Mod Memoirs — Part 2 — Building Toward a Scene, and Here Comes Modest Proposal
In high school I pretty much had a new band each year, and each band was a bit more mod than the last. Scott Stuckey and I had been partners in Stones-mania through most of middle school, but when I sat in at his talent show it was clear I was ‘going in a different direction’.
11th grade was Four Faces with Pete Nelson, Tim Goldsmith, and Matt Eskey. Pretty sure it was at a FF practice in Matt’s basement that I first heard The Jam’s Sound Affects.
Moving into 12th grade, Mach Five, with Phil Auerswald, Ben Roessner (RIP), and Joe Ellison, was nodding even more to the mod. Though we also had a pretty strong post-punk sound, covering bands like Gang of Four. I started writing songs and we played clubs even though we were still in high school. Meanwhile, a proper local mod scene was brewing. Mach Five played a Bethesda mod house party with Count Four, which was the first DC mod band.
By total chance, on our school trip to London that year, Joe and I ran into Count Four’s drummer Ray Sarracino on Carnaby Street.
I think it was that house party where I was introduced to Neal Augenstein. His first wife was there too, but that brief marriage was already on the rocks. As I recall, in maybe our first conversation Neal led with “I’m having some trouble with my wife”. Which was maybe fate, his romantic wounds would fuel most of his song lyrics over the coming years. By that summer, the original Modest Proposal lineup was posing like dorks in my dad’s makeshift home photo studio: Neal, me, David Thornell, and Curtis Paul (RIP).
That lineup didn’t last, as David went off to college, but Neal and I would spend the next several years in various MP incarnations as the DC mod scene exploded and grew around us.