May 18, 2010
-- Modern English vocalist and lyricist Robbie Grey sat down with Talking 80s Music this week to discuss the band's history as well as their new studio album. Often remembered for their inescapable hit, "I Melt With You," it is often hard to believe it was the punk movement that inspired their formation.
"Well, the punk rock movement was... especially bands like the Pistols and other bands but the Sex Pistols kind of showed that you didn't necessarily have to play your instruments. To form a band a band you could, you know, just have enthusiasm, energy and the belief to start making music. That's kind of how we started. If it hadn't been for bands like that, I doubt very much we would have made music to start with and we kind of grew from there," said Grey. "We'll talk about it now, this modern world... I mean, England was black and white in those days. It was almost in sepia. A lot of people were unemployed -- there was a lot of angst around basically and youth harnessed onto it. Many bands came out of that time, I won't list them all, so many that started to make music around that time."
A disillusionment with the punk movement later led many including Grey toward a splintering of the sound -- taking that punk approach and applying their own 'found sounds' to the mix -- which would include the rise of bands like Wire and Joy Division often called post-punk. Modern English would find song structure during their sophomore effort and its application would yield their biggest hit. "I don't think many people know this in the States but "I Melt With You" was originally played on radio on import. I wasn't even released... it was an import record. Which I don't think it happened very much at this point in the States," Grey reflected. "I mean somebody just picked it up and thought, 'This is good, I'm going to play it.' Which is unusual. It was on import. So we were called in [during] Ricochet Days in the countryside of England and we heard that 'I Melt With You' was being played all over the country. Every week it was getting more and more radio stations picking up on it."
Modern English release their new 11-track studio album, Soundtrack, via Darla Records next week. When asked about an overall theme for the new release Grey responded, "'Soundtrack' is the featured track on the album. That's quite a depressing song really but, you know, life can be depressing, life can be a bit dark, life can be hard for people and I'm no different and there's a bit of that in there." "It's not the happiest album in the world, really, apart from 'It's OK.'... The feel of it lyrically is a bit... not depressing but thoughtful."
Robbie Grey's interview debuts on Talking 80s Music with Martin Hennessy on Saturday at noon PDT and can be downloaded the following day and on at Talking80sMusic.com or iTunes.