Modern English

Event Cancelled: Refunds Available At Point Of Purchase

Modern English

The Veldt

Fri, April 14, 2017

Doors: 8:00 pm / Show: 9:00 pm

Rough Trade NYC

Brooklyn, NY

$20

Cancelled

This event is 21 and over

Modern English has had to cancel their remaining March/April "Take Me To The Trees" tour dates due to a medical emergency sustained by guitarist Gary McDowell.  Although McDowell performed several shows with the band recently at SXSW, in addition to the tour's opening shows last week in Tucson, Phoenix, San Diego and LA, he needed emergency surgery in Los Angeles on Friday, 3/24.  Gary will remain in the hospital for several days.  

A message from the band:

“All of us, Gary especially, are very sorry to have to announce the sudden cancellation of our "Take Me To The Trees" US and Canadian dates.  This is due to a serious illness and urgent surgery required for our guitarist Gary.  Obviously we are very upset and disappointed to have to come to this decision, but without Gary we can't play any concerts.  After recovering from surgery, Gary will be flown home to England for further treatment." 

Modern English
Modern English
The new decade is shaping up to be a very busy and productive time for Modern English. Not only is 2010 the 31st anniversary of the long-running alternative pop-rock/post-punk band, but also, 2010 marks the release of Soundtrack—Modern English's first new album since 1996's Everything Is Mad—as well as the reunion of most of their classic 1980s lineup for an extensive tour. This year, four veterans of Modern English's early years—lead singer Robbie Grey, guitarist Gary McDowell, bassist Mick Conroy and keyboardist Stephen Walker—are hitting the road together for the first time since the mid-1980s; a second guitarist, Steve Walker (who plays on Soundtrack and should not to be confused with the keyboardist) will also be part of the lineup.
For those who remember the British outfit for their 1982 smash "I Melt with You" (which was heard in the hit 1983 film Valley Girl) and other 1980s hits such as "Hands Across the Sea," "Life in the Gladhouse" and "Ink and Paper," this reunion tour is an historic event. But as Grey, who has been Modern English's frontman since 1979, points out, the tour will not be simply an exercise in 1980s nostalgia; it will be a celebration of the present as well as the past. Modern English will perform songs from Soundtrack, including their infectious new single "It's OK," as well as favorites from classic 1980s albums like Mesh & Lace, After the Snow and Ricochet Days.

Soundtrack demonstrates that Modern English haven't lost any of their freshness or their melodic vitality. Nor have they lost their ability to be unpredictable. A diverse effort, Soundtrack ranges from the Beatlesque power pop infectiousness of "It's OK," "Here Comes the Failure" and "Up Here in the Brain" to the moodiness and melancholia of "The Lowdown" (which, according to Grey, was influenced by 1950s jazz), "Deep Sea Diver," "Fin" and "Call Me." Grey asserts that for Modern English, Soundtrack is the best of both worlds in that it shows their knack for melodic power pop hooks but also has some of the darker, edgier experimentation of their 1981 debut Mesh & Lace. Many of the influences that served Modern English well in the past—influences ranging from David Bowie and the Beatles to Joy Division and Wire—continue to serve them well on Soundtrack. But the album also underscores the fact that Modern English are distinctive, risk-taking pop-rock craftsmen in their own right.

Soundtrack reunites Modern English with two important figures they have worked with extensively over the years: producer Hugh Jones and graphic designer Vaughan Oliver. In addition to producing much of Modern English's classic 1980s output, Jones is known for his work with Echo & the Bunnymen, Simple Minds and other major artists. Grey was delighted when Jones agreed to produce Soundtrack, and he was equally happy when Vaughan (who designed so many of Modern English's album covers) accepted the band's invitation to design Soundtrack's art work.

"I thought it would be a good idea to have the old team back together," Grey explains. "Vaughan did all of the early Modern English sleeves. He did the Mesh & Lace sleeve, the After the Snow sleeve, the Ricochet Days sleeve and the Stop Start sleeve. And since we had asked Hugh to produce Soundtrack, we thought we would also ask Vaughan to do the art work. It seemed an obvious thing to do."

