Who would have guessed that perhaps the most softly spoken member of evergreen UK troubadours Gomez would have such a wicked sense of humour? After announcing that he had “just cracked the first beer of the day,” Ian Ball is excited and chatty. Within the first few minutes of the conversation, he has jumped from rock parenting (“I’m going to introduce my six-year-old to Motorhead today!”), to what his six-year-old son listens to otherwise (“It’s just Katy Perry from six in the morning to eight o’clock at night”), to what Ball himself was listening to at the same age (“When I was six, my dad took me to see Whitesnake – fuck yeah!”).
It’s almost as if Ball has somehow forgotten there’s a new album to discuss – that being his second solo release, Unfold Yourself. Then again, the album came so naturally to Ball it must be easy to put out of mind. “It was such a great record to be involved in,” he says, finally swerving the conversation toward the very purpose of this interview. “I hope that the feeling of that comes out. There’s a lot going on sonically, but it doesn’t feel overstuffed at all. There’s a lot of sounds and shapes. It feels right. I’m really into it.”
One of the most interesting aspects of Unfold Yourself was that its creation was somewhat of a happy accident. Originally working on compositions for what Ball describes as an “ambient sort of record,” the songs took a surprising change once they were given a few extra ingredients.
“I was trying to do something calm and mellow. That’s the kind of thing I like to listen to the most when I’ve come back from a long day working or coming back from playing a show. Just give me something slow and mellow, y’know? I just couldn’t help it, though. I started hearing killer melodies that would go along with what I had… and then I was just writing songs again.
“It was kind of a process that was done in a totally different way to what I’m used to. None of the songs on the album were written by just sitting down with my guitar or my piano – it was all borne out of bits of snippets and little bits of music that my cohorts and I had made; just little minute-long things here and there. We threw them around, pieced them together and threw all this crazy shit on top. It’s funny, because they ended up sounding like ‘regular’ songs. They sound nothing like the way they were created.”
Ball is bringing these brand new songs to audiences across Australia roughly a year after Gomez’s Quinceanera tour, and a matter of months after bandmate Ben Ottewell visited for a similarly extensive run of dates. It begs the question: is there some kind of conspiracy going on wherein Gomez can never truly leave Australia?
“I think so!” says Ball cheerfully. “And why not? We’ve got so many good friends over there, we’ve played so many good shows there. It’s nuts how much love that goes ’round there, especially for a band that’s not from there and isn’t particularly successful.” He does, however, raise a single qualm: “The last few times I’ve been to Australia, it’s been like, ‘Can I have some toothpaste and a banana?’ and you guys have been like, ‘Sure, mate – twenty bucks!’ It’s so expensive down there. I have no idea how any of you are still alive!”
BY DAVID JAMES YOUNG