Posts Tagged ‘Jake Ewald’

Jake Ewald may only be 27 years old, but he’s already a musical veteran having co-founded the now-defunct (and highly celebrated) emo band Modern Baseball in 2011, back when he was a teenager. Since 2014, Ewald has also been consistently releasing music as Slaughter Beach, Dog, a solo project that  eventually evolved into a full band that also features bassist Ian Farmer, guitarist Nick Harris (All Dogs), and drummer Zack Robbins (Superheaven). However, due to the ubiquitous quarantine, Ewald went back to his roots for “At the Moonbase“, recording and performing all of the instruments himself alone at home and at his recording studio in Philadelphia with a few friends sending him overdubs of backing vocals and saxophone during the process. The result is an inventive album that sees Ewald stretching out as a songwriter and exploring new sonic territory without any self-imposed limitations. 

We caught up with Ewald to discuss how At the Moonbase came together after four months of hard work, his song writing process, and why the idiosyncratic details of other peoples’ lives can often seem strangely familiar.

We recorded the band at our studio, so we went through basically a month of figuring out how to appropriately mic up fifteen different instruments to all be ready to go at a moment’s notice for an hour-long set, and we brought in our friend Matt [Schimelfenig] who actually mixed “At the Moonbase” to run the session while we were playing and then mix the audio. It was a lot more work than we put into anything in a long time. It was fun to figure out actual human band arrangements for the new songs, and we also dipped into old songs, stuff we’ve been playing for a long time. Above everything else, it just felt so good to play together after not playing together for half a year. We’ve been working very hard on it, and we’re so excited to share it with everybody.

Written and recorded alone at home and at The Metal Shop, Ewald’s East Kensington recording studio, the album tracks an exercise in solitary production not unlike Slaughter Beach, Dog’s 2016 debut Welcome or 2017’s Motorcycle.JPG. On the heels of 2019’s Safe and Also No Fear, Ewald’s latest offering brings expanded arrangements and sharpened storytelling as he taps into salad days over slacker rock (“Do You Understand”), the dark grooves of seedy city life (“Song for Oscars”), and even a barroom-piano-driven “escapade through the great American bedroom” (“A Modern Lay”). “At the Moonbase” arrives on Lame-O Records.

All music written and performed by Jake Ewald except where noted

Wil Schade – Saxophone on 1, 5-8, 10
Lucy Stone – Vocals on 1, 2, 6, 7
Zack Robbins – Additional synthesizers on 1, 4
Jessica Flynn – Vocals on 9
Julie Sponsler – Spiritual guidance

Originally released December 24th, 2020

Since the band Modern Baseball announced their indefinite hiatus three years ago, Jake Ewald has committed fully to his Slaughter Beach, Dog project, releasing a handful of albums, including last year’s Safe And Also No Fear, He’s put out a whole new full-length called “At The Moonbase”, whose only advance warning was an advent calendar-style countdown on his social media accounts.

Despite being recorded in a year where it was hard to get together and make music, At The Moonbase is very much a fleshed-out effort, put together at home and at Ewald’s Philadelphia studio the Metal Shop. It’s filled with the sort of down-on-your-luck narratives that Ewald has populated his songs with over the years, twangy and comforting and filled with wry observations that cut to the bone.  it’s always wonderful seeing Jake’s song writing improve and evolve over the years and it shows quite a bit on this record in particular. it’s much subtler of an album, might even be a grower to some, but i think it’s a great way to end the year

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In the time since Modern Baseball went on hiatus, Jake Ewald turned Slaughter Beach, Dog from a solo project into a full-fledged band, and in 2019 SB,D released their best album yet, Safe and Also No Fear. With the pandemic keeping Jake at home more, he returned to Slaughter Beach, Dog’s roots, writing and recording a comparatively stripped-back new album, At The Moonbase, alone at home and at his East Kensington recording studio The Metal Shop. (He did end up getting some accompaniment, though, including sax by Wil Schade and vocals by Lucy Stone.) The album is out now, and it finds Jake’s unmistakable singing and song writing style in fine form.

