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FROM TODAY'S SHOW

NEWS

Washington City Paper's Best of DC Poll is out.  Go vote for your favorite local original band.  We've got 170+ Profiles of deserving bands on our Find-Browse Music page

MUSIC

  1. Live By The Sword - Lanternfish (Rock/Noise Rock) Album Release Show 2/25 @ DC9!  
  2. Drunk On The Power - Holly Montgomery (Rock/Adult Contemporary)
  3. The March - Of Tomorrow (Rock/Funk)
  4. That's Love - Oddisee (Hip Hop/Rap)
  5. Insight - Fort Knox Five, Asheru (Funk)
  6. I Love You Madly - Black Masala (Funk/Brass)
  7. Intro/Outro music by Fellowcraft (Hard Rock/Blues)

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Of Tomorrow

Geoff Browning & Jon Modell

Video - Bio - Photos - Links

Bio

DC Music Rocks Of Tomorrow

At the core, Of Tomorrow’s music is authentic, technical and diverse – touching on the sounds of funk, Latin jazz, festival rock, samba, neo-soul, and hip-hop. Formed in late 2015, the band is comprised of core members Nick Soderstrom (bass), Jon Modell (drums) and Geoff Browning (guitar / vocals)--fixtures on the DC music scene who have toured extensively, performing at sold-out venues including DC's 9:30 Club and the All Good Music Festival. Together, these three form the rich backbeat, melodies and lyrical structure for other players to texture, improvise and compose over.

On a mission to energize its fans and empower both core and guest musicians to shine, of Tomorrow has released their self-titled album and continues to write, tour and record. They have performed with John Popper or Blues Traveler and regularly collaborate with Ralph Washington and DJ Unown of Oddisee and Good Compny, the Yellow Dubmarine horns, and a long list of well know, extremely talented regional players. Appearing in dozens of cities and festival venues this Summer, of Tomorrow is not a band you want to miss. Tomorrow is yours.

DC Music Rocks Of Tomorrow (2)
DC Music Rocks Of Tomorrow (3)
 

Interview Transcript

Brian:     That was Of Tomorrow, my guest for today and that was the track The March.

Goeff:         Yes it was.

Brian:     At the core, Of Tomorrow's music is authentic, technical, and diverse, touching on the sounds of funk, Latin, jazz, festival rock, Samba, neo soul, and hip hop. They bring it all together. They were formed in late 2015 and the band's comprised of their core members: Nick, Jon, and Geoff. Together these three formed the rich back beat melodies and lyrical structure for other players to texture, improvise, and compose over. Of Tomorrow's release, their self-titled album and continue to write, tour, and record all around the region.

                  I've known these guys and I've seen these guys around the scene for years and listeners, it is with great pleasure that I introduce Geoff and Jon from Of Tomorrow.

Geoff:         Hello, world.

Brian:     Say hi, fellas.

Jon:         What's up, guys? How's it going?

Brian:     It is such a treat having you hear. Now talk to us about where ... How Of Tomorrow came together. How did that happen?

Geoff:         Well, I played in a band around D.C. for a long. That's where I met Jon. Jon's actually toured pretty extensively and played with a lot of folks. Bands sometimes go the way of the dinosaurs. It's part of the industry, I suppose.

Brian:     True. All right.

Geoff:         I had recently left one project and I ran into Jon at this amazing meeting of the minds jam session out in Virginia and told him the story and he said, "Oh, well, actually that's interesting because I have a new project coming together with this bass player I met who is amazing." And Nick is amazing. He said, "We have a show next Friday. Would you like to play with us?"

                  I said, "Yes," and we practiced for about 30 minutes for a four-hour set and we had so much fun we said, "Wow, we should actually start writing songs and bringing in more people who we know, who are talented in the scene, teaching them the songs, and aggressively booking shows." It came together from there.

Brian:     That's amazing. Jon, I want to switch over to you. Where did music come into your life? Geoff just said that you've been playing for a while. Talk about that a bit.

Jon:         Yeah, I started beating on pots and pans as a baby. My mom really was all about that.

Brian:     Beating on pots and pans?

Jon:         Yeah.

Brian:     Yes!

