Modern Original’s Spirited Debut EP Is Exactly What We Need Right Now [Q&A]

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Photo: Cortney Armitage

Many of us are familiar with famed band The Mowgli's for their standout singles "San Francisco" and "I'm Good." It's a simple task to fall in love with their fun, infectious sound that blends relatable songwriting with anthemic swells of instrumentation. Well, Modern Original, comprised of former The Mowgli's members Andy Warren and Joshua Hogan, has that same feel-good spirit and positive outlook fans have come to know and love. 

With the release of their self-titled debut EP, Modern Original establish themselves as pure, punchy pop-rock at its finest. Over the course of four spellbinding tracks, the newfound duo touches upon themes of self-acceptance and ridding yourself of stress. Modern Original excites with the out-of-this-world hit "I'm An Alien," focusing on feeling different and owning that, while songs like "Hurricane" are all about escaping turmoil. 

The pair began writing songs during lockdown and their uplifting music serves hope in an uncertain time. The duo is clearly making music they love and that immense passion definitely translates throughout the EP's succinct but impactful runtime. We had the chance to speak with Modern Original about their shift from The Mowgli's to now, their debut EP, and plenty more.              

Modern Original has a nice ring to it. What inspired the project's name?

'Modern Original' actually began as the title of a song that we never wound up cutting. It always struck us as special and fitting our vision. After a way too long search for a band name, we one night recalled that title and thought it worked perfectly for us. It wasn't taken (a common issue) and we jumped at it right away.

I understand the two of you were formerly in the admired alt-pop group The Mowgli's. What has your experience been like transitioning from that band to this current duo?

We've had 10 years of experience in The Mowgli's, so that has really helped shape this project. We basically applied all of our knowledge into this and used that to guide us. The whole process is way easier with less cooks in the kitchen. It allows us to experiment and take more risks.

The EP is a colorful collection of sunny surf-pop tunes with a hard-hitting rock air. How did you develop your infectious sound?

We're just writing songs straight from the heart. After years of making bright pop music with The Mowgli's, that style of songwriting is just inherently within us. Our producer Alex Arias, also helped shape our sonic soundscape with his talents and input.

"Hurricane" is all about not wanting to get caught up in the craziness. Can you explain this idea in more detail?

We were really trying to bottle up the feeling of avoiding personal drama. We think everyone's been through that, where they just don't want to get caught up in anyone's spiral. A hurricane felt like the perfect metaphor to embody how we felt, without being too heavy-handed.

"I'm An Alien" is a feel-good track encouraging others to accept their weirdness and what makes them unique. In what ways do you feel disconnected from others and how have you learned to embrace that?

This song was written at the height of the pandemic, where we all felt foreign to human interaction. Would we ever all be the same again? The lyric "I'm an alien" started off as a text message between us, because Josh was late for the session, and feeling off. We thought that was a great lyric to jump off for the song. We've learned it's all good to be disconnected at times, especially with all the collective trauma we've been through as a society. Be gentle and kind to yourself, it's normal to feel odd in this strange world.

"Turn It Around" is a catchy offering bursting with vibrant, psychedelic flair. How was the track concocted sonically?

We wrote "Turn It Around" with the intention of it being a pretty simple, straight ahead rocker. We added this wild The Beach Boys harmony at the top, loved it, and continued down that rabbit hole. From there, we wanted to experiment with all the strange sounds and harmonies to make it special and apply that to every track we made after.  

Your music oozes light and positivity in a time where things can seem a bit grim. What has allowed you to remain so optimistic in these trying times?

It's inherently within us. If you ever heard The Mowgli's, we wrote a lot of positive, uplifting songs. It's just what we do. But also growing up in the '90s grunge era, where so much music was sad and heavy, we always wanted to make music that counteracted that.

On the topic of optimism, who are some go-to artists or bands you listen to when you need a pick-me-up?

Josh: Lagwagon, Portugal The Man, Glass Animals. 

Andy: Lots of bebop jazz, '70s era music that you can roller skate to, and Still Woozy.

Who are your Ones to Watch?

Strawberry Fuzz and Sunrise Club are two new up-and-coming artists we're really digging that y'all should check out.

Modern Original is available everywhere you can stream it.

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