Editor’s Update: Not long after posting this interview, the band announced they would be cancelling their Australian tour. However, the interview remains here for your enjoyment. Please just ignore the dates at the end.
Social media has provided a myriad of new opportunities for today’s band; from Facebook to Twitter, we see the music industry constantly evolving through the instant connection brought by the Internet. Enter Modern Baseball – a band who fuse together the genres of emo and pop punk, containing infectious guitar hooks and emotive lyrics which tamper on subjects of love and heartache. The band have successfully garnered a loyal fanbase and founding member and primary vocalist, Brendan Lukens had a lot to say about the band’s current achievements when I spoke to him ahead of their upcoming Australian tour.
Having released two studio albums (Sports, You’re Gonna Miss It All) and three EPs, Lukens says that the amount of support from fans wouldn’t be as big today if the traditional method of word-by-mouth was still used. Sites like Bandcamp in particular have helped them get their music out there to a wider audience in both the US and overseas. “Bandcamp helped us share our music for free to both our friends and fanbase and this encouraged them to spread the word on our music,” Lukens says. “We got to the point where we needed to charge for music to pay for gas and everyone was like ‘We’ve got Spotify right?’ It’s definitely helped us grow and it’s crazy to see the amount of plays we’re getting on Spotify.”
With music streaming services like Spotify and now, Apple Music, Lukens noted that these have helped people deter away from pirating music. With the band members being in their early 20s, he understood the appeal of downloading music illegally thanks to its easy access. Growing up in a digital era, Lukens found that there were still people downloading the band’s material but mentioned that it was nice to see services like Spotify help musicians like him get paid.
Like most established bands, Modern Baseball was formed through the influence of others. Names like Motion City Soundtrack and Say Anything helped encouraged Modern Baseball to make music, though Lukens admitted that inspiration for songwriting came from personal experience as well.
“There are definitely times where we’re trying to say something, like a memory or the way we feel in a certain way while connecting to a certain style of music. A song like ‘Your Graduation’ went on to be way more angsty with a really basic chord progression. The songs speak for themselves and it’s kinda just what I have to say to people.”
With emerging pop punk/emo bands like Joyce Manor and The Front Bottoms, Lukens took comfort in knowing that Modern Baseball wasn’t just a ‘misfit’ band. In the music industry, so many emo and pop punk bands exist, making it a challenge to sound unique. Before the release of 2012’s Sports, Lukens had stumbled upon The Front Bottoms’ music and he liked the idea that bands were fusing together genres that not many people think could work well. From there, the music and songwriting came naturally.
“It was more so one of those things where we were writing a certain way and when we found out some other bands were kind of writing the same, we were just becoming more and more comfortable to where we are now.” He says. “We feel extremely confident in our songwriting and how our live show goes. I remember we wrote and recorded Sports and we planned to release it and then I heard the first Front Bottoms record [I Hate My Friends] and I was like, ‘This is incredible’. I’m so glad that I’m not the only one who’s like mixing shit up.”
Being in the music industry takes a toll on most bands. With touring, creating and recording new material as well as balancing a work/personal life, it can get pretty overwhelming. Lukens shared that himself, with the other band members still in school but lucky enough to have academic institutions who understood their needs as musicians. After Sports was released, the band took some time off to focus more on their music career and this essentially helped them ease into the busy lifestyle without the risk of feeling burnt out. Lukens emphasised the importance of having a higher education and found that he could adapt well between balancing a music career and study.
“It’s been hard but it’s also been pretty easy – that’s the weird thing. We owe a lot of it to our academic advisors in school and our parents and everyone who just kind of helped us do things properly so we didn’t fuck up our lives. We owe a lot of it to our schools, Drexel and Chestnut Hill who took really good care of us and understood that this was something that we wanted to do [pursue music] and also getting a higher education,” He continues. “It’s not as hard as everyone thinks. I feel like it really helps you prepare for the good and the bad people out there. We’ve been more prepared for them because of what we’ve had to deal with for school and touring.”
With the band heading to Australia next month, Lukens couldn’t believe the amount of success Modern Baseball had received in the last three years of their career. It was from there he valued the commitment and spirit the band had together. Whether it was just hanging out in different cities, being away from home or creating music that they loved, it was clear that the bond they shared was unbreakable.
“I feel like the band has grown way more than we could have ever expected and we’re so happy and so lucky for that. We just wanna make sure that we properly balance our time together and our time apart,” He says. “I think us focusing on our education and side projects has helped us a lot. We as a band have all grown together and if this thing doesn’t work out, we still got each other. They’ll be my family forever.”
Catch Modern Baseball with Iron Chic on the tour dates below!
AUSTRALIAN TOUR DATES
September 3 – Prekender Fest – Melbourne [SOLD OUT]
September 5 – Weekender Fest – Melbourne [SOLD OUT]
September 6 – Weekender Fest – Melbourne (U18)
September 7 – Northcote SC – Melbourne
September 8 – Yours & Owls – Wollongong [SOLD OUT]
September 9 – Transit Bar – Canberra
September 10 – Newtown SC – Sydney
September 12 – I love life fest – Sydney [SOLD OUT]
September 13 – I love life fest – Brisbane