Rich Howells

Scranton pop band Modern Ties raises funds for St. Joseph’s Center with Festivus live stream on Dec. 23

Scranton pop band Modern Ties raises funds for St. Joseph’s Center with Festivus live stream on Dec. 23
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We’ve all had a lot of problems this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, so now you’re going to hear about it this Festivus.

Actually, Modern Ties is offering something much more pleasant to listen to on Wednesday, Dec. 23 – a free live streaming concert for the rest of us… and St. Joseph’s Center.

After releasing their debut album last week, the Scranton-based indie pop rock band is keeping their annual Festivus tradition while asking for donations for St. Joe’s, which “serves people who are diagnosed with intellectual disability and those who seek pregnancy support, adoption assistance, outpatient therapy, or medical daycare services” in Scranton.

“Every year, our cover band Black Tie Stereo plays a Festivus show, and it’s usually just about as crazy as Thanksgiving Eve. And with everything going on this year, we all just looked at each other and decided let’s just go have some fun and hopefully let people blow off some steam and enjoy themselves just like they would in a normal time,” drummer George Pachucy told NEPA Scene.

“We’re going to play a few songs from the album, and then we’re going to play a bunch of crowd favorites and our own favorite covers. We just want to go out and have fun and hopefully let some people relax and give them a break from what we’ve all been dealing with.”

Local creative marketing team Ionic Development will stream the show from The V-Spot in Scranton as an extended entry in their Juicebox Sessions series starting at 8 p.m. on the NEPA Scene, Juicebox Sessions, and TheVspot Bar Facebook pages as well as Ionic’s YouTube channel and Juicebox Sessions on Twitch, where fans can interact with the band and have their questions and comments addressed in real time.

“We’re probably going to play a pretty long set!” Pachucy emphasized.

“Naturally, we talk a lot, as you remember from our episode of the NEPA Scene Podcast, so I’m sure there will be a good amount of banter and Q&A, plus we asked our fans for some cover requests. So between those, some covers we want to play, and our own music, we’re looking at a pretty long set! Plus, we’ve missed playing terribly, so it’ll be fun to get out there and play again.”

In the spirit of the season, fans can tip at any time via, and all proceeds will be split between the production and St. Joseph’s Center.

“We’ve done some fundraiser work for St. Joe’s in the past, and we really couldn’t think of a better place to support. One of their large fundraisers is their yearly festival, which got canceled this year, so they had a ton of ground to make up to support themselves. The work they do there is amazing, and we couldn’t be happier to support them,” Pachucy noted.

“St. Joe’s means a ton to us personally. One of my family members has worked there for years, so we’ve gotten pretty close to everyone there. We can’t say enough good about the work they do.”

Modern Ties will also be celebrating the release of “Moments/Missed Opportunities,” an album that will require creative promotion like this live stream in a time when bars, clubs, and theaters are shut down.

“The strangest thing is just how long ago we ‘finished’ the album, and how much goes into the promotion and release of it. We were planning to release in June and have new songs already out by now, but COVID made us dial it back a few notches and save up some more money before we can do that,” vocalist/synth player Stephen Murphy said.

“We finished all the recording in September 2019, so we’ve been living with it for a while. It will definitely feel good to move forward, but also refreshing to hear the reactions of other people listening to us for the first time. We’re definitely ready for that new perspective on these songs.”

Murphy, Pachucy, bassist Aaron Kovalich, and guitarist Jesse Morvan have released music under the Black Tie Stereo moniker before, but this is the material they’re moving forward with after rebranding in January.

“This album is the first total writing collaboration between all four of us and also marks a lot of progress in finding our writing style and sound. That’s also one of the reasons why we started the project with the launch of these songs – we felt that this progress made as songwriters and producers deserved its own fresh start. Also, each song is written about a personal experience one or more of us has had, so sharing those experiences in song has been very cathartic for us,” Murphy emphasized.

When asked which song is their favorite, their four different personalities choose four different tracks, of course.

“We’re currently locked in a four-way tie; each of us has a different favorite. ‘Outside the Lines’ because it’s super uptempo, catchy, and great to perform; ‘Supernatural’ because it’s definitely the most feelgood song on the album; ‘Downtown’ because it was a pretty collaborative writing process and seems like the best representation of all of our styles; and ‘Ghost’ because everyone loves an epic emotional album closer,” he listed, noting that “Outside the Lines” seems to be the most popular tune among fans.

“‘Outside the Lines’ definitely has gained the most popularity online, and it’s definitely a crowd favorite when we play live; it’s so easy to get into playing it. It’s very upbeat and easy to sing along to the hook, and a hell of a lot of fun to listen to.”

The band has worked with Ionic Development on videos and live streams before, including a private set for University of Scranton students back in August while The V-Spot remained closed, so they’re prepared to deliver a show that will feel like every other Festivus they’ve played.

“[Live streams have] certainly makes us more aware of our playing, since you’re so exposed with a direct input. Obviously having people vibing in the audience gives us a lot of energy, so we’ve had to create that energy ourselves by trying new takes on the songs we play,” Murphy said.

“We certainly can’t wait to get back to normal, but in the meantime, it’s just another challenge that will help us hopefully grow as musicians.”

Learn more about Modern Ties in an in-depth interview on Episode 137 of the NEPA Scene Podcast.

Photo by Rich Howells/NEPA Scene