Modality – ‘The Importance of Conveying Confronting Conversations in Music’

Modality Fatal Empire EP

Our journey into prog metal continues with Melbourne/Naarm outfit Modality – who are set to release their thought-provoking Fatal Empire EP next month – two years after the release of their initial lead single in the midst of the plague that took over the world. Hellbent on having their music heard, the band, consisting of vocalist Nigel Jackson and bassist Alicia Richards join us at WoS HQ for a look into their lives over the past few years and the music they’ve produced amidst the chaos around them.

So read on as the dynamic prog duo shed light on their upcoming release, the hard-hitting (yet important) subject manner conveyed throughout it, their musical influences and (on a lighter note) if facial piercings were a prerequisite in joining the band…

***trigger warning: sexual assault***

Modality – it’s a pleasure to chat with you! Before we talk about your killer new tracks and forthcoming EP – please tell us how you came to be?

NigelWell, after my old band (Branch Arterial) broke up, I wasn’t ready to throw in the towel just yet. So then I started writing songs by myself in my room, just on an acoustic guitar. It was never quite the same without a full band, so I decided to create a new project which came to be known as Modality.

You’re an atmospheric prog-metal band combining screams, djent-filled riffs and alluring vocal delivery akin to that of Evanescence, Periphery and Northlane – who would you say are your biggest influences with your band’s sound and how do you make it your own in studio?

Alicia – Periphery and Northlane are huge inspirations to us, and another big one would have to be Spiritbox. With that being said, we always want to sound like ‘Modality’, and not try to imitate other bands. When we’re writing, we don’t want to be restricted by genres, and we always try to serve the purpose of the song, and make all the instrumental elements fit the underlying message and mood of the song. We’re not afraid to experiment in the studio with different sounds and techniques.

Your first single ‘The Void‘ dropped back in the midst of the pandemic – what was the biggest lesson you learned as musicians releasing music in troubled times and how did it affect your progression as a unit?

Nigel It made it very difficult to actually finish the track, as well as the rest of the EP as we couldn’t go to our producer’s studio to track properly. Mentally, we got a bit stir crazy when our progression was stopped. Not being able to play live was a big hit to our motivation – with the future of the music industry being so uncertain, as well as everything else going on at this time. The biggest lesson we learnt is to be grateful for what you’ve got, because it can be taken away from you so quickly.

Your second single ‘Hope is For The Hopeless’ is a certified slapper – I can’t work out if I love the bassy tones, the drum fills or the screams more – what’s this song all about and how was it conceived?

Alicia – Haha thanks man! I like that you started on a light note because we’re about to take it right back down. I will preface this next part by giving a *trigger warning* for sexual assault.

The instrumental part of this track was originally written by Ted Furuhashi (CIRCLES) with the intention of becoming a CIRCLES track, however it didn’t suit the direction that they were going in at the time. Nigel had a conversation with Ted at Progfest 2019 about him potentially giving him a track to put vocals over, and the legend came through! Ted had the title for the track already, which quickly spurred ideas for lyrics.

‘Hope is for the Hopeless’ has been through many changes, but the core message has always remained constant. During the lockdown, we were watching a lot of documentaries about historical sexual abuse within the Catholic Church. Victims in their 30s and 40s were coming forward with their horrific childhood stories of abuse, the impact of which was still very present and devastating, even decades later. Eventually we stopped watching because it was too heavy.

We wanted to help give the victims a voice, and try to expose the monsters who have been hiding behind closed doors for too long.

Nigel We wanted to expose the demons in the allegedly holy place. 

Brutal, but definitely needed to be called out. Good on you! You’re a two-piece band, but how will you translate that sound on stage at your upcoming EP launch show at Stay Gold on September 23rd?

Nigel Although it would be very entertaining to watch me and Alicia struggle to play guitar, drums, bass and sing all at the same time, fortunately for everyone we will be joined by the magnificently handsome and talented guys from Naberus, with Dan Ralph on guitar and Chris Sheppard on drums. Huge shoutout to those guys – we wouldn’t be able to put the show on without them!

