“No amount of aspirin or pizza can help this from hurting”: A personal thank you to Modern Baseball

Will Whitby reflects on a very special band

“No amount of aspirin or pizza can help this from hurting”: A personal thank you to Modern Baseball

By Will Whitby

Mar 8, 2017 12:01

On 21st February, Modern Baseball announced a hiatus. The Philadelphia group parted ways to take a step back from band life and focus on improving their own mental health. Modern Baseball mean more to me than any other band does and ever has. Upon hearing the announcement I decided to channel my feelings into the only way I knew how, I wrote them down. Below is the story of my relationship with Modern Baseball.

Embarrassingly, I only started initially listening to Modern Baseball to attempt to impress a girl I knew before I went to move away to university in Manchester. The girl was a thing of the past after a fortnight but Modern Baseball became something that stuck with me and meant more to me than I could ever comprehend.

Flashback to the first time I heard their bitterly feel-good anthem, ‘Fine, Great.’ Here were 4 guys about my age who don’t follow any gimmicks or clichés, and are a pop punk band who aren’t trying to be Blink 182. At the time I was mainly listening to indie rock, getting ready to move to the indie music mecca of Manchester for university. Mobo’s mixing pot of pop punk, emo and indie was ideal for me.

University arrived and after the typical raucous freshers week life caught up with me like a train. Moving away from home is never easy but it was during this time of great confusion and uncertainty that I latched onto them. Music was always an outlet to raise my spirits and Modern Baseball’s second album ‘You’re Gonna Miss It All’ stormed into my most listened to album at the time.

Weirdly enough, the group were touring through Manchester and to get my journalism degree off to a good start I interviewed them in late September 2014. On a wet day in Manchester, I spoke to bassist Ian and their drummer Sean. They were infectiously happy and told me how they went to Chinese Karaoke last time they were in Manchester, I left genuinely over the moon.

‘Fine, Great’ made it into my top 10 of the 2014 and in the new year I discovered their debut album ‘Sports.’ It helped me through a lot. ‘Re-done’ soundtracked many a sleepless night alone, with ‘The Weekend’, ‘Tears Over Beers’ and ‘I Think You Were In My Profile Picture Once’ slipping in at regular intervals.

Modern Baseball quickly became a baseline that I would go to at every moment. I’d have them on when I was feeling down, I have them on when I was beaming with happiness, when I was in the gym, when I was walking to university, when I was making my dinner; Modern Baseball were the first band I found that I could listen to in every situation.

At this point I had never related to a band like that before. They were a group that made me realise other people were in the exact same boat I was. It’s ok to feel bad but they too reminded that life is full of so many good things as well.

2015 arrived and it was the worst year of my life. I was struggling at university, I was penniless for the majority of it, I was struggling with women (as ever), I felt even more distant from home, I was doubting myself in every situation, one of my closest friends was diagnosed with a serious illness and to top it off my best friend and childhood dog, Josie, died aged 17.

“No amount of aspirin or pizza can help this from hurting”: A personal thank you to Modern Baseball

But Modern Baseball were once again a stalwart to improve a situation and the duo of albums and an EP became an object of self-help and therapy to me. I have listened to the bittersweet ‘The Thrash Particle’ 267 times according to my iTunes. Modern Baseball helped me through that car crash of a year and with news of a new album in 2016 I was the most optimistic about life I had ever been.

I saw them live whilst being surrounded by my best friends from both home and new ones from university in February 2016 and they utterly blew me away. To be amongst so many people that were just like me on the same wavelength who understood a band that I widely listened to on my own astounded me. I was writing about music more and more and the possibility of interviewing them again for Punktastic was one I had to take.

Since the last time I had met the band back in 2014 so much had changed in my life and they were a driving force that kept me going. In that space of time they became more than a band to me. I interviewed them before the release of ‘Holy Ghost’ in my native Liverpool and it went like a dream. Some people say “never meet your heroes”- those people are wrong.

Speaking with Ian, Brendan and Jake, the enthusiasm and positivity emitting from the band was incredible. Jokes and stories bounced off each other to resonate in me how relatable and close they really were. They were completely normal and genuine people. It was clear that the songs meant just as much to them as they did to me. It is to this day my favourite interview I have ever had with a band, and it produced the piece of work that I am most proud of.

Interview: Modern Baseball- “This is our mafia, we can’t get out”

The singles ‘Everyday’, and ‘Apple Cider I Don’t Mind’ excited me for the next chapter of Modern Baseball and what I considered a new one in my life as I turned 21.

The documentary ‘Tripping In The Dark’ they released prior to the album was a revelation that made me appreciate them even more. It shows the band in the run-up to ‘Holy Ghost’ suffering in the personal lives and is a hard watch at the time as they created “their most honest work to date.”

Brendan saying: “We started Modern Baseball as our journals. Hopefully, with us opening up our personal lives to so many people our fans can open up to the people in their lives” was a near awakening for me.

