Scottish rockers Modern Faces are playing Manchester's Moho on April 20 in support of their newly released double A-side single Pravda Scrolls/Cynical Brother.
They have had an incredible year after supporting the likes of Kasabian and The Charlatans
The Dunfermline quintet see themselves quite literally as ‘The Faces’ for the modern era. They also want to inject some life back into the industry and give proper British music as they see it, the ‘kick up the arse’ it so badly needs.
MM caught up with the band early one afternoon to get the lowdown on dodging oranges onstage, learning from their idols and how Manchester has been a huge influence on their musical journey.
The band is: Monty, Gary, Jamie, Mike and Shields.
You’re currently touring promoting the new single, how’s it going so far?
Lee – Well it kicked off last weekend in our home town with two sold out nights. You couldn’t really ask for anything more than that, it was really amazing. Hopefully when we’re down in London kicking the rest of the UK tour off it will be more of the same.
What has the reaction been like to the single?
Lee – Massive man! I mean obviously in our home town we’ve got the fan base, but like, the download sales and pre-order sales for the limited edition 7” vinyl have been through the roof so yeah a great reaction so far.
Talk us through the last 12 months and what it’s meant for the band, having supported the likes of Kasabian and The Charlatans.
Gary – The last 12 months has been pretty brilliant to be honest. We’ve got a manager together now and the recognition from Tom Meighan (Kasabian) has been a massive lift. We’ve just been doing a lot of gigs and getting a great reaction all round. The profile is picking up a lot and that’s why we are doing this tour really, just to keep the profile rising.
So you’ve obviously played some large venues in various cities as a support band, are there any memorable gigs?
Lee – Sheffield O2 with Kasabian was massive, it was a turning point for the band in sort of starting things off it’s what gave us the exposure.
The crowds weren’t expecting us to be playing and the reaction we got from the crowds was amazing in places like Hull and Manchester. You just take it all in and learn as much as you can from them, from the guys who have done it all before.
What sort of things have you learnt from supporting big name bands like Kasabian and The Twang?
Lee – We’ve learnt that playing live should be a natural thing. Don’t try and be anybody you’re not. It’s just about being yourselves and enjoying your music, that’s what it’s all about at the end of the day.
Gary – It’s good to watch them onstage as well, to see how they interact with the crowd and that, it’s wee bits like that which you can learn from them.
Lee – You’re learning about showmanship and stuff like that, how to handle a crowd.
What sort of things do you do to handle the crowd then?
Lee – Dodge all the oranges that get thrown at us....(laughs)
What does it mean for the band to come and play in Manchester?
Lee – It’s quite intimidating [Manchester] but we like the challenge – obviously a lot of great bands have come out of Manchester and the people of Manchester obviously know their music so if you’re a s*** band they’ll let you know about it. So far we have had great success and hopefully we can continue to build on that.
Which Manchester bands, past and present, do you draw your influences from then?
Garry – Oasis.
Lee – Obvious ones being the daddies Oasis, yeah, The Charlatans, The Smiths and obviously the Stone Roses.
What do you think about bands like The Stone Roses, The Happy Monday and New Order getting back together this year? Is it putting Manchester back on the musical map or is the city is trying to cling on to a past it once had?
Garry – Well, they’re sort of having to come back because there are no bands of that kind of genre who are coming through at the minute. That is exactly the sort of style of stuff that we’re doing so hopefully we can take the reins after a few years and give the industry a wee kick and start building on that.
Lee – I wouldn’t say it’s necessarily about Manchester either. Bands like ours need to try and rescue British guitar music. The industry is a totally changed market to what it was in the 90’s.
The music industry has changed a lot over the last ten years with the innovations on the internet. Each decade has been defined by a great band or a great scene, so with these innovations in mind do you think this decade will be the same?
Lee – The Stone Roses are reforming, Noel Gallagher has had massive success with his album and you know what, The Enemy and other guitar bands are bringing out albums this year so hopefully it can be a good year and a big surge from bands to bring back guitar music, you know....British music in the way its renowned for.
Have you been to any legendary gigs in Manchester that stick out in your mind?
