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Cambridgeshire post-punk trio Modern Error to release debut album

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Cambridgeshire post-punk trio Modern Error – led by twins Zak and Kel Pinchin – is to release its debut album, Victim of a Modern Age, in January.

Modern Error. Picture: Ashlea Bea
Modern Error. Picture: Ashlea Bea

The 14-track LP from the talented pair, who grew up in Bourn and now live near Peterborough, boasts soaring choruses on songs like Error of the World and single A Vital Sign, as well as guitars that give way to a kaleidoscope of synthesisers, industrial drums and distorted vocals – all of which display influences ranging from Depeche Mode to Boy Harsher and Drab Majesty.

Singer Zak, the eldest “by a minute or two”, says: “We’re just starting to roll out this album campaign for our new album, Victim of a Modern Age, and we’ve just released the song The Truest Blue.”

The urgent, hard-hitting tune has punchy, hardcore synth-sounds, a strong beat courtesy of drummer Conor Nicholson, and energetic vocals. “I think the idea was to essentially bring in an electronic feel to our music but also not make it feel too modern,” explains Zak, 28.

“We’re always inspired by the 90s-era of music, with samplers and electronics. Bands like Nine Inch Nails, Depeche Mode and those kind of bands were definitely the heavy influences on that track, but obviously doing it in our own spin and in our new way.”

Zak notes that the concept for the LP “kind of talks about this idea of being isolated within yourself, and falling victim to this modern way of living” – “and then we found ourselves in lockdown, which funnily enough kind of mirrored a few aspects of this record...

“We wrote and recorded most of it during that time. It was not foreshadowing, but it was putting it all down on paper and going, ‘This is almost perfect timing to write the record’.”

Zak continues: “During Covid it was quite a test, because we don’t all live in the same house, to write digitally across Zoom calls, and then managing to get to the studio in August last year, which was when lockdown kind of opened up a little bit. It was an interesting experience getting back together as a band straight into the studio to record the record. Weird times.”

Elaborating further on the album title, Zak says: “The idea of the record is trying to mirror an outlook on how we see the world, and hold a mirror to everyone else listening to that, making them ask the questions – what do they look for?

“And then I’m a big fan of [Stanley] Kubrick and what Kubrick did in his films... It’s like here’s a scene, here’s a trajectory but what do you think about it? Here’s the bigger question in play, here’s this two-tiered storyline... and there’s a bit in A Clockwork Orange where the guy says, ‘You’ve fallen victim to a modern age’ because at first Alex is this chaotic person not conforming to society.

“Then he conforms but becomes the ultra-conformist by drug inducing – so becomes the polar opposite and power takes over him. It becomes what is morality and what’s moral to do to a human being.”

The group’s line-up previously included a French bass player named Aurélien Mariat. “Due to everything that’s happening in the world, it’s becoming increasingly more impossible for him to carry on doing it at the speed that it’s meant to be done,” says Zak, who reveals that he and Kel came from a “skating and motocross” background, adding that their father, who is now a magazine editor, was formerly a journalist whose area of expertise was motocross and superbikes.

“So it [the love of music] came from the world of the music around those things – like [rock band] AFI and then the Emo side of things, like the The Used,” recalls Zak. “Looking at people like motocross riders, you kind of get this idea of an idealistic person – like heroism – and we just started writing music through that, really.”

Zak also cites the likes of Green Day, Linkin Park, and Finch as major influences. “I think with me and Kel writing music, the idea was we were never satisfied with this five-piece band thing, and always felt like we wanted to be a bit more expansive and build more of an atmosphere, or a universe, with the music we want to create,” he says.

As something of a stamp of approval for its rock credentials, Modern Error is on the bill for next summer’s Download festival at Donington Park – one of the most famous rock festivals in the UK and Europe, and maybe even the world.

Modern Error. Picture: Ashlea Bea
Modern Error. Picture: Ashlea Bea

“Yes, it’s definitely something we’ve had as one of those goals to reach, pretty much since being a child,” enthuses Zak, “it’s definitely a milestone for me and Kel, for sure.”

Modern Error’s debut album, Victim of a Modern Age, is set to be released on January 21, 2022. For more on the band, go to modernerror.com.

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