The Modern English lineup on Soundtrack is actually a different lineup from the one that will be heard on their tour. On Soundtrack, Grey is joined by Steve Walker on guitar, Nik Williams on bass, Matthew Shipley on keyboards and Jon Solomon on drums. Grey has played with guitarist Walker extensively in different Modern English lineups, and Williams, Shipley and Solomon have done a lot of touring with Grey as part of Modern English. But when a 2010 tour was planned, McDowell, Conroy and keyboardist Walker returned to the band—and almost all of Modern English's famous Mesh & Lace/After the Snow/Ricochet Days lineup was back in place.

Formed in Colchester, England in 1979, Modern English were originally a punk band called the Lepers. With Grey on lead vocals and guitar, McDowell on guitar and Richard Brown on drums, the Lepers performed mostly at parties. After bassist Conroy and keyboardist Walker came on board, the Lepers changed their name to Modern English. In 1979, they released their debut single, "Drowning Man," on their own label, Limp Records, before signing with 4AD Records and recording their next two singles, "Swans on Glass" and "Gathering Dust" (both of which came out in 1980).

With the band's name change came a change of direction; Modern English went from being a punk band in the strict sense to being a band that was punk-influenced but had more of a new wave/post-punk outlook. It was in 1981 that 4AD released Modern English's debut album, Mesh & Lace, which was strictly a U.K. release at the time but found its way to some U.S. stores as an import. Boiling with raw anger, dissonant rhythms and bizarre noises, the experimental Mesh & Lace confused some critics while mesmerizing others. The All Music Guide's Alex Ogg has described Mesh & Lace as "sharp-edged, intellectual, and obsessed with aestheticism" and said that "the keyboard rush that they employ is one of the punkiest uses of Stephen Walker's synthesizer imaginable—at least prior to the development of the industrial movement."

Modern English continued to evolve with their second album, After the Snow, which was their first release in the U.S. and marked the first time they worked with producer Hugh Jones. Thanks to Jones' input and guidance, Modern English maintained much of their edginess and their melancholia but acquired more power pop appeal and displayed a fondness for addictive pop-rock hooks. Released by 4AD in the U.K. in 1982 and by Sire Records in the U.S. in 1983, After the Snow yielded three singles: "Life in the Gladhouse," "Someone's Calling" and the famous "I Melt with You." Between receiving heavy exposure on MTV and being chosen for the soundtrack of the film Valley Girl, "I Melt with You" became Modern English's biggest hit. After the Snow went gold, selling more than half a million copies.

"We learned a lot about music from Hugh Jones," Grey recalls. "You have to remember that when we made Mesh & Lace, we weren't that musically evolved. None of us were trained musicians; none of us came out of a musical academy or anything like that. We were all into punk rock. But when Hugh Jones came along, he showed us that you really didn't need to be loud to put your point across."

Grey adds: "We used to think 'God, we'll never make a pop record—we're artists.' But things don't always turn out as you planned, and when you actually create a pop record, it's so much more of a thrill than anything else."

Jones went on to produce Modern English's third album, Ricochet Days, which was released in 1984 on Sire in the U.S. and by 4AD in the U.K.; that album included the hit "Hands Across the Sea," another MTV favorite. In 1986, Sire released Modern English's fourth album, Stop Start, which contained the hit single "Ink and Paper." Stop Start was followed by Modern English's fifth album, Pillow Lips, in 1990, and their sixth album, Everything Is Mad, in 1996.

