Week in Pop: Acting Strange, Baseball Gregg, Juliana LaChance

Sjimon Gompers

Why Baseball Gregg are rapidly becoming the world's most talented multinational pop duo, with Luca Lovisetto & Sam Regan (from left) living it up in Liguria, Italy; press photo courtesy of the artists.

Baseball Gregg

The Baseball Gregg boys brushing their teeth, Italy, Summer 2016; photographed by Margherita Filippin.

The Baseball Gregg boys brushing their teeth, Italy, Summer 2016; photographed by Margherita Filippin.

Like the saying in that silly Sriracha commercial; there are those that have heard Baseball Gregg & those that haven’t yet. We’ve covered them since the beginning with their self-titled cassette, the breakthroughs discovered on this year’s Vacation and now Luca Lovisetto from Italy & Sam Regan from Stockton, California team up again for what is already sounding like their most realized work to date with Ciao for Now available December 19. Recorded after Vacation this past August during their summer Italian tour, mastered in Seattle by Dylan Wall this past October 2016 & featuring cover artwork from Stefania Corneti; Luca & Sam expanded their vision to include digital synths & sly snares while obsessing over Italian artist Franco Battiato & the spirit of the Beach Boys’ Party! from 1965. Presenting the world premiere of “Till the End of Time”, Baseball Gregg gives the world a first taste of their latest directions & new dimensions that confirms the group’s increased sophistication & intricate arrangements that will give you a glimmer of hope for the possibility of beautiful futures.

The new EP Ciao finds the globe strolling duo writing songs about places they have never been before like the lo-fi love of “Boston”, the electro-wonderland of “Restless”, the brilliant illuminated opener “Purgatory’s Pleasant”, or the singalong rich sequencing heard & felt on the fun “Food is Gross”. It is the timeless ebb & flow shine of “Till The End Of Time” that cements Baseball Gregg as a group dedicated to both sharing the entertainment that creativity brings while accomplishing a certain maturation with their sound. That sparkle that some associate with novelty pop tropes is traded for a degree of seriousness with a dash of the silly & carefree that is the sound of a group constantly trying to one up themselves with each new song/release. The instructions to “dance till the end of time” is full of an earnest hope that hangs on every placement of keys, shining through the digitally treated vocal effects where the mix blends all melodic & harmonic elements together in a practically perfect cohesion where notions of beauty can felt throughout.

Cover artwork by Stefania Corneti for Baseball Gregg's new EP Ciao For Now.

Cover artwork by Stefania Corneti for Baseball Gregg’s new EP Ciao For Now.

We had an opportunity to catch up with Baseball Gregg’s Luca Luvisetto & Sam Regan in the following interview session:

Tell us about the bright sophists-pop world of Ciao.

Luca: Ciao for Now is a short, five song EP crafted this summer right after a few intense weeks of touring around Italy and relaxing at the beach in Liguria. After this trip we returned home, constructed a makeshift studio in my living room, and worked on these songs non-stop for four days straight. We recorded day and night, stopping only when a neighbor called to complain that we had woken their sleeping baby. The songs are spontaneous and more idiosyncratic than our last album, Vacation. While recording we relied on our immediate impressions and fleeting tastes rather than honing in on a particular, unifying sound.

“Purgatory’s Pleasant” is a song that I personally love because of how fun it was to write and it was the first time that Sam and I both sing main parts of the vocals. I also enjoy to the contrast between the cumbia rhythms and out-dated digital tones.

Sam: I like “Purgatory’s Pleasant” because the process of writing it was very different than any of the songs I’ve made in the past. Almost nothing was planned or thought out, we just poured ideas into the song and they blended to make a mess that’s fun to dance to.

Luca: Both the first two songs are about digestion. “Purgatory’s Pleasant” bridge says, My stomach feels like I might be sick, while “Food is Gross” talks about the relief felt after taking a much needed poop. “Food is Gross” has a Kraftwerk sample—the counting from “Numbers”—a sample from “The Simpsons” theme song during the middle 8, and a sample of our friend Eli Wengrin counting to four.

