Jake Ewald on his new solo venture Slaughter Beach, Dog

“It’s an exciting process to put a lot of effort into it. It feels like filling a purpose to experiment where we weren’t experimenting before.”

Jake Ewald, one of two singer-songwriters for Philadelphia rockers Modern Baseball, has invoked an entirely new dynamic as a solo musician with his new project, Slaughter Beach, Dog. The accolades of his band have allowed him to expand his creative ideas into a more slowed down, acoustic version of himself.

Slaughter Beach, Dog is described by Ewald as being brand new and refreshing. “Part of it is actually playing music with new people,” says Ewald. “It’s been really cool to be on stage with these really talented musicians who are playing these songs I wrote. We’re figuring them out together and we’re finding new ways to vibe off each other with the little decisions we make in the songs.”

Compared to Modern Baseball, this project floats between all the realms of music – indie, folk, pop, rock. As such, Ewald finds that as a songwriter and performer, his artistry differs in many ways. “It’s cool because when we were making the album, then with the performances, part of the benefit of it being new is I don’t feel limited by what we’ve done before because we haven’t done that much,” Ewald says.  “We can do what we want because an impression hasn’t already been made. It’s especially cool with the live shows to take chances and try out things that work or might not work.

“We’re definitely trying a lot more experimentation and tampering with the arrangement of the song structures.”

Slaughter Beach, Dog hones a very raw, very stripped-back sound, an avenue chosen when Ewald was experiencing a particularly bad bout of writer’s block. This project, Ewald agrees, has liberated him. “Just the act of writing new songs and making a new album, and having people hear it, it’s made me feel a lot more like a living breathing musician as opposed to a guy who doesn’t really do anything, doesn’t have a job,” he says.

“Being able to take the time to think about my setup, ‘Does this song need a piano, do we need an acoustic guitar here?’ and then committing to the decisions, it makes me feel like I’m doing something important, everything feels a lot more intentional and it’s an exciting process to put a lot of effort into it. It feels like filling a purpose to experiment where we weren’t experimenting before.”

With Modern Baseball on an indefinite hiatus since early last year, Ewald, comfortable with what his band accomplished, is happy going about his own thing for now. “One of the things that’s exciting about this new project, since it’s still pretty small at this point, when we do play a show or make an album, it’s a huge deal, it’s not an enormous process.

“With Modern Baseball, we got so lucky with how big it got, when we did an album we did it in a real studio and that was all exciting and amazing, but the stressful side, which you don’t think about at the time, any time you make the smallest decision it’s a huge process to do anything.”

Ewald’s forthcoming Melbourne performance will of course be on a much smaller scale to his previous visits. Indeed, touring with indie rockers Manchester Orchestra presents a whole host of challenges for Ewald, warming up the crowd as Slaughter Beach, Dog. However, this support slot is one of the fresh, new experiences that will help keep him on a roll. “There’s something kind of nerve-wracking about doing a solo opening set for more of a punk band because everybody’s just there to have fun, get drunk,” he says. “A band like Manchester Orchestra, they are very much a rock band, but a lot of their songs are sombre, emotional and serious. It’s a unique experience that I get to do this solo because my songs are a little bit sombre.

“I don’t have to worry about amping up the crowd, I can get them settled into the evening before that band come on. I think it’ll be an interesting experience – I hope they like it. I hope they don’t throw tomatoes at me or anything, but I think it’ll be cool, I think it’ll go well together.”

Slaughter Beach, Dog will perform at Yah Yahs on Thursday February 1. He’ll also support Manchester Orchestra at 170 Russell on Friday February 2. Birdie is out now.