‘Holy Ghost’ was released and my pre-order vinyl was awaiting me when I got home from lectures but I couldn’t stand the wait and listened to it in the library as I was working. I didn’t work. I just sat there in utter awe. The high and happy-go-lucky ‘Wedding Singer’ to the hard-hitting heartbreaker ‘Apple Cider I Don’t Mind’ particularly impressed. Then there was the final track.

‘Just Another Face’ is the last in what is a magnificent album that reminds people what music is there for. It starts with a punch in a gut declaring “you’re a waste of time and space” but wanders past the negativity in the big “hairs-on-the-back-of-your-neck-stand-up, cry-in-the-uni-library-the-first-time-you-hear-it, emo-sadboy” pep talk that I and so many other fans needed. Brendan confronts the issue of depression head-on acknowledging the continuous drag of feeling worthless but sees the glimmer of hope that entails as things do get better. It’s intelligent, it’s emotive, it’s poetic, it’s funny, it’s relatable, it’s coming of age, it’s miserable but it’s brilliant.

Since the release of ‘Holy Ghost’ I feel a lot better about myself and feel the best I have in a long time. Low points keep happening every now and then but that’s life, unfortunately. I feel I owe a lot of this improvement to ‘Holy Ghost’ as with this new album seemingly came a new time in my life where I looked at everything more positively. My relationships with everyone in my life have strengthened, I have a vision for what I want to do with my life, I’ve vastly improved in my university work as well- I’m still poor but hey I’m a student and so is everyone else.

“No amount of aspirin or pizza can help this from hurting”: A personal thank you to Modern Baseball

On the turn of the New Year I was over the moon. But it was then I noticed the band struggling. To see Brendan have to not go on the European tour because of his health shocked me. His music has helped me love myself and life so much and seeing him struggling with his hit pretty hard. I saw them on the barrier in Paris in January in a tiny club with one of my best mates and it just didn’t seem right at times. They still played one of the best shows I have ever been to but it just seemed so lost without Brendan. It was almost like a limb wasn’t there. It was the same again when I saw them at the end of February in Manchester on one of the last dates of the tour.  A sold out crowd chanting Brendan’s name made it clear that Modern Baseball are a unit within themselves and their fans.

On 21st February they released this message:

“Hey everybody, Jake here. As much as it pains me to say this, we have decided to cancel our upcoming U.S. tour dates and festival appearances to take a break from Modern Baseball for a little while. If you already bought tickets for the tour, refunds will be available at point of purchase.

Over the past few months the band has become an immense source of anxiety for me, and it wasn’t until I opened up to Sean, Ian, and Brendan about it that we realized we were all feeling the same way. The project we started as a source of joy and positive expression had become something that was slowly eating away at our mental health and our friendships. We have been championing the importance of mental health for a while now, and we recently realized that it would be wrong for us to ignore our own health any longer. Please know that we don’t take a tour cancellation lightly, and under any other circumstances we would not even consider it an option, but in this instance we have to put our health and friendships first. You’ve supported us unconditionally throughout this crazy ride and we could never thank you enough. We never really learned how to do this whole “rock band” thing the right way, but you kept coming to the shows and talking to us and assuring us that we’d figure it out sooner or later. We could not have done any of this without you. Be honest with those you love and don’t be afraid to lean on them when you need to. Odds are they’ll need to lean on you pretty soon too.

With all the love in the world,


The line “The project we started as a source of joy and positive expression had become something that was slowly eating away at our mental health and our friendships” saddened me. Seeing the band that gave me so much joy say they are damaging themselves by staying together shakes the bones of any fan.

The band getting better within themselves is the most important thing. I would never be so selfish to want the band to continue just for fans benefit when within themselves they didn’t feel ok, it just wouldn’t be right. Modern Baseball have brought so much positivity into mine and so many other people’s lives and for that they deserve to be happy, too.

Modern Baseball announcing a hiatus needs to happen for the good of what Modern Baseball stand for. It’s not Modern Baseball if the line-up isn’t Bren, Jake, Ian and Sean – it is all of them or nothing. This is testament again as to how much they mean to each other.

When I interviewed them last May, Brendan, opened up: “To think of a time past, present or future without Modern Baseball is strange” later saying to me that “I’ve never had friends like this before.”

For the time being, Modern Baseball have left behind three of the best coming of age albums ever. They have helped legions of fans in more ways than they will probably ever know and personally they made me who I am today. I don’t know when they will be back, I hope the band’s recovery is as smooth as possible but some things shouldn’t be rushed and this is one of them.

I’m sat here writing this in my flatmate’s bedroom distraught; a shock to him as I don’t usually show emotion in day to day life. This is why emo and pop punk are important.  Modern Baseball are a creative outlet that let us know it is ok to feel bad but you get through it as it reminded you to enjoy life’s many good things. Music has an incredible power to change what you think and how you feel. Modern Baseball aren’t a band you listen to, they are a cherished band that you partly live every day.

Whatever forever