Interview; Joel Paterson & the modern sounds

Posted by Angel On March - 18 - 20118,376 views

Not all good things come from the Usa, right? Well, some things do. Like Modern sounds for instance! And how odd does ‘Joel Paterson and the Modern Sounds’ sound?? From any random teenager you’d ask to listen to these so called ‘Modern Sounds’ you’d get a strange answer..Maybe not so strange.. However, how Joel, Beau and Alex came up with that bandname makes enough sense to any blues, roots, jazz loving Rockabilly who really likes to dig in deep, very deep into music history. They pay hommage to real old music and give it that fresh twist! Joel Paterson is one of the finest players in the field today with a tremendous sound and feel for dynamics. Alex Hall and Beau Sample, drummer and bassplayer are the perfect match for a Class-A guitarpicker as they themselves are true graduates in the music styles they bring to the public. And that’s why Rockabilly-Online tried to get hold of Joel. Let that picker speak!

How did your Modern Sounds bandname come about? Because there will be people that’ll argue with your bandname and your music style as it is far from modern (Thankgod)
Yeah, our band name is kind of torture for us to explain to people. We were having a hard time coming up with a good retro sounding name, so we had the idea of starting a band and a record label that was kind of frozen in time, and were oblivious to all music after about 1963. We say we play music from the “Modern era.” Once you know about us and have our CDs it all make sense, but it is tough when people don’t know us.

Since your live playing is so incredibly tight i’d like to know when you met each other and how long you’ve been playing as a trio?
We have been playing for a few years or so, we started playing when Beau Sample moved to Chicago. Beau and our drummer Alex are so versatile, we had no problem coming up with a set. Our sound has developed over a lot of gigs played around town. We are good at coming up with arrangements on the spot, and improvising stuff that sounds rehearsed, but really it is pretty loose.

Do you have certain specialists in the band that bring in the blues, jazz or any other influence? Or is it you three together having the same musical values?
Luckily we really share a lot of the same tastes. Everyone in the band has a respect for rockabilly, early jazz and blues, and even old country. I started out playing nothing but blues back in the day, so I guess that’s my influence on the band. I can’t help having everything I play come out a little bluesy!

Do you see yourself as your typical singer or guitarplayer? Because i’ve noticed that you’re not the only one doing the leadsinging?
Well, I always think of myself as more of a guitar player. Everyone in the band sings, and when we sing three part harmonies together it gives us a full sound for a trio.

To me, some of the elements in your music sounds very dixieland to me (which i like very much). What is your opinion on that statement?
We all love early traditional jazz from the 20’s and 30’s, and I have a good time trying to come up with finger-picking guitar arrangements of that stuff. Chet Atkins, Merle Travis, and other Western swing type guitar players would often do old songs like that. It ends up sounding a little rockabilly in the end with the thumb-picking and the slap bass. It all works for me!

Which of your original compositions are you most proud of?
Probably the Chet Atkins style song “Handful of Strings” on Stomp Stomp, but I was stupid enough to write a song that is almost too hard for me to play! I always chicken out playing that tune live. I had a big clam in that song at Deke’s Guitar Geek fest and I’m still traumatized.

Would a gig setlist be all originals or would you always try to incorporate your heroes from the past?
Most of our tunes live are old covers. I’m more of a historian than a songwriter. The creativity to me comes from making fresh arrangements of my favorite tunes, and then improvising enough for the band to stay on its toes.

Do you ever get the urge to tell the people (who don’t have a clue about musical history) where you all got it from? Say for instance when you do a Merle Travis song?
I try to tell the audience a little about the tunes, but I don’t think my history lessons go over to well! It’s usually better to go right into the next song. I think the rockabilly, roots, or whatever-you-want-to-call-it scene is pretty educated, and they get what we are trying to do.

As i am a vintage guitar and amps nut myself a couple of questions on ‘Modern sounds’ now;
What makes your guitarsound so thick yet sparkly? Is it a specific amp (i guess a BF and/or tweed fender), certain guitars or are you a believer that sound actually is in a players hands? Do you always take expensive vintage guitars or amps on the road or would you consider using a rental amp when touring?(even if you didn’t know if it would sound good)

Everything factors into the sound on a record; The guitar, the amp, the recording engineer, the room, how the band plays together. But yes, I’ll always use vintage guitars on a record. To me they are not vintage guitars, they are just good guitars, and that’s what I have always played. You have to use rental or backline amps on the road, it’s just the way it is. I don’t want to complain about that, I’m just happy when the amp doesn’t blow up. But it better be something with tubes in it!

Some would say; A jack of all trades but a master of none. In your case i certainly wouldn’t agree because it seems you’ve mastered quite a number of styles, from Charlie Christian runs, perfectly clean Chet style or even total Albert King bends. When you started out, how long did you play everyday and do you still practice?
Thanks, I appreciate that. You know my main influences, that’s for sure. I’m always playing guitar when I get the chance. I think when you are always playing in your spare moments, and not thinking of it as “practice,” is the key to maintaining your chops. ‘Cause you’re never going to sit down and practice for hours on end in this day and age. If you have to waste all your time looking at Facebook, YouTube, Ebay, etc you better be playing the guitar while you do it!

When you and the band record, how do you actually handle that? Is it laying down tracks separately or is it totally live? And would you leave certain guitar or vocal errors in if your bandmates say that that last track is just smokin’ and there’s a good vibe to the recording?? Maybe to put it differently, are you a perfectionist in leadplaying and singing?
We recorded Hold It Fellas/Stomp Stomp and A Chicago Session (with Carl Sonny Leyland) totally live with no overdubs. On Hold it… we wanted to capture our live sound, so when people bought the CD they knew what they were getting. But we are not opposed to overdubbing when it is called for, overdubs go way back to the early Les Paul records. It’s a great tool—but if you rely on it because you are afraid of mistakes I think your record won’t have the greatest vibe.

I could go on and on talking to real musicians but a few questions to round it off then:
What’s the plan for the near future? Got any good collaborations to look forward to? Plans to go to Europe again in the near future?

We love coming to Europe, we just did a great tour of Finland. Nothing big planned right now, luckily we can stay pretty busy around Chicago. We are due for some new recordings, just gotta book the time a scrape up the money!

Do you have a golden tip for a future band or player that deserves to be covered on Rockabilly-online?
Don’t quit your night jobs!

And anything you’d like to add that i haven’t asked you about you can put down too ofcourse!
We definitely want to thank everyone that has supported us, bought our music and has come out to the shows. There seems to be a great scene right now all over the world and we are glad to be a part of it!

Rockabilly would like to thank Joel and wishes him and his modern sounds all the best!

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