Rising above and beyond since their 2012 debut full-length, Sports, Philadelphia’s Modern Baseball have established themselves as one of the youngest, most productive groups in the underground scene today.

After the success of their sophomore LP, You’re Gonna Miss It All, along with opening as a supporting act for The Wonder Years on the Greatest Generation tour in the spring, the band continued to embrace each opportunity they’ve earned by embarking on their first headlining tour alongside The Hotelier, Tiny Moving Parts and Sorority Noise in June.

Before they hit the road with I Am The Avalanche for a weeklong tour that will route them directly to Riot Fest in Chicago, I caught up with guitarist and vocalist Jake Ewald and talked their summer as well as their exciting plans for the fall.

In the beginning of the summer, you guys embarked on your first ever headlining tour. How was the tour overall, and what did it feel like for you personally to play as a headlining act for the first time?

It was actually really awesome. Not that we expected it to go badly or anything, but I think by the time we got home when we finished, there were only three shows on the tour that hadn’t sold out. The kids were so enthusiastic, everybody we met was just super nice and all of the bands got along really well.

It was the first time we’ve ever done a “real” headliner with the new album out and everything and it was definitely one of the most pleasurable touring experiences we’ve ever had.

From this first experience, were the general reactions you received from the crowds any different from when you were on tour as a supporting or opening act?

The cool thing about the tour we just did was that it felt like… When we would be standing there, listening to each band, we would be like, “Oh, wow, they sound way different than I remembered.”

Because Tiny Moving Parts has a bunch of crazy guitar parts and yelling, The Hotelier is pretty heavy and Sorority Noise is kind of poppier and kind of sound like us. But all the kids who came out the shows would know words to all of the songs of every band on the bill, which felt really cool because, even though we were the headlining band, there was a nice little community of bands that we have gathered, and it was cool to see kids who were into all of them at the same time, which was really neat.

I guess in regards to less musical things, this was the first time that we were the “bosses” of the tour… I guess it’s the best way to put it. Before we started, we were kind of nervous because we’ve never done anything like this before. You know, because the other bands would look up to you for things like, “What are we going to do today?” “What time do we have to be here?”

We realized, since we are leading the pack, we can kind of make our own rules and be as relaxed as we want it to be. So, instead of getting stressed out about everything, we ended up taking it easy, and nobody else got stressed out and it was just a fun time.

On that tour also, guitarist Brendan Lukens fell ill and you had Cameron Boucher of Sorority Noise fill in for him on certain dates. Did that make any dramatic impact on your live performances at all?

We really had no idea how it was going to go, especially because we had to have Cam fill in, but in regards to that, he did an amazing job, and he is an old friend of ours, so he’s been familiar with the songs. He learned the entire set, which was like, 11 to 12 songs, in less than two days. He sang harmonies and everything, so he did great.

We didn’t know how the fans were going to respond; if anybody was going to be like, “What the hell, guys?” But it was so cool because kids would come out, have a great time and come talk to us after the show and be like, “You guys did great. We miss Brendan so much. Tell him that we hope he feels better.” And they would give us cards that they would make to give to him, or somebody would bring a card, have everybody on line and all the kids at the show to sign it and give it to us. So it made it feel like we have a community that we are building with our fans on a personal level.

You guys got an overwhelmingly positive reception from the pop punk and emo music scene from your debut album, Sports. Ever since you put out You’re Gonna Miss It All, do you think there is nowhere else to go but up from here at this point since you continue to have the opportunities to play bigger shows and tours?

I don’t know. We are in a little bit of a weird scenario because we are always going back and forth between “band life” and “school life.” While we are home, we are just hanging out with our friends, going to house shows and stuff like that.

Before the headliner we just did, we were doing that Wonder Years tour. So everyone was there mostly for The Wonder Years obviously, but we would have kids singing in the front row and that was really cool and we were like, “Okay, we’ll have like, 20 kids singing along at these shows, and that’s really awesome.”

And then we went to Europe and came back a month later to the headliner, and we started selling out these 300, 400, 500-cap venues. We were like, “Where did all of these kids come from?”

So I don’t know, it’s just going really well and we’re trying to appreciate it all as it’s coming in. We’re definitely just constantly surprised, but it’s a really nice surprise, so I guess it’s going well (laughs).

