If it seems odd that a band named Modern Baseball lives in a house named Michael Jordan, well, that's all just part of the fun.
After all, it wasn't as though this Philadelphia pop-punk quartet devised some master plan that would make them stars. From the start, Modern Baseball just did what it does, writing and playing songs that are true to its world, filled with heartbreak and house parties, classic rites of passage that stretch from high school to college, those easily recognizable touchstones given the shout-along, fist-pump treatment.
There wasn't a lot of thought behind the band name (cribbed from a book) or the house name (inspired by a photograph), and the band was surprised as anybody to see its second album, You're Gonna Miss It All, enter the Billboard chart at number 84.
"We never want to be a band that's just in it to make a buck or in it to further ourselves," says bassist Ian Farmer. "We like to have fun, and that's the main goal. We just try to run things based on that. If other things come, that's awesome."
Modern Baseball began with songwriting duo Jake Ewald and Brendan Lukens, high school friends who moved from Maryland to Philadelphia for college. There, they met Farmer and drummer Sean Huber. In the space of three years, they put together the band, recorded a debut album, Sports, went from local basement shows to touring with The Wonder Years and opening for Taking Back Sunday. And though Huber had already graduated, his bandmates have stuck in college through it all.
By the time Modern Baseball caught its breath, the band had signed on with its dream label, Boston's Run for Cover Records. Then came You're Gonna Miss It All, the first time Ewald and Lukens actually wrote songs specifically for an album.
"With Sports, it was the first time we recorded anything all. We were clueless and just tried what we could do. We booked sessions from 11 p.m. until whenever we fell asleep, which was like 8 a.m. and then we had class," Farmer says. "When it came time to actually record [You're Gonna Miss It All], it felt way more relaxed."
Much of the attention the band has earned stems from the true-to-life lyrics of Ewald and Lukens. Equal parts smart and smart-ass, the songs are full of moments and images so relatable it almost seems they're written with you in mind.
"When Jake and Brendan started the band, they started with the purpose to write songs that were meaningful to them. When songs are meaningful to them, they're very true and honest with what you see in life," Farmer says. "We use a lot of social media references and stuff, and it's really just because it's a part of our lives."
And those lives include each band member (and their manager) residing at one point or another in Michael Jordan, band headquarters, crash pad, rehearsal spot, and frequent performance venue.
"It's been home base for us forever," Farmer says. "We've thrown a whole bunch of house shows there. We've had a ton of really cool people play there, obviously all of our friends' bands. We had our Sports record release there and we just packed the place."
Michael Jordan will be quieter than usual, with Modern Baseball out on the band's first nationwide headlining tour, 29 dates in five breakneck weeks.
"This is the first time we're ever really doing it, and we're doing it in a big way. We have six different support bands in total. It's going to be a ton of fun," Farmer says.
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