It's sufficed to say that most people don't like interruptions. Surprises also don't fare too highly on many agendas. There's something about the unexpected that well, unnerves us. Sometimes, just sometimes the element of the unknown can jolt us out of a midday reverie to never quite be the same again. Modern Tribes is one band capable of that effect. From the moment the infectious grooves and smooth vocals of 'All Night' started bouncing around the walls, I stopped frozen – like you do in the split second of children's game Musical Chairs – and then sat down, the track dancing around the room like a refreshing summer breeze.
This is music with purpose, soul and great energy. In a world where technology is embracing music tightly, it's a real treat to listen and be privy to the reality that jazz, funk and rock beats can provide. Especially, when it is delivered in its most pure form. Modern Tribes, the youthful quartet behind the music, are based in Seattle, Washington. And, while many Australian audiences will recall Seattle as being notoriously cool, resonating it with the Grunge or 'Seattle Sound' movement, there's a not-so-quiet resurgence of their particular style.
Taking time out to chat, lead vocalist Evan Rendes and bassist Noah Rolland described the current Seattle music scene. "I think the music scene in Seattle is like a witches brew. You never know what kind of magic is being cooked up for what artist." Further to this Rendes adds, "every few months or so, there is a revival of some kind and the audiences of Seattle choose an artist, [and] send them on their way across the world." Rolland also shares this optimistic outlook, "in Seattle there are a lot of opportunities to play gigs. Which is awesome, because we love playing shows and being able to present our music."
While the band is big on collaboration, it's Rendes for the most part that creates the catchy guitar riffs, bass and drums. "After hearing the song a few times, the whole group usually creates their own parts and owns their pieces. I'll discover a vocal melody usually in the infancy of the song." Jokingly, he advises the band will celebrate with "a ceremonial rain dance and sacrifice a box of pizza." Rolland offers, "no one is assigned the job of writing in a band. Usually if someone has an idea they want to bring, we then work on it and turn it into a song." As with most outfits, Modern Tribes spend a lot of time jamming and "create music off of the idea of that jam." It's a pretty tight formula, and appears to be a solid recipe for great tunes.
Question: I'm impressed by the quality of your music; it's really beautifully crafted. How do you all know each other and how has your style of music come about?
Evan: We met in lucky way. From Noah and Quinton's friendship from before we starting making music, to when Caleb and I were first introduced as scouted performers, it started as a random collection process. It's not like these guys live close either! Over time things just clicked. We didn't really know each other, until we started doing our own thing and writing on music retreats together. Our style of music came about as the culmination of everything we liked; that has come out of our headphones. Our influences are all vastly different, but I think we find a common ground in our sound. Our style has come about, through just a meshing of minds over the song scaffolding I usually bring to the table when we write.
Noah: I've known my drummer Quinton my whole life. We have been best friends since elementary school. Quinton and I participated with Seattle Theatre Group 'MLK experience', where we met our guitarist Caleb. Me and my drummer Quinton have played with multiple bands for several years now. That has shaped my part of the style of our music. Our style is mainly just a mix of how all of us play, which is melded together to what you hear on the tracks.
Question; There's a real purity to your music and I also get this 'throwback' feel, like I am hearing distinct guitar sounds from the early 90's, that kind of jazz\funk fusion. Who are your musical influences and what do you enjoy listening to?
Evan: I feel like every generation has tried a "throwback" feel to some degree. I don't think we necessarily aim for that, but we definitely like to make music with a more nostalgic quality. We live in such a reboot/reuse culture, especially in the US. I think it's sometimes difficult for artists these days to separate influences from their music, and just play what they have to offer. I've always liked the sounds of 80's rock, funk, and pop, but I also listen to a lot of modern music as well. All of our influences are different, but I really enjoy expansive and grooving music no matter the era.
Noah: My musical influence is based a lot on The Red Hot Chili Peppers, especially their old 1980 sound. I enjoy listening to bands like Modest Mouse, the Gorillaz, Sublime, and CCR (Credence Clearwater Revival).
Question: What is the band working on at the moment project wise, and what does 2015 hold? Are you looking to get out and gig more, or take the songs out to wider audiences?
Evan: We have big plans to write. We plan to have a few retreats to our studio on Bainbridge (Bainbridge Island, just outside of Seattle) where we usually do the best collaborating. We've been so busy performing around the Seattle area; we haven't had a lot of time to make new music since the first few songs we wrote in the early summer. I know I'm definitely eager to sort through the ideas that have been building up. We plan on making a tour happen sometime in 2015 and we are really excited to perform for wider audiences.
Noah: Our focus from now is to create more and newer music like what you have heard before. We wanna take it to crowds and push the music as far as it will go.