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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Retro rockers The Modeens to play Nightmare on Congress

    Press Photo

    The Modeens ooze cool.

    What group that had ongoing band comic strips, songs about zombie girls and werewolf attacks and the slickest electric organ sound in Tucson wouldn’t be cool? Down to their retro name, The Modeens represent the kind of ‘60s garage cool pioneered by groups like The Pretty Things and The Sonics, while still bringing a unique kind of songwriting and instrumentation to the mix that other garage-inspired bands don’t bother with. What’s better is The Modeens will display their special sound Saturday at “Nightmare on Congress.”

    As The Modeens’ songwriters Cristina Williams and Jamie Laboz explained it, the band actually began its journey to Tucson by way of New York City.

    “[Laboz] was playing in a few bands and I was doing my solo work,” Willams explained. “But pretty soon we got together and realized that we liked playing with each other enough to do it full time. So we headed out to Los Angeles.”

    In LA, the duo began to cultivate their musical chemistry, focusing on writing more with each other and participating in what they call “the Psych Circus.”

    “It was during that time that we really started deciding on the ‘60s psychedelic stuff,” Laboz said. “Taking a bit from that, a bit from punk and just writing what came naturally from that.”

    After finally settling on Tucson, The Modeens got their first break into the music scene when local station KXCI put their song “Sonic Daydream” into regular rotation.

    “People just responded really well to it, and that felt great,” Williams said. “In New York and LA you’ve got all these talented people, but in Tucson you have the same kind of talent but everyone is also really nice and cool, too.”

    Their 2010 debut album, Take a Ride With The Modeens, spans an incredible amount of territory in just nine short songs, beginning with the all-out psych-surf of “Tumbleweed” and ending with a rocker called “Zombie Girl.”

    “When it came time to write stuff for The Modeens, we were drawing a lot on the ‘60s psychedelic kind of stuff,” said Williams, “but we were also big fans of the sci-fi, B-movie kind of stuff, and I think a lot of that made its way into some of the songs. We just love doing different kinds of stuff. We want to keep it interesting.”

    In The Modeens’ two following releases, they have expanded their already-comprehensive sound, with the three-song Music From the Edge of Town Pt. 1 from earlier this year, which introduced an element of folky Americana to their repertoire. Unsurprisingly, The Modeens turned out to be just as adept at folk as everything else they have tried.

    “We’ve actually taken a few of the songs from that release and recorded them for an album we made at WaveLab Studios about a month ago,” said Laboz. Both Laboz and Williams cited several genres to describe The Modeens’ new record, including motown, punk and more acoustic material in the vein of Music From the Edge.

    “We just wanted to show we’re not a one-sided band,” she said. “But there’s still the common thread through every track that this is a Modeens song. We’re not losing that.”

    For a band as committed to wild experimentation and B-horror movies, it’s only natural that The Modeens love Halloween.

    “Halloween is kind of our holiday as a band,” said Laboz, who explained that, in addition to being a great fit for the band’s sense of style, the holiday is actually an anniversary for the joining of The Modeens’ current drummer Jeff DiDay.

    “We do like to let loose for occasions like this,” Williams said. “Jamie has a great visual ability and I’ve got a background in theater, so we like to use shows like Halloween specials as opportunities to go nutty.”

    Coming from a band as exciting as The Modeens, that’s something to look forward to.

    Follow us on Twitter @wildcatarts.

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