It was brought home to singer Phillip Intilé just how much of a mark Mode Moderne is leaving on its fans when a girl in Serbia sent him a photo of her new tattoo, which was a quote from the lyrics of the Vancouver band’s song “Real Goths”.
Mode Moderne has been inspiring such acts of devotion since it put out its debut LP, Ghosts Emerging, in 2009. That was followed by the group’s first release for Light Organ Records, the ‘Real Goths / Undiscovered Country’ single, in 2011, and the seven song mini-album Strange Bruises last year, earning praise from the likes of Pitchfork and NME.
Since then the band consisting of Phillip Intilé, Clint Lofkrantz, Sean Gilhooly, and Rebecca Gray have worked hard building their following with tours in the eastern US, UK & Europe. The post-punk revivalists from Vancouver released Occult Delight via Light Organ Records on January 21.
Ghettoblaster caught up with the band to discuss the LP and this is what they said.
When did you begin writing the material for Occult Delight?
Clint: We are always writing, but figuring out what we wanted to record came together a month before going into the studio. Some songs we wrote years ago.
Sean: We demoed “Grudges Crossed” when we were in Hamburg during our EU tour back in 2012.
Phillip: “Baby Bunny” was written when we were in London on the same 2012 tour. We were up all night getting into trouble with our friends Flowers. I came up with the chorus melody as the sun was rising.
What was the most difficult song to take from the initial writing stage through recording and mixing? Why was it so troublesome?
S: “Running Scared” by far. We originally had an idea of having two distinctly different songs in the same track. We recorded the drums and bass part for an really upbeat second part with the idea of joining it with the quieter more emotional first half later. But as time went on it kept getting pushed further and further to the end of the process as we focused on other songs. At one point we had to admit to ourselves that the two parts of the song weren’t going to join together very well and we should focus on building the first half, in other words, have a delicate end to the album. Sometimes you have to make hard choices when recording and the shaping of songs and this was one of those times.
P: “Unburden Yourself” took roughly three years to record. It turns out all we had to do was make it two minutes shorter and put FUZZ on the bass.
Which of the songs on the album is most different from your original concept for the song?
C: “She Untamed” is completely different from the first time we demoed it, we almost scrapped the song completely because the demo was absurd, Phillip couldn’t even come up with lyrics or a melody and that never happens.
S: The “She Untamed” demo was much slower with a half time feel, and there was much more layering of broody synths and barely any guitar. When we started recording it we completely stripped it down to drums, bass, guitar. Another track that is totally different is “Come Sunrise”. This was already as part of the band’s live set before I joined in fall of 2009 but I have never heard a proper studio version. When Clint and Phil decided to have a go at it for this record we changed the instrumentation considerably (acoustic guitar/piano/organ/brushes/percussion) to go for a more atmospheric sound that I think we’re all very happy with.
Did you have any guest musicians play or sing on the record?
S: Yes! Rebecca’s mom came in to play violin on two tracks, “Occult Delight” and “Running Scared”. Having her violin doubling Rebecca’s synth really added a nice touch to the choruses on “Occult Delight”.
C: To have Rebecca’s mum come in without any practice and play the violin on “Running Scared”, that was awesome! It’s amazing to hear a real string instrument replace a string synth on a track, and played so beautifully, we were very fortunate to have her grace our record.
Who produced the record? What input did that person have that changed the face of the record?
S: It was a co-production effort by the band and Joshua Stevenson who also engineered it at his studio Otic Sound. For me it was a pleasure to be at his studio for hours on end and we all felt very comfortable there. His knowledge of sounds, his experience with his own bands and his obvious studio experience meant that he could often act as a broker between opposing ideas on how to get the best out of a track as well as make many suggestions that we might not have thought of.
C: Josh is a knowledgeable dude and knows when to push and when to lay back, which gave us a lot of freedom. He also has a lot of vintage synths and drum machines which we took full advantage of
P: Previous to this album we had produced and recorded everything ourselves so I was very apprehensive about allowing an “outsider” into the process but Josh was amazing. It couldn’t have been more comfortable. As Clint and Sean have said he knew when to sit back and let us argue and he knew when it was time to interject, which he always did gently.
Is there an overarching concept behind your Occult Delight that ties it together?
P: It’s far from a concept album but there are some common themes throughout. I tend to write about interpersonal relationships and it just happened to be that all my relationships were shit while writing most of this record and I’m not just speaking about romance here. The knives are pointed outward rather than inward on this record and that’s clear to anyone paying attention to the lyrics.
Have you begun playing these songs live and which songs have elicited the strongest reaction from your fans?
P: We played most of the album at our Record Release show back on January 4here in Vancouver. People were dancing and people were making out.
C: People really like “She Untamed” and “Unburden Yourself” and “Times Up” but we won’t really know what the favourites are until we kick off our EU tour in February.
(Listen to the band here:
LISTEN: “Baby Bunny” via Nylon
LISTEN: “Strangle The Shadows” via Pitchfork
LISTEN: “She, Untamed” via Noisey
WATCH: “She, Untamed” via Impose Magazine)