Meet: Modern Studies talk three tracks ahead of The Weight of the Sun release

We’re big fans of kosmische folk-rock quartet Modern Studies, and we’re thoroughly looking forward to the release of the bands third album ‘The Weight of the Sun’, out this Friday (8th May) via Fire Records.

Principally written by the bands Emily Scott and Rob St John, the band convened with Pete Harvey and Joe Smillie, and recorded the album largely at Harvey’s home-run studio Pumpkinfield in rural Perthshire.

They’ve currently released three great singles from the album ahead of its release – Run for Cover, Jacqueline and Heavy Water, so we asked Emily and Rob to talk about those tracks with us, and happily, they obliged.

Run For Cover

Emily: “I began the lyrics for Run for Cover while out walking, and we ended up recording it with this snazzy up-beat tempo at odds with the foreboding in the lyric, driven by Pete’s amazing bassline (initially this was really complicated, but later he ditched because it’s more fun to not have to think about what he was doing) and Joe’s punchy drums. I’m really happy with the yowling xaphoon in the instrumental, I had never played it before but loved its character for this, so had to work out how to play each note in turn on the fingering chart, layered it up, and Rob gave it some magic sparkle pairing it with that high chorussing wailing guitar”.


Emily: “Jacqueline was me remembering the kids in the street at my old flat yelling for each other to come out to play. It just seemed so nostalgic and that bore out in the simple chords. Pete and I played a million layers of upside-down violin and viola on this (we’re cello and bass players), I love how it came out sort of pining, it seemed to fit. We tried to make this as simple as possible, which is a big ask for us, but in terms of chords and structure it’s probably as straight as we get”.

Heavy Water

Rob: “Heavy Water is the first song I wrote for The Weight of the Sun. It was sitting around waiting to take shape for a while before the band lifted it up away from it’s ‘London Conversation’ apeing origins. It’s in a guitar tuning I thought I’d use for the rest of the record — it’s got an enjoyably clonky low B. It’s another of those ‘found a complicated way to write a simple chord progression’ songs. I didn’t use the tuning again, which is going to cause problems live (anyone know the number for Jimmy Page’s luthier?). It’s a song about hypothermia, or heartbreak. Maybe both, I’m not sure: it makes sense to me a little more every time we sing it. I like Emily and Pete’s sawing violas (‘robot birds’, they called them), Joe’s drum fills, and the ‘Oh Superman’ bop bop bops at the end.” 

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