Modern American Theatre
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Modern American Theatre

Los Angeles, California, United States | SELF

Los Angeles, California, United States | SELF
Band Rock Pop


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



"Well isn't this just pleasant."

It doesn't take long after pressing play on Your Rage Is Attractive for one to realize that there's a lot going on in these songs. The second full-length effort from Modern American Theatre, a six-piece indie/progressive outfit from the Los Angeles area, features a few new twists yet sticks to the same potent formula that made their debut one of 2010's hidden gems. Immediately calling to mind such influences as Parades, Minus the Bear, or even avant-garde prog-stars Battles, Your Rage Is Attractive quickly cements itself as a dynamic piece of music, with frequent changes in pace and texture contributing to its high level of character, but doing so without losing its overall sense of cohesiveness.

This character is obvious right from the get-go in "Pow! Gasol", a quirky yet defiant opening track. Featuring a chorus powerful enough to fill and satisfy a stadium full of screaming fans, the song still maintains a certain smallness and intimacy that makes the listener feel almost as if it were written specifically for them. Modern American Theatre perform best on this threshold, tinkering with the contrast of a brash epic-ness and a small-town band familiarity to create songs that stand strong on their own yet stand even stronger together. In short, the band has created music with both the big city flare of L.A. and the more unique disposition of indie rock, further supplemented by their bizarre progressive tendencies - an achievement that is by no means trivial.

Take a track like "Mantenga Tahoe Azul", arguably the album's most well-developed and best thought out song. It showcases three full minutes of all six band members hard at work, meshing their efforts in a complex yet seamless way. Again, the abnormal progressive aptness of a group such as Battles shines through here, except this time it's Modern American Theatre having all the fun whilst riding the wings of vocalist Natalie Diaz, whose quaint yet confident singing engages the listener without calling attention away from the consistently impressive musical backdrop.

While the relatively short play length is a refreshing quality for this record, especially for an attention-span-challenged individual like myself, at the same time I can't help but wonder if it takes something away from these songs and the album as a whole. Then again, perhaps a certain magic and charm is maintained in sticking to these shorter songs, and the result is nothing short of a fantastically pleasant listen. It just seems each track successfully builds itself into something rather impressive and complex, but so quickly relinquishes this status and concedes to fading out. Modern American Theatre is a band that could undoubtedly write sprawling and borderline epic ten-plus minute tracks, yet they choose not to, with the longest track on "Your Rage Is Attractive" still clocking in under 5 minutes. Take, for example, the breakdown/bridge section in "You Made Me Ink", during which the band fabricates an irresistibly surreal musical atmosphere, yet cuts it short all too quickly, ending the song soon thereafter. It makes one wonder what the hurry is for Modern American Theatre and why they choose to nip such potential in the bud.

Either way, it's impossible to ignore the pleasantness of "Your Rage Is Attractive", whether as a background soundtrack to one's day or via more attentive listening. One would hope to see Modern American Theatre expand on their enormous potential and evolve into something massive and incredible, but really, what reason is there to complain if they don't?
- Sputnik Music

"Modern American Theatre - Your Rage is Attractive"

Modern American Theatre aren’t fighting fair. Having released their debut EP We Could Make a House in November of last year, they’ve followed it up with Your Rage is Attractive, which is also their debut EP. Feeling thoroughly Tarantinoed? Your Rage is Attractive is a collection of the band’s earliest songs, recorded in the luxurious studio El Cuarto Del Their-Guitarist-Justin-Bardales. However, the band temporarily shelved these recordings in favor of releasing We Could Make a House. Yeah, most new bands struggle to put together a half-decent four or five song EP, and Modern American Theatre’s deck is so stacked that they tabled an impressive 7-track EP in favor of an outstanding 8-track EP. Luckily for fans and newcomers alike, Your Rage is Attractive is finally seeing the light of day— bathed in June’s early summer sun. The EP is at once both an interesting snapshot of Modern American Theatre’s evolution as songwriters and a quality entry into the short but promising beginnings of the band’s discography.

Despite the light and airy opening seconds of lead-off track “Pow! Gasol,” it’s quickly apparent that early Modern American Theatre tracks had a heavier backbone of chunky synth, bass and effect-laden guitars. The track’s driving chorus and proggy solo showcase a meatier, less nimble brand of indie rock, not unlike vintage, Highly Refined Pirates-era Minus the Bear. The following song and single, “I’ve Heard of Them, But I Haven’t Heard Them,” though, sounds more like the evolutionary bridge between Your Rage is Attractive and We Could Make a House. Equally heavy on synth, but with more agile guitar work, the song bounces along, underscoring the sunny charm of Natalie Diaz’s infectious vocals.

