We recently caught up with Nick Tsang (guitarist) from hotly-tipped yet highly popular Brit newcomers Modestep for an exclusive phone interview! In this interview we talk about the upcoming debut album ‘Evolution Theory‘, the bands collaborations, influences, and a brief insight in to the crazy journey they have rode in the run up to one of 2013’s hottest albums. So there you have it! HTF would once again like to thank Modestep for their time to take this phone interview! The new album ‘Evolution Theory‘ drops on February 11th via A&M / Max Records, we will bring you a review of the album real soon. So do not miss out on that!
HTF : Hello there Nick, this is James from Hit The Floor Magazine!
NT : Alright! How you doing today?
HTF : Yeah I am all good man! How are you?
NT : Yeah I am doing great, just plodding along nicely!
HTF : Well… where to start?! From what we have seen, 2012 was a huge year for Modestep in general. Fortunately enough, I got a chance to see and hang out with you guys at Redfest last year which you headlined also…
NT : Yeah 2012 was pretty nice actually! We been mainly abroad playing a lot of shows in America, and played a handful of shows in the UK. But it’s been great as the fans have really stuck by us especially as we have mainly been using Youtube and other websites on the Internet to keep us afloat, and you know… hopefully when the album drops everything will go next level and proper take off! Everyone is really happy with the way things are going at the moment.
HTF : Modestep’s recent progression as a unit has been phenomenal. In 2008 is when the band started, in 2010 was when ‘Feel Good’ and other original material came out. Since then it seems to have snowballed in to an almost viral, word of mouth strength in popularity. And with the new debut album ‘Evolution Theory’, it all sets to go supernova!
I was just having a look through the collaborations on the new album with artists such as Popeska, D Power, Document One, Foreign Beggars… but the one that really caught my eye was the hook up with the Newham Generals (D Double E & Footsie), I think that is an amazing collaboration!
NT : *Laugher* “Yeah it’s pretty nuts! Our DJ (Tony) is well in to his Garage and Trance music, and has got great hook ups in that sort of scene, and had managed to ask them to feature on the album. I really cannot wait for everyone to hear the album… it is such an eclectic and diverse album which moulds all our influences together, so hopefully people will get!
HTF : For sure! So who was your favourite artist to collaborate with on the album?
NT : Umm, let me see… *pause*… Argh, I don’t know! Everyone has brought a great different vibe to the table! But with the Newham Generals we have done a fair few shows with them, and they are pretty mental. Mostly turning up 3 minutes before the show!
NT : But yeah, we had a lot of fun with them on stage! But also Popeska and Document One… really, really nice guys to collaborate and hang out with. They are definitely the ones to look out for in 2013… supertalented.
And also Document One are supporting us on our upcoming UK tour.
HTF : Yeah I have been checking out the stats for the upcoming UK tour, and on the majority it looks like it is nearly sold out! And then I believe you have a couple of shows to follow up after the UK tour as well?
NT : Of course. We start out in the UK, head out to Europe, then jet off to America in March all through until April, which starts at Ultra Music Festival, and ends with us playing Coachella…
HTF : Coachella?! Nice one!
NT : Yeah! We are particularly looking forward to the Ultra Music Festival which is mainly an electronic based sort of festival, so it will be nice to play to different crowds. We have never been to Miami either, so it is pretty nuts!
HTF : You are going to love Miami! Very, very hot… but the vibes and atmosphere are electric!
So just a bit more background about the album. Is it self-recorded / produced, or did you have collaborative producers come in to help out on the album?
NT : No it is all self-produced actually. The process was we all get together in the studio and write collectively, but Josh (vocalist) is a bit of a whizz kid when it comes to producing, so he done all the production and mixing. The thing is we have sent over a track for other people to mix in the past, but we were never really happy with the result that comes back… so with that we pretty much DIY everything!
HTF : Excellent! Personally and critically speaking, I think it is better on a self-production basis because it gives you that freedom of creative control, and you know collectively in the band which direction you want to be going.
