Modern Mod
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Modern Mod

Madison, Wisconsin, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2012 | SELF

Madison, Wisconsin, United States | SELF
Established on Jan, 2012
Band Alternative Rock


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



"The House Rocked!"

An enthusiastic crowd gathered in the Castle Theater on October 12th to join Music is the Medicine to “Rock the House for Habitat.” The performers matched the energy of the crowd who were treated to three and half hours of music.

The tone for the night was established by the evening’s first performers, Modern Mod – an up start band from Madison, Wisconsin. Led by the relentless and inspired drum work of Emma Witmer, each of the five members of the band commanded the stage with a seasoned presence far beyond their years (note that the oldest members of the group are only 17!).

Local songwriter and one-man-band, Peter Adriel was the next to take the stage. Peter’s crisp guitar work, clever lyrical prose and crooning vocals filled the theater. Debuting many songs from his latest CD release – “Hail” – Peter won over many new fans during his fifty-minute set.

Next up was the Young Loves, a group from southern Illinois. Fitting for a band formed on the campus of Southern Illinois University, the Young Loves gave the crowd all original music that brought many back to the memories of younger days. With sounds reminiscent of the Violent Femmes and mid-90s REM, the band inspired many to move from the balcony to the front row by the second song of their set. Capitalized by anthem-like chorus of “Wake Up Teenager”, the band left a very satisfied audience commenting on this relatively unknown quintet.

The Weakenders closed out the night giving the crowd a classic rock meets progressive rock sound. Performing original tunes including most of their forthcoming album – “Super Major”, the band from Nashville treated the evening’s faithful to the most polished performance of the night. Fronted by Eli Chastain, who is also a music producer, the Weakenders had the type of refined sound you expect from a veteran rock band. Having only been together for the past eighteen months, followers of the band will certainly be treated to more quality recordings and performances in the days to come. The band’s only cover song of the night was a brilliant and haunting version of Def Leopard’s “Hysteria” that featured a duet between
Eli and keyboardist Katie Trotta.

A great night of music for a great cause! More information on our website at - The BN Groove

"Music: Album: Modern Mod"

Modern Mod



Funny how the good intentions behind putting together different parts can create something wholly different than expected. The Madison high schoolers of Modern Mod claim as influences the sort of garage rock favored by Little Steven Van Zandt on “Underground Garage” and surf music. The result heard on their Kickstarter-funded debut, Tunnels, reverberates with the aforementioned sounds.

However, with the guitar not “wet” as Dick Dale and playing not wild as the most crazed bands on the garagerock compilation Nuggets, the fetching result even more strongly speaks of a musical diet high in ’80s U.K. indie pop. Mild manners and copious jangle entwine toward fairly sophisticated sentiments on the edge of adulthood and precocious nostalgia. If singer Emily Massey sounds conflicted with unresolved emotion throughout much of her band’s 10 songs, she offers an edge of truthfulness that pop music by people her age seldom musters. Modern Mod have insinuated themselves into their city’s music scene to a prominent level in short order, and at the rate of maturation heard here, a greater public likely awaits them if they so desire.

—Jamie Lee Rake - The Shepherd Express

"Modern Mod/ Tunnels"

Album Review
Mister Esquire
Reviewed 2014-06-07
As Reviewed By Mister Esquire.

neo-twee pop/neo-surf/cuteness-core.
a lil' band that could from Madison, Wisconsin.
surprised Burger Records has not snapped them up.
all songs pretty samey: jangles, surfy, girly, upbeat, cute.
MR. ESQ. SEZ: MEOW MEOW MEOW MEOW MEOV-(that's half a 'W'.)
1. PURR-FECT: upbeat, yearning twee sweetness.
2. PURR-FECT II(TIE): upbeat. jangles.
3. PURR-FECT II(TIE): upbeat, dancey casiotones.
4. FCC WARNING: 'SHIT'. mid-slow, sultry. epic.
5. PURR-FECT II(TIE): slower. Madder Rosey. picks up furious pace near end. (awesomeow.)
6. Seapony sweet.
7. upbeat, bouncy. git solo.
8. FCC WARNING: 'SHITTY'. PURR-FECT(TIE): upbeat, bouncy.
9. PURR-FECT II(TIE):40's, 50's retro vox start. gets into twee. sounds like The Shes. sweet.
10. a collage of other tracks on album.

