Hazmat Modine is a band in perpetual motion.To them, timelessness, innovation and inclusiveness trump the trendy and the ephemeral. The very definition of honest-to-goodness American roots music – but also considerably more global and exotic – Hazmat Modine is visually and aurally captivating, continually exploratory, and thoroughly engaging.
Formed in 1998 by Wade Schuman, who writes and sings nearly all of the band’s material and forges their creative direction, Hazmat Modine seamlessly integrates primal, guttural blues, funky, unadulterated old school R&B and myriad sounds from other cultures, absorbed during their constant touring in more than 20 different countries across the world. Schuman says: “Hazmat Modine tries to get to the core of what makes American music work, and American music is informed by the immigrant experience. There’s an organic evolution that takes place. American music is world music in essence since it is a product of the all diasporas that have come here.”
HAZMAT is an American English word for Hazardous Materials. AKA dangerous materials, you see it on the sides of trucks or special trashcans. MODINE is the brand name for an industrial forced air heater unit, the kind that hangs down in garages and artists lofts… the company is in Muncie Indiana… they are both American words, but the sound of them together is rather exotic. People often think HAZMAT is Turkish.
Hazmat Modine’s Style
Hazmat Modine draws from the rich soil of American music of the 20′s and 30′s through to the 50′s and early 60′s, blending elements of early Blues, Hokum Jug band, Swing, New Orleans R&B, and Jamaican Rocksteady. A pointer to Hazmat’s methodology can be found in the band’s configuration. Schuman’s guitar, diatonic harmonica and intensely earthy vocals set the tone. A solid battery of sounds – tuba, accordion, trumpet, flugelhorn, trombone, tenor and baritone saxes, piccolo and duduk, banjo, mandocello and steel guitar – explores the textural and melodic outer limits of Hazmat’s meticulously woven compositions, while guitars and drums lock down a groove and provide sonic spicing.
Hazmat Modine’s Performances
Since their debut album – Bahamut (2007), Hazmat Modine performed about two hundredfifty concerts in 20 European countries, playing well-known festivals like Jazzfest Vienna, Copenhagen Jazzfestival, Berlin Jazzfest, Stockholm Jazz Festival and many others. Via multi-hour club and concert sets and countless festival appearances, the band has absorbed and processed all that they’ve encountered, emerging at a destination far from their embarkation point.
In 2016 they performed their 10th anniversary year of performances in Europe. As well the band appeared on festivals in Brasil, Mexico, Australia and New Zealand.
“Hazmat Modine: …this wild group led by the singer and harmonica player Wade Schuman. They play Blues originals, mostly, that are the product of Schuman’s limitless imagination. His voice, for that matter, appears to be bottomless.” – The New Yorker
“A truly mysterious band about which the only sure thing to say is this: It is extremely New York. Only in that huge metropolis can collectives like this blossom and grow and could invent such an amazing combination of music based out of so many genres…” –TimeOut Moscow (Russia)
“Seems like ages since harmonicas have sounded as hep as Wade Schuman’s and Randy Weinstein’s do in this hand-painted confab of rusty blues, piquant rumbas, sawdust-floor reggae, Hawaiian guitar, and—sure, why not?—Tuvan throat singing. Welcome to the old weird globalism.” The Village Voice
“The singer and harmonica player Wade Schuman’s musical vision sounds like something out of Dr. Suess. His group augments Mr. Schumans own avant-blues stylings with a contra-bass, a banjitar, tuba, flugel, trumpet, sheng and, most important, Tuvan throat singing. ” The New York Times
“One of New York’s most original bands…With their sly musical wit, expert musicianship and completely unique sound, Hazmat Modine has built a wide and devoted following, drawing crowds to shows at venues as diverse as the Knitting Factory, Terra Blues, the Fez, Satalla, Joe’s Pub, Barbes and Galapagos Art Space.” Trifecta
“[…] But the most striking was the third part of this “New York Night”, dedicated to Hazmat Modine led by a supreme harmonica virtuoso, singer, Wade Schuman…the main thing about this band was: genuine joy of every musician. Schuman himself…literally screamed from delight listening to other people’s solos. The band, supposed to play forty minutes or so, gave to a grateful audience a encore gift of an extra hour of its time, note that they came on stage at one in the morning!” Gazeta, Russia
“Hazmat Modine: …this wild group led by the singer and harmonica player Wade Schuman. They play blues originals, mostly, that are the product of Schuman’s limitless imagination. His voice, for that matter, appears to be bottomless […] The singer and harmonica player Wade Schuman’s musical vision sounds like something out of Dr. Suess. His group augments Mr. Schumans own avant-blues styling with a contra-bass, a banjitar, tuba, flugel, trumpet, sheng and, most important, Tuvan throat singing. ” The New Yorker
“They’re a calypso/alt-country/blues/gypsy band…. which is obviously what the world needs most […]” Times of London
“A truly mysterious band about which the only sure thing to say is this: It is extremely New York. Only in that huge metropolis can collectives like this blossom and grow and could invent such an amazing combination of music based out of so many genres […]” TimeOut Moscow
|12.10.2018 - 20.10.2018||CHINA Tour 2018||tba||China|
Hazmat Modine & Gangbé Brass Band
In 2011, Hazmat Modine gigged with the West Africa’s Gangbé Brass Band on their German tour leg. The result was a spectacle of a dazzling, funky eight-piece West African brass band sharing the stage with a versatile, virtuosic American octet that seamlessly integrates early blues and jazz, several Latin and Caribbean genres, numerous indigenous European styles, and sundry other international influences. The Hazmat Modine-Gangbé collaboration represented a one-of-a-kind celebration of unprecedented musical possibilities – a truly danceable and cross-cultural feast.
On this matter, the front-man of Hazmat Modine, Wade Schuman, has shared his feelings with us: “It exceeded my expectations. There was this incredible synergy and sense of ideas going back and forth.” When referring to Gangbé band Wade said: “They’ve digested American music, and American music came out of African music. So it’s this beautiful ping-pong ball bouncing back and forth. The idiomatic language of Gangbé is pretty Western: They’ve totally swallowed the whole Latin American tradition and made it their own. You can hear it in their playing. At the same time you hear a lot of Fela, who was listening to James Brown and artists like that.”
In essence, the meet-up of the two entities, all in all 16 extremely talented musicians, takes the African music full circle. The amalgamation of Gangbé’s percussion, saxophones, trumpets, trombone and tuba with Hazmat’s array of guitars, brass and woodwinds, percussion, harmonica and other instruments– as well as the engaging, impassioned vocals of both outfits– serves to accentuate the strengths of both bands, rather than draw attention to their different backgrounds as Americans and Africans.
Below are some videos from Hazmat Modine & Gangbé Brass Band: