When Modern Space lead vocalist Sean Watson Graham was 18 years old, he read The Doors’ Jim Morrison’s biography, `No One Gets Out Of Here Alive from front to back. But in reading this tome (written by Jerry Hopkins), Watson Graham was also impressed by Morrison’s literary heroes; the likes of Jack Kerouac, Hunter S Thompson, Dylan Thomas and William Burroughs who collectively inspired Morrison’s vivid lyrical prose.
“So I started reading books by those authors too, that geek generation style of writing, that idea of getting out in the world and writing about life experiences,” explained Watson Graham over the phone, still in Toronto as the band made furtive arrangements to re-configure their tour van before heading out to play the second date of a 20-date national club tour. “So I am looking forward to heading out across this country, meeting people and creating fresh lyrical ideas in my free time.”
That being said, Watson Graham’s first new song should be about how a new five-piece band trans versed the distance between Toronto and Sudbury in less than five hours to make a gig at the Nickel Capital’s Townehouse venue on Tuesday January 19th, newsflash fellas, you’ll be lucky to make it to Parry Sound in that period of time!
“We are having problems with our transportation,” replied Watson Graham, when asked what the weather was like in Sudbury. “We’re still here in Toronto (this is at 4 pm.!) but we hope to make it up there in the next four hours. We received the wrong van, we had to get all the seats taken out at the back which has caused the delay, the usual perils of starting a national tour!”
Not if you happen to be The Rolling Stones or U2 or any major band that commands a luxury tour bus, but hey!, this is a young Toronto based band comprising of lead vocalist Watson Graham, twin guitarists; Sam Arion and Alex Laurie, bassist Cody Steele and drummer Tay Ewart who are about to experience the trials and tribulations of virtually every neophyte outfit by undergoing a national tour in the back of a van in the middle of a Canadian winter.
Modern Space are executing the 20 dates (or maybe 19!) to promote their new Warner Music Canada seven-track Ep, `Before Sunrise’, five of the dates being opening slots for reigning Juno Band Of The Year, Hamilton’s Arkells with two dates at Calgary’s Flame Central venue, one date at Edmonton’s Shaw Conference and two dates at Vancouver’s famed Commodore Ballroom.
“The Arkells are great both on stage and off stage,” enthused Watson Graham. “In between our demo stage and recording our Ep, I went for a coffee with Arkells’ lead vocalist Max Kerman and he was kind enough to give me some valuable tips and information. Six months later we are opening for them!”
A well-received performance at Toronto’s NXNE festival created a buzz about the band, and following some solid support from Warner Music Canada’s A&R department, the band found themselves auditioning for label president Steve Kane who gave them the green light to sign with his label, a rare occurrence for a major label to go out on such a limb for an untested band.
Setting Watson Graham up with top-notch producer/songwriter Tawgs Salter (Lights, Scott Helman, Walk Off The Earth, USS) thanks to Warner’s creative input, he found himself in Salter’s isolated cabin, knocking his material into shape and recording demos of the raw tracks.
“It was a bit nerve-wracking at first, but I quickly realized he was just another dude who was into music and we got along famously,” reported Watson Graham. “ I had a vision of what I wanted to do with my songs, the sound and the feel of them and Tawgs totally identified where I was coming from. We would do one track at a time, send the demo to Warner Music and wait for their feedback, they were totally supportive of what we were recording.”
According to Watson Graham, he sensed the band was coming together when Modern Space opened for one of his all time favourite bands, The Vaccines. “It was like our third gig with the current band, we had the new material and it just seemed to be coming together. We went to a bar with The Vaccines after the gig and it was such a great experience. I just knew we could do it.”
With a sound reflective of bands like The Strokes, Radiohead and the aforementioned Vaccines, the band’s seven-track Ep is already receiving strong airplay with their debut single “Pen To Paper” charting on key west coast stations before the song had even been serviced to radio.
“I wanted the first time I heard “Pen To Paper” to be on a car radio so I hired a cab, told him to turn the radio to 102.1 FM and start driving,” laughed Watson Graham. “I thought “Pen To Paper” was going to be played after two other songs, but it was four songs before our song came on the radio, so there we are driving around in circles, it cost me like 25 bucks. But it came on whilst we were in the cab and even the driver got excited, shouting “that’s you, that’s you on the radio!”
Being a relatively unknown entity, heading out on their first significant tour will no doubt create some challenges but Watson Graham and his cohorts are up for the challenge. “Whether its five people or 50 people or 500 people, you are always trying to win over at least 30% of the audience and try to convert them into your fans. It’s a gradual process but it’s the only way to do it and there is always humour in starting out at the bottom.”
“On our first brief tour of the Maritimes, we were all crammed into this car and parked overnight in the parking lot of a Long & McQuade store,” laughed Watson Graham. “So we are awoken by the sound of some parents taking their kids to music lessons in the store. And I’m thinking, “practice real hard kids and you can be just like us, 500 miles from home, sleeping in the back of a car in a Long & McQuade parking lot eating cold Chef Boyardee out of a can.”
And to answer that burning question, yes they did make it to Sudbury on time. I am told some Star Trek teleporting techniques were utilized!
For more information on Modern Space, please link to http//modernspaceband.com/