Modern Kin
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Modern Kin

Portland, Oregon, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2014 | INDIE

Portland, Oregon, United States | INDIE
Established on Jan, 2014
Band Rock Pop




"Live Video: Modern Kin"

The Portland trio Modern Kin seem to be addicts for live performances. After stopping by KEXP for a live in-studio with DJ John Richards, the band set up a streaming concert series – seven shows in twenty-four hours – in Mississippi studios for fans all across the world. “The idea of a live show, it’s ephemeral,” said frontman Drew Grow. “It’s just there and gone – anything could happen.” Seeing the band live, complete with upright bass and vocal wails from Grow, is an inspiration. Despite their being only a three-piece, there is enough sound to fill a stage, a studio, or internet streams. Still have doubts? See for yourself here:

Jacob Uitti - KEXP

"Best New Band 2014"

Drew Grow has a voice so fiery and convincing it makes his trio, Modern Kin, an act of near-religious catharsis. The band’s self-titled debut full-length, released last October, is a mesmerizing amalgamation of gospel and rock ’n’ roll, delivered with the fervor of a man touched by an unspeakable force, not to mention a musical gene pool: Grow’s mother, a trained vocalist, sang in coffeehouses in the ’60s, and both of his parents sang in opera choirs. He owes his evangelistic presence to them as well.

“By the time I came along, my parents had become evangelical Christians,” Grow says, “and my childhood was full of church music, choirs, holy-roller all-night camp meetings.”

Modern Kin started as Drew Grow and the Pastors’ Wives in 2007. Three-fourths of the band carried over to the current act. They’re fewer in number but bolder in sound, trading twang and folk for bigger amps and a bit of fury. Drew credits the band’s versatility and flexibility to his bandmates, bassist Kris Doty and drummer Jeremiah Hayden. “After playing with four [musicians] for a few years, I’m enjoying the space in the music so much,” Grow says.

Grow had become so attached to the music that, by the time it came to record an album, he needed an outside perspective. So he brought in his girlfriend, drummer Janet Weiss of Quasi and Sleater-Kinney, to produce. “It was invaluable to have someone with her instinct and chops saying ‘yea’ or ‘nay,’” Grow says. Songs like “Abandon” and “Pony” contain the volume and ferocity of Arcade Fire circa Neon Bible. Others, like “Big Enough to Cook,” show signs of Talking Heads and even shock-rock specialist Screamin’ Jay Hawkins. Doty’s upright bass grumbles from below, while Hayden’s piercing ride cymbal creates a chilling effect. In between is Grow himself, belting like it’s his last sermon on earth.

Words like “stomp,” “shake” and “shatter” appear frequently in Modern Kin’s lyrics, which skip around subjects of mortality, family and, not surprisingly, religion. They’re potent words that carry a sound in and of themselves. “Let’s not talk or theorize, I can show I can surprise/ Pull the curtain back/ Ta-da/ Here is that bang,” Grow sings on “Modern Skin.” The diction is deadly, the written lines just as explosive and possessed as the music.

Last fall, Modern Kin played seven sets in 24 hours at Mississippi Studios. The shows were broadcast via YouTube, each scheduled for a different time zone. At 10 pm Pacific Time, the group was playing to a decent in-house crowd. At 7 the next morning, the band was scarfing doughnuts and playing before how ever many fans it may have in Beijing.

“It was an interesting experiment,” Grow says. “We wanted it to feel like we were playing from our basement, like Wayne’s World.” But he admits the shows played before actual attendees knocked the pants off the sets performed mostly for viewers half a world away. “The truth is that our rock show is not virtual,” he says. “It is a thing we do with our audience.” MARK STOCK. - Willamette Week

"Modern Kin Proves Drew Grow’s Power"

There was never any doubt that Drew Grow could fill a room with his voice, or that he could grab attention with his rattling, pitchy staccato and man-possessed stage presence. That had all been established in the past few years as the Portland musician fronted his neo-gospel band, the Pastors’ Wives. This attention turned to praise in some corners. Within the modern roots movement that grew up around the Doe Bay Festival and was championed by music blog Sound on the Sound, there was a sense that Grow was the spiritual center, with godfatherly Damien Jurado playing the soulful guide and The Head and the Heart playing the heart, and later the head. There was a belief that, like these other scene leaders, Grow and his band were destined for great things.