“You Made Me Ink!” and “Berlin Reunited and It Feels So Good” return to the band’s old-Minus the Bear-drenched roots (even the way they name their tracks), which is a mixed blessing. Honestly, if there’s any band that needs to be emulated more, it’s Minus the Bear, but I do appreciate just how unique Modern American Theatre’s sound has become on We Could Make a House.

That of course isn’t to say that Your Rage is Attractive isn’t worthy on its own. The instrumentation is still top notch, with several instruments often working in harmony while another forges its own melody—all while Diaz’s vocals rise and alight like a weaving flock of birds. This dynamic comes to a head in “Arms Akimbo Slice” following the bright and brooding, synthy bridge; the whole band comes in full force following the placid interlude, and Diaz delivers one of her most powerful vocal performances across either album.

Bottom line, if you like your indie rock on the mathy side (or you like Minus the Bear) Your Rage is Attractive is a ridiculously fun listen from a talented new band that deserves to be heard. And hey, they’ve also got We Could Make a House available too. Really, with two debut EPs to pick and choose from, you can’t go wrong.

--Zach Roth - Decoy Music

"CD Review: Modern American Theatre “We Could Make a House”"

California-based Modern American Theatre is a rock band that has been in the spotlight ever since they placed first in the Rhythm category of the Gods of Indie Guitar contest. Modern American Theatre is a six-piece band that is currently made up of Natalie Diaz on vocals, Justin Bardales and Paul Bethers on guitar, John Reyna on bass, Conner Martin on drums and Chase Werner on keyboards.
The song that won the Rhythm category for the band (and was ultimately included on the Gods of Indie Guitar 2011 CD) was “She’s Like That With Everyone,” a song that is featured on the band’s CD entitled We Could Make A House. The main reason for the song winning the category is because of the unique playing of the band’s guitarists, Justin Bardales and Paul Bethers. Taken with Diaz on vocals, Reyna on bass and Martin on drums, their playing styles create a very unique sound that sets the band apart from most of the bands out there today.
One thing that is very noticeable about Modern American Theatre is that the band has a definite style to their music, so much so that the sixth song (“Put Some Fruit Juice In There”) and the seventh song (“Cumulus Columbus Clouds”) on the album sound almost like one long track with a space in it even though they aren’t. But this consistent feel to the band’s music does make the album move smoothly through the eight tracks, and this consistent feel to the music makes for a strong release.
Another thing that is very apparent is that the titles of the songs on We Could Make A House are complete non-sequiturs, having nothing to do with the lyrics that appear in the songs. Well………. except for “Put Some Fruit Juice In There”. However, the song that contains that title and the song that contains those lyrics (“Out For Blood”) are two completely different tracks on the album.
The unique playing styles of the guitarists, the unusual use of non-sequiturs for song titles, and the creative writing of the band members of Modern American Theatre along with the unique vocal qualities of singer Natalie Diaz all combine to create a very unique listening experience. It is easy to see how the band ended up winning the Rhythm category of the Gods of Indie Guitar contest when listening to this release.
Rarely do you find a band with this type of creativity to their music. Modern American Theatre’s album of We Could Make A House is unique enough to satisfy someone searching for that “something different,” musically speaking. At the same time, the music of Modern American Theatre is approaching enough that even the most hardened fans of commercial radio artists will find much to like in the music of the band.
Modern American Theatre is a very active group. While We Could Make A House is still making noise in the music industry, the band has a new release to speak of. The band’s new album, Your Rage Is Attractive, hit the streets June 14th. First, check out the band’s release of We Could Make A House to get a sense of what everyone is talking about, then check out the new release by Modern American Theatre and see what the band has been up to since they released their last album. - The Rock and Roll Report

"and just when you thought 2010 was fizzling out"

This all sounds eerily familiar. Cumbersome, silly song titles? Busy, math-infused guitar lines coupled with pop sensibilities? A carefree sense of youthfulness and spunk? Yes, it’s been confirmed-- Minus the Bear circa 2002 have time-traveled to present-day. Unfortunately, the time-travel process seems to not be without kinks just yet, as singer Jake Snider has regrettably been lost in the ozone. As Snider a la 2002 floats out there in nothingness though, the band has found a more-than-apt replacement in, oddly enough, a female with silky smooth vocals, Natalie Diaz. The metaphor to novice Minus the Bear material is more than suitable, as Modern American Theatre channels the poppy mathematics a la This Town Needs Guns, Maps & Atlases and the like on their debut, but make no mistake: Modern American Theatre are very much their own band on We Could Make A House. The LA newcomers display an uncanny amount of elegance on their DIY debut. Exhibiting maturity in all the right places, they still keep We Could Make A House light with a youthful audacity, the kind that’s impossible to fake. Add it up, and Modern American Theatre create one of the most impressive debuts of 2010.