And now, in 2010, Modern English are entering an exciting new chapter in the band's career. From their reunion with Hugh Jones to the release of Soundtrack to an extensive tour boasting most of their early-to-mid-1980s lineup, Modern English have a lot to be excited about in the new decade.
The Veldt
The Veldt
Daniel and Danny Chavis are natives of Raleigh/ Chapel Hill, North Carolina, East Village residents for the past 28 years and co-founders of the groundbreaking band The Veldt, who lifted their band’s name from a Ray Bradbury science fiction story. Musically reared in the church and juke-joints of their native southern state, the twins have been performing since they were children, listening to music that included gospel, Motown and Pink Floyd. In March, they, together with bassist/programmer Hayato Nakao, return to their roots with the release of the EP The Shocking Fuzz of Your Electric Fur: The Drake Equation Mixtape on March 18, 2016.

Featuring the emotionally wrought first single Sanctified, a ballad that perfectly captures the lush sound of Danny’s screeching guitars, decibel breaking distortion, a frenzy of feedback and Daniel’s soulful wail, and Hayato Nakao’s deep bass grooves and guitar feedback, the track serves as the perfect re-introduction to this dynamic band. Long-time collaborator A.R. Kane produced the final track on the EP, while Mahogany’s Andrew Prinz contributes guitar on two tracks, with Marie Cochrane on vocals for another two.

The title The Shocking Fuzz of Your Electric Fur was borrowed from an E.E. Cummings poem. Its raging sound was influenced equally by the emotional soul of Marvin Gaye, free jazz warriors Sun Ra and Pharaoh Sanders, various Drake hip-hop tracks, and their own fertile electric imagination.

In their early days, the Chavis brothers making a name for themselves playing throughout the south at a time when fellow southerners REM and Superchunk were securing major label deals. As more black rock bands (Living Colour, 24/7 Spyz) began selling records and gigging throughout the world, the Veldt was courted by various labels, including IRS Records and Capitol.

Initially signed to Capitol Records in 1989, the Veldt embarked on a musical journey that changed their lives. Soon, they were in the studio with dream-gaze guru Robin Guthrie working on their debut Marigolds, playing American concert halls with the Cocteau Twins, working with A.R. Kane, and opening for Jesus and the Mary Chain in England. The Veldt were a sensation from the start as they became a part of a movement of innovators who came of musical age at a time when rhythmic rebels were reflective, gritty and wild; their sound inspired future generations of alternative artists, including TV On the Radio.

They switched labels and Mercury Records released Afrodisiac in 1994. Their single Soul in a Jar was an underground hit.

As the brothers moved to expand their musical language, fusing more electronics into their soundscape, they retired the “Veldt” name and, for various reasons, began recording and touring under under the name Apollo Heights. In 1999, the Chavis brothers met bassist Hayato Nakao, who would become their permanent partner. Their music was loud, exploring color, space, sensuality and beat driven melodies with rhythmic and dynamic tension. Daniel's falsetto vocals cast a contrast upon the wall of sound created by Danny's heavy rock dreamscape guitar and Hayato's pounding and licentious beats.

Although the Veldt were signed by two major labels after leaving Mercury Records in 1995, the brothers decided to remain indie and self-released their 2008 album White Songs for Black People. “The major labels were always trying to get us to change our sound, our look or both,” Daniel laughs. “But, we had no interest in being the next Lenny Kravitz or Tony! Toni! Toné! Unfortunately, not everyone shared our vision. We weren’t trying to be rock stars, we just want to play our music and pay our rent.”

Apart from Robin Guthrie and A.R. Kane, they have collaborated with TV On The Radio, Mos Def and Lady Miss Kier (Deee-Lite), and have shared the stage with My Bloody Valentine, The Pixies, Cocteau Twins, My Bloody Valentine, Manic Street Preachers, The Jesus and Mary Chain, Oasis, Living Colour and TV on the Radio, among others.

After changing their name back to The Veldt, the Shocking Fuzz of Your Electric Fur serves as the band's re-emergence, to be followed by another full album of material on their Resurrection Hymns LP later this year. Indeed, for these veteran musicians and passionate noise technicians, The Shocking Fuzz of Your Electric Fur marks a new beginning.
Venue Information:
Rough Trade NYC
64 N 9th St
Brooklyn, NY, 11249