With Holy Ghost, Modern Baseball is filling in the empty spaces
When it comes to college scenes, Modern Baseball sticks out like a sore thumb. The vibe at Philly’s Drexel University is a varied bag where everything goes, from hip hop to electro to folk/punk to happy hardcore and more. Yet, Modern Baseball pokes out that much further with its smartly winsome, occasionally caustic lyrics and its complex-yet-blunt brand of harmonic pop hardcore heard on 2014’s You’re Gonna Miss It All and the new Holy Ghost.
“I used to think folkier influences set us apart from pop/punk bands like the Wonder Years,” says singing/songwriting guitarist Jacob Ewald. Ewald, along with Brendan Lukens, formed M-Baseball in 2012 after the pair met in 2011. “We got really hyped on the idea of starting a band together, so we looked around my basement for a book with a good title and agreed on ‘Modern Baseball Techniques,’ but cut out ‘Techniques,’ says Ewald.
At Drexel, Ewald met drummer Sean Huber and bassist Ian Farmer and Baseball’s game began in earnest. That they won acclaim for the cutting You’re Gonna Miss It All and the snide “Your Graduation” wasn’t always easy.
“We were all between 21 and 23, goofing around, skipping school,” says Ewald. “When we began playing bigger shows than most of the bands that we were drawing influence from, the whole process was rewarding, but in that moment, it was a very lonely, confusing, two-plus-two-equals-five kind of situation.”
Lukens and Ewald—writing lyrics on their own—grew by exploring subjects beyond romantic relationships. “My grandfathers were ministers, my mom is a minister, my sister is practicing to enter the ministry, so religion has always been a focus,” says Ewald. “One of those grandfathers died, but for some reason I never processed it. When I started writing this record, I would start a song about going to school or something, then by the time I got to the second verse, I’d realize I was writing about my grandfather. I started noticing the holes that were left in my family after he died and tried figuring how they got there. Religion and Godliness had served as an insulating agent to fill empty spaces while my grandfather was alive, but when we lost him, we were left with familiar-yet-unresolved problems. He was our insulating ministerial patriarch. The songs aren’t necessarily anti-religion, but they explore the negative effects of letting religion be your cure-all.”