It’s difficult to find fault in the fluid album. Off-kilter melodies are interwoven liberally throughout We Could Make A House, with unexpected bridges, crescendos, and sporadic vocals to complement. “She's Like That With Everyone” displays Theatre’s knack for infusing a catchy hook, like a backbone, into the mathy goodness; and with clattering percussion in tow, ends up as one of the LP’s most successful. We Could Make A House borrows just enough sensibilities from their peers and predecessors, but never over-stepping boundaries into plagiarized or I’ve-heard-this-too-many-times territory. Expectedly but effectively, Theatre bump up the eclecticism of the album with a brief instrumental interlude, “Shotgun Preferably,” which amazingly ends up as one of the band’s most impressive with its progression of twinkly guitars and a milder atmosphere.

Despite this exception, Diaz’s vocals are often the affective anchor of We Could Make A House. Her vocal skills are mellifluous and fitting; but they are made all the more effective by quite possibly the most unrecognized artistry in criticism of singers-- knowing when to shut up. It’s truly endearing. Diaz sounds delighted to step up and offer her uptempo, bouncy chords to the band’s effort; but even more impressive is her ability to take a back seat and give the instrumentals room to venture towards a tangent, or let Justin Bardales’s tappa tappa-ing take center-stage. This adds to the cohesive factor of the band’s debut. Nevertheless, her vocals are powerful, and she gives them a sort of indiscernible sense of meaning, typified by the fact that it’s nearly impossible not to sing along as she belts out, “Please don’t involve me / I don’t want your energy,” on “Put Some Fruit Juice In There.”

Any fan of melodically-rich indie-pop, a frontwoman proving she can assert herself just as prominently as any guy, or catchy math-rock, will latch onto We Could Make A House in a big bear hug. The frictionless album is lovably familiar, yet surprisingly exceptional-- like reuniting with an old friend. In retrospect, who even needs the time-traveling quartet of 2002 Minus the Bear Minus Jake Snider when we now have Modern American Theatre catering to our sensibilities. Plus, if we’re going by Doc Brown’s “Back to the Future” theories, a time-traveling MTB would mean no Planet of Ice, and that’s simply not an option. - Sputnik Music

"Modern American Theatre"

Recently, I made a trip to the nearby neighborhood of Van Nuys. It is an everyday neighborhood; family-sized cars line the streets and the houses are well-kept. What is unique about this neighborhood, though, is the fact that it hosts the rehearsal space of a band that is on the front lines of a growing music scene in suburban Los Angeles, Modern American Theatre.

Modern American Theatre started in the summer of 2009. MAT consists of Natalie Diaz on vocals, Justin Bardales and Paul Bethers on guitar, John Reyna on bass, and Conner Martin on drums. Bardales and Reyna are the founding members of the band. Bethers and Diaz joined later, with Martin being the last in April 2010.

MAT played their first show earlier in the year at the Cobalt Café in Canoga Park. The band describes this show as an unusual experience because the Cobalt Café commonly features hardcore music. Modern American Theatre is a refreshing change. For a band that has been playing together for a relatively short time, they have already made an impact on the music scene in Santa Clarita.

MAT cites many musicians as their personal influences. Martin claims drummers Steve Gadd and Dave Weckl (both jazz musicians) as his influences, while Bethers says that Tom DeLonge of Blink 182 is the musician who has most influenced him. Bardales credits Professor John Bergamo from his music program at CAL Arts as a strong musical authority.

“[My professor] is accepting and supportive of whatever I decide to do musically,” Bardales explains. Bardales writes the lyrics for Modern American Theatre, but arriving at a sound is a collaborative effort. Each member of the band influences each other by what they add through their personal talent.

Modern American Theatre characterizes their sound as upbeat. Their live show reflects their cheerful sound well, as they are able to get the crowd dancing and clapping along with their music. All of the members say that when they play onstage, they get lost in the music and find it easy to convey their passion to the crowd.