I didn’t think so. I remember two years ago seeing the band play at Columbia City Theater in celebration of its self-titled release, and feeling put off. Grow’s voice, on which every song seemed to hang, was grating. His band’s pace was laggard. And unfair expectations were put upon the audience; they were expected to stomp and clap and howl. These are all fine things, but the band seemed to require it. There was the sense that if there were no audience, there would be no Pastors’ Wives. Like a clingy lover, the band had earned my mild contempt.

Last Friday a very different band took the stage at Barboza. This band didn’t really need anybody. With terse, direct songs built around growling electric-guitar lines and spare-but-insistent drum hits, the trio was self-propelled. At the center was Grow, cutting his way through songs that still had gospel roots, but were unmistakably punk in their DNA. The band was Modern Kin, and its electrifying performance in that dark underground club before a handful of people convinced me that Drew Grow is in fact destined for great things.

Of course, it’s not just Grow. The band before me was the Pastors’ Wives, slightly recast. Keyboardist Seth Schaper is gone. But Jeremiah Hayden continues to play the drums—still with a restrained respect for the space between beats, but now with a quickened pulse. Kris Doty still plays the bass, though she held an electric bass as often as that old-timey upright. Grow was still dressed as a pauper, though he looked more like he came from the gutter, greasy and gray, than an orphanage, as he often did with the Pastors’ Wives. And there was still that voice, rippling uneasily over it all. And yet, in this new setting, it worked. With the songs pushing aggressively, that grating staccato transformed into the most human of sounds, the bleating plea of a man trying to keep up with an unrelenting machine.

As the scene that bore the Pastors’ Wives has matured, it has also dissolved somewhat. Free to go his own way, Grow chose to follow a new sense of urgency. It was a wise decision.

At Barboza, old songs were given new life. “Company,” a slow, melodious ballad with a runner-at-rest heartbeat when performed by the Pastors’ Wives, transformed into a meticulous, bopping, somehow sinister love song. “Friendly Fire” kept its gospel harmonies, but, stripped of its gummy keyboard work, felt much more immediate. The band played a few new songs as well, with standout “40 Winks” sounding straight off the CBGB stage in the late ’70s.

That song will presumably be available on the band’s album, due out in October. Alongside it, I hope, will be “Sooner or Later,” the first of two encores and the song that sealed the deal for me. Opening with a few measures of hypnotic bowed bass, the ballad is built around a single circular guitar line, and features Grow singing, his voice raw, but clear, and wavering at the edges. The affect is spiritual, but it is turned inward, unaffected, seemingly independent of the listener. The song recalls the best moments of Pearl Jam, another band led by a man with a manic performance style that, when focused, can move arenas of people all on its own.

That song over, Grow addressed the modest crowd. “All right, guys. We’re just getting warmed up; we’ll see you guys soon.” And then the band played “Bootstraps,” an old Pastors’ Wives favorite, and almost burned the place down. - Seattle Weekly

"The Thing Behind the Thing"

MODERN KIN is a brand-new band, but its members have been playing together for years and years. Originally the band went by the name Drew Grow and the Pastors' Wives—a folkier, looser incarnation of their current project. Slimmed down to a three-piece, Modern Kin is releasing their self-titled LP on October 22 through Amigo/Amiga records, the label of the band's drummer, Jeremiah Hayden.

The record emanates a striking energy, stemming from the growth and concentration of the band. "We've learned a lot together about how we want to play music, especially where we want our music to come from," says guitarist/vocalist Drew Grow. "This definitely feels like an evolutionary step, in the way that it's a new creature."

There is undeniable intent in Modern Kin's 12 tracks, from Grow's exclamatory, rhythmic vocals to the immense, celebratory gospel sound that makes it hard to believe that this is a three-piece. The band strove for an immediacy that often gets lost in fussed-over recordings. "We wanted to capture that live energy," Hayden says, "and after playing together for so long, we know how to instigate that in one another."

"We've learned a lot about how to bring the stuff that's behind forward—we call it 'the thing behind the thing,'" says Grow.

