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Ian Ball

Ian-Ball

Gomez’s Ian Ball is touring in support of his new solo LP, Unfold Yourself. He performs on Monday, November 18, at Mojos and Tuesday, November 19, at PICA Bar. SHAUN COWE reports.

The frontman’s solo project. This ill-fated archetype has been the butt of jokes and journalistic cynicism since the first musically-inclined Homo Erectus wandered off into the desert, bone club in hand, muttering to himself in the first guttural semblance of human tongue about trying to work on his own ideas. 

Flash forward several thousand years to a pleasantly inebriated British singer, sitting home alone in his apartment on a temperate, autumnal evening in the city of angels, and you’ll find Gomez frontman, Ian Ball, idly chatting on the phone about his new album, Unfold Yourself, and just what his own ideas are.

“Everything in my life is good right now. It’s 10.30 at night. I’m home alone, which is so fucking weird – it never happens. My kid and my lady are at Hollywood Bowl, I’ve got some Berlioz on the record player, got some beer, getting through some interviews. All is very kosher right now.”

Ball is audibly beaming over the phone. And why wouldn’t he be? Frontman to an international platinum-selling rock band, father to a six-year-old child and two solo albums, including the recently-released Unfold Yourself, and possessor of some serious British swagger, things are going pretty well for this 33-year-old singer.

The album, half electronic indie rock, half ambient, instrumental Music For Airports, actually came about largely by accident.

“Our original goal was to make something very beautiful and ambient. Something for people to put on in the evening when their brains are about to explode and just relax. We started there and I couldn’t help myself. I started to put drum beats all over it. Then I was like, ‘well, why don’t I just sing some shit over the top of it?’

The instinctual approach to songwriting set the tone for much of the album. When asked what the lyrics were inspired by, Ball admits that it was never really thought on. “It all just sort of happened in this maelstrom of trying to figure out how to use all these different sounds and instrumentation that we’d piled on top. It was very stream of consciousness; I never stopped to look back and asked, ‘am I trying to get a message across here?’

When looking to release the album, Ball forwent the classic business model of signing with a label for distribution and looked directly to his fans via Pledgemusic.com. It’s a decision he said was instigated by a chance meeting with the founder of the site.

“It was just a coincidence. The guy who runs pledge just came down to a Gomez show in Boston. He was explaining it to me, I met him for a beer and he said, ‘I think you should do it, I think you’d really enjoy it’. And I said, ‘fuck it let’s try it. It sounds like it’s a great model’.”

From that platform Ball was able to record Unfold Yourself and fund a whirlwind international tour with its first stop in Australia. With one last parting laugh, Ball finally decides what the album’s about.

“It’s about the constant change and the incredible high-speed adaption that we are experiencing as we get older,” he offers, “and just dealing with how the hell to stay alive.”