The Kalamazoo super-group previewed its debut album for Local Spins on WYCE, which also premiered tracks by Chirp, Bradley Sinclair, Blue Pines, Aspen Jacobsen, Katy Needs a Life and other Michigan artists.
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Properly describing Kalamazoo’s Fake Baseball can take a fair amount of twists and turns around the bases, extending far beyond its “eclectic art-pop” tagline.
Guitarist and singer Adam Danis said band members have “settled on looking at it as being square in the middle on a spectrum between Björk and Dolly Parton.”
Lead singer, guitarist and recording engineer Maggie Heeren puts it this way: “It’s definitely pop music still. We tried to keep the accessibility in mind throughout the whole writing process, but it’s definitely I guess … heady pop music. There’s some work that needs to be done by the listener in order to really get it.”
Welcome to Fake Baseball, featuring an all-star cast of players culled from a wide range of West Michigan bands – The Go Rounds, Bedroom Ceilings, Saxsquatch & Bridge Band, Last Gasp Collective, Hip Pocket and many more. The super-group is poised to flaunt its “confluence of musical trajectories” and “engaging soundscapes” via the debut album, “In With the Id Crowd,” on deck for release Feb. 11.
Also featuring saxophonist Jarad Selner, keyboardist Grayson Nye, drummer Ethan Bouwsma and bassist Matthew Milowe, Fake Baseball even challenges fans with its name – inspired by the baseball simulation game Major League Redditball.
Danis said it reflects “a sport won and lost but never played, a string of imitation extending from a cultural touchstone to a nerdy numbers game played out entirely hypothetically to an art-pop band of people who couldn’t throw a ball with a catapult.”
For this week’s edition of Local Spins on WYCE, Fake Baseball gave fans a taste of what they can expect from this mysterious melange, spotlighting the tracks “Half of Me” and “Big Guy” from the upcoming debut album. Check out “Half of Me” here, and scroll down to listen to the band interview, “Big Guy” and full radio show podcast.
LISTEN: Fake Baseball, “Half of Me”
The seeds of this captivating collaboration actually were sown by Heeren – an audio engineer at La Luna Recording and Sound in Kalamazoo, where most of the album was recorded – during a year-long school project as she worked on her bachelor’s degree in multimedia arts and technology at Western Michigan University.
READY TO ‘HIT THE GROUND HARD’ FOR PERFORMANCES IN 2022
The demos created by Heeren, Danis, Selner and Nye for that project became “a jumping-off point” for what would eventually become Fake Baseball’s inaugural album, billed as funky, spooky, cute, funny, angry and “above all, adventurous.”
“We were all definitely listening to a bunch of proggy, busier, bigger band stuff when writing this album, like Oingo Boingo, Yes, King Crimson and Steely Dan,” Heeren said. “We were also all listening to a bunch of pop music, old and new, like Prince, Rubblebucket, St. Vincent, Stevie Wonder and Maps & Atlases.”
In short, she added: “I think it’s going to reach a lot of folks.”
The band also brought in special guests, including a horn section, string players, vocalists and extra guitarists.
Some of those guests will likely be on board for select performances by Fake Baseball, once the pandemic wanes and the band is ready to “hit the ground hard” for touring, Danis said. The initial album-release show scheduled for February was canceled due to current COVID concerns.
“We’re excited to get it out to people,” Danis said. “Be on the lookout for our rescheduled album-release party.”
Added Heeren: “Now that we actually have a live band assembled, we get to be a real band. It has been exciting to work up the music on this first record together as a four-piece, but it has been even more exciting to start to work up new music together as a six-piece.”
In that vein, Fake Baseball already has started working up material for a follow-up album and recently produced a compilation recording of covers by Kalamazoo acts to raise money for Food Not Bombs of Kalamazoo. Details at bandcamp.com. Fake Baseball plans to curate this “creative and collaborative community benefit project” annually.
Beyond spotlighting the music of Fake Baseball, this week’s edition of Local Spins on WYCE – which focuses on local and regional music at 11 a.m. Fridays on WYCE (88.1 FM) and online at wyce.org – featured tracks by Mark Jewett, The Blue Pines, Chirp, Bradley Sinclair, Aspen Jacobsen, Cross Eyed Strangers, Katy Needs a Life, King Mellowman, Nathan Walton and Last Gasp Collective (this week’s musicians’ pick by Fake Baseball). Listen to the radio show here.
PODCAST: Local Spins on WYCE (2/4/22)
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