Modern Baseball: Seasoned Hitters.
Looking at their new record – and holding it in their hands – means more to the members of Modern Baseball than one might think.
The youthful punk band is scattered between the car seat-furnished living room and the kitchen of the West Philly rowhome that three of the four members share. Being mailed eight boxes of the album, You’re Gonna Miss It All, a few weeks prior to its February release date via Run For Cover records, is one of the first topics of conversation among them between sips of Earl Grey tea and talk of ordering Domino’s for dinner.
“They’re wrapped with real shit,” says guitarist and vocalist Brendan Lukens, mentioning that the albums are ready to be sold for retail and not just packaged in sleeves for the band to distribute themselves. “It’s weird.”
“It’s like, actually a record,” adds bassist Ian Farmer.
“It’s like Hot Topic edition,” follows guitarist Jake Ewald, and all three band members erupt in laughter.
The high-quality look and feel of the record, coupled with the fact that they’d already sold about 1,000 preorders, seems to mystify Modern Baseball more than the fact they’ve made it this far, this quickly. The band members agree that getting signed to Run For Cover, playing huge shows and tours with some of punk’s biggest bands and coming up while most band members (except drummer Sean Huber) maintained full-time course loads as college students has made the past year feel like a whirlwind.
“It’s very fast for us because we don’t ever stop,” Farmer says. “We’re either playing shows and practicing or we’re in school. Just never resting. There’s no real down time to be, like, yeah.”
“It’s weird to sit back now and see everything unfolding in front of us and us not having anything to do,” Lukens says about their current lull, anticipating the album release, a big tour with The Wonder Years, and the collective decision for the band members to take a semester off from school.
Modern Baseball started with Lukens and Ewald writing and playing acoustic songs. They found out they had the same ideology about music while Lukens was dating Ewald’s twin sister. The two also have the most similar music taste of any other band members and are prone to completing each other’s sentences.
“I was in some bands in high school, kind of just for fun to be playing in a band,” Ewald says. “It was fun but I didn’t feel like I was expressing myself in any way. I wasn’t writing anything except riffs and I would just headbang a lot. Then I met Brendan and we were both kind of like, ‘I want to write music that actually means something.’”
Ewald and Lukens shared songwriting duties more evenly on the new record than they did on their 2012 debut, Sports. The packaging for You’re Gonna Miss It All features the six songs of Ewald’s and the six of Luken’s, written out in their corresponding handwriting – something else they’re very proud of.
“We did that at a Kinko’s in the Midwest sometime this summer,” Ewald says.
Musically, there are many signs on You’re Gonna Miss It All that Modern Baseball has matured, even though they’re still paying for food with the money their parents send them, singing about making out on the couch and shooting music videos with everyone dressed as high school cliques.
“We definitely put a lot into it, specifically musically,” Lukens says. “I want people to notice that and say that we’ve improved from the last record.”
“With Sports, we had all the songs acoustic and went into the studio with just that, making everything up as we recorded it,” adds Ewald. “With this, we demoed everything and every part that we wanted to do before we went into the studio. Once we got in there, instead of having to make it up and be like, ‘OK, we ran out of time. We might as well just go with this,’ we could improve upon what we’d already done.”
“Also, we recorded it over the summer rather than when we were in school,” says Farmer. “So, we weren’t in the studio from 11 p.m. until 8:30 in the morning, with class at 10.”
The band members definitely have more to worry about than the average college students. Showcasing their worries, fears, dreams and cares in their music, though, makes it relatable to people outside of their age group. Everyone has had a love turn sour, a friend treat them like shit or felt the need to take a walk around the neighborhood to clear their head.
“We’ve never really held back with saying exactly how we feel,” Lukens says. “I guess people just feel the same way. We’re at that prime age when you just want to bitch about everything.”
Modern Baseball definitely isn’t complaining about where they are as a band – or as people. While none of the members spent their formative years living in Philly until coming to college, they gush about how much they love the city and the scene, how there’s always a show to play or see, and supportive people to connect with.
“The whole reason we’re anything,” Lukens says, “is because of the people around.”
“One of the cool things about the Philly music scene is that the guys who book your band in their basement with your other friend’s band are the same guys who book your favorite band when they come through town,” adds Ewald.
Modern Baseball is refreshingly more appreciative than the assholes with iPhones they reference in the song “Going To Bed Now” on You’re Gonna Miss It All, and who older people think make up most of their generation. They regularly thank their fans and the label putting out their record, give shout-outs of support to other local bands and fondly recall being given hummus and pita or chips and salsa backstage as some of their favorite tour memories.
Snacks and shrink wrap. That’s all it takes.