NT : Exactly. There has been quite a few times we have worked with other people and we have been either let down or not got the results we have expected, which cause negativity or delays, so in that respect it is easier to do it yourself I guess!
HTF : Most definitely, it is the way forward. It is also a great reflection upon the current state of the UK music industry today. In your perspective, what is your opinions on the current state of the electronic, and alternative music scenes in the UK at this point in time? Do you think it is best it has ever been? Is there is room for improvement? Or do you think there is something bigger about to happen?
NT : Personally, with electronica I think it is on the way up. It is amazing, you get all these 17/18 year old kids who are turning in to super-producers. Armed with a laptop and eventually start to make tunes of their own, putting their music on to platforms like Soundcloud. I just think that there is SO much talent around at the moment.
HTF : Do you think that makes it harder to achieve success within the music industry, or do you like the competition? In the perspective of personal opinion, and from a (Modestep) group-based opinion.
NT : Personally, yeah it is difficult to get these things done, because artists are good at what they do and there is more competition. But you know it is a good thing, because the standard and quality is great and the bar is being raised higher and higher.
In terms of Modestep… we are trying to give it a rock twist. We aren’t trying to pigeonhole ourselves in with anyone else, if you know what I mean? We are not in it to compete with anyone else, just to keep it fresh.
I mean we got myself on guitar and Matt on drums to give it that more organic feel which (live) brings it in to a rock show, but ultimately it is a mixture of rock and electronica.
HTF : As I mentioned earlier, I got the chance to see you play at Redfest whilst i worked there, and also saw you guys at Wireless Festival. Now usually I tend to be critical and come from a production and musical perspective even on the live show, but you guys ticked all the right boxes for me. Absolutely perfect!
At both festivals, Modestep were definitely a pivotal talking point, even some punters likening you to the legendary dance-rock crossover band The KLF.
Tell us, who are some of your personal musical influences?
NT : Hmm… Off the top of my head I would have to say The Prodigy and Pendulum. They paved the way to combine dance and electronic music with punk and alternative rock music.
But as I say, I / we try not to pigeon hole ourselves in to any category. In my head, genres don’t exist really. You just make the music you enjoy.
HTF : Well at the end of the you got to keep a fresh outlook and an open mind!
Now we know you went on an American tour earlier last year, what are the American crowds like in comparison to the UK / European crowds? Who is the more lively and how do they differ?”
NT: To be honest it is pretty strange out there actually! In the UK / Europe, particularly Poland, the dubstep scene is still relatively underground and raw. But for live shows, in Poland they will usually be the inclination to smash each other to pieces!
NT : The UK is a bit similar, but you just get more New Era flatcaps and bright white Nikes! But out in the USA, it is a whole new world for them, the whole dubstep scene is still relatively new to them. But it is more like a dance-rave sort of thing… You get the ladies in the bright neon spandex leggings, tutus, facepaint, glowsticks… It is just more or less a very happy.. dance / rave sort of scene out there. Which is totally different to the grimey, hoodrat, darker sort of scene we have.
HTF : Yeah, we (the UK) do have a somewhat gritter sort of sound and scene.
NT : A LOT more gritter!
During the next minute, some fun yet hilarious banter about choreographed dance moves, gang signs, and ripping off your t-shirt was had!
HTF : Just to quickly just wrap things up… you got the debut album dropping on 11th February. UK / European / US tour with festival appearances. What are the rest of Modestep’s plans for 2013?
NT : Umm… I don’t actually know?!
NT : At this point there are a few things pending that are in the pipeline, but we are pretty selective about where we play as we pride ourselves in our live shows. Playing live is pretty much our bread and butter, so we definitely will not be short on gigs this year. So we are just going to try and play as many places as possible, and reach out to as many fans as possible!
HTF : Excellent! And in one short sentence… why should anyone like Modestep?
NT : *Laughs* “Because we will make you feel like a 15 year old punk again!
HTF : Excellent! Well I wish you all the very best wishes for your upcoming tours and future endeavours, and hopefully will get to see you at the Koko in London on the 14th!
NT : For sure, come along! We’ll hook and have a cup of tea!
Interviewer: James Matthews