modern moxie talk geographical influence, performing live, and recording the masterful claw your way out
Amidst the madness following the release of their new album Claw Your Way Out, indie quartet Modern Moxie took a few minutes to answer some questions for us. Quite the feat, considering this is the debut full-length release for band members Madison Lucas (Vocals, Guitar, Synth), Harrison Kollm (Bass), Phil Pucci (Lead Guitar), and Charlie Weeks (Drums), who have come in to the soundspace with an ethereal energy we can’t help but melt into. Check out our interview below, and take a listen to the album while you do! We promise you’ll be a convert.
What was the first song or album that you remember hearing, and does that work of art have any influence on how you approach your music today?
The memory that sticks with me the most is seeing an infomercial for a Beatles box set when I was a small kid. The commercial started with a clip of “Hey Jude” and I just remember seeing Paul McCartney’s face and yelling at my mom “Who was that?!” I was obsessed instantly and have been since then. The Beatles have always been a massive influence for me and I will never forget that moment I first heard them. I am a sucker for that classic pop song structure and I burned it into my brain over years and years of obsessing over every record they every put out. I’m constantly working on expanding the musical world of what I listen to, but they will always be home for me.
What is the conception story of Modern Moxie? Was it a meet cute? (P.S. LOVE THE NAME!)
Thank you!! It took what felt like a century to come up with the name. I always just played under my name (Madison Lucas) but I wanted to be in a rock band more than anything. All I wanted was to play with a group and create music together, it was my biggest dream since I started writing songs. It seemed like this distant life just out of reach, but I just kept pushing until it finally all fell together.
I met Harry first, he is the beginning of the band! He means so much to me and it honestly freaks me out how random our meeting was. I was out at this bar called Jack Beagles in Charlotte and having a pretty terrible night. I was in one of those infamous rough patches everybody has in their life and Harry just sort of dropped into my life out of nowhere like a beacon of light. I was sitting in a corner alone feeling sorry for myself and I saw him across the room. I just wanted to go talk to him, so I did. I said “You play music don’t you?” which in retrospect was about the corniest pick up line I could of possibly said. Remarkably, I was correct, he played bass. We have hung out pretty much every day since then. We started playing shows together as a duo and we came up with the name roughly a year later. We helped each other through a lot and many of the future Modern Moxie songs were forming then. We went through a series of lineup changes but eventually met our band family with Phil Pucci (lead guitar) and Charlie Weeks (drums). Me and Harry were married by Phil in 2017! He is an officiant if anybody needs a marriage real quick.
I wish there was a cool story behind the actual name but basically, we love M’s, alliteration and the letter X so it checked all the boxes. I carried around a little notebook with ideas for about 8 months, I thought nothing would ever work. I also love 60’s mod fashion so it just fit and here we are! Band names are so strange, they feel wrong at first then after years you just become them. I can’t imagine having any other name now.
Do you think that being located in Charlotte has any bearing on what type of music you create? I always wonder in a “nature vs. nurture” kind of way.
Absolutely! I don’t think you can help being influenced by the music that is around you. I go to a ton of local shows in Charlotte and I know each and every one of them shape the music I am creating along with the feel of our live performance. There is so much beautiful art in Charlotte and I try to soak up as much as I can. Also, without Phil/Charlie/Harry the music would not sound the same and if I wasn’t in Charlotte I would have never met them. This city means everything to me and it’s been a wonderful city to create music and share what we do.
What’s your favorite thing about performing together in front of a crowd?
Oh man there is nothing like it! I love everything about it, it invigorates me in a way I have yet to reproduce in any other way. I’m still terrified before I go on stage, but I’ve learned to use that energy to help my performance. It’s taken years, but I feel like I’m finally finding my comfort zone up there. There is no better practice in the world for a band, we learn new things every single time we go on that stage. You never know how people will react, what they will dance to, it’s all an experiment. I love connecting with people and playing music for a crowd connects you to them in a way that’s hard to describe. It’s something I hope to do for the rest of my life. If just one person takes something good from one of our shows I consider that a successful gig.
In June, you released the masterful Claw Your Way Out. From the beginning, we’re drawn in by powerful vocals and gorgeously layered vocals that just won’t quit. Any fun anecdotes from the production of this album?