Lee – We’ve played a couple ourselves and we’ve also been down for a few nights out and it’s madness to say the least – good times! We played at the Ruby Lounge at Alan McGee’s night which was amazing.
What are your plans for the summer?
Lee – Well we just released a double A-side single so we will be touring that for the next six weeks, hopefully creating a buzz within the industry, raising the profile and forcing our music in the face of the industry, forcing our music in the face of the industry and hopefully get some results from that and have a successful summer, maybe get some massive festival slots and maybe get on a support tour with the likes of Miles Kane or something like that.
We’re all still young guys and we’re very patient, you know, so we’re not in any rush to release an album. We’d rather build the fan base so when we release our album it’s going to reach a massive audience and have an impact within the industry.
Social media is a big tool for bands to promote themselves and reach out to the fans, do you see it as important or are you a bit more old school?
Lee – Well, as a band we have a family of people around us – Purple PR for instance – we are very selective about who we let into the circle because we want to be sure they will work as hard as we do, so we don’t let anybody in if they are just gonna waste our time and their time.
Do you have fans from around the world?
Lee – Yeah we do man! We’re pleasantly surprised for the pre-order on the 7” vinyl, 70 per cent of the orders have actually been from places like Australia, Japan and Italy. It’s very encouraging, makes you think, you know, we’re doing something right man, let]s keep pushing on with it.
The Japanese seem to absolutely love British music, can you see yourselves playing over there?
Lee – Well, charity starts at home, let's conquer Britain first, but we’d love to get ourselves across to Europe doing tours, out over to Japan too, and of course the big one, America.
Going back to the five of you guys and your roots, how did you form the band?
Garry – Well, myself, Monty (Lee) and Jimmy were all at school together and after school we just sort of got together. We met Shields and Mick through the music scene and they really seemed to fit the picture and that’s really been it for the last year and a half and we’re starting to make waves now, we’ve found the right click between us, we gel well.
When did you first pick up your instruments?
Lee – It varies really. Some of us have been playing since we were young, others were dancing about off their nuts to dance music at high school and picked up their guitars at 16. We’re all self taught, we’re a very natural band and that’s the best way to be, none of this manufactured s*** that kicks about these days.
What are your opinions on TV talent shows and people aspiring to be famous for five minutes?
Lee – It’s obviously what’s kicking about just now but we have no interest in that. We’ll keep clear of that and push on with what we’re doing and we will get there in the end.
Has your sound evolved since you started out as a band?
Lee – Of course man! Every band does. When you start off you sound like your influences naturally, that’s why you start making music. You then play together and you develop your own styles, you keep writing and it’s like anything, the more you do it the better you get. Hard work and practice means you get places and that sort of where we are right now.
When you aren’t playing a gig and you’re travelling on the road, what do you like to get up to?
Lee – We just like to enjoy ourselves, have a bit of fun and sit in the pub. We’re just lads, normal lads. We are just doing what we’re doing, touring the country, getting to see places you would never see and we’re playing music to people who want to hear our music – it doesn’t get any better than that.
Will you be going to any festivals this summer, as fans?
Lee – Well yeah to kick it all off a few of us are going down to Heaton Park to watch the Stone Roses, you’d be stupid to miss out on that. Then of course T in the Park is our local festival and we’ll be there watching The Stone Roses again and Noel Gallagher. We love festivals man! We love music!
How do you chill out when you’re not playing music, favourite food for instance?
Lee – It’s a liquid diet mate. Mike's a vegetarian as well so he eats ready salted crisps and that’s about it. I love steak too. I’m going to open a steak house if this all goes tits up.
Looking ahead to the next 12 months, where do you see yourselves a year from now?
Lee – Well like I say we want to release a single, tour it, gather a massive following, do some massive shows and get ready for some festivals, land us a support tour, get the industry tapping at our door, million-pound record deal, record the album, number one album, success.
Finally, what can Mancunian fans expect at Moho on April 20?
Lee – The Manchester crowd are pretty riotous anyway so there will be a bit of mischief, great music and a bounce about man. Bring your mates, get pissed – that’s what it’s all about!