The Clint Culberson Interview
Modoc, photo-Salomon Davis / Solo Photography
“We are really excited that local stations are willing to put us out there and help support what we are doing.” – Clint Culberson, MODOC.
MODOC has seen their fortunes rise after moving from Indiana to Nashville a couple of years ago. While most of the Hard Rock scene has faded, they have had a chance to write with Rich Robinson of The Black Crowes and had their song, “Devil On My Shoulder” featured in the promo for last year’s TV show, 666 Park Avenue.
Clint Culberson took some time to relate on the benefits of being part of the Nashville music community and what has turned MODOC from one of the members of the local scene into current real Rock, no-frills torchbearers on the verge of something even bigger.
Brad Hardisty / The Nashville Bridge: Are you in Nashville right now?
Clint Culberson, Lead Singer, Guitarist, Songwriter- MODOC: Yeah, we are home. We are leaving on Thursday for Alabama.
TNB: Where do you play in Alabama, I think I saw Tuscaloosa?
CC: Yeah, we are in Tuscaloosa and then we are heading to Arkansas for a couple of days.
TNB: Then you are back here on the 18th?
CC: Yes. We are back here in town on the 18th and then Bowling Green the 19th, I think.
TNB: You guys have a good wheel going on (around Nashville)?
CC: We are trying for sure. We’ve got some good guys working for us.
TNB: As far as MODOC, the first time I saw you was during the last good Next Big Nashville Conference a couple of years ago at The 5 Spot. How long had you been in town?
CC: I think we were here for a little while. We had probably been in town for a year. We really changed when Caleb, our original bass player, came down from Indiana and we took it a little more seriously once he got down here. We said we really want to do this for a living and go after it.
TNB: So Caleb is actually your original bass player?
Clint Culberson, Modoc, photo – Salomon Davis / Solo Photography
CC: Yes, he was the original bass player and he had decided he was going to stay back home for a girl and not move down here. We were not really sure where we were at as a band at that point. We had a guy step in for a little bit and we are still really good friends with him but, he was…you know, we kind of had to come to a mutual agreement. I hate to say it wasn’t mutual but, he wasn’t going to quit so we had to do one of those things that is never easy to do.
TNB: I would say that is definitely some strong bass that Caleb is playing on the album. I listened to the video you guys have up the other day recorded at Smoakstack. Is that where you did the new album?
CC: No, we just did a couple of live videos in there and what-not to have. This new album we did on our own, so, we recorded that record everywhere. We went from my garage to living rooms to bedrooms, kitchens where ever we could find good sound.
TNB: Is MODOC situated in East Nashville?
CC: Two of us are in East Nashville and two of us are in West Nashville.
TNB: So you are kind of involved on both sides of Nashville.
CC: Yeah. We cover the whole market.
TNB: So how do you like Nashville after being transplants, like everybody else, I should say.
CC: I feel like we have become, you know, part of this town. It is home for us. We have met a lot of people, so that’s a little more exciting than the hills of Indiana. I think I would say I’m probably the most country out of all of us. I feel like I’ve probably picked up the accent more than anybody. I don’t mind it.
TNB: Are you the main lyricist or does the band work together?
CC: Mainly, I do most of the lyrics and writing on that side of things. But, the guys always have something. John comes to me most of the time, out of the three of them, with lyrics and what-not. You know, there are some songs that I’m kind of strugglin’ and not sure where to go with this and we will sit down and figure it out and it seems well and it makes sense. It is still coming from an honest direction, I guess.
TNB: Well, I love MODOC’s sound but, for me that’s the core. I have always liked bands that have come out of here [the south] like The Black Crowes, but also some of the newer bands like American Minor that was around a couple of years ago also American Bang which used to be Bang Bang Bang.
CC: Oh yeah.
TNB: Do you guys feel like you are getting really good local support? Are you getting radio support?
CC: Yeah we are getting a little bit from Lightning 100 but also, lately; The Buzz has really been supporting us a lot actually. They were playing us before we even knew it. They were super into it, so, it is really awesome to know that they were picking it up before we even talked to them about what else we could do with them. We are really excited that local stations are willing to put us out there and help support what we are doing.
TNB: Do you see any core areas in the Country that are starting to come back or come up with the real Hard Rock thing?
CC: I think it comes and goes, I think a lot of people get excited for a bit and I feel like even though we have only been here for a few years, I feel like a lot of the bands that were doing somewhat close to what we were doing when we first got down here are no longer out there and so I feel like somewhat in a good way that we’re not the only rock and roll band, of course not, but, you know sometimes I feel like we don’t wear a funny hat or costumes so we are the only ones like us. That’s it.
TNB: I see you guys where you are at now, your songwriting is a lot more polished. I like it because it has some variety to it and it sounds like you guys are having a really good time, especially over the last year. What was the turning point? Was it songwriting here in Nashville?
photo – Salomon Davis / Solo Photography
CC: I think we are all aspiring songwriters anyway and we’ve always said the best song is what is going to go on that record and we had written a lot of songs. I think it just takes practice and we don’t want to limit ourselves on any specific kind of song or genre. You know, of course we are going to play electric guitar and play loud, but, I think we have been good about saying make the song be what it’s about and then worry about whether or not we are going to do it. So, we just finished a good album and we put it out there. We need to sound like us. We need to stop worrying about that. Early on, I think we did a good job of getting that out of the way and stopped worrying about songs being different and whether they mesh or not and it just depended on how it was recorded that makes it sound like you. What Ryan Adams has done over the last decade, a lot of his sounds are completely different and we are big fans of all of them and he gets a lot of shit for that, or he did. But, they couldn’t stick him into a particular genre and well… good for him. He can do whatever the hell he wants to and have a good time. It’s much more important to have a good time.
