‘We’re kind of in this rocky, emo era’: an interview with modernlove.


With a world tour starting within the fortnight and their biggest ever London show coming up, months after opening for The Vamps and New Hope Club and even playing for the Irish president, modernlove. are having a crazy year. I caught up with Barry (vocals) and Cian (drums) two days after the release of their new single, ‘Plans’, to see how these versatile indie pop/rock storytellers were feeling and what their next moves might be.

The Edge: So, you’re on tour in two weeks and you’ve just put out a new single – how are you feeling about it all?

Barry: Yeah, tour always creeps up faster than you expect it. You’re always kind of, we’re sitting there, planning out, you know, our rehearsals and stuff, and saying like, oh, we’ve got ages, we’ve got months, and then suddenly it’s two weeks out and nothing’s ready. Everything is like, we’re keeping busy and it’s nice to have new music coming out especially just before we go out, like new songs to play for people so that’s really exciting.

TE: It seems your sound is evolving already across your three EPs and your two new singles, would you say that was planned or did it surprise you?

Cian: We’ve always been influenced by so much stuff, that when we kind of first started putting music out we were very into, you know, 80s pop music and synthy dance music and then I think over Covid we got into, like, lots of ambient electronic music and then we’ve kind of – me and Barry in particular – rediscovered our emo teenage years, you know. But I think we’ve always been influenced by everything – the longer we’re around the more of our influences you’ll hear. But we do still love making, like, pop music and stuff like that but I think right now we’re kind of in this kind of rocky, emo era.

B: Yeah, I think it’s kind of, like, informed, like, all of those influences are always there and we always kind of want to make all of those kinds of music but it’s kind of informed by, like, the situation that we’re in, so as Cian was saying, like, over Covid all of that, like, ambient electronic music and dance music we started making that because we couldn’t play live music, and that wasn’t a thing that was happening, and then after Covid, going on our first few tours and like, being there with the crowd, you know, in the room, and just being able to like, sing, and like, you know, bang out tunes, that’s kind of, you know, informed the more recent, you know, rockier, sort of just like indie banger type stuff that we’ve been doing recently. Just, songs that are really, really fun to just jam out with your friends and have a singalong with.

TE: You must have experienced some different crowd reactions now, like opening for The Vamps and New Hope Club who have a sort of boyband feel, how does it differ at your own shows?

C: There’s a bit of overlap, I think, we do have that like Vamps fan base, like up the front for a lot of our shows, and then kind of the further back you go, you kind of have like, the lads who have been dragged there by their girlfriends and stuff – you can kind of tell when they come up and meet you afterwards that they’re like, ‘yeah I didn’t really want to be here but you guys are alright’! You know, you get kind of, like, a little bit of everything. We have new fans by the end of it.

B: What I really like is that like, with the sort of like, fanbase, if you can call it that, developing, it really is kind of just like everyone, it’s not like a scene, you know, it’s not like one type of guy or girl or person, it’s just kind of like anyone can kind of be into it, which is cool.

TE: Where would you most like to find your music playing, like in a venue or a movie or something else?

B: When we were in Germany on tour, I wasn’t actually there, but Cian and the guys were, in a music shop in Berlin? Just randomly, Take Me Far Away, one of our songs, was just playing there. We were so far away from home.

C: It was like a five storey mega music shop, and I was down on the ground floor paying for something and I heard it and I was like, that song sounds familiar – oh that’s me! I had to run upstairs and get Danny, and get him to hear this. That was crazy. I’d love it if Greta Gerwig made a movie and put us in it. That’d be sick. I think that would be like the ultimate goal. I think me and Barry both really love Frances Ha, and movies like that.

B: If there was a good, like, Skins type show – but they’re all kind of rubbish now!

C: We’re not cool enough for Euphoria, I don’t think, but we’re definitely cool enough for Skins, you know.

B: Kids aren’t really like that, over in Ireland or the UK. They’re not all 27-year-old actors.

TE: What are your interests during downtime, what do you look forward to once you’ve got time to yourself?

B: I watched loads and loads of movies, and I think what we all kind of do like once we’ve had enough of a break is we end up writing more music, and hanging out.

C: We’re very boring!

