For a band that has only been active since 2011, Modern Baseball have achieved a hell of a lot. They’ve release three albums, including the incredible 2016 effort Holy Ghost, and have become staples of the American touring scene with their high energy, crowd-engaging shows. Starting as high school and college friends, they’ve had a meteoric rise and in 2016 found themselves supporting Brand New on what will likely be one of the band’s last ever tours.
Australia is in the middle of a love affair with the US rock outfit. The toured here earlier in 2016, playing a bunch of shows in capital cities – and now, after a cancelled Aussie tour in 2015, they’re finally making up for lost time and are touring again.
We caught up with frontman Brendan Lukens towards the end of 2016 to talk about the keys for preventing tour burnout, expanding their live show and flirting with Violent Soho online in the lead up to their Like A Version cover.
Watch: Modern Baseball – Rock Bottom
Music Feeds: You guys must really love Australia, you’re coming back at the start of next year and it feels like you only just left.
Brendan Lukens: Yeah, honestly when Falls asked us to come back it seemed like an unbelievable opportunity, too good to turn down.
MF: Are you pretty psyched to be playing such a massive festival as Falls and will you be bringing back a pretty similar show to what we saw from you earlier in 2016?
BL: We’ll definitely have a different show and we’ll definitely have a few different versions of the set. At this point of the year we’re pretty in tune with playing a lot of Holy Ghost, and we’re still playing a lot of our catalogue. So at this point it could really be anything.
MF: I guess in that case you must be pretty happy with how Holy Ghost has been received across your live shows this year?
BL: Yeah, it’s honestly been wonderful. Whether it’s our peers or our fans, and new fans – it’s been really awesome because we’re so proud of it, that people like it.
MF: How has that extra material allowed you expand and develop your live show?
BL: Play more than an hour. Prior to this record we’d have to play almost everything we had to play a full hour. It’s nice at this point to be able to just casually cross it off.
MF: What’s been going on? The last press we got from your PR was about your Falls shows – how’s the tour with Brand New been going?
BL: It’s been really wonderful touring with Brand New. We’ve just been on the road, doing that kind of stuff. The tour’s been super intense and crazy, you show up every day really early, and then you go to bed super late. They’re all such wonderful people and the whole tour has such a great vibe to it that’s just hard-working, creative people being super sweet to each other. So it’s been really wonderful.
MF: Brand New are a pretty incredible act. Have you guys learnt much from them so far on this tour?
BL: We were fans of them prior and they approached us to do the tour. They just said that they liked our stuff and they wanted to tour. So we couldn’t say no to the opportunity. The way they operate in general it’s just crazy to watch, it’s honestly been super inspiring.
MF: What have been the key ways that you guys have developed as a live act over the years?
BL: It’s pretty much the same vibe, just with more props and other cool fun shit going down on stage. Other than that it’s just been about being able to get more songs into a set. It’s still just a fun-loving vibe – we haven’t been able to pull off any crazy stage stuff yet.
MF: You had to cancel some Australian shows in 2015, and one of the things you spoke to us about last year was the risks of burnout when you’re touring so much. How are you guys addressing that risk nowadays?
BL: We definitely plan out our own headline shows better, so that there’s more time off so that it doesn’t really happen. In conjunction with our booking agency we’ve scaled it back. A good example is that we have a huge amount of touring happening in January and February because of a UK tour around that time. Obviously, we wanted to stay in Australia longer but we just wouldn’t have had that much time off. So we’re just heading to Australia for two weeks.
MF: Do you think you guys are finding a good balance between touring and recording now?
BL: I think we’ve found a balance between Modern Baseball and our personal lives. Before it was full on but now some of us are starting families. We obviously all want to do this all the time, but that’s bad for your mental health – so we’re just finding the proper way to pace ourselves. It’s a long lesson but we’re getting there.
MF: When you guys were in Australia last you pulled off a ripping Violent Soho cover for Like A Version. How did that come about?
BL: We were fans of them prior, and in the lead up we were flirting with them online a bit prior. We’re really close with their US label, so when their record was released in the US some of us did press with them to say ‘yeah this band rocks a lot.’
Watch: Modern Baseball – Dope Calypso (Violent Soho Cover)
Modern Baseball conclude their Australian visit with a show in Melbourne tonight. Details here.