Jon:         She just encouraged me to hit all kinds of stuff in the house and make sounds.

Brian:     All right.

Jon:         I had a little record player with five or six records. This Fisher-Price thing I'll never forget. I just loved music from the beginning, but I took some Suzuki piano early on. I just really didn't have that much interest in studying music until I saw a couple of local players around my early teen years. Like when I was 14, I saw this great jazz drummer and I went up to her ... Her name was Roberta Washington and asked her to give me lessons. Same with the pianist. Walked up to him and asked him to give me lessons. It came into my life that way.

Brian:     Whoa, so both piano and drums then?

Jon:         Yeah, and at the same time I was going to school at [Maret 00:03:04] in D.C. and me and a couple of guys there formed a punk band. We played a lot of Bad Brains covers and whatever.

Brian:     Nice.

Jon:         We eventually hooked up with a singer. Amanda [Makki 00:03:15] actually. Don Z was just in here. I played around the D.C. punk scene and in a hip hop band called 3LG back in the day. I came into music really playing a lot of different styles.

Brian:     Sure.

Jon:         I didn't really care. I loved hip hop. I loved early rap. I loved early electronic music. I loved jazz and I studied 'em all and have been looking for a band that I could just be me, which means I could do a lot of things, which is the impetus for forming this group for me.

Brian:     Yeah.

Jon:         In its early inception was just to really be a place that music's music and I think people are smart enough and open enough out there now to be able to love just good music.

Brian:     What about you, Geoff? How does music enter your life? What's that story there?

Geoff:         Well, I think everything I ever wanted in a band including things I didn't know I wanted, I've found in this band, but it was a long journey to get there.

Brian:     It sounds like the beginning of a sweet love story. It's such a sweet love story.

Geoff:         It is. It is.

Brian:     Tell us more.

Geoff:         Okay, so my grandfather was a musician. He actually played during World War II in the marine corps band. His band was actually weaponized and turned into a fighting unit. The whole band was shipped to the Pacific. It's a pretty crazy story. There's actually a lot of military history that's been written about it, but ...

Jon:         I was just going to say I really hope that doesn't happen to us.

Geoff:         I hope that doesn't happen to us. Not out of the question in these crazy times, Jon.

Jon:         I'm not looking forward to being weaponized.

Geoff:         Yeah. So he was a musician. My mother was a music teacher so growing up we had a big roomful of random noisemakers to play around with and she ... I always wanted to play guitar. She said that she played guitar. She was a music teacher from when I was negative nine months old all the way through birth so I listened to a lot of guitar in that period. My brain's wired around it.

Brian:     Okay, so guitar's your thing.

Geoff:         Yeah, so I picked that up until I was about 18. Wanted to be a professional musician. Got cold feet. Wandered around for a year. Wasn't sure what to do. Then found political passions and spent the better part of 10 years exclusively pursuing that passion using skillsets that actually aren't overall dissimilar to music in some ways like you and I talked about earlier. Now for the first time as an adult, I'm doing both.

Brian:     Wow, which makes for a pretty busy schedule, I would imagine.

Geoff:         Yeah, it's not good for things like sleep, but it is very good for overall having a balanced life where I do things I'm passionate about. Sometimes it's been very trying. Lately, especially, but the band has really been a great outlet.

Brian:     That's cool. Now you guys had said there was a start ... We just played that song, The March, from a ... There's a video that I'll post with the episode of these guys ... They did a live broadcast from a recording studio and it's just an amazing video and a lot of fun to watch the dynamics of everything that is happening. Tell us about that.

Jon:         Can I actually just tell a little bit about the musical side of it before, Geoff, you tell a little bit about the lyrical side of it?

Geoff:         Oh, please do. Absolutely. Yeah.

Jon:         Because that song represents what you read out of the bio, for me. It started as a formed bass drum/guitar back beat and then we brought two keyboardists and a trumpet player who aren't the core members of our band to come in and compose over it. The result is what I think, when you play that song back to back with others songs, I listen to, I'm really proud that it sounds fresh and it sounds different and it doesn't sound intentionally different because it's not.

