Modus’ musical variety

Sep 202006
Authors: ELENA ULYANOVA The Rocky Mountain Collegian

Local band Modus’ vast variety of musical styles fulfills its goal in straying from the current mainstream college band sound.

“It’s like an auditory lobotomy,” said Dusty Ray, bassist/kazoo and sophomore English major, in an effort to illustrate his band’s resonance.

Formed only a year ago, Modus has played at various venues throughout Fort Collins including the Mishawaka Amphitheater, Road 34, C.B. & Potts and the Cheba Hut.

The band’s origins date back to Doherty High School in Colorado Springs where Ray and Devin Morse, guitarist/vocalist and junior technical journalism major, started playing music together. Then, as freshmen at CSU, Devin Morse and Trent Mahaffey, guitarist/vocalist and junior biological science major, were jamming together outside of Durward Hall when Elliot Antman, drummer and junior speech communication major, noticed them and joined in. A year later, Ray united with the band and Modus was born.

The word Modus is derived from the Latin phrase “modus operandi,” which relatively translates to mode of operation or method.

Appropriately, Modus seeks to differ in its musical approach and describes its music as a mix of funk, reggae, ska, jazz and rock.

“We take a jazz philosophy toward our style, we like to keep people on their toes,” Morse said.

Ray defined the music of Modus as having “definite psychedelic undertones,” which parallels many of the band member’s musical influences including Primus, Ween, The Residents, The Red Hot Chili Peppers, Butt Hole Surfers, Miles Davis, Jimi Hendrix, Sublime, The Heptones and Frank Zappa.

Modus compared the diversity of its songs to Ween – a band that also maintains a wide array of styles and genres in its music. The members of Modus also agreed that they try to keep a heavy contrast in terms of style within their songs.

“We strive to make each song artistically different within its composition,” Ray said.

Mahaffey described one way they perform this method as “rocking out hard for a few minutes” and then bringing it back down to a “cool mellow groove.”

“I like playing a song that you can listen to over and over and you’ll hear something new each time,” Mahaffey said.

The band does not have any specific organizational methods for writing music, and all of the members of Modus work together to create the songs.

“The other day I had a beat and then Dusty made up a bass line and they joined in with guitar,” Antman said.

Modus described writing music as “less working and more having fun,” which definitely reflects the easygoing, fun-loving nature of the band members who can often be seen spraying water hoses at each other and having crab apple fights with their neighbors.

“We basically just jam,” Morse said, “and if we hear something we like, we go back and work on that.”

This system for writing music has kept all of Modus’ songs as works in progress.

“Not one of our songs is a finished product, and we are always looking for ways to expand on it,” Mahaffey said.

The band members said their main purpose for playing music is self-expression, and added that they like to play music that they would want to listen to. They prefer to be spontaneous and try to write songs that aren’t modern or pop sounding.

“We’re not trying to be anyone else, we’re just trying to have fun with who we are,” Mahaffey said.

With the recent closing of several Fort Collins venues, such as The Starlight and The Mishawaka Amphitheater, local bands like Modus have been left in a somewhat dry music scene. The members of Modus said that the Mish had been their favorite venue to play at, and all said they hope that it opens up again.

“It’s like no other place we’ve ever played at – it just doesn’t compare to anywhere else. I had more of a spiritual experience playing there,” Mahaffey said. “The closing has really put a strain on the music scene.”

The band is also restricted from playing at many of the small venues that provide opportunities for local bands because they are usually bars.

“It’s kind of tough, only one of us is 21 so there are many places that we can’t play,” Antman said.

Ray agreed that the Fort Collins music scene is not what it has been in past years.

“The options are dwindling,” Ray said.

Despite the dilemma, Modus still hopes to tour in the future and all the members said that currently they are just playing for fun. The band also plans to start recording music in the near future.

Modus is scheduled to play at The Race for the Cure in Denver on Oct. 8, and at Road 34 on Halloween.

You might like this band if you like: Primus, Ween, The Residents, The Red Hot Chili Peppers, Butt Hole Surfers, Miles Davis, Jimi Hendrix, Sublime, The Heptones, and Frank Zappa.

Staff writer Elena Ulyanova can be reached at

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