TO start the week…
I have been speaking with Chicago’s Moon about their new album, Extinction, and what sort of themes inspired it; the guys each choose their favourite song from the record – I was keen to know how the band got together and how they feel their sound has developed.
David, Shen and Chris recommend some new artists and reveal their ambitions for the rest of the year; which artists have been important to them; if there are gigs booked in the diary; whether they are coming to the U.K. to play – they each select a song to end the interview with.
Hi, guys. How are you? How has your week been?
Chris Schneberger: Good! We got together for the first time since our album release show on 9th June and we discussed some show ideas and where we want to take our sound going forward.
David Azizinamini: Good, busy.
For those new to your music; can you introduce yourselves, please?
David: Singer and guitar player…
Shen (Chris Shen): I’m Shen, the bassist...
Chris: I’m Chris, the drummer. I hit stuff with sticks. As for the band, I describe our sound as heavy, melodic; propulsive guitar-driven Indie-Rock with touches of Shoegaze and Prog.
Extinction is your new album. What sort of themes inspired it?
David: Extinction of life...though that seems super-obvious; it's also metaphorical; the extinction of past memories, past times; this climate we are in, politically, in the U.S. is terrifying to me. But, even beyond that, our consumption, our self-serving desires…they all were themes to me in writing the lyrics.
Is there a track from the album you all gravitate towards?
Chris: There’s Light Here is the single and very energetic, a real rocker. But, I hope people discover the song, Siberian. It’s one of my favorite songs we’ve ever written.
David: I love Revolutions, musically, but I feel Siberian, lyrically, more. Again, the reckless abandon of war and destruction were in my mind when I wrote it.
Shen: I like them all (obviously) but, if I had to choose one, I’d say Siberian is the most Moon-esque song since it contains a lot of our qualities: long, spacious; multiple parts, shifts between heavy and mellow.
This is your third record. How do you feel you have developed since your formation?
Shen: We’re writing at a higher level more consistently; less material that feels like B-sides - that comes the longer you play together as a unit. We’ve also worked a bit more straight-Rock into our sound (songs like There’s Light Here and Wishlist).
David: I felt like I knew what I wanted more...I became comfortable with the fact that we are a different kind of band so I just embraced who WE are instead of hoping to sound like what I thought people wanted. “Do you” as we say! (Smiles).
Chris: Definitely, more concise songwriting. That, and incorporating the influence of Donna Summer…
When did that formation happen? When did Moon get together?
Chris: Around December 2008, I was advertising for local musicians to play with and got together with David and a bass player I had previously tried out with, Pat LaRose. Pat was a very melodic player and went along great with David’s echo-drenched, chiming style. Within the year, we were playing some small shows and recorded a three-song E.P.
Pat was with us for a few years and we recorded our first full-length album and another E.P. with him. Then, he left for New York and we found Shen. He’s an incredibly talented player and we’ve recorded two more studio albums with him.
Do you all share musical tastes? What sort of sounds do you listen to?
Chris: I think our tastes overlap but aren’t all the same. For instance, Shen and I share a love for some Metal and Prog like Rush and Iron Maiden but I’m really a child of '90s Indie-Rock. Some of my favorite bands are from that era - like Superchunk, Poster Children; Archers of Loaf, Number One Cup and Built to Spill.
PHOTO CREDIT: Dot Morton
David: Chris and Shen are more like-minded than me. They love the Classic Rock stuff but I have limited information about that kind of music. I grew up listening to ABBA and top-40 Pop radio like Michael Jackson. When I was nine or so, I got into Punk and listened to the Dead Kennedys religiously. From there, it was really anything with melody and washy guitars: Bleach and In Utero by Nirvana…and then it was Radiohead, Elliott Smith; Jeff Buckley, Circa Survive; Slowdive: anthemic, epic bands with great singers and lovely melodies.
Shen: I came upon Heavy Metal like Iron Maiden, Black Sabbath and early-Metallica but I also like some bands that could be considered as the start of Emo and Alternative like Jane’s Addiction, Sunny Day Real Estate and Quicksand.
