Robbie (right) remembers a local show with the Ramones: “They played their whole set at double speed in their dressing room.”
Modern English will always be “I Melt with You” to America — an essential ’80s love song that singer Robbie Grey once admitted is about sex during nuclear war. They’re back with a new album, Take Me to the Trees, and four of the original five members. They play the Casbah on Wednesday night, March 22. Grey took some email questions.
Your favorite memories of playing San Diego?
“The Ramones, at a big festival there in the ’80s in the baseball stadium. They played their whole set at double speed in their dressing room before the gig.
"I Melt With You"
...by Modern English
“Last year was great at the Hideout, a small, sticky, packed venue.”
How long had it been since all four of you were in the same room at the same time?
“All in the same room, 25 years. Mick Conroy, the bass player, suggested getting the whole original band back together when he moved close to me.”
Were the initial reunions awkward?
“Not awkward. We have known each other since we were kids. Once we got back together, we wanted to get back on the road.”
How did the songwriting start up again?
“We got together in a room and jammed like we always did. If we like a part I will put some lyrics to it and we take it from there. Using Logic, the music program, to write is new.”
How did you get producer Martyn Young to un-retire? How did he go about contributing ideas to the sound and to the songs?
“Martyn first and foremost is a friend. He wanted to do music again and we were ready to make a new album — hey, presto. He is more musical than us, so could bring more notes to the songs. Also he understood the importance of each individual member’s sound.”
- Wednesday, March 22, 2017, 8 p.m.
2501 Kettner Boulevard,
Which bands, fashions, books, films influenced the band in the beginning?
“Wire. Joy Division. A Clockwork Orange. Punk rock. Vivienne Westwood. Le Grande Bouffe. Salvador Dalí. David Bowie. It’s the feel of England in the late ’70s.”
How have your influences changed?
“Over the years, more thoughtful and less manic.”
You’ve recorded “I Melt with You” three times now. Which version is your favorite, and why?
“The first version of ‘Melt’ is the best. Analog, not digital. Never get tired of playing it.
People have been married to it, and lots have made love to it. Fantastic.”