The King lives – and in 3 incarnations. The Baseballs bring back the good old Rock´n´Roll, or as they call it, Voc´n´Roll, to European record players. Sam, Digger and Basti had their breakthrough with their „Umbrella“ cover version and have women´s hearts melt away at their concerts. We met those charming guys in Pratteln (CH) and talked with them about their sudden success.
(Digger could not attend the interview in the beginning, he had to make some preparations on stage).
You were nominated for the Finnish Music Award EMMA and received Thursday (04.02.2010) the award for the best selling album of 2009, which received 3-times platin in Finland.
Sam Yes, and we had never expected that
Basti It was big success, and those who won that award before where big Finnish names, and Metallica last year, therefore we´re following in real big footsteps here.
And how was it?
Basti It was exciting, it was the first time for us at such an award show, and we could also perform live. It was an exciting evening for us in any case.
You didn´t really understand anything, did you?
Sam Yeah we were sitting in the backstage area, and luckily we had some Finnish people from our record company who translated occasionally. Because otherwise we might have been pretty helpless.
Basti All around people were laughing to some jokes sometimes…
Sam Yeah and then we had to ask „What did he say?“ But it was pretty cool, and there were so many people, and I mean we are still not a Finnish band, and we also don´t know anbody there, don´t know who does what, but it seems there were lots of real famous people, and then you feel pretty honored that you can sit with all those people.
Did you have a chance to communicate with Finnish musicians or were you just keeping to yourselves?
Basti We talked a bit with Chisu, who was awarded that night, too. And it was indeed fun, we met her again at the after party and talked, that was nice.
How did it begin with The Baseballs?
Basti Frankly, it happened pretty much by chance. Well, we were in such a building with lots of rehearsal rooms, and we were playing there with different bands. The fun part is that in this rehearsal complex in Berlin it´s rather lots of Heavy Metal bands that hang out there, and we three have this Elvis-hair do, and we happened to meet in the common kitchen – well they called it „kitchen“, it was much more a bottle deposit.
Sam Yeah it looked a bit like this room here
Basti Yes indeed, it looks pretty similar here… and we looked at each other and thought „wow you don´t really look like you´re playing Metal!“
Sam Yes, “you cannot possibly be from here?!“
Basti „Let´s talk!“ And that´s what we did, we even started jamming the same evening, and that was it. During this jam session those three voices arrangements emerged when we played some of those classics. That sounded pretty cool, but we just wanted to have fun, had a few beers – and that was it back then. After a while, about 2-3 months later, we called each other again „hey that was so much fun, let´s do something together“ – and this is how it started.
You became famous over night, how do you handle that?
Basti (laughs) Well it wasn´t quite over night. It took like 2,5 years of work until something happened. And that this huge success began to take shape.
Yes it was this hit with „Umbrella“ and you seemed to appear from nowhere, nobody had heard of you before that. It must be very impressive when suddenly everything happens so fast?!
Sam It is, and actually it´s overwhelming. You are definitely not counting on something like that. I mean, none of us thought much of our jam session that evening, or expected to have an album out at any time that will become nr 1 in Finland, enters the German charts on nr 6 and that does so well in Switzerland. We definitely never expected anything like that. The more the fun when all those things actually happened, and well – how to deal with it? Basically I think that if you don´t have high expectations, that´s the best way to keep your feet on the ground. You´ve seen it happening very often what happens to people if everything goes way too fast, and we are seven musicians on stage, we have a brilliant live band backing us up,and if somebody gets weird, there are six people to get him back to business pretty quickly.
Do you plan to write your own songs, too, or will you stick to converting well-known songs to Rock`n`Roll?
Basti We have been playing some of our own songs on this tour already that are part of the live program, and in the future this will definitely be part of our music, but we will surely never give up those covers, it´s going to be a mix of both.
When is the next The Baseballs album to be expected – any plans for that?
Basti Only some ideas at this point. But we are still touring a lot, we just entered the Scandinavian countries, beginning to have big success in Sweden, Norway, Denmark, we will be playing there a lot now, and then a new album – we will surely think about it in summer, therefore it won´t be possible before December this year, that´s what I have to say here. Perhaps it is even taking longer, because it should be a real good album, and there will be cover songs as well as our first own songs.
You are pretty much constantly on tour, is there sometimes something that bothers you, that you find annoying about each other?
