- Posted on Mar 1st 2011 6:30PM by Eric R. Danton
Yep Roc Records
Though its members keep busy with such other bands as R.E.M., the Minus 5 and the Miracle 3, the group is heading to SXSW for a flurry of shows, immediately followed by a tour of Cactus League spring training stadiums in Arizona.
With the start of the regular season just a few weeks away, McCaughey and Wynn talked to Spinner about the origins of the band, the common ground indie rock shares with baseball and how great it would be if Neil Young played centerfield.
Download the Baseball Project's 'Don't Call Them Twinkies' Off 'Vol. 2: High and Inside' Free
Since when do indie rockers like sports?
Wynn: What's been interesting about the Baseball Project is that we've found there's a lot of rock people who love baseball. It used to be that the jock world and the rock world were two very distinct worlds, but apparently not anymore.
Why is that?
Wynn: It doesn't surprise me. Loving baseball completely fits with being a fan of arcane music. It's a collector's thing. The mentality that causes you to care about, I don't know, your top 10 records from 1962 is the same thing that gets you to argue about who was the best left-handed pitcher in the '60s. Koufax, of course.
Of course. How did the band form?
McCaughey: Steve and I, after consuming mass quantities of alcohol, were in a bar in New York City and just discovered that we were both huge baseball fans, and more than that, that we had both considered the concept of making a record sometime of all baseball songs. Once we admitted that to each other, we thought we should do that together. Then we sort of forgot about it, and probably a year or two later, in New York City, basically the same thing happened. We were at a party when R.E.M. was getting inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and same situation: drunken conversation and the baseball thing came up again. The next day he remembered it, and we were sort of on. We both had ideas for songs, and I think I might have done a demo and sent it to him, and so we started writing songs and sending them back and forth, and we booked some time in the studio, and we were committed.
Wynn: It's a pretty unlikely thing, that the four of us who have been making records forever can get together and make music about baseball. It makes us laugh, it makes us have a good time and it's the right combination of inside jokes and obvious jokes and heartfelt things that we care about. It really is connected to a hobby that we share outside of our musical lives, and people actually care about it. It's unexpected, and a complete blast.
Who are your heroes, in both music and baseball?
McCaughey: I wish I could say they're one and the same, but there's not a lot of crossover there. If Neil Young was a Hall-of-Fame center fielder, that would be great. But he's definitely one of my huge heroes for sure. For me, it all started with the Beatles, as with many people, and then you've got the Kinks and the Stones. The Beach Boys are huge for me.
And in baseball?
McCaughey: As a kid, my first big heroes were Willie Mays and Willie McCovey and Juan Marichal. The Giants were the team for me when I was first getting into baseball. Willie Mays is probably my all-time favorite, but the other Giants from that era, especially McCovey. When I was a little kid before I had a team, I liked the Braves for some reason: I liked Warren Spahn, Lew Burdette, Hank Aaron, I read books about all of those guys. Then when the A's came to town, I was super into Vida Blue, Catfish Hunter and Reggie Jackson and all the guys on those great teams from the late '60s and early '70s. I kind of had it made then.
What's your signature song?
McCaughey: So far, it's probably 'Pastime.' That was the first song that I wrote for it, and the first song I played for Steve and demoed for him. It's a real general song about baseball, instead of being about one guy. If you had to pick one, that would probably be it. We both sing it together, so it's a real band song. Maybe something will knock it out on the new record. We've got one on the new record called 'Fair Weather Fans' that's pretty great, that's kind of about how we grew up and which teams we liked and how it's OK to sometimes share allegiances when you travel around a lot and live in different places.
Catch The Baseball Project's SXSW Set on Wednesday, March 16 at Nuvola (105 E 5th St.) at 12AM.
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