Though they’d been together as a couple since their high school days in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., vocalist Adi Elcida and guitarist Ernesto Paez were always loath to make their romantic partnership a creative one. That owed in no small part to the fact their respective musical endeavors were veritable worlds apart — Paez being the guitar wizard for the brawny Florida-based active rock/modern metal outfit Another Black Day, and Elcida working as a Siren-voiced singer-songwriter with a penchant for haunting alt-rock airs.
But in 2014, Paez had been on a musical hiatus of sorts, and was asked to pull together a one-off performance for a special event. “That’s when he approached me and said, hey, you want to help me with this,” Elcida remembers. “We started working on a song, and it was like, you know, there may be something here. And we haven’t stopped working together since.”
The couple eventually dubbed their fledgling two-piece outfit the Modern Mimes, and it’s a project that sees the duo deftly mix metal, electronic, post-punk, and femme-centric alt-rock all within the space of a single composition, and somehow make it fit.
“I took the material she had written and put my spin on it, my heavy metal grunge thing,” Paez says. “We never really talked about a drummer, so we asked, how can we make this cool and different? What we came up with was the idea of using electronic drums, and having a sort of heavy modern goth approach.”
“The music I did as solo artist always had an eerie sort of element to it,” Elcida says. “I had a particular sound in my head, but I didn’t have the resources to make it happen. The music we’re doing now — this is that sound I was hearing in my head all along.”
Paez calls the music they make “future goth,” and like traditional goth, it balances grand, expansive gestures with poignant, personal ones. That almost cinematic sense of grandeur comes courtesy of Paez’s versatile guitar playing, which combines a keen melodic and textural sense with whiz-kid solo chops and an extensive knowledge of effects. To replicate the Mimes’ colossal sound in live performance, Paez wields a mutant double-neck guitar/bass hybrid whenever he takes the stage.
“I wanted a way we could sound like a full band without adding members,” Paez says. “I didn’t know whether a guitar-bass double-neck even existed, but I finally found one on Ebay. Lo and behold, my wife bought it for my 30th birthday.
“It weights about 75 pounds, but I love it now, to the point that it feels weird when I put on a regular guitar. I switch off between the necks a lot when I’m playing live, and I create a lot of loops with my looper pedal. I have about a ton of pedals, too; it looks like I have a command center up there on stage.”
The more personal aspects of the Mimes’ music owe a good deal to Elcida, and her probing, yearning vocals and inclinations toward lyrical introspection. An avowed fan of ’90s-era female singer-songwriters like Tori Amos, Elcida says she wrote the band’s 2016 full-length debut as a concept record, about a young girl undergoing a strange interpersonal odyssey.
“It’s a very personal record,” she says. “It’s about experiencing dreams, journeying through the subconscious, waking up to your own potential and becoming the best version of yourself. We like to have a message in the songs we write, but it’s not necessarily an overt or very direct one.”
According to Paez, it wasn’t until last year that he and Elcida chose to move forward with Modern Mimes as a full-time touring entity, a decision that led to the recording of the aforementioned 10-song “Wake Up” album. Since then, they’ve assembled a management and P.R. team, and scheduled studio time in January to record a follow-up EP.
“We’re trying to make as much noise as possible; we want to make this band our life,” he says. “We’re ready to put in the work. I think we already have the material to build a career.”
Modern Mimes will play Preservation Pub Monday, Oct. 9 at 10 p.m.