Imagine blending the magic of movies and music into a single art form. The duality of both worlds invites an intriguing vision that The Modern Electric has coined as “cinematic rock.” Garrett Komyati (vocals/piano/guitar), Matthew Childers (bass/drums), Holden Laurence (guitar), and Michael O'Brien (drums) have been watching movies together as a band from the beginning. “We wanted to take the feelings that we got from those movies and create art in response to them,” Garrett tells AXS over the phone in a recent interview with both him and Matt. “The other half of cinematic rock is that it’s kind of grown into the soundtrack for the lives of our fans. When our fans put on our album in the car and sing along to it, their life becomes a little more cinematic, hopefully.”
Matt: The way that we address the cinematic rock, or pop genre, is as a visual counterpart to our music, through our music videos. We do a lot of film references in our music videos. For our last record, it was an idea Garrett and I came up with, where we were just going to do a music video independently for every single track on our album. It was kind of like a crash course in film school for us, like a really expedited version of it. That’s how we translate that vibe or feel of cinematic rock visually.
AXS: Can we expect some sort of expansion on that kind of content from you guys?
Matt: The dream is to make a short movie and have our music as the soundtrack. I think that’s the big ambitious goal of ours.
Garrett: The ultimate goal is to make a full-length and be in the pantheon of people like Prince who made “Purple Rain,” the Beatles, and Elvis; they all made feature films the other half of their careers. I see that on whatever scale it is for us. I think that would be the other half of our careers.
AXS: So, what or who has been your biggest influence when it comes to making music?
Garrett: I listen to a lot of music from the ‘70s, so my idol has always been David Bowie. We have a song about it called “David Bowie (Save Us All).” He’s just been a genius for so many decades, I can’t say enough about how great he is. We do have some modern influences as well. One of my favorite bands of all time is Spoon. We were lucky enough to call up their producer [Mike McCarthy] and have him produce our last album, Original Motion Picture Soundtrack. That was like a dream come true. The modern side is more bands like Spoon and The Killers.
AXS: What about movie-wise?
Matt: I’m in love with any John Hughes film, any of his classics. I even like the continuing of that genre with “Stranger Things” and really good juicy stuff like that.
Garrett: For me, back in the ‘70s again with movie stuff as well. “The 400 Blows” and “Stolen Kisses” are my favorite movies right now. I’m getting into the world cinema stuff; French and Italian. I tend to go for older movies.
AXS: Let’s talk about when you guys first got together. What’s your journey been like from album to album?
Garrett: I think we started all in high school, we all met, and we were doing an instrumental band for a while because I was too afraid to sing. So, we did that and just kind of showed off our guitar skills. Eventually, when I first got my heart officially broken, I decided to start singing and writing lyrics. That’s where our first album came from. It was focused on acoustic; that was kind of the vibe of that album. Once we decided to actually get a producer [Mike McCarthy] on our second album, we kind of changed sounds a little bit. I see that album more focused on the piano, some more rock guitar sounds. I think we went from cinematic pop to cinematic rock in that transition phase. We’re writing an album right now and it’s slightly different, too. It’s not too different, it won’t alienate any fans. It’s more focused on electric guitar now as the main instrument.
Matt: We take a little more musical risks and we play around. And we’re just growing and maturing as songwriters.
Garrett: I’m pretty excited about this new album. We’ve been writing for the past year and we’re pretty much done. Hopefully next year the album will come out.
AXS: Let’s talk InCuya Music Festival now. How excited are you about the show and that it’s happening in Cleveland?
Garrett: When I read the list and it was a bunch of national acts, I was so excited we got to be on that. There are only a few local bands, we’re just so honored.
Matt: I think when people finally visit Cleveland, they find out that not only is it a really great affordable place for young people to live, but there’s constantly an influx of great artistic events like this. I’m in love with the city. It’s great to see Cleveland grow at such a great pace. The great thing about being from Cleveland is seeing the change in real time. It’s not like living in New York or L.A. Here you can make a difference, and it’s great to be a part of events like this that are constantly building this growth.
AXS: For people who are now just getting to know you, how would you describe your music and what would you say your ultimate message is?
Garrett: Our music, I think is lyrically focused on urgency. We don’t have a lot of time here on Earth and the people that surround you, your friends and family, are the most important things in life, so all the songs I write, I try to remind people to surround yourself with your friends and enjoy the good times with them. I think that’s the ultimate message that flows through all the songs.
If you’re in the Cleveland area, you can catch The Modern Electric on Aug. 25 at the very-first InCuya Festival. Tickets for both days, Aug. 25-26, are available here at AXS.
Check out the band’s website for upcoming tour dates.