An Interview with Modern Boys Modern Girls
February 6, 2010
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN FAZER MAGAZINE
Floating Above the Sea of Obscurity
By Aaron Binder
Photos by Emily Sheff
It’s getting hot in here. The boiler room is heating up and we’re all living right above it. At least, that’s kind of what Modern Boys Modern Girls is going for. When you’re a band in a sea of many you need to be original, you need to have panache and you need to stand above the rest if you ever want a chance to wade into shore and out of the sea of obscurity.
By blending the frantic stylings of post-rock with the soulful hues of 60’s style blues, MBMG have hit upon a formula that isn’t often heard. It is hard to imagine what Elvis sounds like crashing into “At The Drive In”, but somehow these Modern Boys (it seems the girls became fed up) manage to mesh the two genres into one workable sound and then some.
The three Modern Boys exhibit such a vast difference in personalities it leaves you wondering how they all get along in the first place, but get along they do. Akita, Brett, and Juan all speak similar languages when it comes to music, all influenced by great conquistadors and rockers who were the top draw in their day, but MBMG is now and they are attempting to prove that they have what it takes to escape the sea.
I caught up with them at Tattoo Rock Parlour in Toronto on a cold, blustery day in late January. The dark interior of the venue is always a little daunting, faces seem a little deeper, colours fade together, and thoughts between people flow a little easier. After running into Daniel Victor (aka Neverending White Lights (recent coverage link – http://www.fazermagazine.com/new/viewPost.php?id=1413)), the special headliner for the showcase of bands set to take stage that night, it was down into the depths of Tattoo for a chat with the Modern Boys.
As we spoke, their sincerity and vibrantly different personalities became a beacon of interest, Brett the Outspoken, Akita the Calculated, Juan the Reserved, all gave their input into what it is that makes Modern Boys Modern Girls into a functioning unit, what it is that they believe will pull them ashore.
Here’s the interview.
Aaron: So you guys just got back from a tour with Nightwood and I just want to touch on that briefly. It was this cool rivalry tour where you guys were trying to outperform each other every single night, how’d that turn out for you guys?
Akita: I think I’d have to say we probably lost because we missed one show.
Brett: We missed one show, but I still think we kicked their ass every night. I’m not gonna shy down, they’re not here. Whether they’re here or not, I’d look them in the face, we kicked their ass and the only night they beat us was the night on-stage that we didn’t show up.
Juan: Their bass player sucks.
Aaron: So it was a loss by technicality.
Brett: It’s like a high school fight over a girl, I guess.
Akita: Yeah, it doesn’t mean anything.
Aaron: So for you guys, what was the ultimate purpose of this tour, no new material recently and you’re just entering the studio shortly, how was the response?
Akita: We toured in cities that we haven’t really done yet so that was a really good thing to do. We got together, Amber from Nightwood gave us a call and said ‘we wanna do this’, we didn’t even know anything about them and we thought it was a good idea. Then once we got out there we thought it was a stupid idea. At the time it was a good idea, so we had these towns and said let’s do them together. It went really good, we’ve been on tour for three weeks or so and now we’re heading in February into the studio having played for a while, so we’re really comfortable with how everything sounds going into the studio.
Aaron: You guys have a really raw sound, are you trying to reserve a lot of that for the new record as well?
Akita: Yeah, well the first record was five people working on it, we had keyboards and backups, this is a three-piece record, we want a record that is like the live show. So it’s gonna be a loud, big, ballsy sounding record, it’s gonna be bass, guitar, drums, it’s gonna be raw.
Aaron: …So obviously you guys are pretty adventurous, when you’ve got these raw emotions and music pushing through the speakers on stage, what’s running through your mind?
Brett: I think we just appreciate raw soulful honesty. We base ourselves on a soul music and punk music background. I think both those music styles are raw to begin with, we’re about performing and we’re about being as best we can musically that night and also being as raw and giving the best performance we can for that audience that night.
It’s not just for ourselves, we’re not just up on stage so we can sound good for ourselves, we wanna rock and make sure people are freaking out. We’re all concert-goers, we all like going to shows and I wanna go to a show that’s gonna make me freak out.
Akita: We’re always…I’m kind of thinking of this, raw can be a really quiet thing.
Brett: Yeah, Leonard Cohen is really raw.
Akita: Yeah, that’s raw. I like that, it’s not anything other than finding a way to do that. We like the ones that make us have to yell and jump around and have a really good time.
Most young bands have that raw streak when they start out they tend to have a more wild sound and over time it becomes more refined. Recently the trend has been indie rock like Animal Collective was huge last year and they have that refined sound, is that something you guys think you’ll go toward in the future?
Akita: I think there’s a lot of stuff going on right now, just because of the internet everything is going on. You can’t really say music is going this way or that way, when Animal Collective came out, the rawest, simplest two-piece band came out the same year. So I don’t think anybody wants to say. If I can predict what I’m doing 5 years musically, that’s really boring.
Brett: I certainly do not want to be Animal Collective. Sorry if anyone likes Animal Collective, I couldn’t care less.
Juan: I like keeping it honest, so it depends how it feels and keepin’ it real as they say.
Aaron: So what do you guys find influences you the most musically when you’re laying down new tracks?
Akita: I think all of us have a musical background that allows us to work on the material in the way it asks us to. We just try to figure out what it is that it wants us to do, what is it that we need to direct toward. So we make music that’s really in your face and really punchy. We have to have an approach that we take individually and as a band, it doesn’t matter what the song is, whether it’s a fast or slow song, it kinda goes through a filter. That’s really what you are as a person in a band.
Brett: I think we’d love to be self-indulgent musicians but we slap ourselves on the wrists every time that comes up.
Aaron: Awesome, thanks guys.