Track Listing
1. Don't 6. Nostalgia
2. Papercuts 7. Sluts
3. Monday Mornings 8. Nyc
4. January 9. Undefined
5. Eyes 10. Tunnels - KZSU Stanford

"Modern Mod- Tunnels"


24 June 2014 · by Evan Almeida · in reviews
Review of: Modern Mod - Tunnels
Album: Modern Mod
Reviewed by: Evan Almeida
On 24 June 2014
Last modified:25 June 2014
The pop talents of Modern Mod are undeniable, their debut album shows maturity, skill, and a passion for their craft.
modern mod

Modern Mod has recently been blowing up the indie-rock scene with their impressive live shows, and charting on Stanford University radio. Despite the youth of the members of Modern Mod – entirely 18 years old, and younger – their debut album, Tunnels, show an impressive craftsmanship, and demonstrates the maturity of their abilities.

At the heart of the album, Tunnels operates as a love poem to idealism. Each track seems to venerate the principle elements of youth. From the opening track, “Don’t“, Modern Mod embodies the careless attitudes of summer. The catchy riffs, courtesy of guitarists, Maximilian Werner, and Calem Pocernich, provide a refreshingly retro sound, reminiscent of the surf sounds of the 1960’s. At the same time, the vocals, of Emily Massey, provide an airy, breathless sound that elevates each of Tunnels tracks. The contrast between the ‘lazy summer’ hooks, and the powerful vocals of Massey provide the album with its most interesting sounds. However, this would not be enough to make this music interesting, and driving, were it not for the combined efforts of drummer, Ronnie Clark, and bassist, Livy Kleinfeldt.

The power of Modern Mod’s rhythm section can be best heard on the tracks: “Monday Mornings“, “Papercuts“, and “Undefined”. Each of the tracks feels as though there is a three-way power struggle occurring between the, Beach Boys-esque, guitars, the bombastic vocals, and the pounding rhythm section, which would initially appear to be in diametric opposition with each other; however, the three pieces operate in tandem and give Modern Mod their sound. Modern Mod’s greatest strength, and weakness, is that they wear their influences on their sleeves, for the whole world to see.

During just one song, “January” elements of The Pixies, The Strokes, The Beach Boys, The Beatles, Sonic Youth, and The New Pornographers can be heard. This is not necessarily a negative thing. This melding of different stylings, and genres, give Modern Mod an interesting sound. However, this makes it difficult to uncover what ‘the Modern Mod sound’ in a distinct way. Truly, the most successful tracks on Tunnels are the ones that sound the most like original works inspired by the band’s musical heroes, instead of obeisances – notably “Papercuts”. The seeds of a unique sound in the indie world is clearly present in Modern Mod’s debut album, which the band will undoubtedly develop soon – with the amount of talent available to them.

However, the power of idealism occasionally fall short. Some tracks, while enjoyable to listen to, ring hollow. Modern Mod touches a number of different themes and ideas on Tunnels, but never explores any of the themes in an overly enriching way. Tracks like, “NYC“, and “Nostalgia“, don’t feel as genuine as the other tracks, due to their insistence on an easy fix to life’s problems. “Why don’t I move to New York City, where I know that, maybe, I can start up anew,” Massey croons on “NYC“.

This theme of escapism is touched on in multiple places throughout Tunnels, but is never a defined concept. From wishing that a relationship could have an easy fix “Like John and Yoko”, to expressing the sentiments of being trapped in a bad place, the lyricist of Modern Mod explores deep anxieties that are very universal. Ultimately, what could have been a profound message on dealing with life’s adversities ends up feeling more like wish-fulfillment, the intent of the lyrics is admirable, but falls short of the intent.

However, sometimes art doesn’t have to have a deeper message in order to be revolutionary. Modern Mod showcases what a group of dedicated, talented, and passionate musicians can do with a love of music. Each of the tracks in Tunnels provides an enjoyable experience; many seem to be well-suited to being blast out of a radio, driving at high speeds with the windows rolled down. Tunnels is the album to listen to while having the summer of your life. - Indie Is Not a Genre

"Local Sounds"

Teenage Band Modern Mod Releases Strong Debut Album 'Tunnels'

Modern Mod self-released their debut album Tunnels last month.

When last we visited Modern Mod (read about them here), they were winding up a Kickstarter campaign for their debut album Tunnels. The ambitious quintet of highly talented high schoolers smashed their goal, raising over $5,600 from 119 backers. They used the money wisely, hiring noted producer Jack LeTourneau to record and produce and to, ostensibly, create a new video. Tunnels was released on Record Store Day, April 19, 2014.

