Emerging Vancouver, BC, Canada punk/grunge trio HARDBALL is set to release its debut self-titled album on July 21, 2023 on all major streaming platforms via Distrokid, as a digital download through Bandcamp, and directly from the band on 12” LP, and compact disc.

In support of the album, HARDBALL are setting out on tour this August with appearances throughout Western Canada.

HARDBALL is comprised of former Poles frontman and Vancouver local Scott Budgie, as well as Okanagan residents, drummer Jeremy Head also of The Motion Picture, and bassist Jamie Black.HARDBALL’s self-titled album is a joint production between recording engineer Matt Roach of Rain City Recorders in Vancouver, BC (Baptists, Misery Signals, Comeback Kid) and mix engineer Felix Fung of Little Red Sounds in New Westminster, BC (Needles//Pins, Girlfriends and Boyfriends, Mode Moderne).

The Album as a whole is explained by Scott Budgie (Guitar/Vocals)

To us, the album is a huge deal, because it’s something we worked on for MANY years. It is not something we slapped together on a weekend. At one point the album was about 70% done and we made the tough decision to basically scrap it and re-track the drums for 8 of the 10 songs. It was worth it in the end. It finally sounds the way we wanted. Every line of vocals on the album was recorded dozens, if not hundreds of times over multiple sessions.

The seemingly endless periods of delays and problems that plagued the production of the album were beginning to cause me distress. Finally, seeing the release of this album on the horizon has been very therapeutic for me.

Artistically the album covers a lot of different, but related themes. In my mind, it’s a concept album, but it’s admittedly the most incoherent concept album of all time. It’s a deep dive into my own psyche, unturning all the different stones that maybe should have been left alone, all the while worrying about being too self-indulgent in the process.

I like unusual delivery of lines and run-on sentences in my lyrics, as well as a mixture of absurd and dead serious subject matter. It makes it feel chaotic and unpredictable.

In some ways the album is like a collection of ideas that we’re excited to finally document and move on from, that’s the main reason why there is a cross on the album cover. Not because it’s the end of HARDBALL, but because it’s the end of HARDBALL as we know it. We have a lot more to do in the future and we feel that this album is an awesome starting point. We’re really proud of it.

Track By Track

1.) Just A Tree
I was reluctant to open the album with this song because of the jangly open chord parts that, to me sound almost Nashville-like. I didn’t want to give anyone the wrong impression right off the bat (no pun intended). But I also like the scope of the song: covering major and minor chord progressions, dissonant guitar parts, quiet to heavy dynamics (a grunge staple), the wild layered synthesizer breakdown during the bridge, and finally the lovelorn vocals at the ending.

Lyrically, the song describes unrequited love and uses being a tree as an allegory for remaining loyal, reliable, and unbothered. (it’s music for the incels, just kidding, but basically)

2.) Worried As Shit
This track’s self-disparaging lyrics are pretty par for the course with HARDBALL. Mainly focusing on my own flaws including socially awkward behavior, and an inability to maintain healthy relationships. Mostly tongue-in-cheek but also not.

3.) NRA
Musically this song is just supposed to sound completely bonkers. Drums going completely ape all over the place, obnoxious riffing and big low-tuned power chords, the heavily distorted bass guitar holds down the main riff. NRA is an anthem about gun control. Not really even with a coherent position on the matter. Calling it NRA despite not directly having anything to do with the NRA just seemed funny to us. I guess what I’m trying to say is that the US has major social problems that have led to regular shootings. I don’t like it, and I can’t do anything about it.

But, I’m going to shout about it the way a scared, confused child might.

4.) In The Mail
(My favorite track by far)
HARDBALL’s answer to dynamically epic songs like The Smashing Pumpkin’s “Soma”. I think we succeeded in creating a really vibey song that builds in tension and then just blasts off at the halfway point and goes hard until the end.

Using postal mail as an analogy, the lyrics describe a relationship beginning with the excitement and anticipation of meeting someone new, and slowly falling into complacency and boredom.

5.) Me And You
Me And You is a short burst of high-energy verses and riffs held together by a recurring harmony. Lyrically Me And You is basically a cynical version of Neil Young’s “Old Man”, making (sometimes nonsensical) comparisons to things I have in common with my old man.

6.) Chili lulls you in sounding like a simple
verse-chorus-verse structure before going full prog-stoner metal on you. The lyrics come from agonizing sleepless nights brought on by guilt and self-loathing.

7.) Talk To Me
Originally it seemed we didn’t have much for this piece other than the heavy floor tom hits combined with the palm muting which we thought was really cool. It took a couple of years for the overall direction to come together. Looking back, that palm mute/floor tom thing was a pretty boneheaded idea to pursue, but it ended up being worth it for the heavy riffs that came along.

8.) Ian’s Song
This song was the closest to being thrown out, but we all think it’s funny so it just made the cut. It’s definitely the oldest song on the album. It’s a true story about an old Scottish man who lived in our former bandmate’s basement. He would sometimes terrorize us while we were jamming in the garage. He frequently drank our beer and stole our food from the fridge upstairs. Eventually, he moved to a different city. I often wonder what became of that guy.

9.) I/O
Known internally as ‘Inside Out’, this is a classic HARDBALL song with sudden changes in dynamics. It begins with solo vocals and guitar before the entire band comes in dialed up to 10 for the hardcore-inspired verses and choruses. It ends with an abrupt change to a mellow arpeggio instrumental outro that serves as a fake-out ending to the album.

The lyrics are a satire of macho hardcore punk, which I love, but I don’t fully understand the tough guy culture behind it.

10.) Open Air
HARDBALL’s 10-minute epic. Beginning with clean guitar, soft vocals, and a tom beat that carries the intensity up and down, eventually.

Open Air goes completely off the rails and ditches its verse/chorus structure in favor of 4 minutes of bone-crushing riffs to close out the album. Lyrically the song describes trying to hang in there in a relationship that’s not working for either side. It also includes an homage to Danzig’s ‘Until You Call on The Dark’ with the line ‘until you start to call on the dark/I’ll hold on, I’ll hold on’.

SOURCE: Official Bio