Released December 24th, 2020

Produced by Jake Ewald at The Metal Shop in Philadelphia, PA and at home June – October 2020

The brain-child of Jake Ewald of Modern Baseball, Slaughter Beach Dog’s “Safe And Also No Fear” marks Ewald’s first venture into full-fledged collaboration. Unlike 2017’s Birdie, where Ewald played every instrument, he spent a full year collaborating with bassist Ian Farmer (Modern Baseball), Nick Harris (All Dogs) and Zach Robbins (Superheaven) to construct the project’s unique sound, a blend of pop music, indie rock and folk unlike anything he’d ever produced before. Safe And Also No Fear is rooted in vague sketches of anxieties and confusion, and Ewald stands at its center questioning everything he knows about himself. “Well, since when can an honest man get high after a day of honest work?” he asks on “Good Ones,” crying out as the good ones “aren’t quite as good as you had recalled.

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Produced and Engineered by J. Ewald, I. Farmer, N. Harris and Z. Robbins at The Metal Shop in Philadelphia, PA, February 2019

Image may contain: 2 people, people smiling, people sitting and indoor

Slaughter Beach, Dog, the melancholy folk-rock project led by Modern Baseball’s Jake Ewald, contributed a new song  recently called “Yellow Teeth” to the COVID-19 relief compilation Don’t Stand So Close To Me back in March. It was the band’s first new song since last year’s phenomenal Safe And Also No Fear. Today they’re sharing their second new song of 2020, again for charitable reasons.

“Fair Shot” captures that same resigned ennui and graceful melodic beauty that made last year’s album such a gem. “Now all the day our hairs turn gray, Earth moves painfully slow,” Ewald sings. “We all get one fair shot, but I think that I forgot if mine came and went long ago.” Yet this one seems focused on concerns specific to this year. Ewald begins with a scene that has become familiar in the social distancing: “Under the sun I hear my sister in the street call out to me/ They pulled the car by close so she could see her family.” And it ends on a tragic note that really sneaks up on you given the music’s loose, sighing sway.

Bandcamp is again forgoing its share of sales, and Slaughter Beach, Dog are redirecting all proceeds from “Fair Shot” Philly Bail Fund. Hear and buy the song below, and check out our recent interview with Ewald while you’re at it.

“Fair Shot” · Slaughter Beach Dog available through Lame-O Records 
Released on: 2020-06-05

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The third LP from Slaughter Beach, Dog; released on Lame-O Records on August 2nd, 2019. Across the previous Slaughter Beach, Dog albums, Jake Ewald has crafted his sound. It’s one that incorporates pop music, indie-rock, folk, and just the faintest dash of punk in order to create something that’s accessible but still artistically rich. With Safe And Also No Fear, the band’s third album, Ewald has abandoned his usual practices in service of creating something richer.

Where he once offered tightly woven vignettes about characters that mirrored the people in his life, Safe And Also No Fear now finds Jake joined by a full band, spinning out songs that push and expand Slaughter Beach, Dog’s sonic boundaries in subtle, evocative ways. Opener “One Down” leans on a pedestrian acoustic pattern that plods in one ear and out the other. “I dress up nice/I feel all right/I get loaded/And I come home late at night,” Ewald sings, without enough conviction to absolve the cliché. He falls into a half-spoken drawl on “Dogs,” a tender discourse on human friendships (“I know he always understands me/Even when I am being evasive”), but the stream-of-consciousness melody feels as aimless as another night at the neighborhood bar.

“Black Oak” achieves a more affecting result by ditching the vocal melody altogether: “His belly warm with drink/He leaned into the freeway in the night/Investigating exit ramps/Waiting for a sign,” Ewald recounts in an unnerving deadpan. The guitars drop out as the song’s protagonist meets tragedy: “They found him at the black oak/They dug him up last night.” A looping coda evokes the spaced-out lapse of highway hypnosis, as if the band were cruising those darkened roads themselves.

After two LPs performed entirely by himself, the beach must’ve grown lonely; on Safe and Also No Fear, Ewald’s third album, he’s joined by a full ensemble that includes Modern Baseball bassist Ian Farmer, his first official reunion with a former bandmate since their indefinite hiatus. Together, they dive into the pared-down folk-rock Ewald had just begun to explore on previous solo releases.

Recorded and produced by Jake Ewald, Ian Farmer, Nick Harris, and Zack Robbins at The Metal Shop Studio in Philadelphia, PA.

