TIM HUGHES finds out about the big sounds being made by dubstep masters Modestep

FOR a band who effortlessly fill massive clubs and festival fields with devoted fans, it is endearing to find out that Modestep began life in a small suburban bedroom.

They may be best known as dubstep producers and DJs, as well as the core of one of the country’s most creative pop-rock-club crossover acts, but brothers Tony and Josh Friend began their musical journey at home in the prosaic surroundings of Barnet, north London.

Both came from different musical backgrounds – Josh tending to the soulful sounds of Stevie Wonder, Donny Hathaway and Jeff Buckley, while Tony preferred rock, becoming obsessed with Slipknot, Metallica and brutal hardcore. What they were both convinced of, however, was that they could create music as good as anything they were listening to. And, as soon as they had computers they began recording their own songs. As they got older they accumulated more equipment and set about honing their sound – settling on the tight, bass-heavy beats of dubstep.

“There are humungous beats and monstrous riffs that can melt your face off,” laughs Josh. “And earth shattering basslines that will blow your teeth out!”

Releasing their first tunes on YouTube they sat back and watched as their hook-heavy tunes captured imaginations, clocking up hundreds of thousands of views. They backed this up with their own internet radio show, again from their bedroom, on which they showcased their own work and other tunes they loved.

The show proved such a hit they landed their own DJ gigs and an offer to release a single. They chose Feel Good and accompanied it with a cheap home-made video expecting it to disappear without trace. it, in fact, made the Radio 1 A-list, while the video generated four million YouTube views within a few months.

Fusing the reverberant drum and bass lines of dubstep with rock they combine the energy of a dance act with the melodies and vocals of a live band – to the delight of clubbers and moshers.

“There’s a real stadium aspect to our sound and what we do, I think you realise that if you see us live”, says Tony.

“But we’d never pretend to be original deep dubstep because we were never a part of that. What turned us on to it in the first place was the filthy high energy stuff, and that’s still what we like to hear out.”

Recruiting Josh’s old university housemate and Led Zeppelin fan Matt Curtis on drums and guitarist Nick Tsang, they have became a proper band with a unique sound – and have the songwriting to back it up. It’s a dramatic, ambitious sound rooted in technology and it has served them well in dubstep and drum ‘n’ bass raves, metal shows, and indie gigs.

They’ve moved from their London bedroom to play big halls and clubs with sweat on the ceiling that have been, as Matt says, “so small we used all the oxygen up.”

And for big-bill gigs and festivals (such as the very different Download metal gathering and Glastonbury, where their genre-hopping sets proved gratifyingly popular) they’ve perfected the art of the high-impact set, cramming 18 tracks into half an hour.

“There’s no let-up,” says Tony, “We’ve taken a razor to it and shaved off every millisecond that doesn’t need to be there, so someone watching doesn’t have a moment to go ‘what is this?’ They just have to go with it.”

They are now on the road and heading to Oxford’s O2 Academy on February 10. But they have even bigger ambitions. They have set their hearts on Glastonbury’s main stage and on cracking America – following in the footsteps of fellow Dubstep rock star artist Skrillex. They have already played two sold-out headline shows at 1,500-capacity venues in LA and San Francisco.

Tony says: “We can thank Skrillex, I think, for setting up an attitude to music that means people should get what we’re about over there.”

For now though, he his just happy to win over new fans and convince the doubters who knock them for not being a ‘real’ dubstep act.

“I say this all the time,” says Tony, “but never mind the videos or the stuff that people chat on forums, if you want to know what we’re about, come and see us live.”

Tony agrees: “There will be so much energy, the police will get suspicious!” he grins.

Modestep play the O2 Academy Oxford on Sunday, February 10. Support comes from Document One and Koven. Tickets are £12 from ticketweb.co.uk