By Jason Keil   Published Apr 29, 2004 at 5:21 AM

{image1}This discussion with musicians Michael Wojtasiak, Al Lambrecht, John Juchemich, and Tyler Wood, who are known collectively as The Five Mod Four, on this cold rainy Wednesday night at the Hi-Fi Café feels strangely familiar, almost like déjà vu. This is because due to a "recording malfunction" the previous evening, we are do this interview again, and the quartet is more than happy to answer the same questions one more time. Last night was what Juchemich calls "a test run."

This second attempt at learning more about the quartet feels snappier than the first, despite its similarities, right down to Wojtasiak once again wearing his vintage yellow jacket that proudly display his buttons that feature pictures and graphics of Elvis Costello and The Kinks, which instantly reveals some of his and the band's musical influences.

"I was thinking about it yesterday, and I forgot to mention Squeeze," says Wojtasiak.

Doing this interview all over again continues a pattern for The Five Mod Four that was set in 2002 when Wojtasiak was starting work on a solo project. He had five songs ready to record for a split disc with the now-darlings of the alternative music scene, the Wrens.

Looking for the right musicians to help him record these songs, which mostly deal with the frustrations brought on by girls and the music industry, the songwriter looked no further than drummer/vocalist/engineer Juchemich and bassist/organist/guitarist Lambrecht, with whom he both worked with in previous musical projects.

The wry and quirky sounding recordings, with contain clever titles like "I'm The Funniest Person You Know" and "I Am a Commercial Kiss Of Death," perfectly display the group's Chris Difford and Glenn Tilbrook-esque humor, the efficiency of The Minutemen, and a welcome lack to studio trickery.

Many critics felt that the songs, which Wojtasiak describes as "kiss-offs," would have fit perfectly on an early Elvis Costello album. However, the quality of the recordings left a lot to be desired.

"The performances reflected how new the songs were," says Juchemich, "They didn't flow very well."

However, tragedy struck the band when most copies of the album were destroyed by a fire that took place in Wojtasiak's apartment building. So during the summer of 2003, when most bands are working as hard as they can to play as many gigs as possible, The Five Mod Four spent their time buying homes and looking for a new place to practice. "I was so busy with other non-musical things that it didn't occur to me how long we had been on break," recalls Wojtasiak.

When the group's long break came to an end, a second chance to record those early tracks emerged. Making sure not to repeat the mistakes that marred their previous attempt, the band had the songs sound leaner and tighter, reflecting how each member if the band made the songs their own.

"(The old recordings being destroyed) kind of worked out because it gave us the opportunity to go back and record them the way they should actually sound," says Wojtasiak. Within the first month of the group returning from their break, there were over 12 new songs written by Wojtasiak and Lambrecht.

The album, which should be released later this spring, will contain the tracks The Wrens had originally done for the album, which will be released by Contraphonic, the label that Wojtasiak shares with his friend and partner Ben Schulman. But trying to capture the magic of the recordings during the group's live shows was becoming a daunting task for the trio, so they brought in some extra muscle in the form of guitarist/bassist/vocalist Tyler Wood, an old friend of Wojtasiak's, who brings a fuller sound.

"It's a step forward," remarks Wojtasiak, "The mood is a little more upbeat than it ever was before. This is a band where I actually feel like everyone is contributing. No one is in the band for the sake of wanting to become a big rock star."

It goes to show what the power of a do-over can do.

The Five Mod Four Web site is

See The Five Mod Four at Riverwest Commons, 815 E. Locust St., Friday, April 30, at 9 p.m., with El Oso, Heller-Mason and Gung-Ho.