Modestep, Interview

09 May 2012

Interview with Modestep

Interview with Modestep

Hot off the success of a string of widely received singles and now with their first full UK tour supporting LostProphets over, it looks as though Modestep have the rest of 2012 at their feet. In-between touring and recording it's been a long few months for the 'rockstep' group so when guitarist Nick Tsang took some time out of his day to speak with us we obviously jumped at the chance to get in on the action before their success explodes. We spoke with him about Nu Metal, signing with Interscope and how Rage Against the Machine changed his life.

Your past singles have been championed by broadcasters like Radio 1, do you still think that radio as important it once was for musicians?
These days I reckon Radio 1 is still a brilliant outlook for a lot of bands trying to make it and show off their stuff to a wider audience. Just the fact that it goes out nationally, and not many stations still do that now, shows how important it can still be. To be honest though, I think the thing that helped us the most in promoting our music was the Internet. Posting our stuff on Youtube and going viral really helped us on an international scale, more so than radio. That said, radio and Radio 1 in particular, has helped us along a great deal and obviously we're immensely thankful for that.

Even though you're still basically newcomers, after signing for Interscope, did anyone think that 'we've made it?'
[Laughs] It was Josh (vocalist, producer and keyboardist) and Tony (DJ, producer and guitarist) who started Modestep really (they are brothers) and they sort of deal with all the business side of things with the label. But yeah Interscope is such a big label, it really is one of the biggest in the world right now, so it's great to have a people like that on your side. Until we've actually made it though I think we can appreciate how far we've come and how far it still left in front of us. We're all really grounded people so none of its really gone to our heads yet; we're just trying to keep it as down to earth as possible.

You finish off your tour with LostProphets tomorrow (May 4th), how's it been?
Yeah last show is at Brixton Academy and it's been amazing so far. This is our first ever tour in the UK and we were a bit nervous from the beginning, after all we were alongside LostProphets and they've been around for a while now. They're music is not really related to us that much, given our use of Dubstep/electro and the shows had already sold-out before we joined so we we're thinking "oh no we're gunna go down like a sack of sh*t." The LostProphet fans were really good to us though and so many nice people came up to us after we performed and said they'd never heard of us before but we'd really converted them. The LostProphet guys were really cool to us too, they're really nice guy, so this was a really nice little opener for us.

After the tour will you be taking much of a break or are you heading straight back out on the festival trail?
I think this year's gunna be pretty hectic for us, we've got the single coming out ('Show Me A Sign') and then the album coming out and yeah we'll be hitting the festival scene pretty hard this year. We'll be hitting up America, Australia, plenty of dates to look forward too so there's no rest.

Back to LostProphets, they're a band that emerged in the Nu Metal era of the early 2000's, were you influenced by that sound at all?
Personally, yeah I was a big fan LostProphets and was listening to them when I was 14-15 years old and I know Tony was a fan as well. As for that scene in general I know that myself, Tony and Matt (drummer) are all big rockers at heart - Tony likes his Slipknot, Matt loves Pantera and Rage Against the Machine are essentially the band who got me playing guitar in the first place. It's flattering to be asked to go on tour with the artists you grew up listening to and to share a stage with them.

Do you still keep up to date with the current metal scene?
I think we all try to keep up with it, but we also try to keep in touch with the current electric scene as much as possible. I don't think we would categorise ourselves as electro or dubstep, we definitely take influence from that but we like to keep our ears in all different genres just to see what's happening. Everyone in the band has such an eclectic mix of influences so we just try and mash it all together and see what comes out, there's no one genre we concentrate on.

Do you feel that your take on electronic music is helping metal fans convert to synthesisers and programming instead of riffs?
We're not consciously trying to do that, but I guess it's nice to think you're broadening people's horizons. We did our first big show, my first show with the band actually, at Download Festival last year and that's obviously renowned for being almost entirely rock or metal. Before the show we were all bricking it and thought we'd end up getting bottled off once we started playing, but it went down absolutely amazingly and I'd definitely consider it one of the best shows we've ever done. We were all really surprised at how well received we were and how well the rock/metal fans took it and yeah I do like to think that this is the beginning of the rock crowds opening up and excepting electro fused with guitars. I guess with every type of genre you get those stubborn fans who don't think this kind of stuff belongs in 'their' genre, still its nice to see such a broad spectrum of people getting excited about our music.

What do you make of Skrillex and his fellow American's take on dubstep?
To be honest this would be more Josh and Tony's area of expertise, Matt and me mainly deal with the rock side of things. That said, we have nothing but respect for Skrillex and we don't know why he gets the amount of hate he does. It's basically down to the fact that he's successful I think, which is very unfair and there's no way he deserves it. But yeah, like I said we've nothing but respect for the guy and he is an amazing producer.

Dubstep is still a relatively young genre, do you think it will prove to be an enduring one or can you see an end to it?
I think it's been around longer than people think, it's just been lurking underground until recently when pop artists have started taking influence from that kind of sound. We're trying to put a live twist on the traditional sound of dubstep, we're trying to make it more rocky and I can see more genres spawning out of this frankly, in the same kind of way we've done. A lot of the genre seems to have become more dance-orientated so I don't know where it will go next, we might even see a jazz take on things soon, who knows. But I definitely think its influence will go on and it will be here for a while to come.

What do you make to collaborations like the Rusko/Cypress Hill joint venture? Are you a fan of these types of joint efforts?
I think it's great. If two already amazing artists get together to share ideas and make even better tracks then yeah, why wouldn't I be for these kinds of hook ups. We've got some collaborations on the album and I guess you can only branch out on your own creative horizons I guess.

Can you shed any light on who you will be collaborating with?
[Laughs} I think we're gunna be keeping that on the down low for now, until the album's finished, but they'll definitely be some exciting things to look forward to on the album.

Who would be your dream collaboration?
Personally, like I said before I'd love to jam with some of the members of Rage Against the Machine. I know Tony would love to do something with Lauren Hill, [Laughs] but I don't know how that would go down. I think Josh would pick someone like Stevie Wonder and like I said Matt would probably go for Pantera - making some crazy, riffy mix.

Which would be the album in history you wish you'd made?
The RATM back catalogue! I guess the first one would be the one I'd pick if I could only have one; it's just a timeless classic. If it wasn't for Rage I wouldn't be playing the guitar basically, I spent my formal years just learning Rage songs - that's how I taught myself.

Joe Wilde

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