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The Baseballs

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Venoge Festival, Penthalaz:


“Hit me baby ...”, just three small words will suffice to have absolutely everyone thinking about that song by Britney Spears. But why would an album bio starring The Baseballs commence with this observation? It’s simple: they’re no different than pretty much everyone else. Because even though Sam, Digger and Basti committed themselves to rock’n’roll at an early age, there was no escaping those ‘90s pop hits from their youth. Even today, The Baseballs will occasionally catch themselves in the act of dancing to the sounds of the Backstreet Boys, Spice Girls or Ace of Base and thoroughly enjoying it. Another thing they thoroughly enjoy is covering famous songs. In fact, they’ve perfected the art of the cover like almost no other contemporary band. So why not take things one step further and produce a cover album of ‘90s songs and hits from their youth, while adding that notorious ‘Baseballs’ twist?
Their four successful studio albums to date saw the band skilfully infuse modern, popular songs with that rock’n’roll
lifestyle of the ‘50s and ’60’s. However, this time around, their focus remains on one decade in particular: “On our previous albums we took our audiences on a trip, including everything from the ‘80s up until today. Now, we decided to take the entire ‘90s and transform them into the ‘50s and ‘60s,” comments Basti. “We are basically trying to overcome the traumas of our youth, via the sounds of another era.” Said traumas being extremely danceable, makes the whole venture all the more accessible. As Digger puts it: “We always try making music that is fun to dance to and this selection of songs definitely lives up to our expectations. Even more so, now that we put our personal spin on them.”
After all, and that is what got them to where they are today, The Baseballs do so much more than ‘just’ cover the original material. They’ve gone on to win prestigious awards, including the EBBA (European Border Breakers Award) as well as two German ECHOs, by ways of adding their very own signature sound to the mix. Which was exactly the challenge they faced readying their current project: “The songs from that era are usually quite basic in structure so we really wanted to get the most out of them,” says Digger. “As The Baseballs we tried to remain true to our strengths, being vocals, harmonies and the two combined.”
The result is a stunner: A highly diverse group of artists the likes of Take That, No Angels, Westlife, Salt - N - Pepa , Britney Spears, the Backstreet Boys, Ace of Base and R. Kelly take an uplifting trip down memory lane, to a time when leather jackets, petticoats and quiffs were considered a young person’s basic attire. There to welcome them upon arrival are Sam, Digger and Basti, offering a glimpse of what those hit songs may have sounded like, back in the days. Still confused? “You could say it’s back to the future, via the past,” Sam attempts to deliver the formula, then laughs: “Just write ‘back to the future’, people will get that.”
Let’s try putting it this way: On “Hit Me Baby ...” the band not only pulls off the captivating feat of breathing new life into ‘90s classics heard a zillion times, it also adds an unforeseen complexity to these works: “We really tried to travel back in time, 60 years back to when rock’n’roll was born, back to blues music, and to craft somewhat more delicate arrangements,” Digger describes. For instance, the band would add an occasional new chord to the songs. “On the other hand, we wanted to remain as close to the original as possible, without distorting the song in any way. The people should still be able to recognize, what’s being played.”
Another reason The Baseballs were eager to reinterpret the songs was a self-prescribed “time-out from covering”. Their last album “Game Day” (2014) was mainly comprised of their own productions. Not because, “we wanted to prove to ourselves or to the world that we could still write our own material,” Sam points out. “But because up to that last album, we spent six years on the road playing the same songs. We just wanted to try something ‘fresh’.” And it worked. “A third of the songs we played on our last tour were our own and the feedback was great,” says Basti. “At the same time, we are well aware of the fact that most people know and love us for our cover versions. So when you work on creating an album, composed of songs from your youth, it wouldn’t really make sense to only have three covers on it. Which is why we’re back with a fresh batch of cover songs!”
Talking about “fresh”: The band was surprised to find, how well they still remembered many of the songs from their youth. “For example, I still knew all the lyrics to ‘The Sign’ by Ace of Base,” Basti admits. “My sister used to be the absolute biggest Ace of Base fan. And we used to share a room until the age of 13. Naturally, I knew all of her songs by heart, even though I wasn’t really an admirer of the band.” Today, Basti’s as well as the public’s perception of these ‘90s pop hits has shifted to a point, where the songs have reclaimed a certain degree of coolness. “These songs were simple productions, but they worked. That, too, is an art,” Basti continues. Well, for the most part: “We did decide to pass on that ‘Cotton Eye’ cover by The Smurfs.”