A car crash changed everything for Lex Moda.
On a rainy September night in 2011, the then-17-year-old musician was hit – T-boned – by another car. Banging his head against the driver’s side window, the hit-and-run incident, Moda said, resulted in a concussion.
“Then things just started to change,” Moda said.
Depression, behavioral changes and memory loss plagued him after the accident, Moda said. Later, he developed problems with motion and sensation, manifesting itself into challenges with holding a pencil, walking and speaking. Playing music — something he had done throughout high school in a slew of hardcore punk bands and in bands with his brother Alan Madej — became harder to do. (Moda’s real, non-stage name is Alex Madej, though he prefers using “Lex Moda” to avoid confusion with his brother.)
His mysterious medical issues worsened during the course of two or three years, seemingly spurred by the car accident.
Then, a real diagnosis finally arrived: a thyroid condition.
And then, during the next eight years, things slowly got better.
Moda rebuilt his life and skills in different ways, first working to recover childhood memories he said he lost in the fog of his condition. Slowly, he got back to making music, building up increasingly complex melodies on his first instrument, the piano, before working his way back to drums and guitar.
Eventually, the musician returned to the studio and the stage, performing drums for Alan’s band and making music with groups such as The Pistolettes, The Tom Katlees and, more recently, with his glam-rock band Cellophane Jane.
It’s been a journey, and that journey makes up Cellophane Jane’s newest album, The Ballad of the Bad Luck Boy, out on Friday, Sept. 23. Song-by-song, Moda documents the past 10 years of his life, starting with the breaking glass moment of the car crash in the glammy kickoff “The Revealing.”
“It’s been a strange adventure to come back to the stage,” Moda said. “Every year I try to document in this record, from the happy-go-lucky, carefree naivety of not knowing what’s about to happen, to kind of accepting what was going on in my life with the diseases and finally trying to come back to a state of confidence.”
The Ballad of the Bad Luck Boy follows Moda as he goes to the hospital (“Fortune Teller”), feels memories slip away (“Silver Morning”), experiences wrong diagnoses (“Dancing with De Quervain’s”), returns to celebrating life (“Out of the Blue”) and meets his current partner (“Turning”).
The new project, like Cellophane Jane’s previous five albums, was self-recorded and self-produced by Moda. It features bandmates Connor Peterson on bass, Nate Taylor on drums and Mike Abbadini on keys.
The musician and songwriter said he hopes the new album can serve as a beacon for other musicians who might be experiencing medical concerns that impact their playing ability.
Though his medical conditions still affect him today (he still experiences cognitive lapses and some hand problems), “every day is a journey forward,” Moda said.
“I hope that if there are any other people out there in the music community that are suffering the way I was suffering, and didn’t feel I could really talk or relate to anybody about it — I just hope they can get out there and talk to people and get the help they need and start playing again,” Moda said. “There’s nothing greater than getting out there and playing music with your friends and singing songs you wrote.”
Moda will do just that with Cellophane Jane at the band’s album release show at Five O’Clock Lounge on Saturday, Sept. 24. The show is free to attend and will also feature local rock band Shabang’s album release of Loveshrine. Find more details at cellophanejane.com and facebook.com/cellophanejane.
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