The change in sound is also due to different production and recording methods; the record took several attempts to make until it hit the right energy. "Before, Drew wrote songs that we could wrap our heads around quickly," Hayden says. "We'd play them together twice, and go play a show, and it was more unguided."

Bassist Kris Doty adds, "Now we couldn't get away with that. We've arranged things tighter than ever, and in a way that's freeing too."

The record release show doubles as its own performance piece, which the band is calling the "Hello, World" Tour. The band will play seven shows in Portland in the space of 24 hours, with each performance live-streamed via YouTube across the world. The concept is a reflection on the way we learn about and share music and information in our modern day, and in turn a commentary on the role the internet plays in our lives.

Hayden explains, "There's a certain connectedness now, and we're all experimenting with what this means to us, and whether or not we're more or less connected."

"So far, the people that are greatly benefiting from the internet are those making money. The people using it to truly create connection are marginalized," Grow adds. "Maybe we can spend more time with the meaningful messages."

Modern Kin was produced by Janet Weiss (Quasi, Sleater-Kinney), who concentrated on highlighting each musician's sound and strength. "It was important to hear us in the music, and we learned how to focus that personality but not lose what it was before," says Grow.

The honest nature and immediacy of this record is apparent from Grow's defiant wail on the opening track, "Abandon." The crude but unified energy achieved in these tracks isn't just from years of playing together; it's from the musicians discovering new ways to harness their sonic truths.

Says Doty, "One of my favorite parts of making the record was all of us singing into one mic in the kitchen in our natural voices instead of using headphones, making eye contact while making harmonies. We figured out how to put the icing on the cake a little bit." - Portland Mercury

"Modern Life"

When Drew Grow regained consciousness on the side of Interstate 5, his car totaled and his leg bent at an awkward angle, he took it as a sign. Not from above—though he’d grown up in a religious home, he knew God had nothing to do with the semitrailer truck that swerved into his lane—but from within.
“I almost feel like, in a weird way, I was manifesting this stress,” says Grow, sitting at Enso Winery in Southeast Portland. “In a subconscious way, I allowed that wreck to happen.”

That was in early 2011, a week into recording sessions for a new album by his group, the Pastors’ Wives. If Grow did, in fact, will himself into an accident that broke his femur, feet and nose and left him with several thousand dollars in hospital bills, that tells you just how enthused he was about the project. Through three EPs and two full-lengths, the 39-year-old singer-songwriter built a reputation in the Pacific Northwest for writing idiosyncratic folk rock with almost gospel fervor. At the time of the accident, though, Grow felt stuck. He’d grown tired of the band’s name, its sound, the approach to songwriting. But he couldn’t justify throwing away the previous four years, not with another album cycle already in motion.

Then the crash happened, and everything stopped. It forced Grow to confront what he really wanted to do musically. And what he wanted to do was start over.

Modern Kin is the sound of Grow hitting the reset button. It may not look much different than before—his bandmates, drummer Jeremiah Hayden and bassist Kris Doty, were members of the Pastors’ Wives—but it is an entirely new band, with an entirely new working philosophy. In the Pastors’ Wives, the mantra was “practice makes boring,” the idea being to make the songs simple enough that they could be endlessly reinterpreted live, undiluted by excessive rehearsals. Modern Kin is more complex, but it’s also more direct, more visceral, and just plain weirder. On its self-titled debut, out this week, Grow wails like a doomsday preacher over shuddering church organ and roaring rock guitars, sounding something like Arcade Fire’s Win Butler doing Nick Cave’s big bad wolf routine. He sounds possessed. In truth, he’s just re-engaged.

“As a person,” Grow says, “I’m interested again.”

Getting to that point, though, wasn’t easy. There were casualties: Seth Schaper, the Pastors’ Wives keyboardist, wanted no part of a sonic makeover. He quit and moved to San Francisco. Entering the studio last summer, the band stopped and started, rearranging songs four or five times. To help guide the album, and the band, into being, Grow brought in his girlfriend, Sleater-Kinney’s Janet Weiss, to produce. That hardly made things smoother: Arguments over parts and arrangements blurred into lovers’ quarrels, until it was hard to tell which was which. “We’re so sensitive as a band together,” Grow says. “It’s like arguing in front of friends who don’t necessarily know it’s all going to be OK.”

