Interview With Vocalist/Guitarist Jacob Ewald | By John B. Moore
It’s been a busy few years for Philadelphia’s Modern Baseball. Less than three years after forming, the guys have put out an EP (The Nameless Ranger), a full- length (Sports) and a split with scene mates Marietta. Fresh off several U.S. tours, the band is about to turn out yet another full- length, You’re Gonna Miss it All, then head right back on the road again with The Wonder Years, spreading the gospel of Indie Pop.
Resting up for another lap of the U.S. guitarist/vocalist Jacob Ewald took a few minutes recently to talk to us. Originally from Maryland, he talked about moving to Philly for college and stumbling on a stellar punk and Indie rock music scene, working on the new record, and the lack of privacy on tour.
It’s been barely a year since Sports came out and now you’ve got another full- length already. Were you always this prolific or did you are you just going through a very fertile period?
Oh dear, we’re flattered! I think the uninteresting truth is that Sports was, for the most part, a collection of songs that Brendan (Lukens) and I had been sitting on for a while, so by the time it came out we were already writing new material. At that point the new songs weren’t for any particular release; it was just for fun. We both just like writing a lot. And we both do it alone. We don’t really have that many friends. However, the cool thing about You’re Gonna Miss it All is that since all the songs were written at a casual pace in the year following Sports, we think it has a more linear feel than the last record.
Can you talk a little but about the songs on You’re Gonna Miss It All? Is there a general theme to them?
There’s not really a theme to the album as a whole, but the songs definitely lead in and out of one another, especially within the confines of “Brendan songs” and “Jake songs.” Whereas Sports was in the realm of “Holy Crap I Am Growing Up And In College And Not Knowing How Life Works,” You’re Gonna Miss it All is kind of us getting more comfortable with where we are, but still realizing that that doesn’t mean everything is going to be perfect. Now that we’re not metaphorically running around with our heads cut off, we can look at the issues at hand a little more analytically.
You guys spent a lot of time on tour last year. Did you write this record while on the road or when you guys were back at home?
I am eternally confused by people who can write on tour. When do you do it? How the hell does that stuff work? A day on the road for us looks like this: wake up, brush teeth (some of us), get in van, drive, be in traffic, eat food (all of us, but mostly Ian), load in, say hi to friends, play, load out, drive/sleep. If I could find the time, I would love to do it, because tour is definitely the time when you take in the craziest plethora of sensory information. But anyway, sorry for blabbing, this record was written at home in good ol’ Michael Jordan (our house in Philly). Since we started writing so early the songs just kind of popped out whenever Brendan or I needed to write them (i.e. really good day, really bad day, Internet isn’t working, etc.), and by the time we decided we were going to put out an album we were like ‘well dag nabbit here’s 12 songs already done!’
I’ve been living in Philly for about five years now and never really knew how many great bands were here until recently. Are there just suddenly a lot of good bands forming and writing music now or has it always been like this and labels and the rest of the world are just starting to discover them?
Honestly I’m unsure because I’ve only lived in Philly for three years, but holy cow this place is so frickin’ rad. Shows all the time, bands popping up all the time, good bands popping up all the time, and a lot of them are getting well-deserved recognition. It may or may not have been going on for a while, but it’s definitely hitting hard right now. Marietta, Cayetana, Hop Along, Ma Jolie, The Hundred Acre Woods, Eleby, The Districts, Olive Drab… there’s so many. Not to mention the OG’s like The Menzingers, but those guys have already skyrocketed into the rockstarsphere.
Where were you guys living before you moved to Philly?
Brendan and I lived in a small town called Brunswick, Maryland; Ian (Farmer), ironically, lived in East Brunswick, New Jersey; and Sean (Huber) lived in Verona, New Jersey, not far from his birthplace, The Meatlocker. We all came to Philly for school. I guess Philly was the first place we all lived on our own, which is kinda cute to think about.
Speaking of local bands, you guys are about to go on tour with The Wonder Years. How long have you know those guys?
We go way back! Many a summer spent on the back porch at Gramma Nancy’s house, peeling potatoes and such. Not really though, we didn’t actually meet until we played their record release show for The Greatest Generation, but they are a handful of standup guys if I’ve ever met one. They were extremely welcoming to us and we’re squirming in our seats just waiting for this tour, it’s gonna be a really cool experience. We can’t thank them enough for bringing us out. Also I’m sorry for that joke in the beginning of this answer.
What were the hardest things to get used to about touring?
Not being able to go in your room and close the door at night. At the end of each day you’re either on a living room floor with four other dudes or in a hotel bed with one of four dudes, and let me tell you, you can’t pick a winner, because each one of them does something weird in their sleep (but so do I, so we’re even). It takes a while to figure out how to be alone when you’re perpetually out and about with those four other guys, whoever they may be in the case of your band. However, those four dudes are the best dudes, and they love you, and you love them, so it all works out, you feels?