15 - Jeffery Eaton and Chris Honeck from Modern Life is War
I have been incredibly fortunate thus far to chat with those people whose art has affected me in various ways over the years. Jeffery Eaton and Chris Hoeneck from Modern Life is War are the guests on this week's podcast and I don't think it's exaggerating to say that their second album 'Witness' is possibly the single most influential hardcore album of this century.
'Witness' started a movement. It ushered forth an era of hardcore music which is just coming into its prime. If you know Modern Life is War, you no doubt know those who are indebted to them. If you don't, take some time to check out 'Witness.' Go ahead. I'll wait. It's a short album.
In 2008 Mod Life split up. It seemed as though they'd burned out. But five years later they reformed, surprising everyone by bringing a new album along for the ride. It seemed as though the time apart had strengthened the band and musically, it was like they hadn't missed a step.
Jeff and Chris are aware of and extremely humbled by the way their legacy has unfolded. Now a part time band, they tour sporadically, still work day jobs and are a band as and when time allows. In the period between 2002 and 2008, those fearsome six years that seen relentless touring, six albums, an EP and a bunch of 7" records, their life was consumed Modern Life is War. But as you will hear in the interview, the band seem better now that there is no pressure on them to do anything. Jeff mentions how they never really spent time in the one place during those six years, never being able to settle before the next tour or record came along.
Highlights of this interview include:
Having to balance the desire to not be nostalgic against giving the fans what they want in terms of an anniversary show for Witness
That the album is important to them and others, and that it’s important to celebrate it
And still being proud of the record
What kept the band’s creativity and drive going
When the ball started rolling with the band they decided to take that opportunity for all its worth because they may never have the chance again
And being shocked at being able to do it all over again
Still being shocked that people care about their band after so long
Putting out the latest record ‘Fever Hunting’ was scary because it may have disappoint fans or ruin their legacy after being away for six years
Jeff’s hunger for a truthful perspective, and how this influenced the lyrics on the latest album – the band are no longer in youthful turmoil, they’re now grown up and are talking about grown up concerns
Having a very diverse audience in terms of age
Being honoured that people want to talk to them and being honoured when people say they love their music
They don’t pull punches or fake it – they don’t write music they think people want to hear, it’s about writing music that’s necessary for their life or other’s lives
The moment they realised when they wanted to be in a band – Jeff was a huge fan of Chris’ old band
The obsession with punk is what brought the band back – there was a hole in their lives
Jeff: “I tried to start other bands but nothing feels like playing with Chris and these guys. I know them and trust them. We developed a chemistry that goes beyond playing on stage.”
They had to save their lives before they could be a band again – all the band needed was a break
How the band came back together
Going back to real life may have hit their ego a little, but it was the best thing they could have done
They enjoy being a band that has to work for a living instead of being on the road all the time
Being on tour is not a genuine lifestyle – being able to live real life is what Modern Life is Wall is all about
Hardcore and punk is working class music and you really need to be working class to make it, and Modern Life is War are working class guys
Jeff doesn’t think of the band as original – always looking for inspiration that is as deep as the ocean floor. He pays tributes to all of his influences
Jeff then asks me what my life story is and then asks me to send him my bands and stuff
Modern Life is War are still in touch with what’s going on in punk
After the interview, and after the first band played, Jeff and Chris came over to talk to us. Chris explained how he loves the way the band is now, discussing how the pressure of being in a band, having to write records, having to tour and essentially be told what to do from multiple parties created a lot of stress within. That, on top of worrying about bills and so forth seemed to be something that he did not miss. Yet, he also didn't take their current position for granted. The band are still staggered that people give a shit, that people can come out to shows to celebrate the tenth anniversary of an album. To see the same faces ten years on, to know that people related to and have grown up with this band, and how these people have grown themselves yet still are drawn back to the music is something that they seem to be continually stunned by.
The band played with a smile on their faces. Jeff is not only a very humble man but he's insightful and still, to this day, passionate about punk. All qualities that were evident on stage. He asked me to email them with all the stuff I do - the podcast, the bands... all of it. No one's ever asked that before. To have someone who I respect ask about me is...
I guess, like Modern Life is War, I'm stunned that people care about this wee thing I call a podcast.
I hope you enjoy the episode. It's the most inspiring one yet. Featured Music Intro: Voodoo Puppets – Electric Chair Blues (used under CC licence, you can check it out here).
Modern Life is War - Young Man on a Spree, Modern Life is War - D.E.A.D.R.A.M.O.N.E.S. Modern Life is War - Currency
I make no claim to the copyright of any of the music in this episode.
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