Modestep 2015 Interview

An interview with Modestep

An interview with Modestep

It's been a busy year for Modestep. Having released their second album London Road earlier this year and hitting some of the major festivals including Download and Reading & Leeds, they have now just finished their UK London Road tour which saw them venture across Britain to be greeted by some of the wildest crowds of the dubstep genre. We jumped aboard the tour bus before the band kicked off their London show at Electric Brixton and caught up with Josh, Tony, Pat and Kyle to discuss festivals, the album, covers and the music industry as a whole.

CM: How's the tour been so far?
Tony: Pretty good. A lot of work. A lot of mad crowds. I think this has been the most intense crowds we've had. Pretty much mosh pits from support acts which I've never seen. We've chosen acts which are really in-step with the sound.
Pat: They're not like a random kind of artist we like, we've got Culprate who remixed a record we just released so he worked really close with Josh and Tony on that. And Hatcha being the pioneering guy of dub-step. It's a big bill for the genre. The guy who made up the word 'dubstep' I believe.
Josh: And he's hilarious.

CM: You've had a busy festival season particularly playing both Download and Reading. Which festival was your favourite?
Josh: Reading. No question. Both great festivals though. Reading was more like, we used to go every year as kids, for years and years and years so it's got that nostalgic feeling of going and watching the main stage every year and then playing on it.
Pat: You know what you've just made me change my answer. I'm changing to Download now. I've done the stage five times before but this year was the best one ever. It smashed the draw of anyone else. Bullet [for my Valentine] headlined that stage a few years ago, and Trivium did as well, and apart from those two I've never seen a draw as good as ours. And it was the most dog shit weather as well. I was so scared.
Pat: Corrosion were on after us and they're legends, so I just assumed that no matter what we'd have a draw because we were on just before them. I kind of kept that in the back of my head that although it was shitty weather we'd be fine. But we ended up having a great draw and they played to not a lot. I guess a lot of kids went.
Pat: It was a mad turn of events especially not for us at Download - a metal festival! That made it better for me. Against all the odds. And it was a short set. It was forty minutes. We had to borrow another five off another band; we always want to play longer than shorter.

CM: You released London Road this year. How was this received?
Josh: It was received in the right way for us. Putting out Evolution Theory, obviously like our success story is getting big off the back of a few singles, which was never what we intended it was all just an accident that happened. So we really wanted to write a piece that we were really happy with and be happy to perform every night.
Tony: It got to a point with Evolution Theory that we got sick of it to be honest. So we wrote an album for us and I think it did what it needed to do for us. It gave us a piece that we're proud of and happy to play every night. It got us a lot of respect from our peers, and it might not have got A-List daytime radio play and stuff like that, but we really weren't looking for that with this record.
Josh: I think it's been a success in our eyes. In other peoples' eyes maybe not. I think for us it's definitely done the right thing. It's positioned us in a place where we're ready to move forward. It's put some roots down that weren't there before.
Josh: To be able to get A-List on the first single you ever release, in one way it's great, but in another way you don't have any roots to hold that act together so we want to go back and put our roots in place.

CM: Were there any songs that you were proud of that didn't make the album, and will we ever hear them?
Pat: There were loads that we wrote and we were like, no it sounds too radio. We had people going 'can you make it a bit more Chase and Statusey?' No. But anyway there was probably quite a few, maybe five or six but not that many. [To Josh] I know you did Night Bus Home and you produced it like five times.
Josh: That was originally called Slip Away and I still say to this day that if that had come out, under a different name like Sigma or someone like that then it would've hit number one for sure. That's one of the reasons it didn't make the album.
Pat: And they were begging: "yeah, yeah the album's great, whatever, but that tune." And they just see money I guess. And there was a big house tune as well.
Tony: There was a collab with Cookie Monsta that was really good, there was one with Todd Edwards, what else was there now?
Josh: There was about thirty on the board at one point. The answer is no you'll never get to hear them. Well, maybe. There's a reason they didn't make the album.
Tony: Since then we've already written half another album. Maybe more. But we're never going to release it as an album. Singles I think.

