Modern Baseball have been pegged as among the pioneers of the contemporary emo revival, and they’re as humble as they are appreciated. With 2014’s ‘You’re Gonna Miss It All’ ensuring that their name was known among those in the scene that prior LP ‘Sports’ hadn’t quite reached, they’ve been riding a wave of increasing popularity that’s seen fans in Australia anxious to get them out here. The time has come, and the band will be here next month for the Poison City Weekender. We spoke to frontman Brendan Lukens about their first time down under, finishing school and new tunes.
It’s not long now until you guys head over for the Poison City Weekender next month. Did you know about it before you joined the bill?
Yeah! We’ve been dying to get to Australia for a really long time and it just hasn’t worked out with school and other tours we had going on. So we’ve been talking to Poison City forever, and they were like, ‘just come! We have this festival already being booked, just show up now, it’ll be so easy!’ So we did!
We’re really happy to have you. You’re on it with a bunch of other great artists like The Smith Street Band, Andrew Jackson Jihad, Iron Chic…is it cool to be on a tour over here with your friends?
Yeah, it’s really awesome, especially with a band like Iron Chic who we’re doing the festival dates and the headlining dates with. It’s awesome to just have familiar faces and bands that we’ve listened to a lot (laughs). With all of those bands actually. It’s actually also my first time seeing The Sidekicks and it’s not in the US, and that’s really funny for me.
That’s gonna be fun. Is there a chance there’ll be any onstage collaborations?
I don’t know, maybe! I would love to mess around with The Smith Street Band. We all love them so much, so hopefully.
We love them too. You guys have never been here before. Is there anything you’re looking forward to doing?
We’ve been told a tonne of things to do, but we’re definitely just going with the flow. I definitely want a picture with a koala bear. That’s the only like, ‘I have to do that before we leave’, kind of thing. Otherwise, I’m just gonna go with it (laughs).
That’s kind of like a rite of passage here.
It seems to be, at least for all of my friends who have visited.
Speaking of shows, you tweeted pretty recently asking people not to hug, kiss or touch you without asking first. Has that been an issue for you guys?
Occasionally. It definitely irks us out whenever it happens, but it’s not something that we’ve needed to repeat like every day. It’s occasionally.
Moving beyond that, has anything really crazy ever happened to you guys at a show?
I mean there’s been a few times. One of the first times we played Pittsburgh, the roof almost caved in at the bar that we were playing, upstairs, so the people downstairs came up and they were like ‘cut the show, it’s about to go through the roof’.
We actually played Barcelona once and that was really crazy, to like 4000 people with a band called Basement. That was definitely one of our highlights as a band I think (laughs).
You mentioned before that you guys are still in school, but you’re also touring so much. What motivates you to continue that?
We all just really love Modern Baseball, and we all love what the band has turned into, and how it’s grown with us, and how it’s made us grow, and we all wanted to keep doing it as much as we could, so we just properly planned with school to make sure that we could split our time between the two of them and so far it hasn’t given us too much of a trouble.
Is it tough to handle at all, do you have any tips for balancing it? Would you recommend that people stay in school if they want to pursue music?
Yeah! We do close to 200 days a year, and we’re still in school, and doing great, and on track to graduate, not that far behind. It is possible, totally stay in school. I think the best way to do it is do it properly. I think the reason it’s been so successful with us is just because we’ve been working with our school so heavily since we started touring, so at this point they’re just kinda like, ‘yeah, okay!’
It’s pretty cool and inspiring to other bands that it’s a successful option for you guys, and congratulations on being close to graduating.
Thank you! It’s a long time coming.
Onto the music, you released a new song with the pre-orders for your upcoming tour… Are you guys planning a new record?
We’ve definitely been talking about it, but we haven’t settled into a date or anything like that for recording, definitely not. But I mean Jake [Ewald, guitar and vocals] and I are always writing, we actually just had our first tour bus kind of, on our last tour with Say Anything, so it was really, really, really easy to write on the road compared to being in the van. Just having your own space really helps. So yeah, we’re definitely writing a lot, but no plans for recording a new record anytime soon.
That’s awesome, Say Anything are a great band. Do you get help from the artists you’re on tour with, in terms of bouncing off ideas and having song guests? Is that a part of your process?
Not so much for writing the lyrics, but we are such suckers for guest vocals, and Max [Bemis] from Say Anything is the same way.
He definitely is.
‘In Defense of the Genre’ has like forty guest spots.
Don’t forget ‘Hebrews’.
I know right, exactly! Definitely now that we have way more friends that are in bands and way more people that we feel close enough with, like telling what our songs are about and stuff like that, it’s definitely cool to hear feedback now, it’s an option that we didn’t originally have. Like we showed the new song to Max on the Say Anything tour, and he was just giving us all this crazy cool feedback about how we were like, the last surviving punk band, and it made me cry.
He’s such a nice guy. It hasn’t been that long since ‘You’re Gonna Miss It All’ actually came out though, so is there a sort of pressure thing going on, like you’ve got to get new music out, or are you guys doing this at your own pace?
There’s definitely some pressure, I feel like now, especially since we tour so often, people are seeing us play almost the same set list. We’ve done an okay job of switching it up, but there’s definitely some demand for new music and I’m sure we’ll fulfil that demand sometime soon.
Speaking of your set list, is there a song you always want to play live?
Recently, the song that’s kind of really hit home for us is called ‘Alpha Kappa Fall Of Troy The Movie Part Deux’, which is on a charity split that we did through Lame-O Records, which is Jake’s song. We really, really love playing that song. Aside from that, ‘Re-done’, from the first record ‘Sports’, really, really gets us going.
Do you guys get fans telling you ‘Sports’ is better than ‘You’re Gonna Miss It All’, or is that very internet-comment-section based? I mean, you’ll always get people saying stuff like that on the internet. Does that translate to the real life context?
No one’s actually even ever said that to me before; I don’t think so. I feel like ‘You’re Gonna Miss It All’ was bigger, but I feel like people seem to like ‘Sports’ more, and that’s awesome. People listening to us in general is really great and I can’t even believe it. So, whatever.
Whatever, forever. Your fanbase has grown pretty drastically in a relatively short amount of time. Has it affected you that the music means so much to so many different people?
Yeah. I think it has for all of us, a lot. There have definitely been moments where we’ve come to terms with it. It means a lot when people reach out to us and they’re like ‘your music has gotten me through so much’ or just being like, ‘your music inspired me to start a new band’. It’s just crazy that Modern Baseball has evolved into this at all. We’re very lucky (laughs).
Do fans ever ask you for advice on odd topics like dating and what not, and is it hard to respond to that kind of thing?
Sometimes! But most of the time we just try to make a joke to get out of it. Probably because we’re not the best people to be taking advice from.
You’re qualified enough!
I guess that’s true.
To bring things to a close, have you started planning for 2016?
We’ve definitely started planning for next year. We definitely have a lot of things planned out ahead, so we’ll see how they go, and we’re really excited for the tour coming up to end the year.
We’re pumped to have you guys here, it’s been a while that everyone’s been saying that someone should get Modern Baseball here.
I know, right? We’ve been saying the same thing. We’re so excited.
Thanks for doing the interview today. We’ll see you soon.
Modern Baseball have cancelled their upcoming appearance here in September. You can still catch Iron Chic, The Smith Street Band, Andrew Jackson Jihad and more here for the Poison City Weekender. We wish Brendan the best with his mental health and hope to see the band out here soon.