When looking for studio/session musicians – was one of the requirements for joining that they had to have no less than two facial piercings (like you and Alicia) or was that a coincidence?

Nigel Hahaha great question! Firstly, Alicia wouldn’t be in the band if she didn’t have facial piercings, and secondly, that’s why Dan and Chris are not official yet!

Alicia – Piercings are definitely a prerequisite!

Nigel Image is everything this band is about (jks) – we wanted to look like a cool version of the Backstreet Boys, but I’m not sure if it’s coming across! We might have some work to do…

You’re releasing your Fatal Empire EP on September 16th – featuring already released singles ‘The Void’, ‘Hope is For The Hopeless’ and ‘Glass House’. There are also some very confronting themes discussed in the lyrical content throughout the EP. What drew you to cover this hard-hitting subject matter so early into your careers?

Nigel For me, those topics have always been of interest, and it’s very personal. Music has always been a vessel for me to convey my views about these heavy topics.

Alicia – When we’re writing, we usually try to make sure that the lyrics don’t come across as too literal, so that people can interpret the songs and relate to them in their own way. The tracks will always have a unique meaning to us all as individuals.

A lot of the bands we’ve covered on Wall of Sound have spoken out about the importance of highlighting social issues in their music – which they hope will open doors of communication between the band and their listeners – do you agree with that statement or do you have another reason for covering that subject manner in your music.

Alicia – Yes of course – we always want to start conversations and spread awareness about social issues, especially the ones we spoke about earlier. Often they’re hard and confronting conversations that people would prefer to sweep under the rug, but the people who experienced these things first-hand had to endure horrors worse than many of us will ever know. By talking about these things, we can learn and remember to be more compassionate towards others, because we don’t know what everyone else has been through.

Nigel If we can speak to anyone who has been through these traumas in their lives, and even just help one person, that would be enough for us. We realise that heavy topics aren’t always something that people relate to, but if our music resonates with anyone for whatever reason, that inspires us to keep going.

Great motivation and purpose gang! You’re teaming up with Ultravlt, NTH RD and Everlyne for your upcoming show (tickets here) – what was it about these bands that made you go – yep, we need to have them on the lineup?

Alicia – We’re all about energy at live shows, and we reckon that all of these bands sharing the stage together is a recipe for a great night!

And if they’re reading and watching – who are the three bands right now that you wouldn’t hesitate in saying yes to joining on a tour?

Nigel Apart from the three bands you mentioned at the start (Evanescence, Periphery and Northlane) we would be STOKED if we were to ever share the stage with bands such as Spiritbox, Monuments and Crossfaith. That would be dreams come true right there!

Manifest that shit yo! Any final thoughts?

NigelGet yourselves some tickets to our Fatal Empire EP launch show at Stay Gold in Melbourne, as we can’t wait to play these new songs live for you all! If you’re not in Melbourne, don’t worry, Modality won’t be slowing down any time soon and we will be touring after the launch! Thanks to everyone for the support so far, it means a lot to us.

Alicia – Thanks Browny for taking the time to chat to us!

Interview by Paul ‘Browny’ Brown @brownypaul

*If you or anyone you know needs help with their own mental well-being call Beyond Blue on 1300 22 4636, Lifeline on 13 11 14, or find your closest Suicide Prevention/Crisis Support Organisation on Google*

Follow Modality on Facebook | Instagram

Modality‘s Fatal Empire EP is out Sept 16th.
Pre-order/save here

Modality – Fatal Empire EP tracklisting

1. Apex
2. Death Party
3. Hope is for the Hopeless
4. Glass House
5. The Void
6. Filth

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About Paul 'Browny' Brown (3496 Articles)
Dad, Wall of Sound Boss Man/Editorial Manager, Moshpit Enthusiast & Professional Beard Grower!