"It's indie to say you're not indie, so we're not indie-rock indie rock-jazz-fusion," says Craig Larimer, the vocalist and keyboardist for Asheville's Modo. Modo's sound is an amalgam of jazz-influenced rock, with an art-poppy undertone that can be heard on the band's new self-titled EP.
Larimer and guitarist Rosenbloum say their music represents connective, challenging layers which appeal to a wide audience, noting that the single from their record, "The Blood That I Need," is about the dichotomy of social norms (mass and social media, spirituality) and a mechanical, methodical life path. Their arrangements are sultry and gritty, yet have a certain pop appeal thanks to Larimer's cheeky, upbeat lyrical style, exemplified on "American Grit."
That style is informed both by scholarly backgrounds (Rosenbloum, who grew up listening to The Beatles, Weezer and '90s grunge discovered jazz after enrolling at UNC Asheville; Larimer count classical piano and the jazz of Herbie Hancock and Brad Mehldau among other influences like Southern rock) and by the Internet: "We're a band that totally spawned from social media Web sites," says Rosenbloum. "We met on craigslist."
Rosenbloum, who moved to Asheville from Pensacola, Fla., in 2004, says that placing the ad that connected him with the band's original drummer, Ben Falcon, "was about me trying to become a serious and eager musician.
"I had played with previous bands that were not so serious, not so eager, not so excited to really practice and not just play parties constantly, but play actual venues and develop a scene and develop an audience."
Other members who helped to flesh out Modo's sound included a former aid to gubernatorial candidate Bill Graham's campaign, bassists Justin Powell (Vertigo Jazz Project) and Sean McFee (Kung Fru Dynamite), and DJ/musician/Melanaster frontman Marley Carrolll.
The next step in the band's evolution — following a self-propelled tour around the Southeast — was to record: For that venture, Modo chose Echo Mountain Studios.
"We had our tunes worked out but we didn't know how we wanted to display them. We allowed the space and the duality of the modern and retro technology to inspire us, says Larimer, "Going into the studio was definitely a big move for our sound. It made us realize there are better ways to craft the music. The production is a new form of mechanical thinking, of connectivism."
With the release of the new EP, Modo — which is a Latin derivation of "in the now" or "current" – sounds stronger and more fully realized than ever. Its upcoming EP-release party promises tracks from the record and some newer, stylistically wide-ranging songs. Coming full circle, original Modo drummer Falcon will perform with his new Latin-inspired indie pop project, Pavane and Galliard.
[Contact Lydia See through her Web site http://lydiasee.wordpress.com.]
what: EP release party with Pavane and Galliard
where: Emerald Lounge
where: Friday, Nov. 20 (10 p.m., $10 includes CD. modomusic.net)