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Modern Baseball are ready to hit a home run

Words: Ryan De Freitas.

2015 was a roller coaster for Modern Baseball. Seemingly at the height of their powers, in the summer the band cancelled their UK festival appearances, as well as an Australian tour citing vocalist/guitarist, Brendan Lukens needing to take time out to address some mental health concerns. As the year drew to a close however, they embarked upon a 38 date mega-tour with PUP, Jeff Rosenstock and Tiny Moving Parts. Then, they followed that up with something even more surprising still; an out-of-nowhere, free download release of ‘The Perfect Cast’ EP, which just so happened to be brilliant.

Modern Baseball are truly back, and whatever problems had plagued Brendan seem, thankfully, under control. That particular EP release – as defiantly impactful as the timing and circumstance seemed – was always going to happen, however.

“Those tracks were already written,” explains Brendan. “We had this EP planned and we knew we wanted it released around our UK and Australia trips. But when we cancelled the dates we went ahead as planned with the EP.”

“We all have our own individual styles and now Modern Baseball has a sound from those.”

That EP saw the band turning to a more obviously indie-influenced style instrumentally – particularly on record highlight, ‘Infinity Exposed’. Gone is the gently, gently approach they’d previously taken with their guitar lines and in their place are potentially floor-filling lines that could’ve been written by The Killers in their pomp. That wasn’t MoBo making a contrived play for radio dominance, however.

“I think it’s just the natural progression for us as songwriters,” Brendan supposes. “When we first started touring [debut record] ‘Sports’ and [follow-up] ‘You’re Gonna Miss It All’, Ian [Farmer, bass] and Sean [Huber, drums] had just joined full time. Since then we’ve had two heavy touring years to mould into Modern Baseball. We all have our own individual styles and now Modern Baseball has a sound from those.”

2016, with all that experience and sound-moulding under their collective belt, sees the Philadelphia-based outfit crossing the Atlantic in February for their biggest UK shows to date and in Sorority Noise, they’re bringing over some particularly talented friends. Bringing friends along for the ride has been MoBo’s M.O. for a while now, with their last headline stint over here supported by fellow Pennsylvania punks, Spraynard, and it doesn’t happen by accident. “We have so much say [in who tours with us],” he reveals. “All of the say.”

“We’re always trying to be better.”

There’s more to it than just friendship, though. “We really love dynamic bands and bands that just have a grand ol’ time playing,” Brendan continues. “It helps with everyone’s vibe, we feel. This past tour with PUP, Jeff Rosenstock, Tiny Moving Parts – and for some of it Sorority Noise – was so great as far as general attitude goes. Everyone picked each other up so much and when you’re out for 7 weeks everyone needs some help at one point or another.”

Clearly in high spirits, buoyed by a triumphant end to what had the potential to be a derailing year for the band, Brendan reveals that there’s even more reasons to be cheerful with new full-length, ‘Holy Ghost’ on the way, “We’re very proud of ‘Holy Ghost’. We were in a challenging situation writing and recording the record while we had so many personal things going on, but we see it as a huge accomplishment for us.”

And how far can that accomplishment take them this year? “It’s my favourite Modern Baseball record, so who knows?” Brendan concludes. “We just want to take even more steps forward – we’re always trying to be better.”

Humble and unassuming though Brendan might be, there’s an air of genuine excitement underpinning his words – and for good reason. If they can achieve what they did in a tough 2015, 2016 might well be the year that Modern Baseball hit a home run.

Taken from the January issue of Upset. Order a copy here.