Interview: Modern Amusement
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What got you into music, and if you had not gotten into music what would you be doing today?
I grew up listening to all kinds of music, but getting into alternative rock/emo bands like Weezer, Panic! At The Disco and Fall Out Boy in my high school years is what really made me want to try to make a career out of it. I really admire those bands for creating something wholly unique based on their own personalities and creating a brand on being themselves. I wanted to try to do something like that. Other than music I also have a passion for drawing and making comics (which I actually still do under Modern Amusement with The Life Of Marco webcomic!) so if I wasn't making music I would just be going all out with that.
What do you like to do when you are not playing music and how does that influence your creativity?I love drawing and I have a passion for comics/manga. I like to try to tie those influences into the band with our music videos and band artwork. That's where the creation of Marco, Modern Amusement's mascot came from. I have just as much fun drawing him and putting him in all kinds of crazy situations as I do making the music!
How long has music been your career?
I have been on and off writing and recording music since around 2013 but I didn't really get serious about it as a career until about last year. Actually it was the pandemic that finally gave me the time to go all out with my music and start creating my brand. So I guess you could say it was making the best out of a bad situation!
Where are you based out of and how did that influence your music?
I am based in the Minneapolis, Minnesota area, which is a great place for independent musicians. We have the legendary venue First Avenue which hosts a lot of great music, independent and major. I have met many great indie musicians in this area that have inspired me to continue creating.
Tell me about the best and worst shows you have played.
I've played various shows in the Minneapolis area over the past decade, one I particularly remember as a fun one was from about five years ago when the power went off in the venue but we had a great crowd so I ended up just doing this little acoustic set in the middle of the dark venue with everything sitting around in a circle under cell phone lights. That was a heck of a show! I've also had my share of bad shows, ones where hardly anyone showed up which I used to take really hard, but I'm making sure not to let that kind of thing discourage me anymore!
Tell me about your favorite venue to play at, and do you have any places you want to play that you have not already?
I actually remember there was this little coffee shop/music venue called The Depot in Hopkins that I absolutely loved playing at, the atmosphere was great and the people who worked there rocked. I believe it's still around, if you're in the area you should definitely check it out, it's a great place for musicians just starting out! It's been quite a bit since I've done a live show and I'm really excited to get back into it. My dream venue, for now, is to play at First Avenue, it's such a mythical place as an independent musician and I've seen some of my all-time favorite artists there, it would be great to make my mark there someday.
If you could play any show with any lineup, who would be on the ticket?
If I want to go total dream-mode, playing a show with Weezer would be the ultimate "I can die happy" moment of my entire life! On the other hand I would also like to play a show with some other independent artists I have come to know and love in the community, such as The Easy Button and Scoopski. Let's all tour together someday, guys!
What is some advice that you would give to someone who is just getting into music?
I would definitely say don't let the little voice in your head that says "no one cares" or "you're not good enough" get to you. Completely block it off. It took me some time to get over that part and I 've done so much better after taking that voice out of the equation.
If you could go back in time and give yourself advice, what would it be?
I would definitely say to stop taking my early failures so hard and keep creating, I ended up setting myself back so much for letting things get to me and I wish I would have realized earlier that I just have to keep trying.
Of your songs which one means the most to you and why?
I think for me it's The Miserable Losers. It was a song that came together so perfectly lyrically and musically for me and really got me into being serious about my music. That song kind of kicked off my passion for writing and recording once again when I first started demoing it a year or so ago which makes it very important to me in that way because without it Modern Amusement probably wouldn't exist!
Which songs are your favorite to play and which get requested the most?
I really like playing the big energy songs the most, like The Miserable Losers, Wren Street and Kiss The Queen, those are the kind of songs that are made for people to experience in a live performance setting. I know some people have been requesting War In Peace and Queen Halloween on our streams and I'm really glad that people have made a connection with those songs, it means a lot to me.
What is the creative process for you, and what inspires you to write your music?
When I'm writing a song I can be inspired by many different things, sometimes it's an experience I've had in my life, sometimes recent and sometimes drawn from the past, and other times I can be inspired by stories outside my life, such as a character from a TV show or something like that. I recently wrote a song that I haven't released yet that was inspired by one of my favorite TV shows Buffy The Vampire Slayer. I always start with melody first and then plug in the lyrics later because I have always been of the mindset that you can't have a good song without a good melody and lyrics should always be second to that. I'm sure some might disagree with that mindset and that's totally fine, that's just the way I work!
What kinds of messages do you like to get across in your music?
I want to make music that sends the message that it's okay to be vulnerable about your feelings and be yourself. I hope my music can inspire people to express their true selves and not be ashamed of who they are.
Do you ever have disagreements when collaborating and how do you get past them?
The great thing about being essentially a solo act is that the only disagreements I have are with myself! I have been in a few bands in the past and they've never worked out because there were just too many conflicting ideas within the bands which made it hard for any one member to see out their vision. I guess you could say it was like the saying "too many cooks spoil the broth." I do like to collaborate with producers and other musicians in the later stages though because they can give a fresh perspective on things and help improve what's already been done and sometimes change it for the better. I was recently able to work with Dan Konopka of OK Go on our debut album, he played drums and handled production and mixing for the whole thing and he brought a whole different energy and life to a lot of these songs I'd written which was incredible.
What are your plans for the future, and do you have anything that you want to spotlight that is coming up?
I am currently working on the follow-up to our debut album. All the songs are written and rough mixes have been recorded, I'm bringing on some very special musicians who I'll be highlighting later for this one and I think it's going to be killer. We're aiming for an early 2022 release. In the meantime I'll be heading out and doing some live shows around the Minneapolis area over the late summer and fall, stay tuned for updates on that. I hope you will all look forward to our future endeavors and thank you so much for the support on our current ones!
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