Tuesday, 21st August 2018. 11:35:33am ET
Interviews (EBM, Electro, Electronica) Interview: MODULATE -The cream of Manchester. No, not Boddingtons..

Modulate Interview

Interview Date - 8th August 2011

Interviewer – Phill Bruce

Photographs – Copyright Nick Benk

Modulate 1


Phill - First of all, I would like to thank all members of the band for agreeing to do this interview for Grave Concerns Ezine during your intensely busy touring schedule.  May I ask, what made you decide to diverge from the scene, to create something completely different in the alternative scene?


Modulate – I think you start out initially making music that sounds like the people you admire and eventually you discover your own sound, your own take on that, your own unique influences and inspiration.  The best piece of advice I ever received was on our first tour with VNV Nation, Ronan said to me, “Find your own sound and develop that, no band ever became hugely successful sounding like somebody else”.  I wholly agree, so although we take influences from all over, the combination is uniquely Modulate.

Phill - At what point in your life has music been so inspirational to you on a personal level that you decided you wanted to make it your career?

Modulate – Probably the first gig I ever went to, Guns n Roses/Faith No More/Soundgarden in Manchester.  I just stood there and went, “I want to do that”. 

Phill - When you released the Skullfuck EP in 2007 did you realise that it would be so much of an iconic hit in Germany? And how did it make you feel that your debut EP had such an impact within the alternative music industry?

Modulate – I think it turned into an iconic hit everywhere!  Somebody said to me, “You do realise you’ve done with your first record what most bands try to do their entire careers?”  I think we knew it could be a huge hit, from the first time I spun it in a DJ set and the place exploded.  We knew what it could do but even so, it’s still something else for it to actually happen. 

Phill – You have successfully become one of the most recognisably famous re-mixers on the alternative music scene, from all of all the collaborations you have done which would you class as an instant favourite from your back catalogue off tracks?

Modulate – It’s hard to pick a favourite.  I think the ones I’m most happiest with are the Faderhead – Dirty Girls, Suicide Commando – Die Motherfucker Die and Soman – Divine remixes.  All for different reasons.  Dirty Girls because apart from the sample I threw everything from the original away and put my own stamp on it, Suicide Commando because it absolutely slams and the Divine mix because it was such an iconic song already and I came to it a few years later thinking, “What do I do with this?”.  It was such a simple track that I wanted to keep the original vibe but put my take on it and I was really happy with how it came out.  I’ve heard sometimes Soman plays my remix in his live shows which is a huge compliment.  And we’ve joined Faderhead on stage to perform the remix too so it’s always nice when the artists you remix are happy with the results. 

Modulate 2

Geoff Lee of Modulate, Copyright Nick Benk 2010.

Phill - If you could transform and re-mix any song to add to your next album, what would that track be?

Modulate - I’m not sure I want to have any remixes on the new album.  Remixes are great for clubs but I think albums should be albums.  Never been a fan of tacking them on afterwards.

Phill - Geoff you are a resident DJ at The Wendyhouse in Leeds, which is one of Europe’s best alternative clubs, can you tell us what is it like play a set at such an iconic club?

Modulate – We are really proud of what we achieved with The Wendy House.  When me and Gill joined 8 years ago the club had just expanded into a much bigger venue and the Mutate room would get a handful of people going in there.  Now it draws hundreds of people in its own right and from that Modulate grew too as I wanted to write my own music to have something unique to play, so in that sense we are hugely proud of everything it has become.  To have any club night that runs for 13 years is an amazing achievement.

Phill - Is there any venue in the world that you would personally like to play?

Modulate – I think one of the big outdoor festivals, maybe main stage at Mera Luna or the Agra Halle at WGT, a UK festival like Glastonbury or a big arena show.  I think we work well on the bigger stages, esp with all the projections and big lighting rigs.  A big setup with a huge LED wall and some amazing visual artists would be my dream. 

Phill - How do you come up with your set lists Geoff whilst entertaining the public attending the events you are playing at?

Modulate – I have an idea of what I’d like to play, a mix of stuff I think will work well, then probably some new tracks.  Then you get there and play and you feed back off the audience and what you end up playing might bear no resemblance to what you thought you would play but they are often the best nights, when there is that two way connection between you and the audience.  It comes down to reading the ground and figuring out the journey you are both on, sometimes you guide the audience, sometimes they guide you. 

