An Interview With Modern Vices: An Excerpt From Sub/Verse Zine
Fellow Chicago music publication Sub/Verse Zine is gearing up for issue no. 10 of their zine, The Interview Issue. Check out this excerpt of Sub/Verse's editor Chloe Graham's interview with Chicago's own Modern Vices, which can be found in the new issue.
Modern Vices is a name that comes up a lot when you talk about Chicago music these days. But unlike many bands that form under the influence of a specific music scene, they don’t sound much like the other guys. Their songs sound like slow moments of significance and extremes, calms and lows. Their show on Friday at Beat Kitchen with White Reaper will be the first time I see them, but I can imagine people dancing to their music in a trance, not exactly violently moshing like you might see at an Orwells or Twin Peaks show (though there is always a place in my heart for plenty of that). Here is my interview with frontman Alex Rebek; enjoy, and see them May 5th with White Reaper at Beat Kitchen!
How did you get started with music?
Alex Rebek: Back in middle school me and my friends thought it would be cool to start a band, so one thing led to another… We were covering bands we liked, like the Strokes and Radiohead. As time went on we got more serious, writing our own songs. After being in three bands, I’m in this band! How I started making music was my sister and I sang with each other all the time. Overtime, music has just become a main part of my life. Same for the rest of us, we have all evolved over time, and now we’re together.
Whats behind the name of your band?
AR: Modern Vices was originally called Baby Baby, after the Supremes song. After releasing our first record, we found out there was another band called Baby Baby, and we had to change it for our record deal. So it took us like an entire day to come up with ideas but we just landed on Modern Vices, and it just stuck with us.
What are your favorite things to write about?
AR: I want to say like love, and struggles, you know? Just everyday struggles and I feel like thats what translates the most with us, into our music and how we’re able to express ourselves. So romantic stuff, but also the underlying issues that would make anyone emotional. Also just writing in the moment, like however I was feeling that particular day. I really like doing that because thats as real as it gets, when your actually feeling the way the song feels as your writing it.
How does being a musician in Chicago effect how you make music, or how does it inspire you?
AR: In Chicago the scene is really great, and everyone is really supportive of each other. All the bands are pushing each other at the same time, so it's a good environment for rising bands. There is some competition, but everyone is still supportive. So it's just a good way to progress at becoming a better band. Living in Chicago has really pushed us to be who we want to be.
Yeah, I think when musicians are really competitive, they rarely get too far since they don’t want to work together with anyone else.
AR: Yeah, there’s always that underlying competition, I guess, but when you’re also friends with these people, everyone’s supportive of each other. I’ve gotten together bands and we’ve had little listening parties, and listened to each others new music, not to criticize it, but to give constructive criticism. Its a good place to be because you don’t think you’re the only band in town, because you’ve got all these bands around town that you’re constantly thinking about, like, “oh what are they doing?”, or “could we do that differently?” Since moving from the suburbs to Chicago we’ve become good friends with Twin Peaks, and being friends with them has helped us in a lot of different ways, in terms of their support and the shows they’ve gotten us on.
How has your approach to making music changed since you started as a band?
AR: When the first record was made we were all going to college. I was going to college in upstate New York, at Skidmore, and the rest of the guys were going to school in the city. Peter was at Columbia, and Patrick, Thomas, and Miles were going to DePaul, and we decided we were going to make the record over winter break, just as a fun thing to do. We were like, we can just make this record, put it out, and that's it. Once the record was released, it actually got some traction and the record label hit us up and was like “do you want a record deal?” and we made some decisions, and dropped out of school for the band. Since then, with the second record, the one we’re about to finish today, we’ve taken a lot of time to think about what band do we really want to be, and we’ve definitely evolved a lot. There’s still little snippets of the first record, like similar vibes, but with time we’ve become something really different.
Whats your least favorite thing about being a musician?
AR: Hm… that's a hard one… I feel like a while ago I would have said touring, not just touring but just driving a lot. But I’ve grown to like it. So I’d say my least favorite thing is maybe the schedule, it just messes up your schedule. You’re always up late, waking up late. That might be the worst part, but all around I think we all really enjoy it, and want to continue to do it.
Do you have any guilty pleasure music?
AR: Just like hip hop, and random songs that really aren’t that good but are fun to put on. There’s probably a lot that we listen to and always joke around about, but I can’t narrow it down right now. But you could put Drake down, I think thats a good one.