Ultimately, though, working with an extended member of the band’s de facto family allowed the group to harness its creative dissonance rather than be torn apart by it. (Weiss and Grow are still together.) The members hadn’t necessarily committed to changing the band’s name when they began working on the album, but once they realized what they had, it was obvious they couldn’t pretend this was the same group.
“There’s a scientific element to it, like, who we are as people,” Grow says of the Modern Kin moniker. “That was part of the change. Even though calling it the Pastors’ Wives was supposed to be tongue-in-cheek, even just having a spiritual overtone to it, I wanted to shift away from it, toward something more genetic, more intrinsic.”

Rebranding is tough, though. It calls for sweeping gestures. To celebrate the album’s release, Hayden hatched the idea of Modern Kin performing seven times in less than 24 hours, with each show streamed online in a different time zone at 10 pm. The band admits it’s a bit of a stunt, along the lines of similar feats of stamina recently perpetrated by the National and the Flaming Lips. But it also poses a question apropos of a band starting over from scratch: Is anybody out there actually listening?

“And if they are,” Grow says, “does it feel like anything there?” - Willamette Week

"Modern Kin Go On World Tour - Without Leaving Home"

Modern Kin, the new-but-not-really-new indie rock trio, spent much of this past weekend onstage. On one stage in particular: the one situated inside Mississippi Studios in their hometown of Portland, Oregon.

The group was celebrating the release of its debut self-titled LP with what was being billed as a “world tour.” How do you travel the globe by staying in one place, however? Surround your stage with cameras, and stream your performances on YouTube.

Modern Kin did just that over two days, broadcasting seven individual sets online, each one scheduled to correspond with 10 p.m. local time in seven different time zones. If that meant playing a half-dozen songs at 6 a.m. PT for fans in Tokyo and Seoul, so be it. Sleep deprivation is a small price to pay for some self-promotion.

There’s something to be said for trying a stunt like this to grab people’s already shrunken attention spans. It’s reminiscent of the Flaming Lips‘ recent efforts to play as many shows as possible in 24 hours or the National performing one song for six hours straight. But it’s also a reflection of Modern Kin embracing the first word in its name.

This band was formed from the ashes of a bombastic, but often unfocused, outfit known as Drew Grow and the Pastors’ Wives. The core trio — singer/guitarist Grow, bassist Kris Doty, and drummer Jeremiah Hayden — were all members of that group, but approach this incarnation with renewed purpose.

A shambolic haziness has been replaced with razor-sharp rock (check out the Oh Sees-inspired “Barnburner”), touches of electronic weirdness, and an almost worship music-like love of grand, arms akimbo choruses. The party line points to Arcade Fire as Modern Kin’s chief influence, but these ears hear everything from the fractured blues of the Gun Club to Britpop dynamos Doves within their debut album’s 12 tracks.

The hope was to find an unusual way to present this new sound to the public. At first, the idea was to do a Google Hangout/live set. That idea morphed into an attempt to play a weeklong series of live-streamed shows, and then finally this wonderfully wonky way of connecting with a potentially international audience.

It’s impressive enough that they pulled it off with few hiccups (the first set on Friday at 7 p.m. PT was delayed slightly as the tech teams struggled to get the YouTube linkup working). That the band showed only a little bit of fraying around the edges of their performances was downright revelatory. During the final show (at 2 p.m. PT, Saturday), you could hear the band loosening up as the realization that it would all be over soon set in.

Every other set was stitched up tightly. Bandleader Grow and his bassist foil Kris Doty never let their voices slack throughout — a minor miracle considering how much these songs rely on their rafter-rattling wails. They poured copious amounts of charm and energy into each set, even during early morning hours when live music of this volume should not be happening.

What the event offered for someone like me, the only person outside the band and the technical staff there for all seven sets, was a chance to really dig into these new songs in a way that I’m often unable to because of deadlines, family, etc.

