Speaking to MOD SUN (aka Derek Smith) is like speaking to actual sunshine. He oozes positivity and energy, and his excitement for where he is in his life right now and his passion for music is so infectious.
After reminiscing about the old times, (where we didn’t just go to live shows, but we queued to buy tickets, queued to get the front of the barrier and then hung around after the show to try and meet our new-found favourite bands), it’s time to dive deeper. Music is part of MOD SUN’s DNA, quoting the likes of Bob Dylan as his hero to being the pop punk, emo, scene kid at shows like The Used, when My Chemical Romance were just a support band that nobody knew, but helped saved his life, to now working with the likes of Machine Gun Kelly, Black Bear and Avril Lavigne. MOD SUN is on a mission, living our rock star dreams and we are strapped in and ready to see where the ride takes him.
“I’ve never in my career until this year said, I have the best job ever, because I’ve never considered what I do a job…I was never gonna call this a job because this is everything I want to do motherfucker… this is literally the luckiest shit ever.”
“My hero being Bob Dylan, literally, and people like Andy Warhol, never being done is kinda the goal, until the day I’m dead… it’ll never be done for me… If I could do anything like Bob Dylan did for me, it would be the greatest gift ever.”
Talking from the comfort of his sunny garden, ahead of the Internet Killed The Rockstar deluxe version release on May 7th and a music video shoot for a new single he says, “You know the quote like a picture’s worth 1000 words, well like how much is a video worth? You know what I’m saying? So I take it very seriously, and I try to make everything that I do like a piece of actual art, that can be timeless, so I put a lot of energy into it I direct pretty much all my videos… I’m gearing up for that it’s on Saturday, it’s for a new song and it’s like one of my favourite songs I’ve ever made.”
“It’s filled with major chords and positivity and happiness…because that’s really where I am in my life, like I’m fucking happy right now.”
The deluxe version, which will include four new tracks, two acoustic versions and one piano version, MOD says he wanted to bring a summer feel to and refers to the original as being a wintertime album. “A deluxe to me, I wanted to make it another piece to the album, like another extension of it, tell a different tale, it’s the bright side of the story, it’s the summer time, it’s making Internet Killed The Rockstar album feel like summertime,” he says. “It’s filled with major chords and positivity and happiness…because that’s really where I am in my life, like I’m fucking happy right now.”
One of the tracks on the deluxe version is the recently released acoustic cover of Flames, featuring Avril Lavigne. “I wanted to give it a summer feel…it’s jumping around and it felt like swinging and summertime and happy and I was like wow, that is the reason to do an acoustic rendition of the song is to give it a whole different light.
“It’s not to like take the song, and then strip it down and just let it remain, it’s to give it a whole different outlook and that is literally what I tried to do with the deluxe, it’s like not to just take something that’s already there, it’s to give a whole other light to it, you know, and I believe that everything should have more than one life.”
Revealing more about the new tracks on the album and his favourite lyrics MOD tells us, “Amnesia is the name of a song that I have coming out on, I don’t think I’ve actually said that to anyone…in the second verse, I say, I could be the one to take the whiplash, out of the mood swings, and I love that. I really love that sentiment. I love in the chorus I say, I have no past when I see amnesia…the idea of when you meet someone and you fall in love, your entire past like seems to disappear, all the bad shit that’s happened…Yeah, I have no past when I say amnesia. I absolutely love that so that’s probably my favourite [lyric].”
“…to put it in a song and make it forever, to me, meant that I was doing something, talking to them…”
Diving deeper into the album, we discuss the track Breakdown, which he describes as “a very, very tight touching song” where he talks about the late Mac Miller and Little Peep. “You know, those are two people that meant a lot to me, Mac Miller was one of the reasons that MOD SUN worked around 2015 in, that area, Mac Miller would wear a MOD SUN sweatshirt on his TV show, almost every episode…and it like really put me on the map, it really did, and losing him was, was something that really hit me, hit deep, um, one of the reasons that I put down drugs and alcohol eventually, would be because of Mac passing.
“I miss them, you know I miss their presence and their energy in this world, in the world in general in the world of music…Talking about Little Peep and Mac Miller on my deluxe in one of these songs, it’s a big deal to me, you know, I really don’t know if people have, in a song, put that down in permanent audio landscape, you know, I know people every day miss Little Peep and Mac Miller, but to put it in a song and make it forever, to me, meant that I was doing something, talking to them, you know.”
While releasing his own album and working on tracks with Avril Lavigne, MOD has also been working on Avril’s 7th album, which is due out some time this year.
“She’s one of the greatest singers, she’s got perfect pitch…it’s a dream come true seeing, you know, ideas that I have in my head being performed by a pro.”
“I’m very jealous of a lot of these songs that she’s about to release, because they’re so fucking good.”
“I’m obviously not qualified to spill the beans on all of her shit coming up but to be fair and say, my part is like, yes, she has some of the great, like I’m very jealous of a lot of these songs that she’s about to release, because they’re so fucking good.“
On his plans for the future of course like us all MOD hopes to get out touring and that includes coming to the UK. “I have this really big love affair with everything overseas, it’s so romanticised to me, like honestly I know you guys probably hate to hear it, but like Morrissey and the Smiths are like such a defining person for me…even though Maury Morrissey would talk about how dreary London in the UK is, it just painted this such amazing picture to me so like I really want to visit… I’d rather be bigger there than I am here…”
As for his next collaboration, he’s pretty confident he’ll work with Tegan and Sara. “I mean they wrote some songs when they were like 14 that like affected me, changed my life. You know what I’m saying and like, I just have so much respect for those two women… I know that’s gonna happen…I know in my heart…”
Knowing that MOD was just like us, one of those pop punk, emo kids, stood in the crowd, reminds us that dreams can come true. “If you’re a kid out there, and you have dreams and you feel they’re not coming through. Ask for those funds, ask for them to come through, ask for those miracles, but at the same time, go and prove that you are worthy of those miracles every single day.”
The deluxe version of Internet Killed The Rockstar will be available from May 7th, but you can listen to the original album on all streaming platforms.