Local lads Modern Divide are at it again with an EP soon to be released into the world. We had a chat with guitarist Josh Dowling and vocalist Matthew Jelly about the new release.
Hi guys, we’re stoked to have the chance to chat with you, what’s going on at the moment?
Josh: Stop, You’ll make us blush! We’re pretty happy to be chatting with you ourselves. At the moment we’re waiting for our EP to be shipped to us, it’s finally finished production and is fresh off the printing line. While that’s happening we’ve been doing a bit of promotion for the upcoming show.
Word is out that you’re launching your debut EP, Beneath the Lies, at The Worker’s Club on May 28. How is the preparation going for the show?
Josh: It’s been pretty hectic to be honest but it’s going well, we’re cramming as much as we can into our set. You’ll hear the EP in its entirety, some old songs as well as a taste of something new that no one has heard yet, it’s going to be a busy night for us but we wouldn’t want it any other way.
You had one of your first few shows at Workers too, is it nice to return? How has your live show together shaped up since then?
Matt: Our debut show at Workers Club was during their fairly early days so it’s great that they’re still going strong and providing a great venue for local music and also bringing across bigger acts to support the local scene. We are very happy to be having our launch there.
Josh: It’s always a pleasure to perform at Workers, the staff there are great and go above and beyond to look after us not to mention the food and beers there are pretty much heaven. There is a reason it’s Modern Divide’s home turf!
Since our debut there I think our set has become tighter, more energetic visually too because we’re all very comfortable with our songs and people are more familiar with us now – we get a lot more crowd involvement. I think we’ve become a lot more ambitious too. There’s been a conscious effort to raise the energy in the room at our shows and I think we’ve achieved it so far. Our aim is to have each show better than the last one we played.
After making your first appearance in July last year, now you’re ready to drop an EP and that’s a pretty speedy effort. Can you tell us a bit about the song writing process?
Josh: It does seem quite fast, but I’d been working on songs and riffs 2 years prior for a studio project that ended up turning into Modern Divide. A lot of preparation went into it before it came together so we had a bit of a head start by having a stock pile of riffs we could draw from.
The song writing process for us is kind of strange. Our vocalist Matt Jelley and bassist Keaton Marin bring some order to my chaos, as the way I write can be very sporadic and unconventional. They’ll often take certain riffs I’ve done and fit them together. They’ve both got a great sense of musical structure, it’s an amazing feeling listening to our songs grow sometimes, you never know where they’re going to go. Drum wise Benjamin Watts writes every single beat you hear from Modern Divide, he’s an absolute machine on this EP, and it’s definitely his best work.
You worked with local producer Daniel Fusella on the EP, how did that come about?
Matt: I’ve known Daniel for a long time through playing shows together and getting his help and recording advice for various projects. Dan came to us with the idea of recording our debut EP and we caught up and put a plan together. We worked together on our first single Puzzle Eye last year and we were all keen to do it again on a bigger scale. Dan really pushed us and got the best out of all of us to make something we can all be extremely proud of. Dan provided some great ideas and direction on the recording and he has very much become part of the Modern Divide family.
It looks like you’ve definitely taken a thematic approach to the release, as the cover really reflects the dark, exploratory nature of the lyrical content. Was it a conscious decision to tie it all in, or did you find that it all just fell into the right place?
Matt: The lyrical content was heavily influenced by my own personal experiences, self-growth and reflection upon some tough times through my life. When we then received and shared ideas for artwork, even though I did none of it myself, I could instantly relate to it and to the lyrics written for these songs. To have such great artwork that fits the lyric and musical theme so well and to also come from within the band, family and close friends helps make the project even more personal to us all and extremely satisfying.
Josh: I’m responsible for our videos and visuals on our social media and everything within the artwork is basically drawn from Matt’s lyrics, it’s definitely no accident the cover ties in so well. We take the visual aspect of the band pretty seriously as it’s all part of the music and getting your point across. The visual aspect is something that gets neglected a lot with bands locally, never underestimate the power of a picture!
On the EP itself we were lucky enough to have some talented people reach out and send us artwork. The EP cover was a collaboration with local artist Matt Conway after he took a look at lyrical content and the CD itself has artwork from Dana Watts, which is really amazing stuff that we felt fit the theme nicely – but you won’t be able to see that until the 28th!
Formiles, Insygnia and Echo’s Hill are on the bill as support acts for the EP launch, which is an impressive local line-up. It will be Echo’s Hill’s first live appearance, how did you hear about them?
Josh: We keep joking about the line up that if we weren’t on it, we’d all be going to the gig anyway! We basically picked our favourite local prog bands to support us, they’re all brilliant and are worth the entry price on their own.
Echo’s hill actually approached us looking to do a show with us down the road which was something we liked about them, we’re a very proactive band ourselves and it was good to see another band being ambitious.
Like us in our early days, they’d been writing and practicing a long time before wanting to take it live. I don’t think they were expecting us to add them to our launch, but that’s what we did. They’re a great band, if you’re into Tool you’ll love them, make sure you show up when doors open on the 28th to catch their debut.
Since we last chatted in September, Modern Divide supported The Getaway Plan at The Worker’s Club. Did you find that sharing the stage with them influenced your live show?
Josh: Definitely, the one thing we took from them was to be confident in ourselves and our songs, their stage presence was brilliant and we think playing alongside them improved ours massively.
Thanks a lot for taking the time to answer some questions, to finish things off, what’s your motto to live by?
Josh: As always it’s an absolute pleasure. “Be excellent to each other” – yes I did just quote Bill and Ted’s excellent adventure, but it’s served me well. Treat people how you want to be treated and you’ll go far in anything you do. [Read the full interview online]
When & Where: Beneath the Lies EP Launch @ The Workers Club, Geelong – May 28