By the time you’re reading this, you may have noticed that two Slaughter Beach, Dog songs have surfaced on the internet. We’re here to tell you, loyal Lame-O Records that the new SBD album, ‘Safe and Also No Fear’ will be released on 2nd August.

Across the previous Slaughter Beach, Dog albums, Jake Ewald has crafted a specific sound. It’s one that incorporates pop music, indie-rock, folk, and just the faintest dash of punk in order to create something that’s accessible but still artistically rich. With Safe And Also No Fear, the band’s third album,

In the wake of 2017’s Birdie, an album awash in warm tones and bubbly pop hooks, Safe And Also No Fear can’t help but feel like a turn toward darkness. It’s not one that’s instigated by the outside world—as inescapable as it may be—but instead the dramatic shifts of a person’s interior life. Where Ewald once offered tightly woven vignettes about characters that mirrored the people in his life, Safe And Also No Fear finds him naked at the album’s center, questioning everything he knows about himself. Around him, bassist Ian Farmer, guitarist Nick Harris, and drummer Zack Robbins spin out songs that are dense, swirling amalgams of difficult questions and hard-earned realizations—the kind that can’t be expressed through the accepted structures of pop music.

This isn’t to say there aren’t hooks, as songs like “Good Ones” and “One Day” have effervescent melodies anchoring them, but Safe And Also No Fear generally avoids taking the clear-cut path. As Ewald tells it, that’s a horrifying thing to put out into the world. After putting the finishing touches on the album, he sat down and listened back to the demos he’d first made, then the album itself, and realized it sounded unlike anything he’d ever done before. His creative impulses had changed over the years, and the result was a record that maybe his followers wouldn’t actually like.

Ewald seemingly addresses this anxiety during the album’s most ambitious track, the seven-minute long “Black Oak.” It’s fitting that midway through the longest song Ewald has ever written he offhandedly remarks, “Realizing this may put my career on the line.” It’s part of a larger narrative, but one that’s more textural and ambiguous than what the band has been known for. Is that lyric about Ewald and Slaughter Beach, Dog? We’ll maybe never know—and that’s the beauty of Safe And Also No Fear. It’s an album so profoundly singular, one that sees the band willing to wade out into deep waters without a life vest, that it encourages you to go out there with it. You hear the band fully embrace the unknown at the end of “Black Oak,” when the song explodes open and Ewald’s vocals are looped into a refrain that’s haunting and impossible to sing along with accurately. You can pick out phrases and hum a melody, but there’s no didactic meaning behind it. It’s there for you to find if you need it.

Safe And Also No Fear is a bold gesture, not just because of the music contained therein, but because it required Ewald to interrogate his artistic tendencies, breaking himself of his habits in service of making something he never thought he could. That involved trusting his band, with whom Ewald collaborated for a full year of writing and recording. Unlike Birdie, where Ewald played every instrument, with Safe And Also No Fear everyone’s fingerprints are on it. Though the album is a product of Ewald committing to his vision, it’s also proof of the way that Farmer, Harris, and Robbins are able to expand Slaughter Beach, Dog’s sonic boundaries in subtle, evocative ways.

The result of that collaboration is Safe And Also No Fear, an album that doesn’t leave easy clues as to its influences or intentions, instead offering up vague sketches of what it feels like to be a person who is constantly confused and anxious, yet completely committed to finding a way through it. It’s not simple, and Ewald’s never didactic, but the message begins to come through the more you revisit it. Every part of Safe And Also No Fear is a risk, and that’s exactly what makes it so beautiful. It’s a record that sees a band fully committed to their art, in spite of what everyone else would advise. And if you’re listening close enough, it really does make a lot of sense.

This shows Jake Ewald’s versitility as a songwriter. Listen to this compared to Welcome and then compare both to MoBo.. he is evolving and maturing with every new song.

Jake just keeps getting better. holy ghost was a step forward from Modern Baseball’s older stuff, as was welcome from holy ghost, and this is another big step forward from that. songwriting on 100. its amazing to see the music thats growing out of the relatively straightforward emo revival stuff that Modern Baseball started out as. really excited for the album.

I love this EP, feels a little experimental with the original Slaughter Beach mix in there. Very happily surprised to see a Superweaks cover too!

