INTERVIEW: MOD SUN on BB and staying true to yourself!
A few weeks ago, I met up with Minnesota’s own Mod Sun just an hour or so before he took the stage at Sonia’s in Cambridge for a well in advance sold out performance. But these sold out shows don’t affect how he approaches this tour. The praise/support that has come for “BB”, his latest full length effort, is a nice thing but it’s not the end game for this talented act. As someone who has covered Mod since 2011, he is the same person who I met back then and in our latest interview, it was only clear that these years haven’t changed him.
As referenced in the interview, there was a camera in play and not on my end but it added a different element to this interview. While Mod has been the subject of many video interviews, it’s not something I’ve worked with a lot and definitely was a good surprise. This is easily my favorite chat I’ve had with Mod over the years. It shows his beyond average intelligence and his grasp for what he is as an artist. Find our chat below and keep your eye peeled for much more coming from this guy, who promised he’s already writing new music and shows no plans of stopping anytime soon!
So it hasn’t been that long since you’ve been in Boston, you were here last year but you have the new record. Obviously you really consistently release new music. You’ve sold out tonight, you’ve sold out most of the shows if not all the shows.
Yeah, we’re on a really great run!
So maybe how have these shows been going? Is it a big focus on the new record?
Well, okay, the focus of the show, well one thing. Its’ twenty six songs so it’s the longest set I’ve ever played. This is the best tour we’ve ever played. I have that moment every night where I’ve been like, ‘Everybody in the audience, put up your hands if you’re seeing me for the first time tonight’ and there’s so many people. And I celebrate my day ones heavily. We know each other by first name but I’ve been on this journey for so long and now to substantially build something while on the road, you want to play an amazing show. And make sure that the people that are there go out and tell everyone that you can’t miss him the next time he comes to town and that seems to be what is happening right now. Because it is all sorts of new faces and it’s just wonderful that it’s happening at this moment. I’ve been waiting for it.
You have, and you’ve worked hard for it.
Yes I have.
What record is this now for you? I mean it has to be a ton. Between the mixtapes and the full lengths.
I know that it’s over a thousand songs released. Over a thousand songs have been released. Out in the public and that’s not to mention that there’s five thousand plus songs on my computer.
And you had such a long career even before you started doing Mod Sun. Playing in other bands. Maybe when do you think you first started writing the music for Mod Sun in particular?
Well the moment happened like this. I was sitting at a restaurant with my old band and I was so tired of making this sad, dreary music. I wanted to be part of music that’s positive and celebrate. I was in a band that screamed, and I’ll never forget it. I was sitting at the table and I looked at them like, “Can we make songs that are like ‘let’s celebrate’”. Screaming it, and they fucking laughed at me so hard. They were like you’re kidding me, haha, no way. And I was like, fuck that. My goal is to make music that is celebrating life, being happy. So that’s kind of when it started. Literally I remember that day.
And do you think even though you have written so many songs, like you said, there are about a thousand out there, do you think the process still changes? Has it become a process that just comes really natural to you? Like maybe for “BB” how did the writing go?
“BB” was built off the quote that Tom Petty said where he said he’s written so many songs in my life and every time I’m writing a song, I get to a point where you can either make the song do something or let the song do whatever it’s going to do. It’s the crossroads of it. And he was like I’ve done both of them so many times. Gone on both roads. Every time I’ve made a classic, I let the song do its’ thing. So “BB” was all based off no second guessing. Let it be channeled through you and let it just ooze out of you. So that was the kind of whole basis of the last record. To just kind of be no preparation.
Like imagine someone turning the camera on in front of you and you had no idea the camera was going to be there, then imagine being the person who’s getting ready for an interview. And the camera’s going to be there and they know it. Its’ two different mind sets. Both of them can be great. I just want you to turn on the camera and let me just see what happens. I’m totally okay with being embarrassed, I’m totally okay with it not being awesome, and I’m okay with all of that. Through that, you will also see a real human being and I think that’s why I’m being gravitated to right now.
And how long have you been doing this element of it, having everything recorded? Did you start doing this at the beginning of the tour? Did you start it during the recording process of “BB”? Has this been something you’ve done for years?
I’d like to say this right now. I’m not late into my career, I’m far into it. So at this point, it’s just trusting that I’m dope. It’s trusting that without there being sold out shows before days like this, I still was doing great music. Still was saying great things and working my hardest. So the message remains in the fact that I was happy before right now but when I just decided to completely let go and just kind of be channeled and be myself like I was just saying, let people watch me go from just caterpillar to butterfly. That’s what I think people are gravitating too. It’s not necessarily the music, it’s not necessarily the books, and it’s the whole essence of being this dude really lives what he says. He lives his songs every day. He’s not just writing them and hoping people like them. He’s literally living these fucking words.
Yeah because you’re still so similar to who you were in the beginning. I think my earliest interview with you was literally on a Summer Set tour, that’s how long it’s been, and you’re still that same person.
Thank you, I appreciate that. That’s something that I’m striving for right now is to make sure that people understand that your worst mistake is your best advice. People having a past that their embarrassed of is not cool. Be proud as fuck of your past and wear that with you every day and people will notice.
Then you’re only about ten dates into this tour.
Yeah I’ve had little breaks and that. So total, I’ve been out for almost four weeks now but I had a little week where I went away and chilled for a little bit and then came back to it.
Well with the record so new, you’re constantly writing. Kind of what is the plan for these next few months for Mod Sun after this tour?
Well I have my studio with me and I’ve been making tons of new music. And I want to continue just letting the music come out when I want it to come out and not having some campaign and bullshit like “Ten days to release!” Just fucking drop it and see what happens. I really like that right now people have the choice of what’s actually happening. I think when you make a big campaign, you can’t appreciate all of the success because it’s like oh we put in all this work for it. It’s not like the song is awesome, it’s like we spent three months promoting the song. I just like to see the success of something being based off the people’s word of it.
So that being said, I have new music coming and I’ve been working on a poetry book. So that’s it and I’m trying to make sure that due to the fact that things are going better than ever right now, that that doesn’t affect my work cycle. Meaning like take advantage of the moment and just put another thing out, no fuck that. Like I said, I think people are gravitating to me right now more than ever because they’re seeing a human being be real as fuck. And not hiding the truth and being unapologetic about it.
I think that every artist that you’ve seen be big in the last thirty years basically works a while, sees what works for them, centers on that, focuses just on what people like and become that. Forget about all the things that they wanted to do and just worry about what people liked from them. Because that’s what they have to give to the world, that’s what they like the most. So that’s what I’m supposed to give them, no. The second that they know what you’re going to do before you do it, you’re losing your art. I always want to be a step ahead. Don’t let any of the good outweigh what your struggle was. Because the struggle is more beautiful than the greatness you’re given. You’ll never forget the moments. Like once you have it all, you’ll literally be just like man, I’m so glad that I worked for it. So just to try to keep it focused on the art more than reality.