In case you missed it, last week Japanese Breakfast’s Michelle Zauner celebrated a career milestone. No, we’re not talking about performing on Saturday Night Live, we’re talking about throwing out the first pitch at the Phillies vs. Mets game at Citi Field. On Saturday, we caught up with Zauner backstage at Wilco’s Solid Sound Festival to learn more about her pitching technique and how she prepared for her Major League Baseball debut.
SPIN: How did the pitch-throwing opportunity come about?
Japanese Breakfast: My manager told me that we got asked to do it and I was like, “oh no.” But then I felt I had to do it. My drummer and our producer Craig Hendrix used to play baseball and he’s a big baseball fan, so I felt like it was something I had to do for the team. [Laughs.]
Did they ask you want you wanted on your jersey?
Yeah, they asked me what I wanted on my jersey and what number and so I just figured I should do J Brekky and the only number that came to mind was 69. [Laughs.] I was surprised they let me do it, actually. But then I also found out that the Mets won the World Series in ‘69, so maybe they thought it was an homage to them. It was.
You had on Phillies socks and a Mets jersey. Did you feel like you had to represent both teams?
I am a terrible liar and I will say that I meant to get Phillies socks but I was not actually wearing Phillies socks [when I threw the pitch]. I did feel very guilty as someone who came up in the Philly music scene that I was throwing the first pitch for the Mets. But I live in New York now and I also feel very close to that city. Our bass player Deven [Craige] was wearing a Phillies cap and they made him take it off in the dugout.
It looks like you’re motioning the catcher toward you before the pitch. Can you talk about that moment?
Yeah, I’m obviously very much an indoor kid and I knew that I was not going to do a great job—and I didn’t get to practice very much, because we found out a week-and-a-half before or something and I was supposed to practice with Craig and then SNL came in and all of our attention went to SNL. Then we got there at 3:00 and they said I was going to be able to have practice on the field with the baseball players or whatever, but it was raining. So I didn’t get to practice at all and when I did practice, it was not as far away as the mound was to the plate.
Everyone was like “you can stand as close as you want,” but then the catcher kind of gave me shit like if you don’t do it from the top of the mound it doesn’t count. I was like “I’m not doing that, no way” and so I was kind of trying to get him to come closer but he wasn’t having it. I blame him.
It looks close on TV, but…
It’s seriously so far. It’s very, very far, even at the bottom of the mound. I was throwing a little bit and everyone was like “you’re gonna be fine, you have a pretty good throw.” But I just didn’t have the power. I feel like it was straight-ish, it definitely veered a little bit left, but I just didn’t have the power. The one thing that Craig warned me about was that if I focus too much on power, I might just slam it into the ground. So I was trying not to do that.
What are you going to do with the ball?
This was like the year of the plaque, like some really big shit in my life happened this year and I’ve slowly amassed a small collection of wild accomplishments, so I guess it will just sit on that same shelf.