Song Premiere: MEM_MODS “Harmolodica”
MEM_MODS creation could be called many things: the light at the end of the tunnel, an act by a saint of circumstance, or just plain serendipitous. Whatever one calls it, the reunion of three seasoned touring musicians and childhood friends, Paul Taylor, Steve Selvidge, and Luther Dickinson, wouldn’t have happened unless their respective musical endeavors were put on ice due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
After rubbing their eyes and coming to terms with their situation, the three found nothing but time on their hands, but in no time at all, the three created a masterful self-titled debut LP, MEM_MODS Vol. 1, which will be released via Peabody Records on Feb. 24, 2023. After being on the road for so long– Dickinson with North Mississippi Allstars, Selvidge with the Hold Steady, and Taylor on countless side gigs with Chuck Prophet to Eric Gales along with his solo gigs–MEM_MODS gravitated toward a freeform instrumental sound. They drew from the shared inspirations that set them on their respective paths, and their reunion–after hundreds upon hundreds of live shows from each–resulted in an ambitious and cinematic sound rooted in a confidence resulting from deep familiarity.
“We are three people who grew up together who had dads who played music together, and we’d jam together here or there or play on each other’s albums, but we’d never made a conscious effort to make a record together,” Selvidge said. “It took isolation for us to create together like this.”
“We have a lifetime of making music together,” Taylor added, “starting off with these spasmodic jam sessions as teenagers who listened to everything from the Beastie Boys to obscure jazz records we’d find in Jim Dickinson’s collection. This record is the music we’d hoped we were making–it just took 30 years to finally fulfill our teenage fantasies!”
The tracks for MEM_MODS Vol. 1 were built remotely, with each musician creating a piece on their own Digital Audio Workstation, then sharing it via Dropbox. Later, Taylor, Selvidge, and Dickinson would discuss their progress via a video messaging app.
“We quickly created a production team,” Selvidge shared. “I’d get a track from Luther asking me to put some guitar on it, or I’d get a click track and a bass line from Paul. I’d react to it by plugging in my guitar and winging it, and eventually, we brought in Marc Franklin and Art Edmaiston on horns.”
Today we premiere “Harmolodica,” a cosmic exploration with hopes of filling an ocean of emptiness. On the track, the three stagger and strut on their respective instruments in a passionate, precise balance. “Harmolodica” is a fitting title; the melodica serves as a guiding force through the ethereal tune, while the stacked harmonies from upright and washtub bass, guitar adorned with reverb and a driving drum track allow the tune to find its way home, with ease.
“This was a great example of Luther taking an unaccompanied, raw drum track of Paul’s and putting upright bass and melodica on it to create this incredibly fun song. I responded to it immediately with some spring reverb-drenched guitar,” Selvidge shared with Relix. “Paul and I then put together all manner of loops and noises, with Paul adding the finishing touch of his impeccable washtub bass playing. I would bet that you won’t find many songs that feature both upright and washtub bass!”
In addition to a vinyl-only physical release on Feb. 24, 2023, MEM_MODS Vol. 1 will be available on all streaming services. Find more information here.
Pre-order MEM_MODS Vol. 1 here.
Listen to the premiere of MEM_MODS’ “Harmolodica” below.