While drummer Sean Huber is the only one in the group who graduated from college, do you, Brendan and bassist Ian Farmer have any plans to finish up school while you juggle around with your busy tour schedule?

We’ve got an interesting schedule planned up. We just announced our tour with The Wonder Years, which is like a B-market tour that’s going to be in October. And before that, we’re doing two weeks in the UK with Spraynard. And for those dates, we’re taking off the fall term of school because Drexel has a term schedule instead of a semester schedule, so we can just take off 10 weeks at a time and do a couple of tours, which is nice.

Right now, we’re in school for the summer and we’re off in the fall and then, if everything goes to plan, we’ll be back in school again in January, so we’re kind of just going back and forth until we get sick of the thing. We’re just trying to take advantage of all of the opportunities we have currently. It’s a lot of work, but also, it feels like we’re getting a lot done, which is a good feeling, and also the parents are happy.

Since you just announced another tour with The Wonder Years, what will it be like to share the stage with them again since the Greatest Generation tour?

It’s kind of funny because we were up with them in the spring and when it was getting close to the end of the tour, and at that point, they were still trying to figure out the support for that tour. They would always joke around with us and be like, “Hey, if you guys want to drop out of school again, you can come,” and we were like, “Ha-ha, yeah, whatever.” (Laughs)

I guess the reason that we were so eager do to it was because on the previous tour we did with them, they treated us so well. They made us feel really, really important, and they kind of just took us under their wing in every aspect of the phrase. It was the obvious choice, so we’re really excited to be on the road with them again.

Before you head out to the UK, you have a couple of upcoming dates leading up to Riot Fest Chicago where you’ll be playing alongside I Am The Avalanche. What will you be looking forward to about those shows the most?

That’s going to be so fun. We love I Am The Avalanche and they have been Sean’s favorite band since like the dawn of time, so it’s just a really, really cool opportunity for us to be able to go out with them. It’s only like, less than a week I think, or around a week long, so there will just be no stress.

We met up with them in Europe because we both played Slam Dunk Festival and got to hang out a lot. I think that was the first time we really met them and they were all just the greatest guys. They’re super down to earth and love to have fun playing rock gigs.

Will Riot Fest be the first larger-scaled festival that you’ll be playing since the band started?

I think the closest thing we’ve done, I guess would be Slam Dunk, which was in the UK in the spring. But that was in the UK, so it was a little different. I think the closest thing we did here in the States was The Fest in Gainesville, but Riot Fest is going to be a completely different experience, so we’re really excited for that.

Last year, or maybe it was the year before, a couple of our friends and Ian road-tripped out to Riot Fest in Chicago and said it was just the greatest thing ever. The headliners for this year are absolutely insane and I am just so, so freaking excited to see all the bands and hang out with my friends.

Who are you looking forward to seeing play the most when you’ll be at Riot Fest?

I am probably most excited to see The Get Up Kids. I know that they’re not the biggest band on the bill, but I first got into them on one of Modern Baseball’s first tours, and they’ve been a huge influence for me since then. So, to get to finally see them live will be a really cool experience.

One of your upcoming dates on this tour, you’ll be coming back to Asbury Park to play The Stone Pony. What will it feel like to come back to New Jersey again since selling out the Asbury Lanes?

I am really stoked because it will be the first time we’ve headlined somewhere over there other than the Lanes. And I know Sean and Ian grew up in Jersey and they would go to the Lanes and the Pony all the time when they were younger. To hear them talk about the shows that they’ve seen as kids makes me really stoked to finally be able to play there. And of course, it’s by the beach, so we’re going to do some beach hanging and jump in the water and stuff.

Will Bruce Springsteen be on the guest list again for this show as well?

(Laughs) Yeah, Sean will definitely put him on there. Sean’s a huge Bruce fan. Bruce will be on there. Maybe have The Bouncing Souls on there just in case. It should be fun.

 

Modern Baseball will be playing at The Stone Pony in Asbury Park on Sept. 6. Their latest album, You’re Gonna Miss It All, is available now through Run For Cover Records. For more information, go to facebook.com/modernbaseball.

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