LIVE HOPS: Q&A With Modern Merchant

Modern Merchant will be performing Tuesday, February 26 at Cafe Nine in New Haven with Caveman and Computer Magic. I chatted with Modern Merchant about their upcoming record, playing shows, and of course, what beer the band drinks.

You have a new record called For The Fields coming out. You’ve already made one track, “Like Minded” available on your bandcamp. Can you tell me what to expect from the rest of it?

The final stages of releasing our record are taking a bit longer than we expected so we will be releasing it March 30th.  We will be handing out download cards at the Cafe Nine Show for two free songs as a gesture of our gratitude for anyone coming out to see us.  We would tell you which two songs but why ruin the intrigue?

Each song on “For the Fields” definitely has its own flavor, a few are dark and noise, others are a bit more crisp.  Overall there are plenty of 3-part harmonies and dynamic shifts.

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I’ve heard a lot of compliments on the album artwork for this and I really
like it too. Can you tell me a little background behind it and who did it?

 The artwork was designed by the incomparable Brian Cook (thecookblog.com) who has done the majority of our gig posters and also designed our demo cover.  We wanted something that stood out. Brian always creates really tasteful artwork and we couldn’t be more grateful.  He’s basically an honorary member of the band at this point.

The art is really open for interpretation, but here’s how we see it: The majority of the tracking for this album was done in the woods during the onslaught of Hurricane Sandy; we then mixed it during a blizzard up in Buffalo, NY.  Even amidst the pandemonium of these storms, we somehow managed to make something cohesive, and suppose the red letters could symbolize our stedfast bravery during that chaos.

I know you [bassist Mike Skaggs] personally from being an audio engineer. How does that
experience affect the recording process with Modern Merchant?

 Think of how a mechanic works on their own car.  We know how we want it to sound and feel and the engineering experience just helps get that sound more efficiently.  That or drive ourselves crazy, its a double edged sword.

You guys did a brief tour in September- are you planning on touring again
in support of the new record?

Definitely.  We’re planning a short tour at the end of April and working on a bigger tour for this summer.  We had an absolute blast in September and can’t wait to get back on the road.

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I understand that the band as individuals resides in Brooklyn and
Connecticut. Does being in two different states add a different vibe to the
songwriting?

It definitely allows us to cross-examine ourselves a bit more than if we were to always be playing in the same room with one another.  Basically we have to constantly record each song as we are developing them which has worked really well so far.  We always manage to come together at the end – that’s what’s most important.
Your hometown shows in New Haven are always a great time. What’s your
favorite part of playing locally?

We love the enthusiastic crowd and playing for friends and family.  It’s also great that there’s such a tight-knit music scene — bands really support one another other.  And the pizza… bacon, broccoli and mashed potatoes from BAR!

And of course, the beer blog question du jour, what beer will you be
enjoying after the show?

We typically drink IPAs (Sea Hag) but this cold weather is making us want a good stout (Left Hand Milk Stout).

You can check out Modern Merchant’s music on their Bandcamp page, or just come out to Cafe Nine and see them live! Tickets are $10 and are available at Redscroll Records in Wallingford, online, or at the door.

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