PHOTO CREDIT: Dot Morton
Where are you heading on tour? Where can we catch you?
David: Tackling the Midwest United States right now.
Chris: Also; we’d love to support a touring band.
Do you reckon you’ll come to the U.K. and perform this year?
Chris: Haven’t you seen us there? We exclusively play random phone boxes in the town of Barnsley. I’m sorry you haven’t been witness to one of these. They’ve been packed houses! In all seriousness, we would love to come to the U.K. We await the invite from Hammersmith Odeon soon.
David: I'd love to...all of my favorite bands are from there it seems. Maybe, a bill with Radiohead and Wolf Alice!
What do you hope to achieve in 2018?
David: Promoting Extinction and writing more; introducing new elements into the music as well. I love being in a three-piece but I love when three-pieces introduce layers...probably why I love The Joy Formidable.
Chris: We’re hoping to play more shows and to more people. The new album is getting heard and the response has been great. We just want to play to crowds of like-minded music listeners. Plus, the end of this year will mark our tenth anniversary - and we’d like to celebrate that with a big show.
PHOTO CREDIT: Ed Rzewnkicki
Have you each got a favourite memory from your time in music – the one that sticks in the mind?
David: Singing Mountain Song by Janes Addiction when I was in 9th grade in my friend's basement for a birthday party. It was my first time playing with other musicians. They wouldn't let me be in the band though...said I didn't move around enough. Fu*k those guys! (Laughs).
Chris: I think my favorite memory was playing a show at the Empty Bottle, my favorite club in Chicago, where I’ve seen countless great bands and looking up at David during my favorite instrumental passage in our song, Losing the Light. We shared a smile and I was just so happy to be making this music that I loved with people that I love.
Shen: One of my favorite memories is a recent one: the day I got my copy of Extinction. I really like the way it turned out. I just think it sounds how we’re supposed to sound. It’s hard to capture a band in the studio but I think we accomplished that on this. As far as all of the recordings I’ve been a part of, this one is definitely one of my favorites.
PHOTO CREDIT: Ed Rzewnkicki
If you could support any musician alive today, and choose your own rider, what would that entail?
David: I'd support Radiohead and I'd only request to sing Scatterbrain with Thom.
Chris: I would support Superchunk (since Rush is retired) and insist we do a pre-show shot of Malort. It’s an awful, bitter digestif drink found in Chicago. You shoot it, chase it with an Old Style (cheap beer) and yell “LET’S GO HAWKS!” (Chicago Blackhawks (hockey team), that is.)
Shen: I’d love to have Hawaiian Sun Passion Fruit juice at every show. I grew up in Hawaii drinking it and it’s my absolute favorite - and it’s hard to find on the mainland so, if someone could supply it for me that would be awesome.
PHOTO CREDIT: Ed Rzewnkicki
What advice would you give to new artists coming through?
Chris: Get started early, go full-bore and have fun. Keep your standards high and your expectations low.
David: Do it 100%. Do not give a s*it about cars or houses that your friends buy or hope to buy; eat and breathe music, write every day...tour till you can't move...then do it again.
Shen: You have to try to find that balance between having fun but also being serious and smart. If you’re all business, you’ll miss out on some joys of playing music but, if you’re having too much fun and not thinking enough about the business end you may miss some opportunities.
Are there any new artists you recommend we check out?
IN THIS PHOTO: A Friend Called Fire
Do you get much time to chill away from music? How do you unwind?
David: I work at the greatest music shop in the world (Chicago Music Exchange), so I suppose that's how I chill: around music.
Chris: Honestly, music is my way to unwind. I teach at three-four different colleges and that keeps me really busy. The band is an escape. Otherwise, maybe travel and movies.
Shen: I don’t have much free time between work and music but, when I do, I try to get outdoors and go hiking, fishing; swimming and surfing.
Finally, and for being good sports; you can each choose a song and I’ll play it here (not any of your music - I will do that).
Chris: Slipstream Summer by RLYR
David: Wheel of Fortune by Protomartyr (ft. Kelley Deal)
Shen: Galaxy Girl by We Killed the Lion