The group plays a smart brand of melodic garage rock with lead vocals by Emily Massey (daughter of Madison music legend and Dracula: A Rock Ballet composer Mike Massey). Songs are all in the three-to-four-minute range with tight arrangements.

The album opens with the very Strokes-like “Don’t.” That band is a strong reference point throughout, although with Massey’s voice I was reminded of German band Nena, creators of the massive hit “99 Red Balloons” if any of you get that reference (and I know some of you do). This is especially true on “Papercuts,” echoing that very European sound.

The twin guitars of Maximilian Werner and Calem Pocernich play well off each other. There are also snippets of keyboards here and there, though those go uncredited. Check the Farfisa on the aforementioned “Papercuts” and the all piano-and-vocal title track that closes the album. Twelve-string electric guitar propels the jangly “Monday Mornings,” a radio-ready hit with the refrain “I could put up a fight / Like John and Yoko.” Harmony vocals really punch up this track, and the group members are quite good singers.

Modern Mod was formed by bassist Livy Kleinfeldt and drummer Ronnie Clarke and the pair’s symbiosis makes for a solid rhythm section. “Nostalgia” pushes these talents to the fore. Sometimes it’s the simplest structures that demand the most of the rhythmic battery—just ask U2.

This is a strong debut from Modern Mod, made more so when factoring in their teenage status. The band has worked very hard to position themselves and the hard work shows. They face the critical juncture in life of becoming graduates. It will be quite interesting to watch them develop should they hold together. There is little to stand in their way. - Madison Magazine

"Taking the Plunge"

If you'd called Emily Massey a musician just a few years ago, she would have corrected you. She was a dancer who trained with Madison Ballet. Her dad, Mike Massey, was the main musician of the family. He wrote the score to the company's 2013 hit, Dracula.

Then everything changed. A back injury sidelined Massey during her sophomore year at Madison East. To make a full recovery, she had to limit her physical activity for several years. No ballet training, no sports, nothing strenuous. She felt boxed in.

"Suddenly I had no creative release, so I picked up a guitar," she recalls.

It wasn't her first experience with the instrument. Her dad records and rehearses music around the house, and she'd taken guitar lessons at age 10, after falling in love with the movie School of Rock.

This time, the guitar didn't just help her express her appreciation for Jack Black. It helped her find a new identity when ballet pirouetted out of the picture.

"People expected me to be a musician because of my dad, so I sort of wanted to fight it for a while," she says.

But music turned out to be just what she needed, especially when she met bassist Alivia Kleinfeldt and drummer Emma Witmer about two years ago.

"They went to high school in Verona, and my sister knew them. It turned out they needed a new lead singer for their band," Massey recalls.

Before long Massey was the new face of Modern Mod. Several of the original members have gone to college, and what was once a quintet is now a quartet. Kleinfeldt and Massey now helm the act with guitarist Cal Pocernich and drummer Brendan Manley. Massey lovingly describes Kleinfelt, Pocernich and Manley as "a basketball prodigy, a poetic introvert and a giant blond boy," united by an affection for jangly '60s rock, including some of the records her parents played when she was a kid.

Massey had no idea how much her adventures with Modern Mod would mirror her dad's experiences from his teens and early 20s.

The elder Massey took a similar path to a music career with Chaser, the rock band he formed with high school buddies Mike Ripp and Tony Cerniglia. The lead single from their demo became a hit on local radio stations, and the group nearly scored a record deal with Atlantic in 1981.

When the deal didn't materialize, the bandmates found other outlets for their talents. Cerniglia went on to drum for fellow rock acts Seventeen Rhinos and the Renfields. More recently, he and Mike Massey have teamed up in Stop the Clock. When Cerniglia's not performing, he serves as a engineer, producer and songwriter for other musicians, including Stop the Clock vocalist Briana Hardyman. Ripp has played guitar in numerous Madison acts and recorded with folks like Kyle Henderson, the local blues singer who got his start in the '80s rock band the Producers.

Modern Mod's future may also include a brush with fame -- or more, if their first album is any indication.

Subterranean surf-pop

Modern Mod's debut, Tunnels, was conceived in several basement bedrooms and funded with a Kickstarter campaign that raised more than $5,600 in a month. The band's current members all have subterranean sleeping quarters in their parents' homes. "As underground cave dwellers, we often joke about digging tunnels to connect us to each other's basements," Massey explains on the band's website.

