Baseball Gregg is a pop duo with a dual nationality from Stockton, California and Bologna, Italy. Founders Luca Lovisetto and Samuel Regan met in Bologna while Samuel was studying abroad. Baseball Gregg’s label, Harlot, describes the band as a mesh of Luca’s saccharine vignettes about love and longing and Sam’s vivid depictions of a perspective inundated by intensive experience.
On New Year’s Eve of 2016, I sat down with Sam, one half of Baseball Gregg. As I walked up to the front door of Sam’s house, I was greeted by their dogs Izzy and Gidget and a warm cup of coffee. We sat down and talked about what they’ve been up to, how the holidays went, and the future plans for Baseball Gregg. While Luca wasn’t present, as he resides in Italy, we corresponded over email and chatted back and forth about some of the same topics Sam and I covered in our interview.
Sam Regan with Izzy
How did Baseball Gregg come to fruition?
Sam: So, I lived in Italy for like, a year, when I was studying abroad for school, and I met Luca there. We hung out for a long time and toward the end of my time staying there, we decided to record some music together. We finished a small EP that was 5 or 6 songs, I think. We finished it right before I left though, so I didn’t really know what was going on with it that much, but then Luca found a label, La Barberia to put it out in Italy and a I found label, Harlot, to put it out here. I played a couple shows here and Luca played a lot more shows in Italy. I started to write more songs and he started to write more songs and we just decided to make an album, and I feel like that’s when I started to take it a little more seriously, when we made the second album. I don’t know, it just kinda happened without much planning.
And that second album was Vacation?
Does the name “Baseball Gregg” have any significance?
Sam: No, not really. Luca was trying to come up with a name for the project, and I just sat at home and made a list of hella words. Like any words I thought of, I just wrote them down. And I took like a half hour and probably wrote like fifty or sixty names that were mostly just really bad. And then I just sent them to Luca and he went through and picked a couple that he thought were the tightest ones and we somehow settled on that one.
Luca: We also made a contest on Twitter back then (it was more of a wrestling match than a contest as far as I can remember) and “Greg” won over David Lunch. I just added the second “G” to honor the basketball coach Gregg Popovich, who reportedly liked our album Vacation.
Can you tell us about the shift from initially recording with each other in Italy and then playing the songs separately?
Sam: That was pretty weird. Not so much for the first EP, because those songs were mostly written on guitars and with pretty regular arrangements that were easy to adapt to playing to live shows. But then, I feel like, especially with Vacation, I wasn’t really thinking at all about playing live when I was making them. I’ve only played a couple shows of those songs, but it actually ended up working out a lot better than I thought it would. But it was weird just because I wasn’t thinking in that mindset at all when making it.
Luca: At the beginning, this project wasn’t meant for having a live version, and still nowadays we make music without caring how it will be performed live. It’s really funny because you get to listen to different version of the same song; whether you listen to the American band or the Italian one. I had the chance to play with both and I can say it’s very funny.
So it didn’t start out as a passionate project to take live?
Sam: Yeah, it didn’t really start as a thing that was–like I wasn’t writing songs because I wanted to play music live. I guess always in the past, I used to play in a band, Satan Wriders, and it was always like, we wrote music live, by playing it. And the approach that we took for writing the first EP was kind of the same way. But when writing Vacation, it wasn’t really written in a way that lent itself well to being reproduced in a live setting. It wasn’t made in a live setting, so in reproducing it live, it wasn’t coming out the way it was made. I don’t know if that makes much sense.
What was that initial songwriting process like with Vacation, with Luca in Italy and you here?
Luca: We usually record demos of songs separately, and then we meet, usually once a year, and we try to record and produce as much as possible in order to have material for a release. Usually, we write songs by ourselves but lately we have written and recorded some songs together (in our last EP Ciao For Now) and it was a new and super tight experience.
Sam: Yeah. We took a lot of the things that we had already recorded ourselves in our rooms and just met up together and went through and recorded stuff and fleshed them out more.
So, do you think that distance between you two was more beneficial or was it more of a hinderance?
Sam: I think it was beneficial. I think that being separated and not really having the chance to, like, do something right away kind of made me slow down the process and really think about what I was doing. Instead of just writing a song and being like, “Oh yeah, let’s record this.” and doing it all in like a month or two, I had songs that I had sat with for a long time and I’d come back to them like six months later when we record them and I had a different perspective or something.
Luca: Distance doesn’t much affect playing live, since it’s a little bit like we play in different bands even if they bear the same name, but it obviously affects recording. We tend to write independently and then produce and record together when we get together, usually during the summer.
Your music video, “Food is Gross”, was recently featured on Rolling Stone in Italy. How did that feel?
