Modern Sons and Hell City Kitty playing free show April 25 in Great Falls
When the Bozeman-based band Modern Sons performs at Machinery Row on April 25, lead singer Ryan Saul says they’re there to rock your socks off — not to help you dance with that cutie across the bar.
“‘I’ve been to hundreds of concerts all across the nation, and do you think when I saw Kings of Leon playing people were cutting a rug? No, they’re watching the band,” he said. “When Coldplay’s on stage are people boogying down? Or the White stripes? No we’re watching the music. We’re not a party band and I’ve never been one to sell out just to make people dance with each other, that’s not who we are.”
Saul said they never stop people from dancing while they play, just that their music isn’t meant to be something that’s just played in the background.
The band will be performing a free show with Hell City Kitty starting at 9 p.m. next weekend.
As for what they do sound like, Saul said their songs are primarily alternative, indie rock but in a way that in a way defies labels.
He said when their new drummer, Mitchell Martell, joined the group last year, Saul said even he had a difficult time explaining to people what type of music they played.
“We’re in the alternative vein for sure, it’s probably like alt-indie I call it,” he said. “It’s funny when our drummer Mitchell came into the band he was like ‘Yeah, I’m trying to explain to friends what genre you guys are and I can’t put my finger on it.’ I think that’s a good thing because it means we don’t sound like anyone else, that means we have more of a signature sound I suppose.”
Saul said the band’s sound has changed somewhat since they’ve expanded to a four-piece instrumentation and welcomed in Mitchell, Dan Haywood on guitar and Casey George on bass.
“The band is definitely more dynamic now because it’s gotten to be where it’s not just me holding it down with the rhythm and the lead, we have more dynamic parts where two riffs are going on,” Saul said. “When we brought Dan in, he’s equally, if not more of a pedal geek than I am and his sound is completely different than mine. He likes a lot of D-tuning pedals and nasty buzz pedals whereas I tend to play those buttery riffs with a Santana-ey tone. It’s pretty neat now especially when we have our solos back-to-back because he’ll play and I’ll go into mine and it’s like a yin-and-yang thing.”
Saul added that the rhythm section has gelled nicely together lately as well.
“Casey plays bass much differently than the original guy did; he was into slapping and playing really loud whereas Casey is super smooth,” Saul said. “He and our drummer get along really well on the rhythms so that’s cool, too.”
Saul said not only are they touring the state on-and-off, they’re also getting ready to release their first full-length album next month called “Moon Raccoon.” He said after that they’ll likely release another LP in the future, too.
“We did the EP in 2013 and in May at some point our full-length album will come out with all new songs on there,” he said. “But we’ve been playing those songs for about a year now but we’re looking forward to the album since things have changed quite a bit since the first EP.”
Saul, who’s been playing guitar for the past 17 years, said they’ve stuck to performing all original songs because they found out early on that they weren’t comfortable playing straight covers.
“I feel too boxed in with and constrained with cover stuff,” he said. “I’m so picky when I hear a cover band because I want the solo to sound exactly the same as the original, or play it so different that you can barely comprehend what song is being covered.”
By playing their own songs, Saul said they’re free to change the dynamic of the songs based on the crowd energy, as well.
“There’s a lot of times our solos may be shorter than last show, or a little longer depending on the crowd,” he said. “It’s fun to play originals because you can kind of make your own rules with how the songs are played, for sure.”
Finally, Saul said he’s excited to start coming to Great Falls more often and is thankful that he and Cale Younce, lead guitarist with Hell City Kitty, were able to connect and start playing with one another and tapping into each other’s fan bases.
“I think awesome that we’ve teamed up with Hell City Kitty and you know Cale’s been like, ‘Let us pitch you a show in Great Falls, you should play Great Falls more often and then they’re coming here and playing on May 9 with us. We just want to see more reciprocal stuff like that,” he said. “I hope Machinery Row has a good turnout because it’d be nice to be a place to come back to every month to month-and-a-half. That’s the goal.”