When Clash tracks down So So Modern they are lost, deep in the heart of Germany. Their singer and guitarist, Mark Leong, thinks they are “somewhere near Leipzig maybe” but he couldn’t be sure. However, what he does know is that the band are on the second night of a tour which will see their frantic brand of electro punk sweep through the bars and clubs of continental Europe.
Originally from Wellington, New Zealand, So So Modern, finally got together one Christmas Eve for a jamming session that was a long time coming. “We all kind of had our eyes on each other,” explains Mark. “ It seemed inevitable that one day we’d get together in one room to see what would happen. It was kind of like a really crazy moment of sharing a lot of ideas and seeing what we were capable of. We didn’t really come up with anything concrete but it just all kind of fitted together after those first couple of sessions – we were all pretty inspired by each other and the sounds that were coming out when we were playing.”
Like all the best recordings, it grows on you with every listen
Following in the wake of bands like the Klaxons, Shit Disco and, far less topically, At The Drive In, Mark and his fellow So So Modern colleagues (Grayson Gilmour, Aidan Leong and Daniel Nagels) create a live show which attacks the audience with its aggression, vibrancy and volume. Inevitably, with a band that freely describes itself as “not a studio band”, the transition to record must be a tough process? “All the songs come from a live context and we write songs by refining them live, then going back to re-write them until they sound good live. In a live situation, we feel like we have quite a lot of control in helping create and environment or a mood. With a recording someone could be listening to our song on a walkman or in a car – somewhere where we can’t predict and it’s something that we can’t control.”
However, despite these unavoidable obstacles, So So Modern aren’t deterred. “I think more and more we’re giving greater attention to the recording aspect,” explains Mark. “It’s always been quite hard to get that live energy into it. Generally our technique tends to be get into the studio and record it as quickly and as cheaply as possible. Usually we give ourselves a couple of days to record to give it as much intensity as we can – we prepare hugely for it so we know where everything is going to be.”
It’s always been quite hard to get that live energy into it.
So far the results have been impressive. Their EP, ‘Friends And Foes’ is more than just a collection of live songs – it is an intricate and compelling piece of work which requires attention and repeated listens. Like all the best recordings, it grows on you with every listen and with an album lined up for some time next year these are exciting times for So So Modern and their growing numbers of fans. Let’s just hope they find their way out of Germany.