For the most part, the material stood up under close scrutiny and multiple listens, especially the songs where Modern Kin embraced discordance, the intrusions of a primitive synthesizer that Hayden used to eke out tinny squelches, and unusual rhythmic turns. And every time the band circled back around to the album’s lead track and single “Abandon,” the air in the room felt lighter and more delirium-inducing. Grow and Doty’s tightly wound harmonies can do that to a person. The tracks that leaned back a little too comfortably on Fleet Foxes-styled folk or a drowsier spirit didn’t fare as well upon repeat listens.

After hearing the same songs played in various permutations for a total of three hours, I will admit that my recollection of the weekend has become a bit blurry. What does cut through the fog are little moments: Quasi/Wild Flag‘s Janet Weiss (Grow’s paramour and the producer of Modern Kin) tuning Hayden’s kit with a palpable air of frustration about her, Doty’s different outfits, Hayden playing with one hand while holding a bacon-maple donut in the other, and the sheer surprise that 10 people would drag themselves to Mississippi Studios at 6 a.m. for live music.

What was never really talked about was whether this whole crazy affair was a successful one. No one would talk about numbers of viewers, and even Hayden told me he didn’t want to know. He probably made the right choice. For a band that is, by and large, just starting out, getting even one viewer would be a coup. But it’s best to not set yourself up for disappointment by learning nobody was there to hear your musical tree fall. - MTV Hive

"Favorite Sessions"

To know where Modern Kin is coming from now, it helps to know where its members have been. The Portland trio — made up of Drew Grow, Kris Doty and Jeremiah Hayden — contains three-quarters of Drew Grow & The Pastors' Wives, a band noted for the loose, rollicking gospel fervor of its live shows over the past four years.

Modern Kin represents a reboot of sorts, and its self-titled debut (produced by Janet Weiss) is a collection of tighter, more focused songs. The fervor remains, and the most intense moments find Grow channeling a preacher in thrall to the good books of Cave and Waits. "Unannounced" is Modern Kin as a power trio, the band announcing itself and dispensing catharsis in the record's most straightforward rock song. - NPR Music


"Modern Kin" -Self-titled (10/22/2013) AmigoAmiga Recordings

Multiple tracks receiving steady airplay:

KEXP Seattle
OPB Portland Portland



Modern Kin’s sweeping 12 song debut begins with singer Drew Grow’s ardent wail, and expands into heady and tilted harmonies that scrape around rowdy guitars. These are songs that push forward and take up space, that celebrate the primitive thrill of being loud when you are expected to be quiet. Spinal drums bend under the weight of probing riffs that snap back toward indelible, rousing melodies. At its core, however, this is a live band. And as most great live bands attempt, Modern Kin has successfully turned their recorded work into a mirror of the hot lights, quavering strings and communal experience. What emerges is an expansive album that deeply explores the instinctual, essential connection music can make between us.

The band formed in 2007 in Portland, OR. They were called Drew Grow & the Pastors' Wives then, and their communal house served as a DIY factory - a record label was formed, songs were written, t-shirts screened, tours booked, all within their four walls. And they experienced some successes - their gritty, soulful, self-propelled album earned them national tours with Wild Flag, and The Head & The Heart.

In 2012, the band trimmed down to its three core members, entered the studio, and emerged with a new name, a recombined sense of purpose, and a record spun with the elbow grease and fervent drive that had first brought them together. Modern Kin’s debut was also the debut of Janet Weiss (Sleater-Kinney, Quasi) as producer. Basic tracks were recorded in eight days at the Hangar Studio in Sacramento, with engineer Bryce Gonzales (Here We Go Magic, Kurt Vile) before they returned home to their basement studio, to put the finishing touches on. Two of the tracks were mixed by Dave Fridmann (The Flaming Lips, Tame Impala)

Since the album released (with an experimental release party that involved live-streaming 7 shows in 24 hours via YouTube) in October of 2013, Modern Kin has quickly experienced some regional success. The band has been invited to play most of the notable NW music festivals (Sasquatch, Music Fest NW, Bumbershoot, Treefort), and was included in the annual Willamette Week “Best New Band” issue. As Mark Baumgarten of the Seattle Weekly said after Modern Kin's first show together, "their electrifying performance in that dark underground club before a handful of people convinced me that Drew Grow is in fact destined for great things."

Band Members