Catching Up with Modern Nomad

By Carl Pietrusinski

 

It’s been nearly a year and a half since we last caught up with Thomas McLean, the 19-year-old musician otherwise known as Modern Nomad.

Last time we spoke, he was fresh off of releasing his first full-length album Road Trip and riding the wave it created. The album was personally essential listening to my summer. Refresh yourself with our feature on him here and find out what Tom has been up to below.

 

 Photo: Avery Van Der Steur

Photo: Avery Van Der Steur

Modern Nomad finds himself in uncharted waters nowadays, navigating the business side of the music industry while trying to perfect his latest album, which is in the final stages of mixing. He still plays shows along with a band, but recording is a solitary effort.

McLean is taking extra care with this release, making sure that it gets released the right way, at the right time. He's switched his focus from the quantity of music he's releasing to the quality. As if playing, writing and recording music aren’t all hard enough, shopping it around to labels adds a totally different element. In order to be successful without management you have to flirt the line between being true to yourself and making good business decisions.

“I’d rather not have to do the business side of things, but you have to if you want to be successful as a musician,” McLean said during our phone conversation. “But it’s all about the tunes at the end of the day. If I believe in them, then I’m confident that someone else will too.”

 
 Thomas "Modern Nomad" McLean in his basement studio. Photo: Emma Mattson

Thomas "Modern Nomad" McLean in his basement studio. Photo: Emma Mattson

 

He finds his life is a balancing act between working on his music, marketing himself and pursuing his education. Tom admits that it can be quite difficult at times but he never lets any of it get him down. He acknowledged that having the support of his family definitely makes things easier. His mom specifically has done it all from cooking him and his band mates meals to even lending her van for gigs.

“I’m sure they [his family] go a little crazy when I’m recording and making a lot of noise, but they definitely love it and support it,” he said. “My mom calls herself ‘Momma Nomad’”.

His newest album, which remains untitled, was recorded not once but four different times in both his basement studio and in California alongside his friends Jacob Summers (of the band Avid Dancer) and BryLo (Bryan Lopez). Previously with the fast-paced mentality of recording and releasing as much music as possible, Modern Nomad has decided to slow things down this time around and let his music evolve. He’s now focusing on quality rather than quantity.

“I demoed a lot of the tracks in a short period of time,” McLean said of the project. “At the time I thought it was the final product. Then I started focusing on mixing and production more that made me realize I could take the songs even further. So I got some new gear and recorded them again. Then I went out to LA and recorded a few songs with Jacob and Bryan. What we did there made me realize where I can take my music and what it can really sound like.  I went home, bought a Roland Juno, and recorded the whole album again, and now Brylo is mixing it.”

 
 
 Photo by Emma Mattson

Photo by Emma Mattson

 

 

For now Tom is remaining hush on what exactly listeners should expect from the album. He notes that the production will be cleaner and the overall vibe of the music will be different. We’ll just have to wait for the final product to see for ourselves.

Until then, Tom finds himself in somewhat of a limbo, waiting for the final touches to be put on what he hopes is his masterpiece. He knows that he’s in for a lengthy wait and his doing everything to keep himself occupied. Other than playing as many shows as possible, continuing to record and lining up tentative release plans in his head, Tom has started working on producing music for friends.

“I got a taste of what my music could sound like, so that’s what kind of sparked me to focus more on production and mixing,” he said. “It’s nice to work on other stuff besides your own, because I can focus more on the mix, rather than worrying about the actual song itself. It’s actually really nice for a change.”

 
 Waiting on that new Modern Nomad album like... Photo: Grace Marshall

Waiting on that new Modern Nomad album like... Photo: Grace Marshall

 

While Tom keeps himself busy waiting for the finalization of his album, fulfill your craving for Modern Nomad over at his Soundcloud page and check him out on Spotify.

Carl Pietrusinski Comment