Fan Modine is the alias of songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Gordon Zacharias, who coined the name Fandemian Kirk Modine for a character in a screenplay he was writing. In Zacharias' story, Modine was an American pop star who relocates to China after struggling with fame and wealth. While Zacharias hasn't had to deal much with large sums of money or losing his privacy, he has won widespread critical acclaim for his small but meticulously crafted body of work. Born in 1972 in Wayne, Michigan to Scottish and Polish immigrants who met in Detroit, Zacharias was living in Boston when he was working on the Fan Modine screenplay. The songs Zacharias wrote for the unproduced film eventually formed the basis of the album Slow Road to Tiny Empire, which included contributions from such indie rock notables as Chris Brokaw, Kevin March (the Rentals and Guided by Voices), and Joan Wasser (the Dambuilders). Zacharias initially released the album in 1997 as a limited-edition vinyl LP on his own Phovsho label while living in New York City, but after the set received excellent reviews, the Rykodisc-distributed Slow River imprint reissued it on CD in 1998.
By his own admission, Zacharias works slowly and carefully, and it wasn't until 2004 that his second album, Homeland, was released by Grimsey Records. By the time Zacharias issued Homeland, he'd settled in Carborro, North Carolina, and begun work on his next album with a core of local musicians, including Ash Bowie of Polvo and Jérémy Chatelain of Jets to Brazil. However, the project soon hit a snag as Zacharias lost focus and began thickly layering the songs with overdubs, with some tunes swamped by as many as 100 tracks. Zacharias also became occupied with other projects, performing with the Essex Green, Jim & Jennie, and Joe Pernice's Big Tobacco. But Zacharias was lucky to gain a benefactor in former R.E.M. manager Jefferson Holt, who mentored him through the process of completing the album and teamed Zacharias with noted producer and musician Chris Stamey, who helped remix and rework the material. In 2011, the third Fan Modine album, Gratitude for the Shipper, was finally released through Holt's Daniel 13 Press label. For the next Fan Modine project, Zacharias embraced a more straightforward approach in the studio, with accompaniment from Alex Maiolo, Joah Tunnell, and Tony Stiglitz and production help from Southern pop legend Mitch Easter. The album, Cause Celebre, was slated for release in the spring of 2014; a single drawn from the sessions, "Épater la Bourgeoisie," was issued in October 2013. ~ Mark Deming