Step into the mindset of 20 year old Baltimore based musician Thomas Mclean. You’re in a wood paneled basement, tapestries everywhere, a plethora of christmas lights making everything visible, and your long haired pals are hanging on the couch. Pet Sounds plays softly in the background as you tune your guitar, ready to immerse its listeners with ethereal sound waves of psychedelia. Now step back into your life. You’ve just listened to Modern Nomad for the first time and you feel like you’ve been on a never ending journey and back, a journey that involved tripping with Kevin Parker and swimming in the ocean with George Harrison. You don’t know what to do now, so you listen to more Modern Nomad of course, from his debut EP Road Trip all the way to his cover of Drake, allowing yourself to retreat to a melodious road trip…

Tell us about the road that led to Modern Nomad…..who, when, why, where, and how did it form??

    I started recording about 3 years ago and just fell in love with it. I bought some gear and kind of just blindly dove into it and started making music. I wanted to start playing the songs live, so I got some friends together and formed an actual band. I guess you can say we formed in my basement haha. That’s where my studio is, and that’s where we rehearse and kick it!    

If i was to take a guess at your major influences, i would think Tame Impala, Magical Mystery Tour era beatles, and the Beach Boys. Fill in the list for us!

    I’m listening to Magical Mystery Tour right now actually…so weird. But yeah totally, you’re pretty spot on. The Beatles are the only reason I started recording to be honest. I discovered their early rock n’ roll stuff first, then got into their later albums. I found it pretty fascinating that they stopped world touring to just focus on being creative and to record their albums.  Ahh I could talk about them all day, so I’ll stop now. To add to the list you already have going, I would also say The Zombies, The Strokes, Dr. Dog, The Kinks, and The Whitest Boy Alive.

Do you do all of the songwriting and recording? Who does your live band consist of?

    Yes, I do it all. I did some recording in LA this past summer and the producers played on the two songs we recorded which was new for me. Other than that it’s just me alone in my basement studio. Songwriting and recording are like one thing for me. I use the recording process as kind of a song writing tool, it’s like its own instrument. I just love recording and making music, it’s my absolute favorite thing to do. The band is made up of myself, Mr. Matt Hurd, Kevin Buckley, Avery Van Der Steur, and Walsh Kunkel. We all knew each other and were friends before the band, so it’s awesome! I love my dudes.    

What is your local music scene like? Any local bands you’d recommend?

    There is a lot of hidden talent in Baltimore, not just in music but art in general.  There is a good amount of DIY spots to have shows at which is cool.  We have a bunch of friends who all have different bands and we’re always partying and playing house shows and clubs together. Everyone is basically trying to accomplish the same thing, so it’s really great getting together and playing and having a good time with everyone. I love it. I would recommend checking out Dwellingville and Colora!

Your debut album Road Trip came out over a year ago. are you planning on releasing an EP or full length LP anytime soon?  

   Yes! I’ve been working on a new album for the past year now.  My friend Brylo is mixing it at the moment, and I think we have 5/10 tracks mixed. I can’t wait to put out new music…I’m definitely going to be releasing a few songs in the near future!

Do you consider yourself to be a modern nomad?

     Hahahahah oh gosh, I mean I can never sit still, so I’m always on the go I guess you could say. I’m trying to do as much as possible with the time I have on this earth!  I don’t travel as much as I wish I could, so I guess I’m not really a nomad after all? I thought the name rang off the tongue nicely haha.  

What music makes you feel like you’re wandering, like a nomad? Songs that evoke memories of exploration and road trips?  

    When I’m driving a far distance by myself, at night especially, I find myself listening to a lot of early rock n roll. For example, “Dream Lover” by Bobby Darin, ahhhhh that is seriously the best stuff. There’s something about that style of music that makes you feel like you can just get in your car and go do anything or go anywhere. I get that same feeling when I listen to newer bands like The Growlers or Allah Lahs too, they’re great.      


interview by AL SMITH


al smith