Margaret, Amy, Rick (an original member) and I were sitting around discussing band names one night. Since we’re all very mature, we spent countless hours trying to come up with the most offensive, stupidest, horrible, bad-pun-based names. Then one of us said we should dress like airline pilots and stewardesses. We all immediately agreed that that that’s what we should do. We all like airline fashion. We like the pilot’s faintly fascist design elements coupled with the stewardess’s chipper, glossy, sunshine look. We then spent the next week kicking several “airline”-based names around, all of which seemed way too retro-futuristic, too ‘50s based. I realized, and my mates agreed, that we should make it something very corporate, as any good airline would. I hit on The Modern Airline, and we decided it worked.
2. How did this band get started?
This band grew out of a great desire to create and collaborate with our best friends. Amy and I played together in another band for almost eight years, and we really loved playing together and hanging out. Margaret and I have been inseparable since the early eighties, and although she played a couple of shows with me to support a solo project, we’d never been in a band together, something I’ve always wanted to do. I met Gary when I first moved to NYC, and we’ve been working on various music projects together for 13 years. He someone we all just like to be around. We pulled our friend Rick Brame into it because he’s so creative and funny, and he just hit the ground running, even though he’d never been in a band before. When Rick had to leave, Gary introduced us to Seth, and he just fit right in. Not to diminish our creativity or drive, but basically we we’re like a bunch of junior high kids who want to clown around and make a bunch of noise.
3. What bands are you influenced by?
We’re a big mix of late ‘70s punk and early ‘80s post-punk influences. The Clash, Gary Newman, The Cars, Sex Pistols, Devo, Kraftwerk, The Vapors, Generation X, The B-52s, XTC, Ramones to name just a few. I have to put The Who in there as well. Lately I’ve been turned on by dubstep’s purely electronic chaos.
4. If you could tour with any bands, past or present, who would they be and why?
I can’t speak for the entire band here, but for me, hands down it would be The Who, original lineup of course. Live at Leeds still blows my mind. Margaret would probably go with this as well. Gary and Seth might say Guided by Voices, which would suit me just fine as well. Seth and I wouldn’t say no to a tour with XTC either. If they get back together and decide they like to play live after all, please forward our contact info.! Amy would probably like to tour with CocoRosie. Another fine choice.
5. Best food to eat on tour?
We’re a mix of omnivores and vegans, so this is an impossible question for us. I hate to say it, but we can come close to feeding us all at a Cracker Barrel. Unfortunately, their old-timey, way-things-supposedly-used-to-be, country-bumpkin shtick makes me just about suicidal.
6. Why should people listen to your band?
First, I don’t think the majority of music listeners are going to like this band. I can’t stand most of what I hear on the radio, and I’m definitely not moved by what most of the people I come in contact with are moved by. We’re making this music for a small niche of people who are turned on by angular, spastic rock, that’s not full of clichés lyrically. I never bring a song to the band that I’m not fully behind. If there are people out there that crave this sort of thing, then please join the club.
7. If you could be any athlete, which athlete would you switch places with?
I’d have to say Mohammad Ali. He was (and is) tough, smart, witty, outspoken, determined, generous and kind.
8. If you won a Grammy, who would you thank?
Every fan who ever supported us.
9. If you could change something about the music industry, what would it be?
At this point in my life, I’m so sick of thinking about the music industry that I don’t even want to waste another second thinking about it. It’s a business. It’s about money. That’s all it’s about.
10. Memorable tour experience?
Amy and I were in a car heading to a gig in Buffalo, NY, going through Rochester on a four-lane highway. It was sleeting and it was rush hour. Traffic was thick. Suddenly, our car started a slow 180-degree turn clockwise from the left lane into the center lane. We didn’t slow down that much, but at this point we were looking into the faces of oncoming drivers, who were frantically swerving their cars past us on both sides. Now, in what seemed to both of us like slow motion, the car made a 90-degree turn counterclockwise and shot us across two lanes toward the right hand guardrail. I remember meeting Amy’s shocked gaze, and I put my knees up to my chest and awaited the impact. At the last possible spit second, as the guardrail raced toward us, the car whipped to a stalled, parallel park position on the shoulder of the road, perfectly unscathed. We just sat there stunned for a minute, as concerned motorists pulled over to check on us. After that we started back up and continued on to the gig. Which in
hindsight was probably not the smartest move.
11. What does AP.net mean to you?
Absolute Punk is a chance to discover all the voices out there that
decided not to dumb it down for the masses.
12. What is your favorite song to play?
We all get a rush from our song called “There’s No David Lynch.” But if we
didn’t like to play them all, they wouldn’t be on the set list.
13. What is your vacation spot of choice?
Anywhere in the Caribbean.
14. What music reminds you of your childhood?
15. If you could have any super power, what would it be? Why?
The power to make everyone loved. I hate the thought of lonely people. I sound like a hippie!
16. Any pre-show superstitions or rituals?
Typically, we just slaughter a goat. That is, of course, if we can’t find a
17. What is something that most fans don't know about you?
We’re not REAL pilots and stewardesses!
18. What is your assessment of the current state of radio? Do you think it's a place where your band could flourish?
I personally hate the current state of radio, but again, it’s just a business and always has been, so literally, my opinion of it doesn’t matter in the least. I’m going to date the shit out of myself here, but at least as a kid, when you turned on your AM radio, you’d be listening to this wide assortment of music. It was very strange in hindsight, but at least it catered to a wide audience. You’d have Danyel Gerard singing My Butterfly played back to back with Alice Cooper singing School’s Out. Choose your favorite. Also, college radio, which was a personal lifesaver for me in the early 80s, seems less impactful now, which I think is too bad. But hopefully I’m wrong about that.