Mic CheckMusic

Modern Moxie Releases New Single, Looks Ahead to Summer EP

'Live a Fantasy' addresses the younger self


Modern Moxie poses for a photo
Modern Moxie (from left): Chris Slezak, Phil Pucci, Madison Lucas and Harry Kollm. (Photo by Modern Moxie)

What started with Madison Lucas in her bedroom self-recording her first solo EP, aptly titled The Bedroom EP, in 2009, has in 15 years grown into one of Charlotte’s most formidable indie-rock bands, Modern Moxie. 

The foursome now includes Lucas as lead vocalist and rhythm guitar with her husband Harry Kollm on bass and Phil Pucci on lead guitar. The band has brought on Chris Slezak to handle the drums while longtime drummer Charlie Weeks has stepped away to welcome and care for his second child. 

Queen City Nerve’s inaugural Best in the Nest issue in 2019 recognized the band with Critics’ Picks for Best Band and Best Album for their debut project, Claw Your Way Out

Read more: Madison Lucas Attacks Self-Doubt with Modern Moxie Debut (2019)

Their acclaim has only grown since then, releasing the EP Gutter Honey in 2022 and continuing to regularly play shows around town, including a gig opening for indie-pop band The Aces at The Underground in October 2023. 

Today, Modern Moxie is back with new music, releasing their first song of 2024. Titled “Live a Fantasy,” the dreamy new single explores themes around healing, connecting with one’s inner child to release them from the limitations of the so-called American Dream. 

Queen City Nerve sat down with Lucas, Kollm, and Slezak to reflect on 2023 and discuss their new work, including the upcoming summer EP, Tripping the Light Fantastic

Queen City Nerve: What was going on in your lives during the writing process for “Live a Fantasy?”

Madison Lucas: I was doing a lot of shadow work and therapy type of activities. It’s like connecting with your inner child and remembering what you wanted to do when you were a kid, and all those goals that you had. That’s what I had in mind when I was writing it. 

Harry Kollm: The writing … it’s essentially now as adults realizing that a lot of the things that we were taught and believed as children turns out not to be true. As a kid, you have these dreams and aspirations for these things that are hard truths. How can we reconnect with that childhood dream? 

How does “Live a Fantasy” differ from past songs that you all have released?

Lucas: The song has this dreamy quality and I just feel something when I listen to the song. Also, we were just trying to build up the momentum through the song. We also have an acapella part, which we’ve never really done, where all the music kind of drops out. 

Kollm: I would say this differs in the sense that it has a slow ethereal feel. It’s a very balanced blend of calm tension-building that then just releases into that finale at the end. 

The lyrics talk about connecting and healing your inner child from limitations and the idea of the American Dream. What other limitations did you experience because of this idea?

Lucas: I feel like the limitations are just what you’re presented with as a kid. When we were growing up, I remember being told to be a doctor or a lawyer and you think those are the only jobs you can do to be successful. But there’s so many different creative avenues you can take. The limitations are what you’re taught, I feel like there should be more of a focus on creative endeavors.

Kollm: We’re told to believe certain things and to not really question those things, that’s how it is, and that you can be a dreamer, but the realization is we’re in this capitalist society, you just have to grind and go and it’s about material things. 

Slezak: I definitely can resonate with that, living your dreams. It can definitely be hard to find that balance between what you want to do, what you have to do and what you think you have to do. You have to surround yourself with people that will support you in doing the things you want. 

On that note, if you could go back in time to visit your younger self, what would you tell them?

Lucas: I would tell her to start playing guitar and to start playing piano. Like, just think about it. I know you play trumpet right now, but there’s other instruments you could also play. Also, just think about music in the future — I wasn’t at that time at all. I didn’t really do that until college, so I wish I would’ve got kind of a headstart on all of this.

Kollm: If I could go back, it would be that if I wanted to do something, don’t pay attention to what authority figures say about that. It’s something I learned from my dad, but if you do want to achieve a goal, it takes hard work. It’s not something that just happens, so stay focused, and have fun with it. 

Slezak: I’ve spent a lot of time knowing what I wanted and knowing who I was, but being sort of afraid to show that, I’ve learned as I’ve gotten older that everybody’s going through it and nobody’s really focused on other people in that way. Most of it is just self-reflection and internalized. For me, just be more confident and free, because that’s what people will respond to.

The band has come such a long way since the release of Claw Your Way Out.  How would you say that the band has grown in the years since your debut release? 

Lucas: Bringing on a new drummer was great because the vibe happened really immediately. You always worry about that with practice, and how everybody’s gonna get along. We all just mesh together and communicate really well about music, which is wonderful. 

Kollm: I’d say that the main growth is exactly before the band was called Modern Moxie, when it was just Madison Lucas. After Claw Your Way Out was released and we were working on Gutter Honey, that was the first full band collaborative album where each member was able to contribute from the beginning of the song. I think Gutter Honey really started to shape the sound of what Modern Moxie was. 

Last year was an exceptionally big one for you all, especially opening for The Aces in October 2023. What are some things that you and the band can reflect on, positive or negative? 

Lucas: That show was life-changing. I dreamed about playing that show, but that really opened up a lot for us. First of all, just connecting with people that are incredible. It was so fun because I’d never been in front of a crowd that big before. It really empowered me to know that I could get up there in front of that many people and do it and deliver well. I’m just ready to play all the big stages and all. 

Also, 2024 is going to be a big year for the band, especially with the release of your new EP. What’s something that you and the band are looking forward to this year? 

Lucas: Putting out this music finally. We’re just kind of workshopping them right now to make sure they’re ready to go. Another thing we’re really excited about is to put out vinyl this year. We had vinyl for Claw Your Way Out and we’ve been sold out forever, so I’ve been so excited to have some back on hand. We’re also hoping to do a double EP. One side will be Gutter Honey and the other side will be our new album, Tripping the Light Fantastic. 

Kollm: I’d say one thing that we’re also extremely excited about this year is, in June, some of our new music is going to be paired up with a local dance studio. We’re actually going to have a modified version of two of our songs that are blended together with full production choreography  from Audrey Baran, who owns Baran Dance.

What are you the most excited about for your upcoming EP, Tripping the Light Fantastic?

Lucas: We’re so excited about the name. Phil [Pucci] came up with it, and it means when people lightly sway, and that’s kind of what people do at our shows. I liked the phrase, I thought it was cool. I’m most excited about the album release show. I love album release shows, and they’re just so much fun. We always do our album releases really big and I’m excited about putting that event together. 

Kollm: We’ve been playing some of these songs live at our shows recently, and people are exposed to the music, but they can’t stream it anywhere. I think to be able to have these out in the world for people to enjoy, that’s what I’m looking forward to. 

Slezak:  A lot of the groundwork was laid before I started, but I’m still happy to be a part of it in whatever way I can be now, and moving forward with the rest of it. 

What’s something you hope your listeners connect and think about when listening to “Live a Fantasy” and Tripping the Light Fantastic?

Lucas: I just want anybody who listens to the song to just try and sit with themselves in some silence and think about what they want. I can get so all over the place and not even be sure which direction to go in, but just taking that time to really connect with your true self. 

Kollm: I guess a direct answer would be while people are listening to the song, no matter how bad the world may seem or how different reality is than the fantasy that you envisioned, you can still achieve that dream. You can still live your fantasy.

While Pucci was not available to join the interview, his bandmates emphasized his integral role in the group, stating that their latest work would not be possible without him. 

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