There's rock and then there's Modern Legion: the new, young Australian rock band set to take the world by storm.
Formed in the summer of 2007 from the ashes of some notable local bands, the band - Steph Collis (vocals), Matt Wilkinson (guitar), Adrian Santospirito (guitar), Baz Brauer (bass, Dave Szental (drums) - have just come back from the States where they recorded their highly-anticipated debut album. The flagship release for the brand-new ManaSonic Music label, it was produced by Grammy-winning producer Scott Mathews (David Bowie, Beach Boys, Keith Richards, Mick Jagger) and features special guests ranging from Huey Lewis of '& the news' fame, Van Dyke Parks (Brian Wilson, Bruce Springsteen, Byrds, Silverchair & Randy Newman) to a California beauty queen.
Though none of Modern Legion is older than 23, all are veterans on the Australian rock circuit. Steph and Barry's Geelong band The Whiteroom, signed to Roadrunner at age 16, had a hit with the song "Enemies Closer" in 2006 and toured arenas with Nickelback; Matt Wilkinson and Adrian Santospirito's Geelong band The Jades made the acclaimed EP "New Wave Chocolate" that garnered extensive radio play in the UK aand Australia. Dave Szental drummed with a number of
AlternativeInformant: How long have you been involved in the music industry?
The Modern Legion: We've all been in bands since we were around 13 years old, so around ten years, and the last 6 or so being semi professional... not just kids jamming in a garage :) Steph (vox) and Baz (bass) we're in an Australian band called the Whiteroom signed to roadrunner records & toured Australia extensively with the likes of Nickelback in oz's biggest venues & arenas.... and Adrian (keys) & myself (guitar/vox) were in 'The Jades' with a successful single/ep release here in oz & a tour of the UK under the belt. So there's a fair bit of experience in the group.
AlternativeInformant: How would you describe the sound of the group and the genre of music you produce?
The Modern Legion: Well... if I had to try and describe it, I’d say... imagine you were listening to Fleetwood Mac’s 'rumours' then you were kicked in the ear by an Atari & pummelled by his orchestra pals! But its indie rock with some kick 70's overtones, some great softer tunes with a nice mix of good old face melting rock n roll tracks.
AlternativeInformant: What differentiates you from other groups that produce the same or similar sounding music?The Modern Legion: The male/female voice combo. I do a lot of singing with steph on nearly every tune, and the harmony work is very prominent. So straight away that gives us an edge. There aren’t a lot of bands out there with a female vocalist pulling the kind of sound we have. Plus we built our keyboard player out of matchsticks.... so that differentiates us a tad!
AlternativeInformant: Does your music have a message?
The Modern Legion: It’s not really preachy music or anything like that, it’s more personal. We write about ourselves and our experiences in life in a way that allows the listener to take from it whatever he or she wants to. We love wordplay, so we don’t have a lot of 'you' 'me' 'he' 'she' one dimensional lyrics... they are more objective allowing anybody reading them or listening to them to apply them to their own situation. Whatever it may be.
If you play the record in reverse it has a hidden message for building a keyboard player... but that's about it.
AlternativeInformant: What are the most enjoyable things about performing?
Matt: That minute or so just before you hit the stage & you can feel the rush hit you like a bus. Nothing beats belting out your tunes live and seeing how they effect the people right in front of you. Recording is great fun & and you can achieve so much... but being able to pull it off live & entertaining... that's where it's at.
Steph: It’s the atmosphere. The adrenaline you get on stage, the people you meet at the shows, the bands you become friends with on the road, the feeling you get when you see a member of the crowd reacting to your music. The best part is though, when you finish the last song and you get an overwhelming sense of satisfaction. It’s a totally different world from writing and recording your songs, it’s a chance to give life to them.
Baz: Seeing all the hard work pay off, you practice your ass off and live very poor (financially) for a long time, just great to see the smiles on people’s faces when it all comes together.
Dave: I get to hit drums while drinking beer and looking at pretty girls. That's a combination of the 3 greatest things in the world. Plus from the drums I get to look at Matt's ass.
Adrian: The excitement and buzz you get from playing a killer show in front an audience that appreciates it. The energy that you and the crowd both create together is a feeling that only a musician will ever understand. It certainly is a priceless moment.
AlternativeInformant: How did the name Rebel come about and how did it change to The Modern Legion?
The Modern Legion: Rebel was the name we started out with, we took it from the
AlternativeInformant: Are there any artists or groups that influence your music?
The Modern Legion: So many. We are all big Beatle fans & have been, as most people' since we were all kids. I think this is where our strong use of harmony was derived from. Also bands like Muse, Fleetwood Mac, Nick Drake, The Durocs, Sleepy Jackson, Van Halen, George Harrison & Huey Lewis & the news.... which was crazy because we actually were lucky enough to have Huey Lewis come in to the studio while we were recording the album in San Francisco & do a little bit of vocal work for our record. Being a big fan it was great to meet him, he was terrific guy & funny as hell! Other bands like Silverchair here in
AlternativeInformant: What have been your favourite tracks to make and why?
Matt: My favourite tracks to work on were tunes called 'In Fashion' & 'Into the Sun'. In Fashion because it was the first time I’d been able to use/hear live strings & brass in the studio... and arranging string lines with our producer Scott Mathews was an amazing experience & the end result speaks for itself. 'Into the Sun' was also mind blowing in that we got to work with none other than Mr Van Dyke Parks. (beach boys, the byrds, silverchair) He arranged an amazing accordion part over this, one of our softer songs & was amazing to work with... his parts along with a guest appearance on the Uke by renound rock journalist Sylvie Simmons (mojo, rolling stone fame) helped to make the song sound as beautiful as it does.
Steph: Their weren’t any specific tracks that were more enjoyable to record, but there were parts that we all had fun doing. Like the tracks when we were all in the room clapping, or yelling, or hitting biscuit tins. I’m sure if you soloed these tracks and turned them up you could hear us laughing.
Baz: I had a great time recording 'into the sun', my first time playing an upright double bass, and all the songs on the album that I used a 1963 hoffner bass on. Also 'its now' was a great experience because of the pace and intensity of the song. Had to have our weeties that morning!!
Dave: Fading Away. This song has great groove and a soulful vibe.
Adrian: My favourite track to work on would defiantly have to be December Morning as I got the chance to play a Steinway grand piano which made me warm and fuzzy inside.
AlternativeInformant: Finally, what does the future hold for The Modern Legion?The Modern Legion: 2008 holds our debut album release and extensive touring of the