Modern Baseball Release Surprise EP; Detail LP #3
Things looked pretty dark for Modern Baseball when they announced the cancellation of their UK and Australian tour dates earlier this year. It was a total bummer, and we were all a little bit worried for the band – especially frontman Brendan Lukens, who was dealing with some pretty heavy shit – but if it weren’t for their impromptu mini-hiatus, it’s likely we wouldn’t be here now to report that the Philly quartet are at their strongest collaborative point, in the midst of stringing together their third full-length, and have released a surprise six-song EP.
An exclusive interview with the band popped up on SPIN, and while it would have been cool just to read the band talk vaguely about what they might or might not be doing with their next album, they decided to go ‘fuck it’ and gave us all the juice we could possibly ask for… And then some. So before we get into the little matter of that aforementioned surprise EP, here’s everything we know about Modern Baseball’s third full-length album, Holy Ghost.
1. Modern Baseball + Producer = ???
In order to give the band’s sound a bit of a shake-up, and the production quality of a shinier coat of paint, MoBo teamed up with veteran producer Joe Reinhart – the man behind Joyce Manor’s stunning 2014 opus, Never Hungover Again – for Holy Ghost. “A big thing with us was, we wanted to accomplish a lot that we hadn’t beforehand,” Lukens says in the SPINterview. “Joe definitely helped us get to that point.”
2. There’s a bit of a U2 vibe going on
“The song they’re currently recording is reminiscent enough of arena-rock paragons U2 that between takes, co-frontman Jake Ewald sneaks into the booth to screech the chorus to ‘I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For’,” writes interviewer Andrew Unterberger. The thought of blending Modern Baseball’s wispy emo high school jams with U2’s stadium flooring explosiveness is an odd one, but… Count us in!
3. And… A lot of other vibes, too.
Just in case the text isn’t so clear, that last track is titled “St. Anger Presents: GUITARMAGEDDON 666 420”. It’s revealed to be a non-album B-side track, but still, it’s great to see MoBo are broadening their horizons. Supposedly, the album is full of cool shit like that, with the band taking some approaches to the booth they haven’t in the past, including “multi-tracked vocal parts, jarring mid-song tempo switch-ups, and a latent metal influence”. Lukens cites bands like Hop Along and other fellow Philly acts as inspiration – “Philly has just kind of made us want to broaden the style of music we can play,” he says. “Something that we wanted to accomplish on [the album] is getting a little out of our element. Like U2-ish songs.”
3. Lukens is done spending his evenings talking to @chl03k on Twitter
One of the best things about MoBo is their shameless cheesiness, their gratuitous references to Instagram, Facebook and general millennial slackerdom, and their sulky, striking relatability. But alas, that is no more. “I don’t think there’s a single Facebook reference,” Lukens enthuses. The vocalist has definitely matured musically since 2014’s You’re Gonna Miss It All, but it’s clear that he’s also matured as a person. “One big thing with LP3 is we’ve really cracked down on, like, adolescent writing,” he says. “We’ve tried to step back from the quirkiness and stuff like that.”
4. There’s a bit more to the hiatus than we’ve known so far
“I was just battling depression and anxiety for a really long time,” reveals Lukens. “And it took some good friends to make me realize that I needed to get help, and get my life back together. So I went home and started a treatment program that lasted about three-and-a-half, almost four weeks long… I just kinda separated myself from everything for a while.” Though it’s possible the shake-up could potentially have put an end to the band forever, guitarist Jake Ewald says that with Reinhart at the helm, and Lukens’ mind refreshed, the band are the strongest they’ve ever been, and the album is going fantastically. “As unpredictable as everything that happened before was, we could still get out of it and say, ‘We have three weeks in the studio booked, with this other person that’s gonna help a whole bunch’,” he says. “It was a way more comfortable environment we were going into.”
The record is set to drop sometime in 2016, Lukens teasing that we’ll only get our mitts on it once everyone has graduated from uni – thankfully, that’s just a couple of months away. All four members have one semester or less to power through at Drexel, so we should be jamming out to some Modern Bono before we know it. In the meantime, however, Lukens and his crew have pulled a Beyoncé on us and released MoBo Presents: The Perfect Cast EP feat Modern Baseball – a (very strangely titled) six-track EP – without announcement. The release is available on CD and as a pay-what-you-want-download, but they’ve also chucked us a SoundCloud stream, which you can give a look-see below.
Holy Ghost is set for release in 2016 through Run For Cover/Cooking Vinyl Australia.