On March 1, The Baseball Project released their second album, Volume 2: High and InsideÃ‚Â (which includes my favorite track, Ã¢â‚¬ËœDonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t Call Them TwinkiesÃ¢â‚¬â„¢). This album is a gem for all baseball fans (old school, new school, Twins fans, Red Sox lovers, historians, and those who love wicked guitar licks and quirky lyrics). I double dog dare you to listen to this album (especially track 2, Panda and the Freak) and not toe tap whilst laughing at the clevel lyrics!
Oliva hit the singles and Harmon hit homers/Mudcat Grant won 20 games and they didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t play in a dome yet. The Minnesota Twins are making Minnesotans proud/And we donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t buy our titles and summers are where we stay/These are grown men, these are heroes/Please donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t call them Twinkies. Ã¢â‚¬â€œ DonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t Call Them Twinkies
The Baseball Project is made up of band members Steve Wynn (Steve Wynn & The Miracle 3, The Dream Syndicate, Gutterball, Danny & Dusty), Scott McCaughey (The Minus 5, Young Fresh Fellows, R.E.M.), Linda Pitmon (The Miracle 3, Golden Smog) and Peter Buck (R.E.M.)
Baseball fans may have already heard select tracks from the album during the 2010 playoffs. Ã¢â‚¬Å“DonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t Call Them Twinkies,Ã¢â‚¬Â with lyrics & vocals by Craig Finn of The Hold Steady and music by Steve Wynn, made the internet rounds and rocked Target Field during the TwinsÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ ill-fated run, becoming the unofficial battle cry of the teamÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s playoff hopes. The McCaughey-penned Ã¢â‚¬Å“Panda & the FreakÃ¢â‚¬Â accompanied the S.F. GiantsÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ more successful bid, following the team all the way to its World Series win. But Craig Finn isnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t the only rock royal (and baseball geek) to grace the tapes of Volume 2.Ã‚Â The album also features guest appearances by Ben Gibbard of Death Cab for Cutie, Steve Berlin of Los Lobos, Yo La TengoÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Ira Kaplan, Chris Funk and John Moen of The Decemberists as well as longtime friend and musical collaborator Robert Lloyd.Ã‚Â
Ã‚Â (From the Press Release from Yep Roc Records, Volume 2:High and Inside)
I was fortunate enough to be able to interview the drummer (and Twins fan) from The Baseball Project, Linda Pitmon. She shares her trials of being a Twins fan through the thick and thin of decades, desire to catch a foul ball in her beer cup, eating lutefisk for a shot to visit Target field, and her love of Bert Blyleven.
Q. I have heard that youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re a Minnesota Twins fan. Did you grow up following them?
A. Yes, I was a rabid sports fan in general but baseball and the Twins were my favorite pro team by a country mile.Ã‚Â I was in the minority though Ã¢â‚¬â€œ back in the 70Ã¢â‚¬â„¢s and early 80Ã¢â‚¬â„¢s the Twins sucked so most people put their passion into the Vikings or the North Stars.Ã‚Â I stuck with them through the Larry Hisle/Ã¢â‚¬ÂDiscoÃ¢â‚¬Â Danny Ford years!
Q. Do you have any favorite memories from the Twins (or any team)?
I suppose my favorite moment would have to be watching Dan GladdenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s grand slam in Game 1 of the 1987 World Series.Ã‚Â My friend and I were offered last minute tickets at face value: $27.
We walked home across the bridge to our U of M apartment playing baseball the whole way with an old broom we found and a rock.Ã‚Â At least I think it was a rock.Ã‚Â
Q. How was it working with Craig Finn (of The Hold Steady)? The DonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t Call Them Twinkies song was played at Target Field and on the local MPR station, 89.3 The Current, with a positive response from fans.
A. We didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t actually record with Craig in the same room – so in other words it went swimmingly!Ã‚Â Of course it would have been ideal to all be together but the song actually took shape over the course of a year. First Craig sent us lyrics and then Steve wrote music that he thought would suite CraigÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s style and that could accommodate all those words. Months later we recorded it in Portland and sent Craig the music to sing to. When the Hold Steady had some time off in the Fall he booked a studio in Brooklyn and brought the glory!Ã‚Â
As a Minneapolis native I have to say that one of the most enjoyable experiences IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve had is knowing that Twins fans are digging this song and hearing it in the stadium and on the radio. We happen to know the guy (Kevin Dutcher) who was the music director at Target Field last year and I emailed him an MP3 of Ã¢â‚¬Å“DonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t Call Them TwinkiesÃ¢â‚¬Â from Brooklyn immediately after John Agnello had mixed it. In a matter of minutes it was blaring over the PA at Target Field as we were in Brooklyn finishing up the mixing of Ã¢â‚¬Å“High and InsideÃ¢â‚¬Â.
Q. Have you been to the new Target Field?
A. Not yet Ã¢â‚¬â€œ it turns out that being in the Baseball Project took up some time last summer and didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t really allow me to get back to Minneapolis. Steve and I will get there this year for sureÃ¢â‚¬Â¦..weÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll do whatever it takesÃ¢â‚¬Â¦..IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll even eat lutefisk if I have to.
Q. Your groupÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s knowledge of the lesser-known baseball characters is so amazing. How do you come up with the ideas? How much do you researched?
A. Scott and Steve write all the lyrics and I too am in awe of their encyclopedic knowledge.Ã‚Â ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s as though they both spent their childhoodÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s eschewing anything but Stratomatic and Casey KasemÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Top 40 Countdown.
Q. You will be touring this spring to promote the launch of the new album, Volume 2: High and Inside. What are looking forward to at Spring Training?
A. Catching a foul ball in my beer cup.Ã‚Â IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m so jealous of the girl that did that on camera last year.
Q. Who are some of your musical influences?
The Faces, Nick Lowe, Neil Young, Rolling Stones, The Kinks, La Dusseldorf.Ã‚Â These are the random 6 I pulled out for this interview but of course there are others (from Richard Thompson to The Monochrome Set)
Wrigley Field (though IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m sure IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll fall in love with Target Field once I get there)
Favorite ballpark food and/or drink?
Microdots and Tang
Bert Blyleven (see above)
Special thanks to Linda Pitmon and James Bailey (from Yep Rock Music Group)
Catch The Baseball Project on tour!
3/11/11 @ Star Bar Ã¢â‚¬â€œ Atlanta, GA
3/12/11 @ 40 Watt Club Ã¢â‚¬â€œ Athens, GA
3/14/11 @ Manship Studio Theater Ã¢â‚¬â€œ Baton Rouge, LA
3/25/11 @ Martini Ranch Ã¢â‚¬â€œ Scottsdale, AZ
3/26/11 @ Festival en el Barrio Viego Ã¢â‚¬â€œ Tucson, AZ
3/30/11 @ The Casbah Ã¢â‚¬â€œ San Diego, CA
3/31/11 @ The Echo Ã¢â‚¬â€œ Los Angeles, CA
4/1/11 @ Mercury Lounge Ã¢â‚¬â€œ Goleta, CA
4/2/11 @ Slims Ã¢â‚¬â€œ San Francisco, CA
4/5/11 @ Tractor Tavern Ã¢â‚¬â€œ Seattle, WA
4/7/11 @ Silver Moon Brewing Ã¢â‚¬â€œ Bend, OR
4/8/11 @ Sam Bonds Ã¢â‚¬â€œ Eugene, OR
4/9/11 @ Bunk Bar Ã¢â‚¬â€œ Portland, OR