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'New, But Familiar:' Modern Moxie Brings Retro-Cool To Charlotte

Modern Moxie 1.jpg
Photo courtesy of the band.
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Charlotte-based dance-rock band Modern Moxie (Madison Lucas, Harry Kollm, Phil Pucci and Charlie Weeks).

Modern Moxie is a kaleidoscope of musical genres and generational styles, taking dance-happy cues from The Cars and David Bowie and bringing them to a contemporary pop-rock stage. On the heels of their 2019 debut full-length “Claw Your Way Out” and their recognition as “Charlotte’s Best Band” by Queen City Nerve, Modern Moxie bandmates Madison Lucas and Harry Kollm share how the Charlotte band’s success can be traced all the way back to a small dorm room closet in South Carolina.

"Coming from a small town, I didn’t find myself musically until college. It was a slow process: finding myself, figuring out a career and how I was going to do it. But you just keep at it, keep going and keep trying.”
– Madison Lucas, lead singer for Modern Moxie

Interview Highlights:

On playing start in music:

Madison Lucas (lead singer): I didn’t play guitar until probably sophomore year in college. I had a Beatles songbook with little chord charts, and that’s how I learned how to teach myself. I got obsessed with it. And it was honestly easier for me to write new stuff than to play covers. But I didn’t want anyone to hear me because it was terrifying. So I would just hide and hope that my roommates wouldn’t hear me. That’s when a couple of these songs were written for this album [Modern Moxie’s 2019 full-length record “Claw Your Way Out”].

It took me a long time to get to the point of performing live. My first open mic was in Myrtle Beach, and I remember the terror. It was probably the most scared I’ve ever been in my entire life. It’s still really hard for me to get on stage. I love every moment of it, but it’s intense. I wish I didn’t feel like that and could just own it. Every time I do it, it gets a little bit easier. The Evening Muse was huge for me in Charlotte, where I got a little more comfortable on stage.

On the formation of Modern Moxie:

Harry Kollm (bass player): I met Madison at Jack Beagle’s in NoDa. I had an affinity for that neighborhood and lived two minutes away. A good buddy of mine needed a wingman one night, so I went with him to Jack Beagle’s. Madison was the one who approached me. She spotted me from across the room and just came straight up to me, sat down next to me, looked me straight in the eye and said, “You play music, don’t you?” To which I said, “Yes, I do. Have you seen me play [in Charlotte-based bands Time Sawyer or Asleep in the Weeds]?” And she said, “No. You just look like a musician.”

Madison: Coming up with the band name was a process in itself! We would make up names like “Madison Lucas and the Meat Sweats.”

Harry: One Saturday morning, Madison made delicious muffins. So for the show that night, we were “Madison Lucas and the Fruit Muffins.”

On their 2019 full-length album “Claw Your Way Out:”

Madison: Those songs are from such a wide period of time, and I love that there are all of these different parts. Like with the song “45’s,” I was going through a heavy Janis Joplin phase in college.

Harry: Eight years worth of content, and it took us about a full year to record the entire album.

Madison: It was slow, I’m not going to lie.

Harry: But it was well worth the time. The overall theme for “Claw Your Way Out” is overcoming some type of struggle, whether it be emotional, physical or anything like that.

On Modern Moxie’s retro sound and style style:

Madison: I’m obsessed with old music. Me and Harry are really bad about listening to new stuff unless it’s Charlotte music.

Harry: Madison reminds me a lot about '60s model Twiggy, and the band’s mod style fits that aesthetic. We both have an affinity for the '20s and '30s, and I know Madison loved the flapper girl style. So we try to bring some elements from each decade and, kind of like the music, blend them together to create a new but familiar look.

Madison: I’m a really big David Bowie fan, and I think dressing the part is a big thing. I do get very nervous and really anxious, and when I have the full outfit on when I’m about to rock out, it really helps me.

Music featured in this #WFAEAmplifier chat:

Madison Lucas - “All of Your Time”
Madison Lucas - “Missing the Grind”
Modern Moxie - “Til I’m a Ghost”
Modern Moxie - “Luckily”
Modern Moxie - “45’s”
Modern Moxie - “Claw Your Way Out”
Modern Moxie - “Bones”
Modern Moxie - “Believers in Sound”

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Joni Deutsch is happy to call Charlotte home as WFAE's manager for on-demand content and audience engagement, where she's led the first Charlotte Podcast Festival (named one of the “best podcast conferences” by Buzzsprout) and helped produce such podcasts as FAQ City, SouthBound, Inside Politics, Work It and the Apple Podcast chart-topping series She Says. In addition to being an NPR Music contributor, Joni is also the creator and host of WFAE’s Charlotte music podcast Amplifier, named “Best Podcast” by Charlotte Magazine and honored for excellence in arts and music podcasting by the local Edward R. Murrow Awards and The Webby Awards (called “The Internet’s Highest Honor” by The New York Times).