Sam: For me, the song “Food is Gross”, and the upcoming music video, is a lot about the creative process of consuming and regurgitation. We’ve been absorbing Kraftwerk and Simpsons and Eli into our bodies and psyches for a while, and it all mixes together and then is shit out in a song.

Baseball Gregg in SF, August 2015; photographed by Gwen Johnson.

Baseball Gregg in SF, August 2015; photographed by Gwen Johnson.

Luca: I think that the 3rd song, “Till the End of Time” is a masterpiece. It was written by Sam and is heavily inspired by our friend and fantastic artist Jimmy Turturici and his EP Alien Garden. I really enjoy how the Vocoder voids the vocals of all emotions, while the melody remains moving and personal. I think this might sound like the music robot’s will make once they’re semi-capable of feeling emotions.

Sam: I started out writing “Till the End of Time” because I wanted to make a really fast and upbeat song. Originally it was a lot faster, but once I slowed it down I got really excited and started dancing. Then I made the lyrics about dancing, but as I wrote more lyrics dancing became a metaphor for drug use. I think it’s interesting how the song went through so many huge changes in mood and lyrical content but still sounds cohesive and unified.

Luca: The fourth song is an upbeat song that, upon reflection, sounds a little like A-Ha. The snare is supposed to sound like David Bowie’s “Modern Love“. My friend Manghi once showed me a scene from a Leos Carax film in which a young person runs through the city at night while listening to “Modern Love”. I wanted to copy the mood of this scene in the song.

The last song, Boston, was written as a tribute to our friend and labelmate Setti. He, a little like Sufjan Stevens did with Illinois, has written many songs named after different States. When he plays live, he always starts each song by saying, This song is called Iowa, but I’ve never been to Iowa. I’ve been to Boston but I’ve never written a song called Boston.

Sam: When I saw Setti play in Italy this summer just a few hours after I had met him, I thought the set and his on stage banter was the most charming thing I’d ever seen. I kept thinking about Setti for the rest of my time in Italy, and one day while Luca was cooking—or something like that, I can’t really remember—I picked up a guitar and wrote “Boston” as a present for Setti. I was able to see Setti one more time before I had to return home, when he directed the music video for the song “Burn Up” from our last album. When he was there I showed him the song and asked him if he would sing a verse for the song.

Give us your reflections and takeaways from 2016

Luca: In regards to Baseball Gregg it was a year full of news and work. We put out two releases, played lots of shows with the Italian band, and in August Sam came to Italy and we had lots of fun. I am really sad that our album Vacation has been received so well, and hope our next LP that we’ve begun to work on will be listened to by so many nice people.

Sam: 2016 is a year when everything that has been good has been particularly good, while everything that was bad was particularly bad. For the first time, it feels like I’m actually living, and it is exciting and scary all at the same time.

Baseball Gregg in SF, August 2015; photographed by Gwen Johnson.

Baseball Gregg in SF, August 2015; photographed by Gwen Johnson.

Meditations & projections & purposes of 2017?

Luca: We already have lots of songs done for our next LP, so I hope that Sam and I will meet up this summer to record the album. I think the songs are very beautiful, and even if it’s something I shouldn’t share, I often spend entire afternoons listening to the demos we have been sending back and forth. I’m very excited for the future.

Sam: 2017 will be a year of a lot of change I think. I’m planning on going back to school next fall, and hope to completely finish the next album before then, because after that I probably won’t have much free time. Similarly to Luca, I’m really excited about the new album. Creating music is exciting, because with each album I really feel that I am growing as a musician. Vacation felt like a step up from anything I had created in the past, and these new songs feel like a new plateau. For a while I was nervous about how, whenever I’ve made music in the past, after a some time has passed it always seems bad and childish to me, but now I think that feeling is a little beautiful. More than anything, I’m excited to write new songs and then to grow to the point where I find them disappointing.

Baseball Gregg’s Ciao For Now EP will be available December 19.

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