Massey quickly cites the bedroom pop tradition -- recording lo-fi tracks in one's home, often in a bedroom closed off from one's parents or roommates -- when discussing the album.

"We're all about 18 or 19, and bedroom recording is interesting because it can feel like a very adult thing -- expressing ideas that are truly ours, in our own words -- while also feeling an adolescent thing, like escaping to your bedroom when you need some space from your family," she says. "Making music this way is sort of like keeping a private diary you can show to other people when you choose."

"Tunnels" also represents the way the many of the group's songs burrow into the psyche, where their hooks and choruses play on repeat. They're true earworms, especially "Don't" and "Papercuts," the album's first two tracks. The former brims with the romance of the unknown, the kind of unknown that comes with those first teetering steps into adulthood. Sunny, surfy guitar and bass set the stage for a bold invitation ("Take my hands though I don't even know you") and a warning sung in four-part harmony ("Don't wait up for me.") "Papercuts" alternates between hopeful and melancholy, with upbeat drumming propelling the melody forward and Massey's voice melting the lyrics' icy edges, asking, "Why are you all alone?" and "Can you keep a secret?"

The album's sound is equal parts early '60s and early '00s, with hints of the Beach Boys' Pet Sounds and Rilo Kiley's More Adventurous. More modern influences abound as well. "Undefined" takes the band into '60s girl-group territory with an intro Dum Dum Girls would appreciate, then dives into rock full force. Modern Mod also list new-ish groups like Best Coast and La Luz as inspirations, but they expect to explore more sounds from the '80s and '90s in the future.

"We've been describing our sound as '60s surf-rock with an '80s Europop vibe, but we're moving into this mid-'80s London new-wave thing," Massey says. "There's a dancey feel to what we're doing right now, but it's also meant to be thought provoking."

Taking Stanford by storm

Modern Mod have opened for Matt & Kim, JD Samson & Men and several other indie acts that share their ability to make crowds dance. Massey says her dance training has encouraged her to develop a dynamic stage persona and move around the stage in unconventional ways.

"I'm always trying to move the show in a direction that's more theatrical or exciting, with a lot of movement in the mix," she explains. "This can result in some pretty out-there performances, but that's so much more interesting than people just standing around playing their instruments."

Though pushing the envelope on stage doesn't faze Modern Mod, the band did feel daunted by at least one task in 2014: sharing Tunnels with media outlets across the country.

College radio DJs have taken notice of Tunnels on both coasts and at several points in between. In particular, the album has done well at schools in large markets. It took off at DePaul University in Chicago, but its biggest fans, by far, are at Stanford University near San Francisco. Tunnels contained some of the student body's favorite new songs of the spring. It quickly landed a spot on the radio station's list of top five most popular albums, and DJs compared the band to rising stars like Eux Autres, Hospitality and Madder Rose.

Massey calls the Stanford love "a shocker."

"We're brand new at promoting ourselves, so we were so excited when the Stanford radio station tweeted at us that we were in their top 10, and then their top five," Massey says.

Some of the first praise from Stanford came from a DJ who wrote a mini-review from the perspective of a cat.

"His review said things like, 'purrfect,' which was silly, but I think it made people pay attention," Massey says.

More importantly, the Stanford support boosted the band's confidence.

"It was this huge realization of 'Wow, I think we maybe can do this being-a-band thing," Massey says. - Isthmus


Monday Mornings Single- November 25th, 2012



Formed in Madison, WI in the summer of 2013, four offbeat personalities, in the simplest way of putting it, ended up together in this strange act of fate. Comprised of an ex-ballerina, a child basketball prodigy, a poetic introvert, and a giant blonde boy, the band Modern Mod was born. Soon after, Modern Mod went on to release their debut album, Tunnels, officially released on April 21st, 2014, Tunnels has proven that the talents of these young musicians will not go unnoticed, receiving front and center display at local record stores, multiple positive critic reviews, and radio airplay from Wisconsin to California to New York to Chicago and beyond. They also just released a music video for their new single Papercuts. In addition, Modern Mod is currently working on new material that is projected to release by spring.

Their sound has been dubbed as 60s surf rock with ethereal harmonies similar to the likes of the Beach Boys, with an 80s Euro pop feel, having catchy, dancey melodies. Modern Mod has played all over the Midwest, playing shows at illustrious events such as Summerfest, and opening for the likes of Matt and Kim, J.D Samson and Men, Oberhofer, and Phox.

Similar to: Best Coast, Alvvays, La Luz, Seapony, Tennis, Nena, Lucius

Band Members