Phill – Having toured all over the world, have you noticed and discovered any differences in the fans enthusiasm from country to country. Who would you say has the most passion, which are the craziest, and the hardest to entertain?

Modulate – It’s hard to say as we have played various countries at different times in our career.  Our first European tour with VNV Nation was before we had even released our first record, so nobody knew who we were.  Then when we toured with Combichrist the first EP had blown up, so people knew exactly who we were and the reaction was fantastic.  People say German crowds can be less enthusiastic but our last two shows in Germany have been absolutely amazing at WGT in Leipzig and the Batschkapp in Frankfurt.  We’ve just got back from playing the Kinetik festival in Canada and the crowd was amazing so I think we’ve reached a point now where people know who we are and we have our own fans.

Phill - What genre would you class your style of music is from?

Modulate – Whatever people say it is.  I don’t class it as anything beyond hard stompy electro dance music.

Phill – You have toured with some of the greats on the alternative music scene notably VNV Nation and Combichrist, is there any band you would like to share the bill with?

Modulate – Maybe somebody like The Prodigy, Chemical Brothers, Orbital, Underworld, a tour with them would be fantastic.  We’ve played shows with practically every major scene act now, Front 242, Suicide Commando, FLA, VNV, Covenant, Combichrist, Alec Empire etc.  Touring is great, we love it.   

Modulate 3

Copyright Nick Benk

Phill – Is there any instrument/program that helps define that Modulate sound?

Modulate – Not really.  A PC, Cubase, a keyboard, a few soft synths, a sampler for drums and an Access Virus.  That’s pretty much it.  You could use exactly the same equipment and come up with something completely different.  Sound is rarely about the equipment you use but how you use it.  The sound you make comes from your ability to craft it.  Instruments are just tools.  Colours on a painter’s palette...what you paint from those colours is entirely up to you. 

Phill – What are your views on the current alternative music scene, how did you think it has changed over the last few years and where do you think it is heading?

Modulate – These things go in cycles. Rock, indie, pop, rock, indie, pop, dance, whatever happens to be in fashion.  I do think the greater music industry dealt itself a huge blow by trying to manufacture acts and heavily produce them instead of letting them get on with it and creating something original.  Thankfully I have labels that give me free reign on what I write and value you as an artist.  But when it comes to what is being displayed on TV, on the radio, pushed by major labels, it’s very very conservative at the moment.  Either you fit a certain sound or you are nobody to them and that’s a very blinkered and I believe ultimately self destructive way of looking at things.

Phill – Where would you like to see Modulate go in the next few years?

Modulate – Onwards, upwards, we’ll see how far we go.  Why not?  We’ll keep doing what we do, hopefully we’ll keep improving on all levels, musically, performance wise, bigger better shows to more people in more places.   

Phill – The internet has played a big part in bringing new music to the masses, could you put any part of your success to the internet and how has the internet affected you as a band?

Modulate – We came from an era where bands used the internet heavily in their early promotion so I can’t really imagine Modulate without the internet, it’s so intrinsic to our lives these days that it’s like asking a band “How did you get along before radio?”  It’s our connection with the fans.  It’s how people buy our music, it’s how we promote ourselves, our shows, conduct interviews, it’s the medium that enables us to exist and be known worldwide.  I met my North American label boss in person for the second time ever last week, until then we communicated entirely on the internet.  It’s impossible to overstate the importance of the internet to any band in 2011.

Modulate 4

Copyright Nick Benk

Phill – Is there anyone in history you would have liked to have known, and why?

Modulate – Albert Einstein.  Decades later we are only just able to test some of his theories and so far, they are still standing.  I’m on a major theoretical physics kick at the moment.   

Phill – What’s your favourite alcoholic beverage?

Modulate – Good beer, esp Belgian, good red wine and good vodka.  Vodka + Red Bull is my party fuel.

Phill – Who would you least like to meet down a dark alley?

Modulate – I don’t want to meet anybody down a dark alley! 

Phill – What is your favourite television series?

Modulate – I don’t really watch television.  True Blood or The Mighty Boosh. 

Phill – We all like to smile, what makes you smile and why?

Modulate – Being silly, playing live shows, my friends. 

Phill – Thanks for giving us at Grave Concerns this interview, is there anything you would like to add?

Modulate – No. 

Phill - Thanks again and good luck with the Robots tour this year.  I look forward to seeing you at the Manchester stop of your tour.

Visit Modulate online: http://www.modulateonline.com/


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