Reyna explains it best when he says, “We want everyone watching us to feel as good as we feel when we’re playing.” Connection with the audience is most important to the band members; they want to make sure that the audience enjoys the music.

Diaz points out, “[My favorite part of performing] is interacting and feeding off each other, feeling the energy, and connecting with the audience, mostly through sharing our stories.”

Since Bardales and Reyna played in hardcore bands before Modern American Theatre, they both agree that it’s more fun to play upbeat music.

“[Modern American Theatre] translates live better than hardcore,” Bardales says.

“Kids are able to sing along with us, [whereas] with hardcore they just couldn’t,” Reyna adds. Reyna and Bardales personally enjoy the big shift of styles coming from their backgrounds in hardcore music. The different style in Modern American Theatre is a challenge, but they enjoy it.

When discussing the art scene in Santa Clarita, a place where the majority of the art is landscapes and classic rock cover bands, the band claims they would like to see different art come from the SCV.

“Santa Clarita is full of creative, smart individuals, not just bros in trucks,” Reyna says. The band agrees that the SCV has the potential to become a town with a thriving art and music scene.

“I dig [the art scene]!” Diaz says. “I love seeing people my age sharing the same passion as me, with emotion and creativity. The music scene is diverse, the art is lovely, and the people are simply lovely.” The band was displeased about the fact that Antioch coffee house and many other places where underground bands play have shut down, which leaves options for concert venues in Santa Clarita seriously limited. Antioch was a place where underground artists could play and find support for their music.

“Antioch liked us,” Bethers says. “They supported our style… now there’s not much [of an] outlet for us.” MAT finds that their fan base is composed primarily of friends or word of mouth, which has made it hard to go to other cities to play shows. They hope to widen their fan base so they can play in other cities and get their name out there.

Recently, Modern American Theatre spent three days recording an album. They recorded with Billy Burke in Sierra Madre; and at the time of this writing, the songs were being mixed. The album, titled “We Can Make a House,” consists of eight songs, seven of which are performed live regularly. Soon, MAT will release another album which will consist of all their older material.

Recording is a rewarding but challenging procedure for the band. MAT shares that the hardest process of recording was the repetition; they have to perform pieces of their songs over and over until they sounded right. Despite the fact that recording is tedious, MAT is grateful for the experience and enjoyed the process.

“It was so much fun being in the studio with the boys, [it's] always a blast,” Diaz shares. “I love them so much, [they’re] like blood.”

Modern American Theatre has definite goals as a band, one of which is to tour around the country and eventually the world. They agree that they would like to turn music into something they can do as a career.

“I know for a fact that none of us want to be working a 9 to 5 [job],” Diaz says, “so if I can play music and do what I love while getting paid for it, then I’m going to do that.” Immediate goals for the band include promoting their new album as much as possible in order to get the attention of record labels. MAT has already gotten some attention from producers, including Loren Israel, the producer of Jimmy Eat World and Sugar Cult. With a new album being released, it will be much easier for them to show off their music.

MAT sets their sights high. Bethers jokes, “We want to get a song on the Jersey Shore. If we can do that, we can quit.” On a more serious note, MAT wants to keep creating and being inspired.

Diaz shares, “[I’d like to] maybe play with my top inspirations.” Overall, Modern American Theatre’s biggest desire is to keep their music creative without having to compromise their sound.

Once we wrapped up the interview, the band was gracious to ask me to stay and watch their rehearsal. As I watched the band members play, one quality stood out: although it was a rehearsal, the band plays as if they are truly onstage, performing in front of an audience. Each of the members was in the zone, enjoying the music as well as paying attention to the technicalities of it all. The passion I felt from them was electric, and I found myself sharing the joy that they surely felt as they played the songs that they had rehearsed for so many hours.

If there was one word I could use to describe Modern American Theatre, it would be “passionate.” MAT is passionate about their music and will do whatever it takes to get out there and be known. I am excited to see what the future holds, and I know that it will be good. - Proxart


Demo - December 2009
We Could Make a House - November 2010
Your Rage is Attractive - June 2011
Your Rage is Remixed - September 2011
Russian Dolls (single) - September 2011



Modern American Theatre thrives on finding a balance between tradition and innovation. Since day one, the Los Angeles-based ensemble has made the music they want to hear, blending disjunct rhythms, complex, polymetric sonorities, and musical traditions from around the globe into effortlessly infectious pop songcraft. The sound is organic and immediately accessible--but these definitely aren't your everyday pop songs. Modern American Theatre makes that clear from the first note to the last.