Manchester’s Modern Family Unit happily admit they take inspiration from the 80s. Not so much musically, but from the way many of the new bands from UK in that era took art, politics, pop and an eye for stunning visual imagery then added in the appreciation for a good hook and a catchy melody to create songs that cause the listener to dance and think. We asked the band to give us some insight to their novel take on political pop.
Tell us a little bit about yourselves. What’s the story behind Modern Family Unit, and how would you describe your sound?
We’re a duo with the philosophy of being a collective, hence the name. Musically, we channel what we’re into on a simple basis irrespective of genre of what we like, this is probably why we sound as we do: a mix of the best side of the 80s, quirky, edgy, synth pop with a dose of Goth, Punk and the occasional guitar.
What motivates you and inspires your music, aesthetic and vibe?
We’re inspired in the main by what we grew up listening to, of which the first discoveries are usually from the ‘Rule of Three’: what your parents played (you hate or like), what was on the TV/radio as a child and then what you get at school. For me Andy William, Elvis, Modern Jazz Quartet then The Beatles, Bowie & Glam and at school Punk to Goth.
The vibe thing is important in that your music has to deliver something to the listener and as for aesthetic, it’s a fundamental human thing that we only have two things to offer the world: what we say and how we look.
Would you say that politics is important to you personally and musically? Fool on the Hill for example is hard hitting but very poppy.
Yes, and it should be to all. Unfortunately, our generation has witnessed the demise and possibly the end of ‘modern politics’, i.e. a left and a right / Labour and Conservative. We’ll always have the cycles we experience through the ages and taking one example from Roman times to explain what is happening right now (Brexit, NHS, corrupt financial system, global warming, TTIP, Syria).
We can recall the Roman satirical writer Juvenal who wrote of “bread and circuses: the only two things the people anxiously desire” as he lamented the failure of the citizens to take action as the democratic Roman Republic fell and the heavy handed Roman Empire began.
Within a mere generation, Britain has undergone massive governmental changes. What we thought was a democracy has been replaced by apathy, impotent moaning and an embittered autocracy. Blair started the rot by raping and bludgeoning the heart out of Labour, giving the highest value to the art of ‘lying’ via his army of spin doctors. The party being impotent ever since, the country being run by a group of selfish, self serving, dishonest poisonous, affluent oafs – lying, back stabbers passing the truth through their own filters. The populace responding to the doublespeak, doublethink baloney with a ‘don’t like click here and there and everywhere’…without a fight back.
The band is a collective of musicians, but with just two of you at its core – does that have any impact on the creative process?
If anything, it helps with the quality process, we (the two of us) share for feedback and then repeat the process: all comments and builds always welcome.
Your videos always have striking imagery – bright and bold at times, simple but affecting at others. Is that an integral part of your creative process?
It’s part and parcel of the industry today that your sonic presence needs visual accompaniment. Also, we believe to get an idea across moving imagery is key.
What’s up next for Modern Family Unit? Any upcoming gigs, new releases on the horizon, other projects?
We have two singles coming out, we have high hopes for Top of the Pops, probably the best pop tune to come out of Manchester for 30 years – Modern Family Unit featuring NATG and Tony Blackburn, Frank Zappa, Andy Warhol and Lou Reed:
On the back of the work we’re doing with Joe Corre (son of Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood), where we are composing the score for his Burn Punk film, we’ll be releasing Law which has a very political message.