Supergroup is a weird title for a band, even when it consists of musical heavyweights from rock music. But according to the definition, The Baseball Project is just that. Members of the band are former R.E.M., Dream Syndicate, and Minus 5 with resumes that tell a larger picture of just how wide the musical footprint of these players is. The Baseball Project plays songs about baseball and they are bringing their show back to Louisville, this time at The Whirling Tiger on Friday, Sept. 1. LEO caught up with Scott McCaughey to discuss what it means to be a supergroup and what it’s like working with other veteran musicians.
LEO: When you hear the word supergroup, what do you think of? And how do you feel about being labeled as one?
Scott McCaughey: When I hear supergroup, I think of Blind Faith – the original, the only! After that, it seems pretty silly because everyone from other bands play with other people from other bands. I don’t think that makes a band super!
You’ve all had careers in major music groups and played worldwide, arenas, etc. How is the experience of, then, playing clubs — good or bad in your opinion?
I love playing clubs (some more than others). Not that doing Rock In Rio with R.E.M. in front of 190,000 fans wasn’t cool! There’s something to be said about playing to a small, packed, black room with a mob of yelling nutballs right in your face. I do miss playing three nights in a row at Madison Square Garden, but it’s more than enough to have actually HAD that experience. I mean, how the hell did that happen to me?
You’re touring in support of your fourth album, Grand Salami Time, tell me a bit about the new record and where the title came from.
“Grand Salami Time” is taken from longtime Seattle Mariners broadcaster Dave Niehaus – his strange, beloved call for a grand slam. This is our fourth album and we wanted it to reflect something about going home, a four-bagger, a home run. Since Peter Buck and I had written a song called “Grand Salami Time” it seemed obvious and unavoidable for the title track. Plus, it kind of reminded us of the Raspberries.
Does the fact that you’re all veteran musicians make the recording process easier? More difficult? In what ways?
This recording session was amazing, just to be in a room together all at once, after being unable to congregate for two years. And we’d been trying to figure out a time to do another Baseball Project album for close to a decade. It was still a panic to get the recording done in ten days allotted, but working with Mitch was so relaxed and congenial. Plus he’s really good at this record-making business, and frankly, we are too!
Strip away the fact that The Baseball Project is comprised of legendary members of other bands, what is the thing that makes this project necessary for you all right now?
Well, it does fill a certain void in a way. It’s indie rock, but it’s not too cool to exclude anyone. We embrace the fans that have always supported our collective and separate musical entities, and we embrace sports fans who can’t believe that there’s a band of five killer rock & roll songwriters that’ve put 75 or 80 original BASEBALL tunes on wax. So I feel that we get a little different crowd, and I feel our music just makes people happy. Even the sad songs!