In the midst of a full-on rock revival, Nashville, Tennessee’sMODOC has established itself as one of the most irresistibly and undeniably fearless new acts to emerge from Music City, USA.
Having turned out two blistering, full-length albums of potent, unvarnished rock in little less than 18 months, the hard-hitting four-piece is turning heads and earning favor with many of the city’s industry heavyweights, not to mention fans. Managers, producers, publishers – even network television – have taken notice of one of the smartest, most original sounds to come out of Nashville in a long time.
“True rock n roll, coming from Nashville!” raves producer Nick Raskulinecz. The multiple Grammy-winner would certainly know, having worked with acts like Foo Fighters, Alice in Chains, Rush, Superdrag and Queens of the Stone Age, just to name a few.
“One of my favorite new acts,” confirms Nashville producer Marshall Altman (Marc Broussard, Natasha Bedingfield, Matt Wertz). “Definitely on the rise and poised to be a break-out band from Nashville.”
Veteran rock manager Steve Hutton (Kid Rock, Better Than Ezra, All That Remains) pegs the MODOC vibe perfectly: “Urgent rock n roll. No gimmicks, just raw soul.”
Even Hollywood has been quick to recognize MODOC’s refreshingly elusive sound. In 2012, Universal Music Publishing heard a rough version of the band’s “Devil On My Shoulder” and immediately put them in touch with Grammy nominated producer Paul Moak. When the finished version ended up in the hands of executives at ABC, the network snatched it up for the fall promos of its 666 Park Avenue television series.
While Nashville was once regarded almost exclusively as a boots n’ buckles kind of town, the city has undergone something of a renaissance in recent years, with diverse rock entities like Jack White, The Black Keys, Kings of Leon, Paramore and JEFF the Brotherhood all calling Music City home. Since relocating to Nashville in 2011, MODOC has been welcomed like a long lost brother, collaborating with rock royalty like Black Crowes guitarist/co-founder Rich Robinson and working with revered producers Raskulinecz and Moak. In February, the band celebrated a new management and publishing deal with Nashville-based Zavitson Music Group, and this summer they landed a coveted spot at the Nashville Dancin’ downtown concert series. Clearly, MODOC has found its rightful place in Music City.
“I think this band is really something special, and people are taking notice of it,” says ZMG President Russ Zavitson. “MODOC has a unique ability to create songs that punch you in the gut, but somehow it just feels good! They’re raw, passionate, forceful - exactly the kind of band that rock music needs today.”
The four members of MODOC (Clint Culberson on vocals/guitars, Kyle Addison on lead guitars/vocals, Caleb Crockett on bass/vocals and John Carlson on drums/vocals) first met through the regional music scene at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana. Culberson, who had previously lived in a nearby, one stop light town called Modoc, suggested the name during a band brainstorming session. The moniker was unique, direct and memorable. And it somehow fit perfectly.
After migrating south to Nashville, MODOC wasted little time putting out its gritty 2012 debut,Fortune & Fame, as well as a single and music video for the fan-favorite “Coward.” Fortune & Fame’s indie-vintage aesthetic – smart, punchy melodies, shifting rhythms and occasionally Zeppelin-esque riffs bubbling over gang style backing vocals – was a fitting way to announce MODOC’s arrival as a serious rock n roll contender. On stage, Culberson balances the band’s feverish intensity with innate coolness, leading the unit with a ragged howl that can morph seamlessly from a startling shriek to a soul swagger to a pleading falsetto.
“I think Fortune & Fame was really about us trying to get over the hump of life, in general, and trying to come to terms with how to do something you love to do and make a living at it,” reflects Culberson.
Within months, the band was back in the studio, itching to record some of the new material they had written in the wake of their debut effort. Turning to a mounting pile of work tapes, the band began recording their 2013 release, the self-titled powerhouse MODOC. While the project often mirrors Fortune & Fame in its pure electric force, the new record broadens the MODOC sound with a mix of introspective tracks (“If I Can’t Live For Love”), ominous rockers (“Devil On My Shoulder”) and some of the band’s most radio-friendly material to date (“Runnin”). More than anything, the twelve tracks on MODOC sound very much like a band finding its niche in the modern rock world.
“We wanted this record to sound a little more live, so we kept a lot of raw tones and scaled back on stacking so many tracks,” says Culberson. “We were still conscious of song structure and the overall quality of the songs of course, but we paid a little more attention to the recording and production process. On the other hand, just like Fortune & Fame, we kept this record brutally honest in the lyrical and musical sense. We wrote what we felt, and played like MODOC. It’s the only way we know how to do it.”
With their new album due out in August, the band is ready once again to hit the road and play a new batch of songs for their fans. Following an appearance at Austin’s legendary SXSW, the foursome began penciling in a series of key 2013 summer festival dates, including Milwaukee’sSummerfest, St. Louis’ Loufest and the Nashville Dancin’ concert series, among others.