The Music of Modern Fools

Peterborough- and Keene-based band Modern Fools formed six years ago, but it took a pandemic to give them the time and space to create their first album.

The band originated in 2015 with a different lineup of musicians from the current formation, which consists of front man Josh Blair, songwriter and New Hampshire native; Justin Gregory on drums, Jon Braught on guitar and original member Walker Landis on bass.

Guitarist Blair, who has been playing shows since he was 14, had also most recently played with Ghost Dinner Band, a psychedelic grunge rock outfit.

Modern Fools now includes all the members of Adam and the Flood, minus that band’s front man, hip-hop artist Adam Arnone of Peterborough.

Members of Adam and the Flood, tagged as playing “rapabilly,” provide the foundation for Arnone’s rhymes.

On their own, as Modern Fools, their sound is described as indie rock/alt-country.

The band’s original lineup was short-lived and they had split for a time.

“When COVID hit, I started writing,” said Blair. “I revived the name Modern Fools and started recording in April of last year.”

The result is “Seer,” a nine-song album that will be released May 8. The band will perform an album release concert that evening at Brewbaker’s in Keene.

The list of tracks on Modern Fools’ debut album consists of some older material along with Blair’s material he recorded with the mobile studio aboard his converted bus while traveling in the American desert this past winter.

“I spent some time in Joshua Tree,” he said, adding that he wrote a series of “happy to sad breakup songs” that have a “desert feel.”

It’s written in the band’s bio that the human experience can be summed up as “striving to find a balance between melancholy and joy,” that “the tightrope of emotions is the backbone of the stories musicians have been yelling and singing on stages since time began,” and that Modern Fools finds their place in those truths.

“Seer” is a reflection of that experience.

Blair shares some of the stories that inspired the songs on the album, like the single, “So Long.”

In one social media post, we see a photo of Blair in Joshua Tree, Calif. standing near the site of Gram Parson’s final resting place, where his roadie/manager followed Parson’s wishes to be set on fire in the desert after his passing. They stole his casket and set it on fire in this location in 1973.

“Gram has always been a huge influence on me musically and is the reason why I have set out to learn the pedal steel guitar,” he explained. “‘So Long’ was written after a day of listening to Gram’s music. I sat down at the steel and the chorus came pouring out with the rest of the song to follow.”

In another post, he writes about the song on “Seer” titled “Byrd Cage,” which he describes as “a song about the desert, performed in the desert.”

Another track, “Automatic,” he wrote, is an “emotional roller coaster of a song that spilled itself out in its entirety 100 percent in one sitting.”

Blair enlisted Kevin Suggs, audio engineer for KEXP, a Seattle alternative indie rock radio station, to mix the album.

They sent the tracks back and forth to each other as they worked. Blair did record in person with Gregory to lay down the drums that serve as the album’s foundation.

As he spent the winter months traveling, Blair released some video content on social media and a couple of the album’s tunes on streaming services.

“It’s been a long time coming getting (some of these) songs out,” he said.

The debut album from Modern Fools, “Seer,” will be available anywhere music is streamed on May 8. The album release concert, part of the Nova Arts music series at Brewbaker’s Cafe on Emerald Street in Keene, is also May 8 with opener Aria Grace. Check www.novaarts.org or visit Nova Arts on Facebook for more information and to purchase tickets. Reservations are strongly recommended. For more information about Modern Fools, visit the band on Facebook or at modernfoolsmusic.com.