Dan Goldberg ’17 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer
Philadelphia’s Modern Baseball are rapidly rising to the top of the city’s thriving punk scene thanks to their interesting lyrics, exciting live shows, and tremendous dedication.
Emertainment Monthly got a chance to catch up with Jake Ewald, the band’s singer and guitarist, about everything important in Modern Baseball’s world right now.
Emertainment Monthly: You started the band with Brendan Lukens (guitar and vocals) – what do you think has changed since the foundation?
Jake Ewald: The biggest thing is having a real band. It’s still me and Brendan writing all of the songs, but now we’re learning how to play off of Sean [Huber, drummer] and Ian [Farmer, bass]. We bring stuff to them and hear their feedback. They’re pretty open to a lot. It doesn’t change the fundamentals of the music or lyrics, but now we have more people helping it rock.
How would you prepare a first time listener of Modern Baseball?
We are a specific band, and you need to have a specific mindset to enjoy us. We are honest, and sometimes weirdly honest. A lot of people write songs that say “I feel like I’m drowning in an ocean.” and some people can say “I’ve also felt that,” but we write songs about really liking rom-coms, and it’s really great to have people come up to us after shows and say “I also like rom-coms.” Basically, we’re saying this is how we are feeling, and sometimes it’s weird, and sometimes it sounds weird to your ears, but hopefully you can relate.
I remember when we showed Run For Cover [the studio releasing Modern Baseball’s newest album] the song “Broken Cash Machine;” they listened to it and were like, “We really like it, but you’re just listing what you did through the day” [laughs].
How have you been reacting to the success of your album Sports?[Laughs] It’s weird. We’re still getting used to it. We released it online pretty much just to have it for ourselves. Then Run For Cover came around and were like, “This is really cool,” and so we decided we should keep doing it.
It’s crazy, actually. Pre-orders for You’re Gonna Miss It All on every type of vinyl sold out yesterday morning [about a week after they became available]. We’re super thankful to play with bigger bands like Bayside, because we get a whole new fan base. We used to play basements, and now we have kids showing up who only buy tickets for shows on Ticketmaster. It’s a whole new crowd, and I’m really happy to share music with them.
What new aspects did you try to get at with You’re Gonna Miss it All?
The biggest thing we stepped up [were the] musical aspects. We went into Sports with one vocal part and one musical [part] mostly. We used our studio time to mostly play around and improvise, and when something worked, we would just go for it. You’re Gonna Miss it All gave us more time for trial and error. We could take some parts out, and really work hard to figure out what we wanted. We came into the studio more prepared, with stuff already written and settled on, and recording was just tightening up anything we had.
What are your thoughts about Philly’s punk scene?
It’s the reason we are a band. The people who run shows are incredibly welcoming and accepting. The people who come to shows will come to shows with bands that they’ve never heard. They’ll be a show that has three bands that you’ve never heard of, and people will pay three to five dollars, just to support the musicians. They just go because they like music. The scene is like a petri dish of punk kids. At the start, it was kind of scary for us, because we entered this petri dish and were like, “Who’s gonna listen to us?”[At the start of our career] we would literally go on a Facebook event page, message the admin, send them the EP and say “We’ll be on time, and you don’t have to pay us.” They were so supportive. Everybody cares, and everybody is welcoming.
What’s your favorite album?
Right now it’s something by Los Campensinos!. I think they’re a totally exaggerated version of what we’re trying to do. They come in with seven or eight people, and violins, and I really like that sound and that honesty. If I had to pick an album, I would say Hello Sadness.
On a personal level, what are your biggest influences?
Lyrically it’s probably Say Anything, or maybe Motion City Soundtrack. As for music, I would say that lately we’ve tried to get more poppy, a little more “up.” A band like Motion City Soundtrack not only has those quirky lyrics, but we looked at some of the punk riffs and keyboard riffs.
If you could have one song be your theme song, what would it be?
“Sweet Release” by Wugazi. Somebody mashed up the Wu-Tang Clan and Fugazi. I love this album.