Brooklyn quartet Modern Rivals have assumed a somewhat fitting moniker for their transcendent psychedelic pop that both evokes antique ’60s mod optimism, while also sounding defiantly current with their experimental edge. Thier ethereal and dextrous songs share the buttoned-up charm of ’60s psych-pop bands like The Zombies, mixed with more technically crafty contemporary artists like Flaming Lips and Beach House. Then, all of the elements are given the Nigel Godrich dreamscape approach in which no single sound is exactly what it seems. There is a delicate warmth to Modern Rivals’ songs emanating from every meticulously placed note.
Ghettoblaster recently caught up with keyboardist Alex Schiff to discuss the record, Cemetery Dares, which hit the streets on April 22. This is what he told us.
When did you begin writing the material for your most recent album?
Most of the album was written in the few months leading up to recording in February 2013. We had a couple older songs (“The Ice”, “Moon Dust”) that made it on there as well.
What was the most difficult song to take from the initial writing stage through recording and mixing? Why was it so troublesome?
Definitely “Somnipath”. The original version of that song was much longer than what made it onto the record. We felt the original song sounded too silly and didn’t really fit in with the rest of the album. We ended up performing weird sonic experiments on the chorus until it turned into something completely different and weird.
Which of the songs on the record is most different from your original concept for the song?
We changed the lyrics completely to “The Ice” and “A Shade Hesitating” while we were in the studio. The original lyrical content for both songs received dark lyrical makeovers.
Did you have any guest musicians play or sing on the record?
Nope. All of the instruments and voices on the record are members of Modern Rivals.
Who produced the record? What input did that person have that changed the face of the record?
Kyle “Slick” Johnson produced and mixed the record. It was Kyle’s idea for us to record the album live and that made a significant difference. There’s a certain energy and rawness that we obtained from playing together in the same room that’s difficult to achieve when recording everyone’s instruments separately. All in all he’s great to work with. We were always on the same page and shared a common vision.
Is there an overarching concept behind your new album that ties the record together?
We spent a lot of time working on the track order to make it feel as cohesive a listen as possible. It was tempting to load the front half of the album with the singles, but we decided to put more emphasis on the album as a whole than any individual songs.
Which songs have elicited the strongest reaction from your fans at shows?
We just played our record release party last week at Glasslands and up until that day, people had only heard “Pins and Stitches” and “Dead Leaves” so those two by default. It’s always a great feeling to see people sing along so now that the album is out hopefully we’ll start seeing more and more!
(Modern Rivals premiere the first video from their new album Cemetery Dares today via SPIN. The eerie, occult-leaning clip adds extra intrigue to the forlorn pop of the song “The Dead Leaves (Danse Macabre Midnight)” and is available to watch/share HERE. Modern Rivals also announced residency shows in NYC throughout June at the popular venue Pianos. Please see complete dates below.
The band recently began streaming the entire album via Hypetrak. The 10-track recording is available to stream and share HERE. The band also recently premiered a song from the album via Pitchfork. The track, “Pins and Stitches” is available to listen/share HERE.
MODERN RIVALS LIVE:
06/05 New York, NY @ Pianos
06/12 New York, NY @ Pianos
06/19 New York, NY @ Pianos
06/24 New York, NY @ Pianos)