Luca: It was cool! Especially because I’m used to sending tons of emails to websites and getting no answer most of the time, so being featured on such a big magazine was somehow strange because we have basically no coverage elsewhere and usually nobody really cares about these types of tiny acts, so I thought, “Maybe it’s a mistake?” But in the end they did publish the article, and it was a very nice way to promote Eli’s video, which was stunning.
Sam: It felt really weird to me to see that Rolling Stone watermark, like the logo, on the video. That was the weirdest part, just seeing that logo in the corner of the video. I don’t know, Rolling Stone’s a weird thing to me. The name is so iconic, but I would never read Rolling Stone Magazine. Which makes it even weirder. I don’t really know what Rolling Stone represents anymore. But it was still tight.
How have your roots in your respective hometowns influenced the way you write music?
Sam: I think that being in Stockton is a weird thing where there’s always been like a weird art scene kind of. But it’s also not too pervasive. It’s pretty low-key. And there’s a lot of people doing tight stuff but nobody is really… I don’t know, I’ve felt lots of encouragement in the past about doing stuff, artistically, but also its pretty low-key and it’s not stressful. Which I think is tight.
Luca: That’s a very interesting question. Well, I don’t know! I have always been listening to mostly American and English music since I was little, so I probably wasn’t influenced much by Italian music. Maybe the fact that I’ve always listened to music that doesn’t geographically belong to my culture, and seeing the pop music world from a slightly different point of view has affected the way I write songs. Maybe.
Yeah, I feel like with a lot of art scenes, and the creative world in general, people feel like their stuff is never good enough. So when you have a creative scene like Stockton where everyone is doing stuff together, there’s less of a fear to put yourself out there.
Sam: Yeah there’s never really any fear that people would hate on it or anything. Not that you should let fear of that stop you either.
How have those experiences come together to form Baseball Gregg’s sound?
Luca: Baseball Gregg’s sound has evolved very rapidly during the last couple of years, so it is hard to define what comes from Stockton and what comes from Italy. While recording our first EP, we used to record guitars and vocals with hella reverb and fake analog effects on them, and this probably was influenced by the fact we recorded the songs in my room with my Mac. The album eventually started to sound like a bedroom pop album. Sam had a big role in producing our first LP, Vacation, since he pre-produced almost all of the songs on his own and they all already had a distinguished character and mood, and that influenced me a lot. Our next work will probably be somehow even more cohesive in a way, since we’re more conscious of the general mood and the atmosphere of the album, and this is again a result of Sam’s great work.
What have you been listening to lately?
Sam: I’ve been listening to a lot of stuff. I’ve been listening to a lot of Erykah Badu, and also a lot of ambient music. Last night I listened to hella Travis Scott. Oh I really like the new Solange album, and the album by No Name, Telephone. Those are two of my favorite albums of 2016.
Luca: I’ve been mostly listening to Italo-Disco and bossa nova the last couple of days because I’m ill. The albums I listened to most in 2016 were Car Seat Headrest’s and Frankie Cosmos’.
If you could have a Baseball Gregg song featured in one movie, past or future, which movie would it be?
Sam: Oh, fuck. A Baseball Gregg song in a movie… I watched this movie–Luca told me about it which is why I’m thinking of it probably–it’s like this tight Portuguese movie and the soundtrack has hella coverage of this song “Perfidia” and I think it would be hella tight if Baseball Gregg made a cover of “Perfidia” and it was in that movie.
Luca: Our song “Palace” in Scorsese’s After Hours.
If Baseball Gregg were to be a food, what food would it be?
Sam: Oh shit.
Like if you served up a plate of Baseball Gregg, what would it look like?
Sam: I just wanna say fennel. It’s like a weird vegetable or something that tastes like black licorice kind of. I just can’t stop thinking about fennel. I really like eggplant too. But I think I’d have to say pizza. I dunno, Luca’s Italian and he hella likes pizza.
Luca: Something really gross I wouldn’t dare to taste for sure! What I know for certain is that if we were to be a supermarket, we would be selling expired food.
I’ve thought about this question and the only thing I could come up with is watermelon. You guys remind me of watermelon.
Sam: Or like a Now-n-Later. Or Warheads. Maybe hot sauce.
What’s next for Baseball Gregg?
Sam: We’re writing a new album, I’m pretty excited about it. I don’t know when it’ll be recorded because Luca’s so far away, but that kinda makes it nicer cause there’s no pressure to finish it quickly. But a lot of the songs are close to being finished being written. I have this idea… but, I don’t really wanna get into it. But I really want it to be a much more cohesive album. And I hope it works out.
Luca: Another album! And worldwide fame, I guess.
Photography by Cameron Getty