TNB: If I were to say where you guys are at right now, MODOC is like the bridge between The Black Crowes and Kings Of Leon because you are a little heavier Rock than the Kings Of Leon but you still have that depth of, you know, where American Bang was a little more of party mode, Modoc is more of a thinking band about lyrics and structure.
CC: Yeah, totally and I appreciate that. A lot of people compare us to Kings Of Leon and I just want to say thank you. A lot of people don’t know what to expect when they tell me that and I’m just, no, that’s an honor those guys are doing great.
TNB: You are more rocking. MODOC is leaning more towards The Black Crowes but you still have kind of that thinking mode plus some of your song structure is more modern.
CC: Right, yeah, we are big fans of those guys too. We actually got to write with Rich Robinson.
TNB: Did you cut anything that you actually wrote with him?
CC: We haven’t. It’s been kind of…not a bummer but we weren’t sure what we were wanting to do with it and he was wanting to Produce the songs that we co-wrote, so, rather than try to hurry up and get a bunch of songs done for he and I or for the band… it’s kind of tough… he lives in Atlanta and he is also doing solo stuff and The [Black]Crowes now so it’s very difficult to schedule and I hope to write with him again but, for now, that is kind of on hold. I still have those recordings of what we had written on my hard drive and I go back once in a while and make sure I still remember those songs because they are good songs. We just have to find a place for them.
TNB: How did the song end up in the beginning of the TV show (666 Park Avenue)?
CC: We were cutting a song that John had written and I had a good idea for a chorus so we knew that it was a good song and it was a dark song. We had heard that the Twilight people were looking for songs for the movie soundtrack for their last movie, so, we thought, well, why don’t we go cut it and see if we can get on that, you know, like every other fuckin’ band in the world. Obviously, it didn’t get chosen for that but, it actually worked out well to be put on the front of that promo for 666 Park Avenue. We just kind of pitched it to ABC right after we found out the Twilight people had passed on it. We put it on this record as well because we were happy how the song turned out for us.
TNB: Which song was it?
CC: “Devil On My Shoulder”
TNB: Oh, yeah, great song.
CC: Thanks man. I think we are going to do a video for it this fall. We kind of have to hurry up.
TNB: There are a lot of things you could do with that in a video.
CC: Oh man, I’m really excited about the idea. We have a really good Director. He used to be a good musician friend of ours but, he has turned into a pretty bad ass Director so, hopefully we can work with him on that.
TNB: That sounds great. Do you think you will probably ride on this album for another year before you cut something again?
CC: Yeah, I would say we will probably. We have had some talks and we might even go in the studio this winter to have an even bigger release next fall. It’s crazy, because we go in cycles of writing so differently so we try to catch that. If we are all writing on the same thing for a while and we are all in the same mode we definitely want to capture that all together and have some really good songs that go together that are all in the same time frame. There can be some similar things going on and tell a story in an album of where we were at, at the time. It’s hard not to want to record when you are writing if you have something to say and we usually do.
TNB: It’s good that you have ways of saying “let’s work on this” and “we’ll cut that.” I guess you have friends with different pieces of gear to record when you need to.
CC: Yeah, basically. Nashville is a big town with a lot of people with a lot of music gear so it’s not really that difficult to get a hold of some good stuff and make sure we have a big sounding record.
TNB: I hope you have something ready for Record Store Day because Electric Guitars and Guitar Amps always sound better on vinyl.
CC: When is Record Store Day?
TNB: It’s in April. It’s like a national Holiday here in Nashville. I mean, there are bands playing everywhere all day long.
CC: Yeah, I’m going to have to remember when because I feel like it’s kind of a blur. I’ve been to a couple of those over at Grimey’s.
TNB: The Groove was awesome last year. They had Chromepony and they had all the G.E.D. Soul Records crew.
Modoc, photo – Salomon Davis / Solo Photography
CC: Chromepony fuckin rules! We actually played with those guys down in Baton Rouge last year on the way to SXSW. We are good buddies with those guys. We are definitely getting our record cut to vinyl here very soon. I think it is through a company out of Cincinnati called Soul Step.
TNB: Is it going to be available locally?
CC: It will be online for sure through them and I am thinking we will have the ability once we get those done and get our hands on them to get them to Grimey’s and other record stores as well. I’m not sure of the logistics on that. I am just excited to have it on vinyl period. It’s something that we have been wanting to do forever and it has just been trying to find a way to do it that isn’t going to cost an arm and a leg. I think it’s very good “branding” for the band as well to say “we like to listen to good music too and on a good source.”
TNB: What do you think the release date is going to be?
CC: I would imagine in the next couple of months. I think the deal worked out with them just this last week so I would say in the next month or so. I am waiting with baited breath.
TNB: I think Nashville was a good move for you guys.
CC: Thanks, man.
- Brad Hardisty, Nashville, TN thenashvillebridgeathotmaildotcom
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