There's a line running through every interview with Philly pop punk group Modern Baseball: they really like to talk about school. Like, a lot. Maybe because their school, Drexel University, where members Jake Ewald and Ian Farmer currently attend (albeit irregularly), offers a recording arts program where the group laid down tracks for both of their LPs, Sports and You're Gonna Miss It All. It's a priority for the group to finish school (well, those who haven't already graduated) while touring with groups like The Wonder Years and headlining fests like MSMFest. I spoke to Farmer, the group's bassist, about why they're pushing so hard to finish their degrees. They'll play Saturday at MSMFest.
NUVO: You recorded both of your albums by yourselves as a band, correct?
Ian Farmer: Yeah, Jake and I are essentially going to school for recording, so we were able to save a lot of money. We recorded all of our records and we have a lot of fun doing so. I don't know if it will always be like that. We really like it like that, but at the same time we're open to pretty much anything. It's a different experience than working with a producer because most nights it's not even all of us. It will be me, Jake and Brendan [Lukens, guitars, vocals] in the studio and we can get critical with each other because we know what the end goal is, we know how each other work, we know how to push each other's buttons and the end of the day, no one gets too mad at each other. We're all friends and they just understand what's going on.
NUVO: Did you had any major arguments about the recording style of You're Gonna Miss It All?
Farmer: There were definitely some little disagreements about the way that things went, but we were lucky enough that there was never any time when we were split down the middle, two verses two. It was never, "This is how it should be," or "No, this is how it should be," and then things get ugly. It was usually one person just having some weird idea that nobody else really wanted to pursue. We were able to work things out pretty well.
NUVO: You wrapped up your tour with The Wonder Years, correct?
Farmer: Yeah, that finished in the middle of April. The Wonder Years are the best people in the world, we were so happy to be a part of that. It was actually pretty funny because we were in school, and it was a huge debate within the band whether to take off school to do it or not. It just happened to fall right in between two terms in our university, so it was a big deal and at first we said no. Then they were like, "Are you sure?" and then we were like, "Okay, no we're stupid, let's do it." It ended up being a wonderful decision.
NUVO: Is there going to come a point when you would consider putting school on an indefinite hold or are you pretty determined to hang in there and finish up?
Farmer: At this point, we are all super far into school. Sean [Huber, drums] graduated last year, so he's lucky he doesn't have to worry about this. But for me, Jake and Brendan, we have about a year left of school and we've just had to plan everything out because we're so far into it and we've invested so much money in it. It would be such a shame to do three years of expensive schooling and have nothing to show for it.
NUVO: Has that led to any awkward conversations with your parents?
Farmer: We've been very lucky because they've been very, very supportive of us. They're all like, "Yeah you better finish school, but you should go do cool, fun things too." We worked it out, we happen to have wonderful academic advisors who helped us basically make a plan so that we can continue touring as much as we want to tour, and then come back and do school and get everything done.
It works out super well for us, but it is a lot of work. When we tour there's no breathing time, because we tour and we tour hard. And then we come back and we have to load up on credits because we're trying to get done as quickly as possible. It doesn't leave a lot of relaxation time, but it's good to keep busy and it allows us to do everything we want to do. We're lucky that we're able to do that and that our school is cool with us doing this weird schedule where we keep leaving and coming back.