Discovery: Miracles of Modern Science

Published January 27, 2012

The instrumentation devised by the band Miracles of Modern Science (MOMS for short) sounds like, well, a science experiment. The band, whose members met at Princeton University in 2004, is composed of Evan Younger, Josh Hirshfeld, Kieran Ledwidge, Geoff McDonald, and Tyler Pines. They cover their bases with catchy, interesting melodies and cello, violin, and mandolin. Miracles of Modern Science have a penchant for musical jokes—they even covered a Bon Jovi song and made it sound like crooning Bon Iver (they called themselves Bon Joviver in the video). The next step on their journey is a full-blown tour, and a new recording session in the near future.

We chatted with vocalists Evan Younger and Josh Hirshfeld on getting more hits on their cover videos than their actual songs, turning jokes into music, and producing a record on their own. Plus, they kindly shared with us the video for their new single “Eating Me Alive,” which we’re thrilled to premiere below.

HOMETOWN(S): Hirshfeld: I grew up in a town outside of Boston and Evan is from a town in Virginia. We met at Princeton at school. That’s where we met all of the guys as well. We’re all from different parts in the country. In the case of our violin player, the world because he’s from Australia.

SPOTIFYING THEIR INFLUENCES: Younger: Those are always hard to pin down for us, because I guess, one of the fun things about playing in the band is that we have a lot of people with very diverse influences. There are always a lot of different elements that play. I guess, so far, common ones might be…

Hirshfeld: We’re all huge David Bowie fans and huge Talking Heads fans.

Younger: We have a Spotify playlist going where we all share kind of what we’re listening to at the moment. On there right now, are The Beach Boys, Gary Rafferty, Beyoncé and Henry Cowell, who is a modern classical composer. A lot of different stuff and jazz fusion.

Hirshfeld: [laughs] Beyoncé is probably the huge one.

HOW THEY GOT THEIR NAME: Younger: It sort of struck like a lightning bolt. The band name, Josh came up with it. He was like, “I got it. Miracles of Modern Science or MOMS for short.” We didn’t have a band at the time. It was just me and him playing together. So, we had to find the perfect band to match the perfect name.

ON TAKING MATTERS INTO THEIR OWN HANDS: Younger: Along the musical side of things, we had been around for a few years before we started recording. We kind of amassed a collection of songs that we were having some successful live shows, and we felt our next step was to do an album and take our defining statement to the world. We were kind of nervous about starting it without any kind of experience or guidance. We were looking around at first to see if producers that we looked up to would want to produce it. Eventually, we decided to do it ourselves, and I’m glad we did, because it was a great growing experience for us. As far as the inspiration behind it.

SPECIAL TREATMENT: Younger: We’ve played a lot of one-off shows with really great artists. Josh?

Hirshfeld: Yeah. We haven’t spent a lot of time on the road. There are a lot of great bands who are our friends in New York City. One of them would be Tidal Arms. It’s a dreamy metal band featuring one of the guys who actually recorded the album. He runs a studio as well as plays in that band. We don’t really fit on the same bill together at all, but it’s always fun.

Younger: A really good one was with Micachu & the Shapes a couple of years ago. We played with Beirut at Princeton actually. Josh was the social chair, which acts as the booking agent on campus, so Josh got special treatment. Gang Gang Dance. We haven’t done what we’d call a full-blown tour yet. We’ve been sort of regionally focused so far. That’s the next thing we’re looking to tackle.

THE CRAZY JOKES THAT TURN INTO SONGS: Younger: Well, now the album release planning and stuff is finally off of our plate, we’re excited to get back to writing more songs. We’re starting to make more videos and collaborating with some friends of ours to make videos of our songs. Also, learning some cover songs to make Youtube videos for. We just hope to take this as far as we can. We don’t have our whole trajectory planned out, but we’d love to do a full-blown tour.

Hirshfeld: We spent so long working on this album that I almost wish that there was more that we can do to keep on pushing the album out there.  On the other hand, it’s really [freeing] to have finished the bulk of that; finally be able to get into our practice space and not have to worry about how to cut down the songs to make them perfect for the album. We can finally go back and experiment on new stuff and just do some low-pressure playing. I think a lot of our songs come out of that. Even if at first they seem like horrible, crazy joke ideas. Sometimes they’ll branch out into something that becomes one of our songs.

ON LETTING THE COVERS CAT OUT OF THE BAG: Hirshfeld: Well, we don’t want to let the cat out of the bag…but we’re working on a cover of “I Would Die 4 U” by Prince.

Younger: Actually for a long time, we had trouble with covers, because our instrumentation is so unusual we can’t just play a song. We have to reinvent it for ourselves. For a while, it seemed like so much trouble to make a new arrangement. We’re more excited about that challenge. On a whim, we did a “Pumped Up Kicks” cover recently and it turned out be people’s favorite thing we’ve done. We’re huge fans of that song. We did our take on it.

Hirshfeld: Almost overnight, it just beat out every single video of every one of our songs. I guess people like covers.

MIRACLES OF MODERN SCIENCE’S DOG YEARS LP IS AVAILABLE NOW. FOR MORE ON THE BAND, VISIT THEIR WEBSITE.