We had so much fun recording that album, I don’t even know where to begin. Working with Kenny McWilliams in Columbia, SC at Archer Avenue Studios was an absolute dream come true, he is just magic to work with. That was the first time we have all recorded anything together as a band so it was a riot. Lots of goofing around and way too much Taco Bell. The coolest part in my memory is when we were able to play around with this Roland Space Echo tape effect. We were all entirely too obsessed with the spacey sounds and watching the tape feed through, it was wild. It makes a different sound every time you use it so we wasted many valuable studio hours playing with that thing. You can hear it best at the end of the record on “Believers in Sound” after Phil’s beautiful guitar solo (my fav solo on the record).
Was there something in particular that made you choose the order of the tracks on the release?
That part will make you think entirely too much! One of those final touches that really feels like a giant decision. We wanted to have tons of energy opening the record and for there to be a journey to the sound. We always knew we wanted “Symphony”, “Claw Your Way Out” and “Til I’m a Ghost” out front for high energy. “Believers in Sound” felt like an album closer to us so we stuck with that. The order of the rest was just trial and error, playing the record over and over and then we finally landed on the final track order. I’m a big fan of the album format and we did want it to tell a story beginning to end.
The title track has a unique sense of urgency to it from the beginning, which dissipates a little bit with the vocals later. How did you approach the production of that track?
That track has changed so much throughout time. The first time we ever played that it was just Harry on bass and me singing. In my head I heard it as this huge, driving track, really bass heavy. It really began to take form when I bought my Korg Minilogue, the main synth sound comes out of that. I wanted it to be huge, but also be able to reproduce it on stage. I was listening to a ton of Metric at the time, I know that had a big influence. On the record Harry played his bass with a pick which helped it really cut through. I’m so happy with the way that one turned out, giant thanks to Kenny McWilliams for locking that in exactly like we had in our heads. We have entirely too much fun playing that one live, it’s usually our closer.
“Flowers in Your Hair” feels theatrical, in a Panic at The Disco Pretty. Odd. kind of way. We’re obsessed. What inspired it, specifically?
Well holy crap thank you, I love Panic! Listening to Pretty Odd as I type this. So glad you enjoy it! This song has a very embarrassing back story so here we go. I am a giant Lana Del Rey fan and had tickets with one of my best friends Aly to go see her show. My friend Aly is also an amazing bartender, so we were having mad martinis pre show. Have you ever gotten so excited about something you ruined it for yourself? Yep, that is what happened. I barely remember the show. I also fell down Aly’s giant apartment stairs on my way down to an Uber (multiple times, multiple stairs). In summary, a very bad night. I’ve had a touchy relationship with alcohol and this was my last bad night. The next day I wrote “Flowers in Your Hair” with bruises all over my entire body and promised myself I would never do that to myself again. One bad fall down some stairs and you’re dead, never forget.
Taking care of those vocal cords can be a little taxing. What do you do to keep yourself healthy when you’re prepping to sing?
What do I not do to get ready to sing? I’m slightly insane in this department. I think it’s sort of connected to my anxiety. It can’t hurt to prepare right? I drink as much water as humanly possible, limit alcohol, singer’s spray (so great), tea and honey, room temperature water, pineapple juice, vocal warm ups/exercises etc. Basically, if you have heard that it helps voices I have tried it probably.
Throwing this one in for fun! How do you think the seven wonders of the world came to be? Do you think it was human hands, aliens, a little help from Mother Nature or some other force?
After much debate, I’m pretty certain people just had a lot of time on their hands back in the day. If we didn’t have phones and TV imagine the number of things we would have to do to fill our time? However, me and Harry watch a LOT of Ancient Aliens and conspiracy theory shows so I’m open to anything. Cats probably did it.
I HAVE to ask about Bowie. What’s the story behind this precious cat, and would you consider Bowie a mascot of sorts? (My cat Schmidt is a mascot for iF FOR SURE.)
I have two cats! Bowie and Scully. Bowie just makes the internet more because she’s always doing strange things, Scully is move private and elusive. Bowie was discovered in a Vespa dealership parking lot by my yoga instructor. Her name was actually Vespa as a kitten but when we adopted her we named her Lady Stardust Bowie. Bowie had just died that year, I’m a huge fan, so her name was written in the stars. Scully is named after Agent Dana Scully from X-Files, a hero among women. They are both definitely Modern Moxie mascots, I wish we could take them on tour. I hope to meet your cat Schmidt one day, what an amazing name!
Anything else you’d like to share with our audience?
If you dig our music please share with your friends, post it, add to your playlists, every little thing helps! I wish I could get across to everybody how much those tiny actions help out baby indie bands like us. Thank you so much for your support while we chase these dreams!
Keep up with Modern Moxie here.