepy.

BM: And I was always the nerdy keyboard guy. We had never played together until this arts festival. We sat down and wrote “The Robot Song,” which was on our first full length record. And so, we played this show, just the two of us, and it was sort of a big hit.

MN: There was a standing ovation. It was just thunderous.

DT: How would you describe your sound?

BM: It’s like narrative art rock.

Travis Newman: Yeah, I definitely think the songs have a narrative vibe to it. The latest three songs, I realized I was trying to write obscure thoughts down and string them together and while that works for people, it doesn’t for me. I need to have a story to work off of or else things get lost.

DT: Where do you get inspiration?

TN: My imagination. I write poetry, so I steal things from poetry. Oh yeah, I rip-off a lot of books too. Check my lyrics. But I think it is going to be getting more fantastical.

BM: Yeah, what’s that thing you are working on right now with the geologist?

MN: It’s this day dream I had about me becoming a mountain man and I was alone for a long time and then this beautiful geologist, wearing the kind of outfit that the girls has in Jurassic Park, yeah, that’s what she has on going through the woods. And then I would bring her into my world, the natural world.

DT: What is your song writing process?

BM: We often say our songwriting process is a lot like going to war. It can be painful and intense and very slow.

MN: One of the challenging point about our music, that is also the strongest, is that it’s very tight and lean. There’s not an extended part where nothing is going on. It’s either changing or going into something new.

BM: We are aggressively not a jam band.

MN: We are the exact opposite of a jam band. That’s probably something that happens as a result of introducing a song in practice where parts that don’t stand up, don’t make it.

TN: But the fact is whatever we are doing, we want to have fun and entertain people.

DT: So what has been the best and worst parts of being in a band so far?

TN: Worst part is us getting stranded one time in Virginia for two days.

TN: Well, we’ve been stranded many times on the road, but this one time, we just thought we were going to have to get jobs there.

DT: How did you guys get stranded?

TN: Well, our RV broke down horribly to where it cost thousands of dollars to repair it or at least that’s what the mechanic told us. We exhausted all options for leaving and basically ended up taking a two hour taxi ride to a car rental place. Rented two cars and drove back home nonstop for thirty hours.

BM: Sometimes the worst parts are also the best parts. Like you know something that can be very dramatic oftentimes causes us to band together. There can be a lot of joy in that.

DT: I know you guys are working on your next EP, what kind of sound is it going to be?

MN: I think it is going to be similar to our last EP in the sense that there is going to be a pretty tight song, then another song that is a little more disjointed and the last one is going to be experimental.

TN: We’re just going to buckle down and get it done.