INTERVIEW: Modern Baseball
The coming together of persons to mix ideas and playing styles to create an original piece of music that could last forever is surely one of the best feelings ever.
A piece of music that will out-live it’s creators once recorded and distributed and have the potential to pick up thousands of fans along the way. Inevitably as interest rises, the opportunity to play that music live in your home-town soon arises and then, before you know it, you’ve got the whole country singing your praises.
But the opportunity to take that music and showcase it worldwide is a definitely a mountain that most bands fail to climb, whether it’s for reasons obvious or not. The remarkable story behind Modern Baseball from Philadelphia, United States, will gain admirers due to their hard work and committment for the band who will travel to the Voodoo Bar, Belfast this September. A room of people, thousands of miles from home and we got the opportunity to speak with the band ahead of the show. Be part of their journey.
In the UK, baseball isn’t hugely followed – could you explain the name to us?
The name comes from baseball strategies book Jake’s dad had from when he was a physical education teacher. It’s surprising how big baseball is in the states but not anywhere else. But then again I’ve tried to explain the game to people from out of the country and as it comes out of my mouth, I realize how little sense it seems to make.
You recorded ‘Sports’ in university – relatively low costs and a good deal for sure. You must have been stoked to get all finally mixed in the end to get it out there?
Absolutely! We really enjoyed our recording process. We got the chance to book out the studio ourselves for two weeks, and record it ourselves and with our friends in a really fun, private environment. Most of our ability to do that is because Jake and Ian are really talented engineers. And to finish it up, we got to send it to our friend Jon Low to work his magic and turn these songs into something we would have never imagined. It was like raising your child, then sending them off to college and having them coming back as an adult.
I’ve read that you toured whilst out of university during spring and winter breaks for example. Surely such a gruelling tiring schedule. How did you guys cope?
Very little sleep [laughs]. We have been extremely busy balancing school, touring, recording, family and work, but the best way to handle it is a lot of planning. We’ve gotten ourselves into a strict schedule of when it is time to be a band 100%, and when it is time to dedicate yourselves otherwise. We are fortunate that we are all hard working dudes, it allows the rhythm to be very strong.
You’ve played with one of my favourite bands in Bayside last Winter if I’m right – how did that go?
Those shows were pretty surreal. We got the email about those shows while we were on our first full USA tour, driving down the California coast and just flipped out in the van. That will always be one of my favorite memories as a band. Bayside was one of the most influential bands for me and we never imagined we’d be able to share a stage with them. And the shows were such a great time. They were such welcoming dudes and definitely a band that has stood the test of time by being genuine guys and continuing to make great music. We even got to play The Starland Ballroom, where me and Ian saw our first punk shows- it was incredible.
What is the song-writing approach for the band?
Our song writing process starts with Brendan and Jake writing their own songs and then sending the rest of us the first demos. We will then sit and talk about the songs, bring them to practice, and work out the final full band arrangements. It’s a really fun process and always surprising and exciting when one of guys brings a new song to us.
Here in Northern Ireland, we have a strong local music scene. What piece of advice would you give to Northern Irish bands looking for that big break?
The great thing I’ve noticed about the scene in Ireland, is that it is a pretty small, tight-knit community, and I see a lot of parallels to our scene in Philly (shout out to Empty Lungs!) We know first hand that a strong local music scene is your biggest asset for developing your band, reaching new fans, and developing life long relationships and friendships. But that only comes from helping out each other. If we have a band play a show at our house, next time we are in their town they will book us a show. Book touring bands on the bill with local bands to expose them to new fans. If you had to walk down the street to get to the show and the touring band had to drive overnight, make sure that you can compensate them first for gas and help them to keep going. The open and friendly local scenes in our city and around the country made us into the band we are today.
What’s the future plans for Modern Baseball late 2014 and beyond?
2014 has already been a dream for us – releasing the new record, playing around the country and world, and touring with some of our favourite bands. We don’t have any plans of slowing down in 2014. We’re going to keep on the road and try and reach more places we’ve never gotten to play, including our first trip to Ireland!