B: We don’t really do much else!

C: We play video games, we watch TV, and then we hang out and we write songs. That’s kind of all we’ve done since we were teenagers, our lives and our friend groups have kind of revolved around the band, because it’s been the four of us for so long, so we don’t really see a lot of our friends that much unless it’s the four of us together. So we just kind of stay in, play video games, watch movies, and then write songs about that, I guess.

TE: You sort of come as a set now! What’s it like being on the road as childhood friends?

B: We always say, we couldn’t imagine doing it with anyone who wasn’t, you know, our best friends, like it’s fun, it’s like the most fun thing you do in a band, kind of like the reason that you do it, but it is hard and gruelling when you’ve been away for a month and like, you’re doing 8 or like, 10 hour like, trips in a van every day, across the States and you don’t have any privacy, ever! So it really does matter that the people you’re doing it with are people that you like and kind of get you and yourboundaries and know when you’re pissed off and you need a break and to not be talked to for a while.

C: Yeah, we know when to give each other room and space and I always like, if you read any like biographies on bands and stuff, and you find out like, they absolutely hated each other, I’m like how did you do that, for that long, because like, if I hated any of the guys in the band I couldn’t do it.

B: Yeah, like what’s the point? Like if you’re in it for the money, you’re in the wrong business. You better enjoy it, you know.

TE: What are you listening to right now? Are there any gigs you’d like to see?

C: We’re missing King Krule in Dublin. We couldn’t get tickets for him. His new album is amazing. I’m like, super into, like, Alex G, at the moment, and like Adrianne Lenker from Big Thief, I’m really like, on an acoustic folk buzz at the moment. I don’t know about you, Barry, what are you into?

B: It’s nothing new, but… a lot of that, like, 90s R’n’B and like, modern jazz and stuff. That’s kind of it. I really like going to shows, where, like, I don’t know the artist, and like, a friend just brings it up, and you just go blindly, and discover music that way, that’s kind of fun. And it’s always a lot cheaper, and you know, yeah, it’s just fun.

TE: The way that people discover music is very different to before, when you’d like an artist from the radio, buy their album and listen to every song, isn’t it?

B: Myself and Graham were actually talking about that recently, and Graham would be like an avid record collector, and kind of old school like that, but yeah, I remember like me and Cian going into like an HMV, when we were 13, and you’d just get the excitement of like, going somewhere and maybe going home with an album, that you’ve never heard before, and like back then, like when you were a kid, and music was like, rarer, I suppose? Like you couldn’t just go on the internet and have everything, like every single artist that’s ever made a song, ever, at your fingertips. So, it was kind of more something that you had to go out and explore, even if you did buy like a CD and you listened to it and you didn’t really love it straight away, there was kind of that thing of like, oh, I’ve paid like 20 quid for this and I have no money now so I might as well give it a few more listens and make it worth it. And then, you end up sort of like listening more intently and more like, consciously, and you end up, like, really appreciating that music, whereas now, with Spotify or anything else, like, flying through a playlist, if you don’t like a song immediately, if it’s not like immediately gratifying you just skip, skip, skip and kind of just do that subconsciously. And yeah, there’s not really, I think, as much, like, appreciation for it.

C: And even for us, playing albums, like, back in whenever it was, when we were like 11 or 12, like we live in the countryside, me and Barry, so it wasn’t even a question of like illegally downloading music because our internet was too bad! So, we had to buy CDs.

TE: Is it nice as an artist to know that some people still collect CDs and records, since now, a lot of people don’t actually own a lot of the music that they like? Could you talk about what goes into planning a track order or the visual presentation of physical media or any of that?

B: Yeah, I think, like, it is, like even though I don’t really do it anymore, actually owning something as you were saying and having it there, like even if you have like an EP or a vinyl, and still listen to most of it on Spotify because you’re on the move, and you’re listening to it on your phone, on the way to work or something, like having that sort of there in your room and it being sort of like more of like a part of you, and you like have the physical copy, I think it’s like, important to like, package that in a way that is, that kind of… not explains the music, what am I trying to say…

C: Makes people feel like they’re a part of it, I guess, in a way, if they’re really into your music, and they buy something physical, that they feel like they’re a part of your group or your world that you’re trying to create, you know.

