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Articles : “No Deadlines” – An Interview with M0dal1ty

By on July 15, 2019

Some bands don’t just have themes and concepts running through their songs and imagery. Some bands don’t just do full concept or themed albums. Some have entire band-concepts. Bands like Nile (ancient Egypt) and Fear Factory (man vs machine/technology) spring to mind, where virtually everything they do locks into the concept. New Melbourne progressive outfit M0dal1ty have started their career with the same idea, and we sat down recently with frontman and founding member Nigel Jackson, bassist and co-lead vocalist Alicia Richards and guitar player Jarrah Bathe in an inner city Melbourne pub to find out what it’s all about.

“It was my idea initially, with the name M0dal1ty, the way it’s written with the zeroes and the one, it kind of alludes to the shift in evolution with technology, including artificial intelligence,” Jackson explains, “a lot of the songs were around that, especially on the first EP, the lyrics related to that shift in evolution, whether we like it or not technology is advancing. It could one of two ways, you can look at it from a cynical, narcissistic standpoint, if it becomes weaponised we could humans could be in a lot of trouble, we could become obsolete if it gets into the wrong hands. But on the other side, it could help us out.

“I’m just trying to put my thoughts and perspectives out there through the music about those kinds of things.”

It’s not just about technology’s effect on humanity however. “Also there’s global warming, the confines and constructs of big corporations and stuff, repressing humanity, that whole ant farm sort of thing. We’ve got a lot of songs that allude to those type of topics, but I don’t want to be too descriptive or obvious about it, do it from a more metaphorical point of view.”

The first EP was mainly Jackson’s own thoughts and feelings on this subject matter. Now that M0dal1ty is a fully-fledged band situation, the sound of the band and the scope of the concept is about to grow, expand and subtly change as it becomes more of a collective effort. “Now, it’s not just me and my concepts,” Jackson continues his explanation, “Jarrah came up with a concept, Alicia’s put ideas in,  she’s helping with the lyrics now which I haven’t had in the past. It’s the first time working with these guys, it’s not just about me any more.

“It’s really good because there’s ideas there that I’d never thought of before.”

Bathe gives his perspective on the music and the concept of the band. “We just want to write music that takes people somewhere,” he states, “and explore some topics that are of interest to us. My personal thing with music is that I want to tell a story. The two videos we’ve done have been awesome for that because the story isn’t about the teller it’s about the listener, so we want to paint a picture and make a scene, and people can bring whatever they have and whatever they want into that, and the piece becomes different for everyone.”

Joining M0dal1ty has been a giant learning curve for Richards. “I started off as a singer-songwriter, playing guitar and singing,” she recalls, “but playing bass and singing is completely new to me. The last month or so has been a real experience for me, so hopefully as we move forward writing more stuff, we can write it in a way that makes sense for me to perform live, but it’s still a real transition period for me.”

Is that something you’ve had to practise a lot, especially by yourself before bringing it to the band? “Yes, definitely,” she states emphatically, “we haven’t had a chance to have as many rehearsals so far as we’d like, because we all live in very different areas, so a lot of the work is done behind closed doors and it all comes together at the end.”

“It’s good through,” Jackson adds, “she’s really stepped up! Sounds good to me.”

The rest of the year looks pretty damn busy for the band, both locked away in their individual and collective writing rooms and out in the live arena, plenty of creativity and at least one major show. “Just heaps of writing,” Bathe states, “and mainly the focus for us at the moment is that we’re playing with Circles in August at Progmania, which is awesome. It’s an all-star lineup, Ebonivory, Red Lotus, Circles, Transience. If those bands are going to bring it, we’re going to have to bring it too!

“The other focus is to take our time this time and put out to the world a fully realised actuation of the band, work hard on these new songs and get them right before we put them out to the world.”

“Yeah, no deadlines,” Jackson completes the thought, “a few things previously were slightly rushed, and we don’t want to do that again. We’ll take the time to get it right this time, and however long it takes, that’s how long it takes.

“We think it’s going to be worth it in the end.”

About

Rod Whitfield is a Melbourne-based writer and retired musician who has been writing about music since 1995. He has worked for Team Rock, Beat Magazine, themusic.com.au, Heavy Mag, Mixdown, The Metal Forge, Metal Obsession and many others. He has written and published his memoirs of his life and times in the music biz, and also writes books, screenplays, short stories, blogs and more.