In the midst of a full-on rock revival, Nashville, Tennessee’s MODOC 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 – has 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 at one time was 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. The band has been working recently with legendary guitarist and Black Crowes co-founder Rich Robinson, and in February celebrated a new partnership with Nashville-based Zavitson Music Group, now exclusively representing the band’s management and publishing interests. 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.”
Modoc’s four members (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 in central Indiana. Culberson, who had previously lived in a nearby one-stop-light town of less than 200 people, explains the origins of the band’s unusual moniker.
“We actually had a gig before we had a name,” says Culberson. “I was living with John and Kyle at the time, and we were kind of brainstorming ideas for band names before a show when I started going through all the towns I had lived in growing up. Modoc, Indiana, was the last one on the list.”
After relocating to Nashville, the band wasted no time putting out its gritty 2012 debut, Fortune & Fame. That same year, the group independently released a single and music video for the fan-favorite track, “Coward.” Fortune & Fame’s indie-vintage aesthetic – smart, punchy melodies, shifting rhythms and occasionally Zeppelin-esque riffs bubbling over churning bass lines and chain gang 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 group with a ragged howl that can morph seamlessly from a startling shriek to a soul swagger to a pleading, falsetto whisper.
“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,” notes Culberson.
No sooner had Modoc released Fortune & Fame than they found themselves itching to get back in the studio and record their sophomore effort. Turning to a mounting pile of work tapes, the band began hashing out their projected summer 2013 release. While the project often mirrors Fortune & Fame in its pure electric force (“My Way,” “Cigarette”), the band’s newest material broadens the Modoc horizon with a handful of more brooding, introspective tracks, most notably
“If I Can’t Live For Love” and the wrenching album closer, “When Does It End?”
“Recording this album by ourselves was kind of a new experience for us in that it didn’t take six months to make,” says drummer Carlson. “We just crammed into a shitty garage for a month and got down to business. I think having less almost gave us more, in a way.”