CM: How did the collaboration with Benji Webbe from Skindred come about?
Josh: Saw him, liked him, asked him.
Pat: To be fair though, trying to get that guy out of Newport was a task.
Kyle: He doesn't like leaving.
Tony: Luckily, they had a show so they were all down in London anyway and managed to get them to the studio for a day. Killed it. He killed it. He's one of those guys who's been in the game for so long, but he's still so enthusiastic and has so many ideas.
Pat: It's inspiring to meet someone like that, who is that on it after that long of doing it. It was an amazing experience working with him. He's got so many ideas, he's the kind of guy who's not afraid to break their back a little bit.
Kyle: And he manages to be the mayor of Newport as well.

CM: Is there a particular song on the album that's your favourite to play live?
Tony: I'm trying to think now. [To Josh] Yours has got to be Seams. We bullied him into doing this long thing.
Josh: Yeah I like Seams.
Kyle: Making Minds, or Machines is probably my favourite. It gets sexy in that, only because I play guitar in it. Or Game Over.
Tony: We don't play it. How can that be your favourite song to play live when we don't even play it?
Kyle: I played in my boxers in my living room once that counts.
Pat: Sunlight, because there's a one, and you can go and get a pizza hut buffet and come back for the three.

CM: You covered Coldplay's Paradise back in 2011. Will there be any more covers any time soon and if you had to pick a cover what would it be?
Josh: Not sure we can tell you that. There has been some talks about a few.
Tony: It'll be for YouTube and just be a random one if it does happen. Actually I do remember there was one that we put forward.
Josh: Let's not let the cat out the bag for that one.
Tony: We're not a cover band, so we don't want to start saying "oh yeah we're going to cover this, this and this," because people might expect more and we're not about that.
Josh: The Paradise thing, we only did because we had to do one for Radio 1 and they give you a list of ones that had been out recently that you had to choose from and the rest was crap.
Pat: Plus it's a big boy tune.

CM: So what drew you to this genre of music specifically?
Pat: The tour bus.
Josh: It was just our influences I guess. When you're brought up to listen to certain types of music, everything you listen to as a kid you want to put together and that's how every musician works. There was no real intention behind it. It was "oh I like the sound of that and that, so let's put it together." It is what it is.

CM: When you first started as a band was it difficult to be taken seriously because your music was so different to anything else?
Tony: Yeah I think so. It was tough.
Josh: Especially amongst our peers and the electronic music world, it was: "who the hell are these guys, representing our genre and the first song they ever released has Radio 1 playing it." I'd be annoyed as well. We had people putting ten years graft into a genre, and we walk in with a song and it charted high and was all over MTV and plugging the radio and shit. It must have been really annoying for them. Slowly but surely we clawed it all back and we're all friends. Also, there's not a lot of people representing the genre anymore.
Pat: A lot of the people who did put in the ten years' worth of work decided: "oh wicked there's money I'm just going to do whatever anyway." So I think there's only a handful of people from the UK representing dubstep on a global scale. Tony: Most of them are on this tour! Or on our album.
Josh: It's a really awesome thing because loads of people are like dubstep's dead. But number one it's not, it's as good as it ever was, and number two no-ones playing it anymore so we get the pick of all of it. We get to go to the shows and play all the best dubstep tunes, other people's and some of ours as well, and because no-one's playing it; it worked out amazingly for us.

CM: Do you have any advice for anyone starting out in the music industry?
Tony: Do something else because there's fuck all money in this. Do something in business or chemistry.
Pat: Stay away from music man, just allow it.
Tony: If you want to make music because you want to make money then don't do it. If you want to make music because you love it, you love what you do, and you want to work your arse off and not sleep, go grey at the age of 29, rip your own eyeballs out on a weekly basis, then do music. But people have a very different idea of what it's all about.
Tony: Stuff like X-Factor and pop stars have given people a very different view of what a musicians' life is like. Especially at the moment with electronic music with people who haven't put the work in and are like bedroom players. But there are bedroom guys who put the work in, but there are a hell of a lot who haven't. A lot of the best musicians will probably never be heard, because they lack the charisma.
Tony: Intelligent music isn't particularly popular at the moment. It's just a niche. Our advice to musicians is, if this is really what you love and you want to do with your life then do it, with everything that you have. Don't expect it to be what it looks like on TV, because it's not anything like that at all. You have to sacrifice everything to do this. Friends, relationships, money, everything to continue doing it. If you've got that in you and you can do that, then go for it.

Sophie Brannon

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