UK act blends EDM and modern rock into euphoric live experience

In UK band Modestep’s music video for the song “Sunlight,” a gang of rowdy senior citizens embark on a debauched spree of drinking, drugging and club-hopping around a small British town. The clip follows the old-timers from shoplifting alcohol to getting thrown out of a bar to taking drugs in the champagne room of a strip joint, with everyone ending up on a beachfront rave at sunrise.

The striking similarities between the video from the rock-meets-dubstep act (which has more than 22.5 million views and counting) and this year’s Super Bowl commercial from Taco Bell are not lost on Modestep’s lead singer, Josh Friend.

“Yeah, I’m very well aware of that commercial,” he said during an exclusive interview with when asked if he felt like the Taco Bell spot was inspired by his band’s video. “Did it feel like they ripped us off? Yes. Taco Bell, if you’re listening, feed me. That’s all I really care about – free food.

“I mean, it’s flattering that a company of that size is pretty much stealing your idea for an expensive Super Bowl commercial,” Friend continued. “But obviously, it’s a bit annoying that the hard work we put in coming up with the concept just gets taken like that. They even stole some of the shots, actually. But you know, that happens, that’s life. Unfortunately, you can’t copyright old people getting messed up. I’m sure it’s not the first time it’s been done.”

Modestep’s hybrid sound that bridges the gap between EDM and modern rock is a result of the band member’s personal musical progression.

“It was kind of natural, really. I’ve been in rock bands with my brother (and Modestep bandmate) Tony since I was 14 years old,” Friend detailed. “With dubstep, it was never a separate thing. We wanted to see if we could produce it, and then it just kind of blended into what we were doing as a live band. Stevie Wonder is probably my number one of all-time and biggest hero. I used to listen to a lot of Pink Floyd, Jeff Buckley, soul artists like Donny Hathaway.

“I only really started getting into electronic music when UK garage hit when I was about 13,” the singer added. “I got massively into that sound. When dubstep came along, we were both really into it. It didn’t sound like anything we’d ever heard before.”

Already a sensation in Europe on the strength of just five singles, Modestep recently released the band’s debut full-length, Evolution Theory, as they set out to make an impact in America.

“The album is as eclectic as we could make it,” Friend said about the album. “It takes the listener on a journey from when we first started producing this sound to now. Where the album differs is that you’ve got stuff that sounds like Pink Floyd, there are tracks like our singles, there’s some drum & bass on there, all sorts of weird stuff. We’ve turned all of our influences into an album.”

Having already performed Stateside at such festivals as Electric Daisy Carnival in Vegas and the Voodoo Music Experience in New Orleans, Modestep has announced a string of headlining American tour dates for 2013, including stops at this year’s Ultra and Coachella fests.

“There’s definitely a difference. You can’t really compare American festival crowds to those in Europe,” Friend explained. “Europe is just so varied. Everywhere you go, the crowds are so different.

“In general, what you can say about the American crowds is they’re not there to be angry. A lot of the rest of the world, especially in the UK, dubstep is an angry music,” the singer pondered. “It’s more about taking your aggression out and it’s got that kind of angsty feel. When we play festivals in the States, it’s been more about peace, love and having a good time. You get much more of a party atmosphere, people embracing the moment with their friends. We absolutely love playing the States, and I can’t wait to start touring out there.”

-Scott T. Sterling, CBS Local


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