Basti, Sam (laugh)
Sam Our tourmanager nods
Tourmanager Saki No, no for heaven´s sake (sarcastically)
Basti He surely thought of something else now (laughs)
No, it´s simply that we are touring with 12 people, we also have a crew and a big bus, and surely there are situations when you like somebody more than somebody else, and you have enough room to retreat, and if you don´t want to see anybody you stay in your cubicle and close your eyes. But we have a lot of fun together and fool around, and everything is cool. It is like a big school trip.
Sam I think we sense when somebody is not feeling well and has enough of the fuzz and the jokes, so you respect that and leave that guy alone, and then it´s also OK. And as mentioned before, as there are not really many options to retreat, you have to develop this tactfulness.
How do you fight the tour stress?
Sam Well the beautiful thing is that we still see it as a hobby what we are doing. It´s not really doing a job for us – I mean, of course it is a job, but it is something we really enjoy doing, therefore in that aspect like a big hobby that we are blessed to pull off here. And I gotta mention, when you have a couple of hours between soundcheck and show and a tennis court is nearby, then some people are playing tennis, or I enjoy going to the gym and stuff, you are doing sport and see to your mental stability. Or in simple terms, you need to unplug and get your head clear.
A friend of mine in Finland said that she would immediately marry one of you guys, no matter whom. ((this person in question is NOT the STALKER editor-in-chief, the ed.))
Therefore my question: is it still possible for you to walk the streets and not being recognized, harassed, how do you deal with the sudden fuzz about you?
Basti The good thing is that we are pretty successful in Germany but still don´t have this degree of popularity as we have in Finland or Switzerland. We can still walk the streets normally, and there is a nice trick, we just keep our hair down and not in this quiff. And you are not recognized. But still, it is nice to be recognized and it is still on a pretty low scale.
Sam And it is still not on such a scale like, dunno, for example Tokio Hotel.
Unlike scenes in your videos?
<sam< b=””> Not quite like in the videos, no. And if it happens, people are very friendly and ask „hey are you The Baseballs?“. And then we either confirm or deny (laughs) depends on how we feel at this moment. No no, we chat with them a bit and then people usually want just a photo or an autograph, and that is OK. It is quite nice, and everything still feels OK.
You are quite young, what did you before having this huge success?
Sam Well we all have been before The Baseballs in different bands, I played in various Rock´n´roll Bands where we played covers, Elvis and stuff, and Digger played in Blues / Soulbands.
Basti Yeah and I played various stuff, like 60s, 70s cover bands, that means lots of different music styles.
(Digger joins us)
SamThere he is
Basti When you talk about the devil
(after a short welcome we continue )
You can simply continue with the question, how you deal with the fuzz about you?
Sam Don´t say anything wrong, we just gave such nice statements.
Digger Here it´s more about the question how I deal with the fuzz about the show, before every show? (laughs) NO I think it´s something about these guys – and fuzz is such a negative word, as it´s nice that people share something with you, something that you like and have been enjoying all your life, which is Rock´n´Roll – and if people come to us and say “Hey, this is so great what you are doing!“ then you have to realize that it´s not just about your own person, about yourself, but you can be much happier about the whole matter. And being part of this, I think, is perhaps the best that can happen to you.
Sam This is really a nice reply that Digger gave here, isn´t it?
Sam Yeah so this is alright then
Digger (joking) Yeah Ok thanks so „Ciao!“ (all laugh)
Well you can also tell me how you enjoyed the Emma Gala.
Digger Well I found it pretty stylish, and not in a negative way, but this TV production in Finland was compared with the US or Germany much more down-scale, therefore had some retro appeal, a bit like a TV show in the 70s.
That fits you nicely, doesn´t it?
Digger Yeah and that was so cool. Everything was familial, and it felt like that, because everybody got along with everybody, all artists were together in the backstage area and you could talk with anybody there, therefore it was a nice event that was perhaps so much bigger in Finland than it felt for us. Yes we cannot complain, and it was our first but hopefully not the last award show, and something – to boast a little bit here – to get used to.
Sam, your other dream job is cartoonist, according to the band website – so would you draw a band cartoon for our readers?
Sam Yeah sure, I can do that
Many thanks to The Baseballs, tourmanager Saki and Pamela Harz, Warner Musik, who made this interview possible.