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Slaughter Beach, Dog began as a cure for writer’s block — an outlet for Jake Ewald (of Modern Baseball) to experiment with styles that didn’t fit within the well-defined territory of his former project. Ewald quickly discovered a talent for this format and penned a collection of conversational tunes that float between folk, indie, punk and alternative rock. His ability to isolate and compile daily human interactions give vibrancy and value to these otherwise mundane experiences.

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Band Members 
Jake Ewald – Vocals, Guitar and Keys
Nick Harris – Guitar and Vocals
Ian Farmer – Bass
Zack Robbins – Drums

As the band Modern Baseball headed towards an extended hiatus, Jake Ewald — one of the band’s primary two primary songwriters has been investing more energy into his Slaughter Beach, Dog side project. He started it a couple years ago to release a handful of demos but picked it up in earnest last fall with Welcome, a charmingly low-stakes concept album about a fictional town called Slaughter Beach inhabited by characters that shared Ewald’s familiar sense of suburban disillusion. The project’s freedom from pressure and more freeform aspirations blossomed with the Motorcycle.jpg EP and Birdie LP this year. His newer tracks take cues from folk standards and confessional diaries, and they rival the great work he did with his main band, solidifying him as one of this generation’s most talented and adaptable young songwriters.

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Few bands can say they were born out of necessity, but Slaughter Beach, Dog can. In 2015, Jake Ewald, in the midst of trying to write songs for his other band Modern Baseball (which has since gone on hiatus), hit a patch of writer’s block. To get himself back in action, Ewald decided to move the focus off of himself, stitching together a loose narrative surrounding a motley cast of characters. Before he knew it, he’d written an entire album, and Slaughter Beach, Dog was no longer an exercise, it was a full-fledged band.

“When I gave myself the specific goal to write these kinds of songs and figure out how to do it, it just broke me open in a way I really needed.” What came pouring out of Ewald was “Welcome”, a 10-track debut that showed his ability to create a world of his own making, all the while blurring the line between fiction and reality. At times, he’d be singing about people and situations he invented, but the songs were still personal, often informed by experiences deep in his past, excavated for the purpose of expanding his songwriting vocabulary.

Slaughter Beach, Dog’s new album Birdie (Releases October 27th on Lame-O Records) expands upon the framework Ewald built on Welcome and the recent EP Motorcycle, retaining the hallmarks of Slaughter Beach, Dog while pushing into brave new territories A single listen to Birdie shows how much Ewald has grown as a songwriter, embellishing every detail in his songs without losing his homespun charms.

Where Welcome felt based in rock’s grand tradition, Birdie is at once more expansive and more intimate. Songs ebb and flow in the way of The Weakerthans, still rocking, but in a more scholarly way. “I took [Motorcycle .jpg] as an opportunity to get a little bit weirder than usual,” said Ewald, and it’s clear that the EP was a signpost for where he’d be taking Slaughter Beach, Dog on Birdie. “Gold And Green” sees Ewald skirt the lines between half a dozen genres, creating a song that’s able to mine vintage genres like folk and country in order to make something contemporary. Strumming an acoustic guitar, Ewald spins a narrative flush with details, boasting lyrics that are, depending on your reading, either wildly impressionistic and or plain as day.

Ewald plays into this ambiguity expertly, offering songs that use a lilting bounce to obscure the darkness of the world he’s building. “Fish Fry” is a prime example, utilizing a simple backbeat, a chugging guitar riff, and a ruminative vocal melody, the song allows Ewald to toss out references to his past work for those paying close attention. Much like on Motorcycle .jpg’s “Building The Ark,” Ewald once again finds himself dreaming of a convenience store, inviting fans to dig into his lyrics to unfurl every subplot running beneath his gooey melodies. Similarly, “Acolyte” closes the record but simultaneously opens a door, showing Ewald at his most introspectively ambitious. The song sprawls out, expanding slowly and deliberately, completing Birdie’s arch without providing any definitive answers.

Though Slaughter Beach, Dog may have started as a project for Ewald to get past a mental block, it’s grown into something more. Under this moniker Ewald has built a rich, vibrant world, one that invites thoughtful analysis from fans, and continues to expand past its initial intent. Birdie is bountiful in its scope, with songs that pile on layers of instruments and suck you into the world of Slaughter Beach, Dog. And once you’re there, you never want to leave.

“Acolyte” from the Slaughter Beach, Dog record ‘Birdie’, out 10/27 on Lame-O Records.