                  What it is is just grabbing people from all different areas and saying, "You're not committed to performing some certain genre or certain sound. We've got the bass drums and guitar covered. You be you and we're going to come up with something we have no idea what it's going to be," and that's what The March ... And that's what that recording [crosstalk 00:07:08].

Brian:     And what we heard, was that really ... They had never played that with you before or they knew the basics?

Jon:         No, they've come up with it. They've helped us come up with that song, but not every note is supposed to be plotted out.

Brian:     Yeah.

Geoff:         Essentially the way that things have gone recently is we took a book out of the playbook of Everyone Orchestra who's a band who are good friends of ours from by Matt Butler out of Portland, Oregon. He invites people who he knows who are really talented to come and play with them. Well, Jon, Nick, and I write a lot of the songs and the songs have really ... We would like to think strong structures, lyrical content, things like that, but then we invite keyboard players and horn players and violin and rappers and anyone we want to come in over it. As a result, the result is always really creative and fresh and inspiring, at least to me.

                  With that particular song, the lyrical content's interesting. When we're not touring around, I live on Capitol Hill, about two blocks from the U.S. Capitol. I was walking on the plaza one day and there was this big rally going on behind the Capitol and everyone was singing, "Corporations aren't people." I started walking away and in my head I started thinking like, "[humming]."

                  The first two lyrics there are, "Corporations aren't people," but then the third time I say, "Corporations are made of people," because the thing about it is corporations ... It was interesting to hear that protest say that because they were frustrated with corporate personhood, obviously, but at the end of the day, corporations are made of people. They're just other people who are really good at exercising their political leverage very effectively. I think especially for our friends who care about things like economic fairness and basic rights, I think it's important to maintain that distinction and not see the other side in such monolithic adversarial terms in a way that is exculpatory and satisfying at times.

Brian:     Yeah, Jon, I'm curious now ...

Jon:         Those are big words.

Brian:     I was going to say those are amazingly big beautiful words and you just earn sexy points on the radio when you start talking big words like that.

Jon:         I hope I'm exculpatory at times.

Geoff:         I have the best words. All the best words.

Jon:         I think Exculpatory At Times is a good song title for something coming up. I'll have to find out what it means.

Brian:     Stay tuned for something like that. Jon, it sounds like ... Is it the same ... Clearly Geoff, brings a lot of political perspective and current events and stuff happening on the Hill. What do you bring to Of Tomorrow outside of ... Is it just the music for you or [crosstalk 00:09:39]?

Jon:         So really, when I met Nick at a jam session, I was playing in another local group, Nappy Riddem, great reggae band.

Geoff:         They're awesome.

Jon:         I had been with them for three and a half years, but when I met Nick ... As a drummer, you meet a bass player. His versatility and what it brought out of me made me think, "Wow, as a back beat, as the backbone of a band, we could enable amazing things to happen." I really created this in my mind, what I created, was a place that people could express themselves on top of and with the support of drums and bass that can pretty much do whatever is called for.

Brian:     That's amazing.

Jon:         When Geoff brings this passion and lyrical content to the song, that's exactly what my mission is, is not to control or say, "Hey, you come here and play this guitar or you come here and say these things," but to see him or anyone come in and really be enabled to make something that is really true to them, but also musically technically versatile and beautiful. That for me is the mission. I'm not the singer so I'm not about to tell you what to sing.

Brian:     Right. What about now outside of the music part now? Geoff, it sounds like a lot of your life is captured in political persuasion and such. Outside of work and outside of the work part, what's life like for you guys? Are you homebodies? What do you do in your downtime?

Geoff:         Every single second of downtime I have when I'm not sleeping, I'm generally mustering up all the energy I can to do things that are related to this band and its development.

Jon:         Getting a band to be actually playing out and have shows and get records done and all that ... As anyone out there knows, everyone knows, it takes an immense amount of work and Geoff definitely does an incredible amount of work.

Geoff:         Jon helps a lot. The thing is, you know, in some senses starting any new initiative and getting it off the ground, it can be ... It's sort of like a political campaign in a way. Running a band can be like a political campaign just with no election day, which can be exhausting. One difference is instead of having a VAN database where you have hundreds of thousands of voters and you put together root packets and send volunteers out to talk to them, you have a spreadsheet where you have 200 venues, festivals, and breweries and you basically need to look up contact or hire someone to go through that and look up contact information and do all the outreach.

