If you think garage blues duos are a dime a dozen, you should check out the Modern Ruins. The band featuring Baltimore-based singer-guitarist Andy Bopp and Cleveland-based drummer Ken Schopf has been making music for several years now. Bopp's band Myracle Brah was even signed to a label for a minute and Mojo
magazine called one of their albums “one of the best guitar-pop records of the last 10 years.” Bleeding Party
, the new Modern Ruins album, is another fine offering that shows off the band’s range. “I don’t think that was a conscious decision,” Schopf says of the expansive sound. “I think it’s just the way the songs came out. There’s a manic rockabilly thing and things that sound more out there like TV on the Radio.”
Schopf, who grew up in Lakewood, recently moved back to Northeast Ohio to be closer to his mother. While he's doing some recording at his home here, he and Bopp recorded the new album at a studio they call the Cinder Block Mansion — it's really just a garage in Bopp's backyard. The songs' dark themes reflect the climate in which they were recorded — literally and figuratively.
“We wrote most of the lyrics together and a lot of the album is a little dark,” Schopf admits. “When we were doing it in Baltimore, it was a hot summer and there was a murder spree going on. There’s a song on the album about that. We needed to write a love song, too. So [the ballad] ‘There’ was meant to be something that was almost romantic compared to the other songs.”
The album concludes with a gritty rendition of the David Essex track “Rock On.”
“I think there’s something about the baritone guitar in that low fuzzy range that we like,” says Schopf. “Andy just started doing this lick one day that sounded like ‘Rock On.’ We slowly figured the song out. I haven’t heard too many people cover that tune.”
The band plays a CD release show at 8 p.m. on Thursday at the Barking Spider. A pumpkin carving party precedes its performance and it’ll split a 90-minute time slot with local singer-songwriter Thor Platter. Local indie rockers Lost State of Franklin wrap up the night at 10.
“I last played there 15 years ago,” says Schopf of the Barking Spider. “I played there and it was a heckuva lot of fun. I’m looking forward to going back. The last time Andy was in town, he found this cassette four-track recorder and brought it with him. We recorded a few songs here in my basement. We’ll be giving that EP away for free at the CD release show.”