tunesday – mod con interview
The Melbourne post-punk outfit is itching to perform its new record to audiences.
Erica Dunn, Sara Retallick and Raquel Solier are rather busy people. On top of making music through a handful of other bands and solo projects, the trio form the Melbourne post-punk outfit MOD CON. They've also just dropped their awaited second studio album, Modern Condition.
We spoke to Erica, the band’s guitarist and vocalist (and member of Tropical Fuck Storm, Harmony and Palm Springs), about the record.
How long has Modern Condition been in the works? We wrote some of the songs before we toured France in 2019 and tested them out on the road. We weren’t able to record in 2020 due to lockdown, so I did a lot of writing. We got into the studio in early 2021 and it was a mad scramble to get the tracks down. Looking back, I’m amazed that we managed to get it all in line while facing so many obstacles. It’s been tough for everyone out there but this record is the silver lining of the year for me.
Which track was the most fun to write? "Mouth of Stone". It’s the weirdest, most free-form track on the album. It’s a stream-of-consciousness poem about the Bocca della Verità in Rome and the legend behind it. When we were playing around with the melody and lyrics, we knew we didn’t want to do anything straightforward, so the structure is strange, the harmonies are atonal, and Raquel made percussion tracks by chucking all kinds of stuff at the drum kit, including her nunchakus!
The record touches on climate change, capitalism and politics. What draws you to such meaty themes? They’re pretty hard to escape at the moment. Songwriting is a means to process everything that’s going on around me; we’re facing many frustrating, heartbreaking, confusing things and they all turn up in the songs.
Who (or what) has influenced the sound of the album? John Lee, who recorded the album. His calm influence and curious nature were a real bedrock in the studio. He enabled us to feel confident in our choices and gave us space to stretch out and play a lot to get into a good pocket. He also kept the coffee and conversation flowing at high volume.
What do you want listeners to get out of the record? I’d like them to think, “Holy hell! I wanna see this band live,” and then come out to a show.
How do you get the creative juices flowing? I have my best ideas while walking my dog by the Merri Creek, near my house. I might’ve been staring at the wall all day with absolutely nothin’ to show for it, and then I’d go for a walk and the pieces would fall together. I’m the odd one out among the joggers on the creek track, making babbling voice memos with my phone.
Everyone in the band is involved in other musical projects. How do you find the time and energy to make an album while balancing your lives outside of MOD CON? I think it’s a predisposition to introspection and madness! Nah, it’s probably a testament to our friendship. Something happens when we all get in one room together that I can’t find anywhere else. We push each other’s buttons musically and have a hell of a lot of fun.
What’s next for the band? We are bursting to play the album live to audiences! We have plans to get on the road this summer, especially as festivals start up again. But before a live show even gets to happen, just the thought of Sara, Raquel and I getting together and playing in the lounge room is a goddamn dream.