An Interview with Modern Chemistry: Garden State Takeover

The first time I personally came across Modern Chemistry was when I saw them open for Taking Back Sunday’s “First Annual Holiday Spectacular” at the Starland Ballroom in 2014. Only hearing about them briefly through word of mouth from many friends who have seen them play various basement shows in New Brunswick, I was pretty excited to finally see them in a live setting. When they hit the stage to start off the night’s festivities, the joyous crowd was filled with many friends and family members who were just as excited to see them as I was. Needless to say, after experiencing their mind-blowing set on that magical night in December, I’ve been completely hooked on Modern Chemistry ever since.

There’s no question that 2015 proved to be an overwhelmingly progressive and eventful year for this New Brunswick-based powerhouse. Modern Chemistry had the opportunity to tour with both Frnkiero AndThe Cellabration and Taking Back Sunday, and also played many colossal music festivals like Riot Fest and Gentlemen Of The Road.

After a long year of extensive touring away from home, the band announced that they were going to embark on a whole Garden State-based tour in February that will be featuring a lot of their friends and favorite local acts as opening support. Hailing this tour as the “NJ World Tour,” Modern Chemistry will be hitting up their old stomping grounds in New Brunswick and Asbury Park, and will also be making some unique stops in Jersey City, Long Branch and Browns Mills.

A few weeks before Modern Chemistry started their first run of localized shows of the new year, I had the opportunity to chat with guitarist and frontman, Joe Zorzi, about the inspiration behind the “NJ World Tour,” the band’s excitement to play on their home turf once again and their personal goals to make this year even better than the last.

So, you guys finished 2015 on a strong note by opening for Taking Back Sunday’s “Second Annual Holiday Spectacular.” What was it like to play so close to home and get to be a part of these festivities for the second year in a row?

            Oh man, it was amazing! We got to play with them… that’s probably like, our sixth or seventh show with them now at least, and this all happened in the past year and a half. They’ve just been super cool to us, so it’s exciting to be able to do that. And like you said, the fact that it was in our hometown area, it was so sick.

We had a really awesome year of touring—you know, we went out with Frnkiero AndThe Cellabration, we did Riot Fest, we did that stint with Taking Back Sunday and Citizen, and we haven’t really been in New Jersey for a while. So, it was really for our last show of the year to be back in New Jersey, and on such an awesome stage. We love the Starland Ballroom too, so it was perfect.

Very cool! During your set at Taking Back Sunday’s Holiday Spectacular Show, you announced that Modern Chemistry would be embarking on a “NJ World Tour.” Tell me, how did you guys come up the idea for this tour?

            Yeah, so basically what I was saying before is that we used to play in New Jersey all of the time. We would have like two shows a weekend sometimes, and New Jersey is our home—like in New Brunswick and Asbury Park, we would always play as much as we could. Then, 2015 came around, and we really got some good opportunities to go on tour and stuff, and we just weren’t able to play New Jersey as much as we used to. I think we played New Jersey twice in 2015, and I was like, “We gotta do something here. We gotta come back.”

So, the idea behind the “NJ World Tour” is—there are so many great cities in New Jersey where music happens. Obviously in New Brunswick and in Asbury Park, but there’s also Jersey City. There’s a cool house show in Browns Mills, New Jersey, that we’re going to play. We wanted to bring all of our favorite local bands that we’re friends with and put on super-localized shows for each one.

Like, in New Brunswick, we have Milkmen, Eagle Daddy and The Vaughns, and at the Wonder Bar we have Toy Cars and The Vansaders. It’s really just about keeping things local to their own space, and showing everyone all of the awesome bands. We just want to play with our friends again; we miss being in the scene, you know? We go to shows all of the time, but we just don’t play there as much as we used to. So we figured, why not just throw a ridiculous title on it? (laughs)

Totally! Looking at the lineups for some of the shows on the “NJ World Tour,” I really love the fact that you’re going to be playing with a lot of friends and familiar faces from local scene. Is there anyone in particular that you’re really looking forward to play with on this tour? Who would say are some of your favorite Jersey-based bands at the moment?

            There’s so many! Pretty much almost all of these bands were handpicked by us. All of these bands have gotten our backs, and they’re some of our favorites around. I think that NGHTCRWLRS, on the first night in Jersey City, are the most underrated Jersey band. They put out an incredible album last year [NGHTCRWLRS], and I don’t think enough people have heard it. I think that they’re working on a new album now, so I am stoked on that.

We totally love The Vaughns—they just put out that great EP [Tomfoolery]. All of these bands are great, all of these bands I am excited for… what am I trying to say? (Laughs) But yeah, we’re really stoked on the lineups, but those are two of my favorites. I love Toy Cars and I love Goodbye Tiger, so it should be a really good time. We’re also doing a show with DryJacket on the 20th which should be fun—those guys are really, really good. We haven’t gotten to play with them yet, so that should be exciting.

For these dates, you’re going to be hitting up a lot of unique cities and venues up and down the Garden State. Would you say that these are niche cities and scenes that Modern Chemistry have the strongest following in? Were there also any other spots in New Jersey that you would like to play if you had the opportunity to do something like this again?

            Yeah, I would like to go to Montclair, but it just didn’t work out in time. But they just got the Old Mogul Theater that I would really like to check out; that’s brand new. I can’t think of too many spots that we’re missing, unless if you can think of any that we’re not hitting.

Obviously for us, I wanted to go back to the New Brunswick basements, because we used to play there all of the time, and we love that stuff. We love Paradise Lost in particular. Asbury Park is obviously a no-brainer as well, and I think Jersey City is starting to strike up a nice little scene too again. I think a lot of bands that are in more of the Central Jersey scene have now migrated up there, so there definitely a scene growing up there.

I mean, we’re always open to more spots, but we definitely know more people around these areas. But I think the Browns Mills show is a good example of a place where we’ve never really been to. I made friends with this kid who throws house shows there, and it apparently has its own little scene that I’ve never even experienced. So, we’re really excited for that because that’s new territory for us.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but you also started demoing and recording new material not too long ago, right?

            Yeah, we’ve done a lot of new material that we’re working on. I can’t specifically say yet what’s going on, because it’s still early, but I’ll tell you that we’re probably going to be releasing more songs this year than we’ve ever released as a band. So, we have a full-length coming out, and we got some other things that we’re working on.

The first half of 2016 is really going to be exciting for us. You know, we’ll probably be playing some shows and doing some short stints in other states and stuff. We’re also going to be finally recording a full-length, and some other things, so that will be really exciting.

Excellent! There’s no question that 2015 was a huge year Modern Chemistry. Now that we’re well into the new year, what are some goals that you hope to accomplish to make 2016 even greater?

            Well, I think releasing a full-length album is something that I’ve been dreaming of since I was a little kid, so for us to finally be at that point is really exciting. 2015 was so good to us that if we were lucky enough to play any of those festivals again like that, it would be just a dream again.

And you know, we hope to get back on the road again too. Frank Iero and his whole group really gave us an incredible opportunity to see the United States and we’re really hoping to do that again, because that really taught us a lot about ourselves and what we love, and it made us a lot of new friends. So, we’re just hoping for more friends in 2016, and just to release the stuff and get it out there, you know?


This month, Modern Chemistry will be embarking on a Garden State-based tour titled as the “NJ World Tour.” This brief run of shows will be taking place at The Citizen in Jersey City on Feb. 5, the Wonder Bar in Asbury Park on Feb. 6, the Brighton Bar in Long Branch on Feb. 12, Paradise Lost in New Brunswick on Feb. 13, and the Poop Deck in Browns Mills on Feb. 20. For more information, go to