For us, who's a band who does a lot of that ourselves, we don't quite have the volume yet to get a big production house but we've had a really amazing group of people who've really latched on to what we're doing and contributed their enthusiasm.

                  For anyone who's interested, I would definitely recommend they go to DCMusicRocks.com or to BandOfTomorrow.com and see the videos that we've had. We shot those at this big warehouse party in D.C. at a art space. It was this amazing night and we invested a lot in the video crew and we had Da Vinci Sound and Vision out to record it and [AudioBar 00:12:46] came out and [Pat Chen 00:12:48], [Sean Gokin 00:12:48]. It was great. Everyone walked away really excited, almost feeling like, "This must have been ..." I hear someone walk away and say, "This must have been what it was like to be in Haight-Ashbury in the 60's." That same kind of ... It was two weeks after the election. The whole art scene came together around it. People just had a lot of raw energy and in our song Order of the Red Banner, which is also on our website and social media channels, a lot of that came out in that as well.

Brian:     Check that out. Now what are you guys ... Talk to me about exciting things coming up for Of Tomorrow.

Jon:         Can I speak to that just for a second?

Brian:     By all means. Jump in.

Jon:         Because I think the D.C. music scene has something special, as that we're in D.C. and having grown up here and been in the underground scene and the art scene, there are certain parts of the scene here that are totally disconnected from what people think of Washington monuments, politics, all that. It's just people expressing themselves, making art. There's another part of the scene, which is very, very politically active. That was represented always by a lot of charity shows and Positive Force and groups that combine music with political action.

                  That's what makes this place special, but it's important in and out of the area to recognize, there's always been a part of the scene that's just about the music, just art.

Brian:     And the scene is wonderful for that in terms of being very supportive and I love that about the D.C. music scene, which is one of the reasons I love this show and we do this.

Jon:         We have a really good thing here. It's great. And it's growing too. It's awesome to see it grow.

Brian:     I want you to tell ... Well, first I want you to say if they're interested in finding out more about you guys, where do they find you guys online or to follow you guys?

Geoff:         BandOfTomorrow.com.

Brian:     Got it. It's all there?

Geoff:         Or @bandoftomorrow on Instagram, but BandOfTomorrow.com, actually our new album is up for free, just for an email address.

Brian:     Check it out.

Geoff:         There's also a link there to our very good friends at Void Life Records, who if you are willing to pay $8.88, they will send you a physical copy of the CD with one-of-a-kind drawings on the envelope and handwritten thank you note because they are amazing.

Jon:         Wow, those guys are super cool.

Brian:     That's amazing.

Geoff:         That's all at BandOfTomorrow.com.

Jon:         Talk about grassroots.

Brian:     I want you guys to speak to ... I'm going to put this little clip on because you said there's a DJ Unown. Is that what you said?

Geoff:         Yeah, [crosstalk 00:15:10] good company.

Brian:     Talk about this. Hold on. Let's listen for just a second here. Listen to what's happening in this audio clip here.

Geoff:         From the song we just heard, that sample ...

Brian:     It sounds like noise.

Jon:         Oh, put it back up for a second. He just deconstructs it the beginning and turns it into ...

Geoff:         And turns it into this.

Jon:         A crazy beat.

Geoff:         It's amazing.

Jon:         He did this at the show. He actually made this as we were playing.

Geoff:         It was that warehouse party I was talking about before.

Jon:         It was done when we were done. He just grabbed stuff out of the air and makes art. His name's actually Unown. Not really DJ Unown. He plays with Oddisee. He's their MPC sample player. He's extremely well known around here to anyone in the hip hop scene.

Brian:     Wow.

Geoff:         He basically came and he set up a microphone in the corner of the room and then when we were done, he went down and he plugged into a DI box on stage and he played back remixes of all the songs we had just played, none of which he had ever heard, using only samples that he recorded that night.

Jon:         Live.

Geoff:         He also plays with Oddisee, the rapper from D.C. who is about to go on a nine-month world tour making us all very, very proud and Ralph Real, who's our keyboard player is also going on tour with them.