by SashaS

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  More on: Modey Lemon

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  News - 20-6-2005
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  Album Review - 11-5-2005
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Modey Lemon: 'The Curious City' is ace!
Cracked kaleidoscope
Modey Lemon - warped psychedelic avant-hard rock

I had a fantasy the other night. Yeah, a visitation of a reverie occurred during a gig and the inducers were the Pittsburgh’s finest - Modey Lemon. This is a band you don’t get music from but through, they become it, one and only with their sounds… Such like condition has not scooped us since the Cobain days; anyhow, it’s a feeling that had rarely been disturbed over the decades with the exception of Led Zeppelin, Joy Division, The Clash, U2 [with ‘Joshua Tree’], Jane’s Addiction [for a very short while]… One supposes Jimi Hendrix could dish it at will, or The Doors live…

Completely taken in by music, high on notes, obsessing over beats but not discounting on details and sonic minutiae! The band’s new album, ‘The Curious City’, is as fresh as the first roll-up of a brand new bunch of ‘sabbaff’. ‘Sleepwalkers’ is extracted for a single issued on Monday and it should cause a huge celebration… But, again, we may get distracted by this age of homogeny that’s been ruling our lives for far too long.

Now, the fantasy: the new single is a magnum slice of pop-rock with such a hook that could well rise from its underground hovel to resurrect the indie/alternative mojo that’s been lacking in the doldrums for far too long. If there is any justice, it should become as huge as Nirvana’s ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’, an anthem of a generation, the flag of a rebellion-reborn…

The treesome - Phil Boyd (vocals/guitars/Moog mangler), Jason Kirker (bass/ keys/effects) and Paul Quattrone’s (drums) - are around the table in the VIP area of Islington Academy [not used tonight]. Their show is upstairs, in the less capacious ‘Café’.

Phil Boyd: “Things are really strange in the world, in America, in music business… There is nothing we can really do much about but reflect it in our music, let it influence and inspire a reaction… We toured a lot last year and felt frustrating because, as much as we liked ‘Thunder & Lightning’, we felt we had so many other ideas we wanted to explore. So, as soon as we finished touring we entered studio and started jamming.”

Jason Kirker: “We finished recording last August and then took several months to mix it. Some seven months later it comes out.”

PB: “It stills feels very relevant, it is still the essence of who we are… It also reflects our self-sufficient attitude: we don’t have roadies, only a sound guy…”

Paul Quattrone: “We were even going to drive ourselves around Britain but can’t get insurance if you are an American… It’s also gotten something to do with bands hiring vans…”

Hot rods

Societies that dispense with the challenged conscience are standing on quicksand and are more vulnerable than being in a deep [economic] doldrums. And, culture is the first to be pulped… It already could be that today’s youth is too apathetic, comfy, consumption-sated and issue-ridden to truly care bar a neurotic internal sphere.

Must consult a horoscope to see whether the planets are in their favour although there is a strong doubt they’ve ever been concerned with this form of ‘auto-suggestive’ reading… As qualified once before, Modey Lemon’s music is a sonic equivalent to David Lynch’s films: individualistic, unique and delightfully disconcerting - just like getting ready for the quiet-revolution going on?

PB: “I’ve been thinking a lot about the function music has in today’s society and it often is just a background noise, in your car, in a restaurant, at home… We made a record and we want it to do well, we put our best into it but I wonder how much public wants to be challenged rather than simply entertained? We compare ourselves to a lot of people and see that we incorporate so many different elements of music…”

“And we wonder if we are crazy but then we look at the history of music and notice people like The Beatles, Talking Heads, … We are a band that writes three-minute ditties but also longer pieces, and stretch to different kinds of music to explore different sounds; sometime I think that all it needs is a name and people will clutch to it!”

JK: “We’ve been doing things on our own long before we had a contract. But, it is nice to have a record label to distribute records, arrange promotion, tours…”

Urban wilderness

We are overdue a wake-up call, everything’s become too safe and predictable, from pop idols to hardcore metal. The rut, the lacking talent, the crappy corporate Puritanism, the tyranny of spend-spend ‘theology’ and culture crashing like a house of cards… Unless we have more bands of the Modey Lemon ilk!

But, sometime you have to wonder - if it is any use when everyone is busy with the obviously safe and dull offerings or, even worse, compiling iPod ‘library’?

PB: “We had quite a few arguments about sequencing the record with all the advance of Downloads and iPods. What is the point of arguing about running order when a listener can shuffle it every which way? We hope it is only a passing phase and people will return to listening to the albums as artists made them.”

JK: “It is hurtful that your work gets perverted like that but if the record industry destroys itself, as it looks like doing, it is good to know that music will still be available for people to consume. I’m all for destruction of the big corporations because all they are doing is fabricating bands that don’t mean anything but are told that they are the quintessential acts… It’s so pointless but people still buy it!”

PB: “It’s not anything new, it’s been going on since the day one… The Monkees, Burt Bacharach, Sonny & Cher, but those songs were much better!”

None of it will make it to the US Library of Congress National Recording Registry, like Nirvana‘s ‘Nevermind’ recently, to join only the Beach Boys, Allman Brothers and Public Enemy; who do you think should get included as well?

JK: “What’s Allman Brothers doing there? It should be Grateful Dead instead…”

PQ: “I reckon Jimi Hendrix…”

PB: “All these people were synthesising obscure music and their love for pop songs… Nirvana were into the Pixies, the Raincoats, Vaseline and [The Beatles’] ‘The White Album’ with its noise collages… It seems like we approach music making just like that… I’m not saying we belong there but people who know will realise that all these artists have one thing in common: it is not all on the surface. If you listen for a while they teach you about other music they love.”

So, there is hope?

PB: “There always is and as soon as bands realise that they don’t have to recreate the album in a live setting, fans will not run away, they can be adventurous on the stage and be appreciated by their fans. Like The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, or The Doors, or Frank Zappa… Taking chances and pushing it to the extreme, driving it… But then it is restricted by the industry and the media who reckon they know what’s in… Our single ‘Sleepwalkers’ is about it.”

Are we not men? We are an army without uniforms!

Tour dates:

14 May - Golden Gate, Berlin
15 May - Underground, Cologne
16 May - Schocken, Stuttgart, (with Weird War)
18 May - Sidecar, Barcelona (w/Anita Fix)
19 May - Revolver, Madrid
20 May - Helldorado, Vitoria (w/Weird War)
23 May - Zoo Bar, Rome
24 May - Estragon, Bologne
28 May - 4AD, Diksmuide, Belgium (w/Oneida)
29 May - Lintfabriek, Kontich, Belgium (w/Oneida)
30 May - Paard van Troje, Den Haag, Holland (w/Oneida)
01 June - Water Rats, London (w/Ice Capades) - album launch party
09 June - Forum, London (supporting Dinosaur Jr.)
13 June - Postbahnhof, Berlin
14 June - Paradiso, Amsterdam
15 June - Vooruit, Gent
25 June - Glastonbury Festival/The Other Stage [12:00pm]
26 June - Furia Sound Festival [nr. Paris]

Modey Lemon’s single ‘Sleepwalkers’ is released 16 May 2005 by Mute

Modey Lemon‘s album ‘The Curious City’ is released 30 May 2005 by Mute