Fan Modine

Fan Modine

 Carrboro, North Carolina, USA
BandRockPop

For fans of Left Banke and indiepop, Fan Modine is one of those rare gems. Inspired from headlining spots at the NYC Popfest and Hopscotch, the band are building on the success of 2011’s Gratitude for the Shipper with a Mitch Easter recorded follow-up album, full of road-tested, hook happy material.

Biography

For fans of obscure indiepop who have been patient enough to weather the gaps between albums, Fan Modine is a real hidden gem. Influenced by the same brand of classic pop that have informed the likes of Belle and Sebastian and the Magnetic Fields, songwriter Gordon Zacharias only recently became career minded enough to put a solid lineup together featuring Alex Maiolo (Violet Vector, Tape Op), Missy Thangs (The Love Language), Joah Tunnel (The Never).

About 2011's Gratitude for the Shipper:

With expanded instrumentation and higher-fi recording, "Gratitude for the Shipper" sounds consistently bright, melodic and hook-happy. “It’s a struggle to think in terms of albums these days, but I still strive for that,” Zacharias says. “I wanted to make a tight, solid album that holds together like John Cale’s Paris 1919 or Procul Harum’s A Salty Dog do for me, although, I feel like we ended up with something quite different.”

Zacharias co-produced "Gratitude for the Shipper" with alt-pop pioneer Chris Stamey (who’s worked with Matthew Sweet, Yo La Tengo, Tift Merritt and Marshall Crenshaw) and former R.E.M. manager Jefferson Holt (Stamey, Dexter Romweber, Dog Gone Records, Vibrating Egg and Daniel 13 Press). The album was recorded by the band in an old millhouse and then taken to Stamey’s Modern Recording studios in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, for string and horn arrangements and guitar appearances by Stamey and his longtime collaborator Mitch Easter. Most of the Fan Modine musicians backing Zacharias now hail from the vibrant Chapel Hill scene, with Lee Waters (Essex Green, Dean Wareham) on drums, Ash Bowie (Polvo) providing muscular guitar, Jeremy Chatelain (Jets to Brazil, Cub Country), bass, and Chuck Johnson (Shark Quest, Idyll Swords) also on guitar. Zacharias used several additional vocalists to fill out the lush sound. Fan Modine in its live incarnation includes even more Chapel Hill/Carrboro music denizens: Michael Holland (Jennyanykind) on bass, with added guitars from Matt McMichaels (The Mayflies USA) and keyboardist Charles Cleaver (Tomahawks).

Zacharias grew up playing piano, trombone and euphonium and then later singing in his suburban Boston high school rock band. He left Boston in 1990 to hitchhike around the country and soul search. In 1994 he returned to Boston to give music another shot while learning his way around computers. What resulted was a short-lived electronic group that combined both pursuits. Soon Zacharias began working “with real drums” again in the group Astroboy. Inspired by his friend Darron Burke at Cold Room Studios, he would recall, “ Darron was the one who helped me understand why good records sound good, and when he played me Big Star’s “Big Black Car”, I said, That’s it, right there!”

Zacharias decided to apply that sentiment to a solo career and Fan Modine was brought to life. The mid-90’s found him in New York to record and release Slow Road to Tiny Empire. What began as a DIY project was ultimately picked up by large indie label, Rykodisc, and reviews were universally positive. He pulled together a band to play around NYC, with him leading on piano and guitar, and began writing his next project, a film score called Homeland. This was to be the musical backdrop for his film script for an allegorical movie about an American Pop Star who moves to China to confront his muse. When the A&R guy at the label suggested they pitch the project towards the Christian market, it was no surprise that “things became strained.” Zacharias left the label and re-immersed himself in computers and new media. Still, the songs were written and ready, so he pulled together a rotating cast of indie musicians, and traveled from New Zealand, to Los Angeles to New Orleans to get the songs recorded. The album was finally released by Grimsey Records in 2004. After a brief tour with Andrew Bird, Zacharias returned home to write and record what would be the basis for another Fan Modine album. When Jefferson Holt heard the new stuff he became interested, and work on "Gratitude for the Shipper" began.

“I feel like I have finally found a rhythm for more consistent output. Partly due to advances in technology but moreso by working with talented and experienced people like Chris and Jefferson, and letting a momentum to the process develop,” Zacharias explains. “We've just begun on a follow-up, so the prospect of not waiting for another six years to go by before releasing another record is also exciting.”

If "Gratitude for the Shipper" is any indication, Fan Modine is on a roll.

Lyrics

Julu Road

Written By: Gordon Zacharias

Julu Road??

it's the start of the day - come down
to this part of town?
where the colors don't fade - come down
it's a part of the very first sound
if the train slows down
don't be sad - don't wear a frown
if the train slows down
in this part of town

on the Champs-Élysées - come down?
to this part of town ?
where the colors don't fade - come down
I'd be glad if I never came down
if the train slows down
don't be sad - don't wear a frown
if the train slows down
in this part of town??

colors great and lights so bold ?
all creatures young and beings old - well -
bring your friends and all your gold ?
and we shall meet on Julu Road??

colors great and lights so bold
?all beings young and creatures old - well -
bring your friends and all your gold ?
and we shall meet on Julu Road

Through the Valley

Written By: Gordon Zacharias

Through the Valley

no it's not that far
through the valley
when it looks beautiful to you

away from catastrophic conditions
in your weathered balloon

gonna take my time
with this one
gonna see it through

no it's not that far
through the valley
when it looks beautiful to you

all you sorry thanks
in the courtyard
with the moon in full view

well if I can't sweep
for this one
what can I do for you?

Discography

1997 Slow Road to Tiny Empire - Phovsho (Vinyl)
1998 Slow Road to Tiny Empire - Slow River/Rykodisc
2000 Pageantry 7" - Grimsey
2004 Homeland - Grimsey (Vinyl, CD, DD)
2010 Owttaiks - Daniel 13 Press(DD)
2011 Gratitude for the Shipper - Daniel 13 Press(Vinyl, CD, DD, Book)

Set List

One Company Town

Skip

Pageantry

The Back and Forth

Tinseltown

Newsstand of the Sun

Gratitude for the Shipper

Through the Valley

Meet Me at the End of the Line

Julu Road

Another Eventail