B: Yeah, that was it. That’s what I was trying to say.

TE: You definitely let fans into your world with your last music video. What was that experience like?

C: It was too hot! It was too hot that day. It was like, 32 degrees in London that day, and we had to take big breaks between like each shot, because we would jump around and go mad and then – like Graham nearly passed out, he had to do this shot where he jumped up with his guitar like 8 times and he was like, I have to, I can’t do that again, I need to sit down for like 10 minutes. But it was so nice, to see our like, you know, most hardcore fans like in one place and they were all so nice and it really, it never gets any less mental to us that people care about our music and know who we are and care enough to drop what they’re doing on like a Tuesday and come and film a music video with us, you know, like that blows our minds. We were so grateful for them to come down and make it look as cool as it did.

B: Yeah, and the fact that they kind of like, get the music, you know and that they like, when we write something that means something to us that they really like, understand it and that we’re kind of like all together in that is really nice. The one thing about that day as well is that it was so nerve-wracking because obviously we recorded the music video before the song had been released, and so nobody had heard it, and these fans coming in were the first people outside of us and our team to like, hear the new track, and we had to like, you know, fake performing it for them while it was playing and in our heads we’re like what if they don’t-

C: What if they hate it!? Yeah. What if they just want to leave?

B: They’re great actors. They seemed to enjoy it.

TE: It’s nowhere near over yet but it seems that you’ve had a crazy year, with playing for the president, and festivals, and tour, so do you have any highlights?

C: The president thing, that was, we were kind of walking around going, why, who let us in here? This is crazy, what is going on here.

B: Yeah, and Ireland itself is so like, it’s like not as serious or proper as like, in the States or in the UK whereas like we went to the president’s house and like, the grounds, and once you get in there, there’s like, no security or anything because it’s Ireland, it’s just like ‘ah, sure it’ll be grand’, you know, and then we’re just like walking around the grounds of the president’s house, just like, by ourselves, we could like get up to anything, and no one cares, which is mental. But yeah apart from that I think being over in the States for the first time as a band and like, playing in New York, and me and Cian went up the Empire State Building – I thought we were in Sleepless in Seattle, kind of moment. Yeah, all of that stuff was just stuff you can only hope will happen, and then at the end of that tour, cycling from Santa Monica Pier down to Venice Beach, and stuff like that, kind of just felt not real.

C: Yeah, you see those, like, places on TV and in movies so much and then when you’re there yourself and you’ve gotten yourself there with your best friends in a band and you’ve played, you know, shows you never dreamed you’d play, it’s very surreal.

TE: To finish, there’s a lot of storytelling in your songs, which I’m sure you’ve been asked about before – would you be able to tease any stories that have inspired future songs?

B: I’m thinking…

C: A lot of the songs we have written now, that are inspired by stories, are quite sad, so I don’t know…

B: A lot of the stories are sort of, kind of a bit hazy, because a lot of it happens on crazy nights out. You wake up the next day and you’re trying to piece the stories back together. There’s not one stand-out one for me.

C: [the haziness]is what we’re all about, yeah!

B: I think with the kind of narrative in ‘Plans’, that’s kind of been popping up a lot more in songs and in like, upcoming releases – sort of finding, it sounds really pretentious but like, the art poetry in like really everyday normal life, and just, writing a song about making a plan to go out and like, what you had to drink at dinner and stuff like that, and who paid for the meal. That kind of thing. Yeah, just trying to, yeah, that’s what we’ve been writing a lot about recently.

C: Yeah, really into writing about dinner plans, it’s very artistic.

B: I’ve been going out a lot to cocktail bars, in Dublin, so.

TE: Would you recommend any?

B: Peruke & Periwig, but I’m not sure, because whenever I say it, my girlfriend tells me that I’m saying it wrong!

C: Loose Canon and Frank’s are very nice wine bars in Dublin, if anyone’s into that sort of thing!

modernlove. head out on their world tour in ten days, starting in Glasgow – tickets can be bought here. 

You can also watch their recent music video via the link below and stream all their music, including brand new single ‘Plans’, on all major streaming platforms!



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