An Interview With Modern Life Elixir

Q: How did Modern Life Elixir come together as a band?

A: Sometime in 2021 I (Max) put out an ad looking for bandmates and got a message from Trevor and Dave, we’ve been practicing ever since. They have been best friends for a long time, and are good at picking up what I am putting down. It has always felt uncomplicated and natural and those are always the best signs to follow. They have a lot more experience playing shows and being in bands than I do, so I think we balance each other out well.

Q: What inspired the name “Wet Fleece” for your latest EP?

A: I keep a list of words around me, I’ll just write down phrases or words that sound like they would be good song titles or album names. I said at practice one time we might call the EP ‘Wet Fleece’ and I think it was Trevor who got it right away, but not in the way I was expecting. He viewed it as ‘something that used to be comforting but now is not’. It felt very in line with a lot of what the songs are about, the sourness of aging, letting go of things that don’t serve you anymore. I originally viewed it as the result of an action, like crying into your blankets. There is also a part of the bible, Gideon lays down sheep’s fleece overnight, and if it is wet by the morning he has some assurance of God’s will or existence. I am far from religious, but I found the story relatable in my life.

Q: What was the creative process like for “Wet Fleece”?

A: A lot of the music was recorded by myself in my living room over the course of 1 year. Creatively, it came about in different bits and pieces. A lot of the songs were half done or just ideas sitting on my computer. I’d record little vocal parts here and there, or if I had a verse that came out really well I felt the need to justify its existence by building a song around it. I try my best to be organized and have a full gameplan, but sometimes you need to step away from things to let them grow in your mind, and then come back with a different perspective. 1 year seems like a good amount of time for any small album. There had been some suggestions about getting someone to master, or seeking out a producer, but I’ve always thought the areas in which I’m lacking can maybe be the areas that make the sound of the EP unique to some degree.

Q: Can you describe the sound and style of “Wet Fleece”?

A: I would describe it as synth pop-rock, with a nostalgic kind of style. It uses chord progressions that are happy or optimistic with lyrical content that doesn’t always follow suit. It can be kind of campy in some parts, serious in others, almost juvenile to a degree. In my head I liked this idea that the instrumentation sounded really fun, but lyrically it’s almost feeling guilty about the way it’s sounding. I think that’s why it feels like a few bright and happy pop songs sandwiched in between some more contemplative, heavier sounding tracks.

Q: What has been the biggest challenge for Modern Life Elixir as a band?

A: As a band, probably just perfecting our live act and navigating where to start in terms of playing shows. In present times, making music or being in a band means something totally different than when the 3 of us were growing up. A lot of our influences had a different road to follow, so it’s about finding where we fit into the world. It used to be that you jammed together and eventually went into the studio to make an album. In our situation, we have a bunch of recorded music we’re proud of and want to make sure when we get on stage we can do the sound we’re pushing for some justice. We are 89% ready, when we want to be 120%.

Q: Which song from “Wet Fleece” is your personal favorite and why?

A: It changes from day to day the more I listen back to the whole EP, but ‘Gel’ is one of my favorites. It is the most fun to play, and thematically captures the essence of what I like about songwriting. I started writing a song about self pleasure and by the end had a piece of music that makes observations about addiction, the passing of youth, and criminal activity, all while tying back into the original concept. When things transform and tie into each other over time, room is left for the listener to interpret their own meanings. To me that makes a good song great. If I can draw lines between immature ideas and something more meaningful, it makes the concept feel validated or honest.

Q: What has been the most memorable moment in Modern Life Elixir’s career so far?

A: I think maybe the here and now, putting out this EP, becoming that much closer to getting onstage, and having the support from Dave and Trevor. What once felt like something I used to do when I was alone now feels like it’s real and tangible, and even if it doesn’t feel that memorable in the moment, I know I will look back with fond memories in the chaos of how we’re working to bring this all together.

Q: What do you hope listeners take away from “Wet Fleece”?

I will be happy if listeners take anything from Wet Fleece. This is my open endorsement to loot the album for anything it’s worth. A few seconds, a word or two, it all means something to me, but I am more interested in what it might mean to someone else. I guess if I could hope for anything, it’s a reaction.

Q: Are there any specific artists or genres that influenced the sound of “Wet Fleece”?

A: There are a ton of influences going on, so it’s hard to say one specific band. I was very into anything vaporwave/George Clanton related for the longest time. At the time all of this was being recorded, I was getting back into guitar-centric music, The Smashing Pumpkins are a big one, especially for Dave he’s a massive fan, more so for heavier tracks like ‘Ready’. The whole girls and boys vocal line at the end of ‘Cardio’ was very much influenced by Prozzak. I also was listening to a lot of pop bands from the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s. One bigger influence on me is the Canadian band Sky. They had such a cool sense of bright pop songs with an RnB influence, songs like ‘Shave’ and ‘America’ have been on repeat for me all year. I was very saddened to hear about James Renalds passing in 2018, he seemed like a complex guy that managed to express it all in these shiny radio friendly hits. Feels like some aspect of that band’s story and sound resonated with me alot when making this album.

Q: What’s next for Modern Life Elixir? Any upcoming projects or shows?

A: Right now we are fixated on practicing as much as possible and planning on being ready for a show by August or September. In the meantime, we’re looking for possible management or label representation. I also spend a lot of time daydreaming about what the next EP will sound like, and how the 3 of us can use our influences and musical backgrounds to create more music that expands on what we’ve done so far.

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