Joe Moon sounds a lot like Iggy Pop. He even sings with a Midwestern accent. But his band are not your average garage troupe dishing out “1969” soundalikes.
Perhaps The Moon’s music is a speculation on what may have come of the Stooges after the phenomenal 1974 post-glam hangover album they never got to record – picking up the pieces after the big party and entering gloomier times.
As they shoot straight into the heart of darkness while at the same time laughing in its face, The Moon replace The Stooges’ decadent Metallic K.O. looseness with an tightly clenched fist, reaching almost militaristic levels with the precise, palm-muted riffing on “Behave”. Serpentine lead guitar lines penetrate the dense armour of sound here and there, threading their way along exotic scales akin to the Butthole Surfers circa “Independent Worm Saloon”. Levelling their guns in quiet, brooding moments, The Moon conjure up an a new and improved Nick Cave who is a tad less cheesy and has traded his self-assured smugness for a genuine ability to laugh at himself.
Individually, these South London five aren’t particularly intimidating. But once they’re on stage and launch into their first number, that’s when tanks start rolling, stormtroopers start marching, and bombs start raining from the sky. Joe Moon’s performance is spontaneous enough to earn him a split skull on occasion, as happened at North London’s Rock Action Fest last December. His band, meanwhile, are usually content to stand completely still and whip things up with the force of their sledgehammer-like music alone, thus exercising somewhat of a sinister, Ron Asheton-esque authority over both Joe and the audience.
When you go to see a Moon show, you know what you’re in for; but somehow, they always hit you by surprise.
Ladies and gentlemen… The Moon!
Joe, please give us a very brief band history.
Joe: I saw the Stooges, without Iggy. They blew me away. I thought “this is real power – I want some!”. Hypnotic and potent. I thought “What the hell am I doing?!” So I went out and got together with some friends. We played, we wrote. Bodies came and went until wham! Bam! Brutal flesh voodoo! The Moon!
You’ve been putting a lot of really good, really well recorded tracks on your myspace profile for quite a while. Are you planning to release anything in the near future? What if someone asked you to burn them all those tracks on one CD?
Joe: There are plans to get all the tracks on a CD and finally get it out there. Cruel twists of circumstance have prevented us from doing it sooner. Jim and I firmly believe in production values: we won’t commit to recording until the gang, including ourselves, are on top form. Until then, we sporadically give out CDs with material at our gigs. It’s a whimsy thing and depends on the setup.
It’s been a year since we had a full troupe to record. Now we do, with Seb on drums and Phil on guitar. We’re in the studio in a couple of weeks and the plan is to release an 11 to 12 track CD. Be afraid!
Are the Moon a dark band, a funny band, or both? Elaborate.
Joe: Obviously, lyrics and cadence of many Moon songs are dark, but I think humour is always close to the surface. I have spent my share of time in the dark places but have learned to laugh at myself, at the bogeyman, at everything. I will say what I have to say. Fireman laugh at dead bodies. Humour and pain have always been bedfellows. Acknowledge it and move on.
Tell us what some of your lyrics are about, or what they are inspired by.
Joe: What else? Personal (Poisonal) Hells, Battling Egos, Inclement Emotional Weather, Damaged Girlfriends, Petrol Orientated Economies, Love Addiction, All the vices known to man and woman and terminally … BOREDOM!!
Tell us something about each band members previous bands and musical backgrounds.
Joe: My first band were Crystal 50. We were loud, couldn’t play or sing and it was fun fun fun! We played at parties. It was … terrible! Next up for me was the Secret Handshakes – hard, fast, political punk featuring the songs of Alan Dawson. Legend! Then, with Jim, it was in the short-lived A Flame In Paradise. Mother Mercury was a good one, with Jim again. The Stooges kick punk with hard funk bass lines! Lyn is the virgin child of the pack. It’s all new to her!
Phil has been out with The Way Icy Things and is a the genial host of a regular open night at the New X Inn. Finally, Seb continues to feature in We Share The Same Addiction.
Do you think of yourself as part of any kind of particular music scene? What current bands do you feel you’ve got something in common with?
Joe: Tough one! Garage Rock, Punk, Brutal Psychedelia and beautiful too.. again Rock Action Fest are like minded souls.
We don’t identify with any so called modern acts, particularly the poncy bastards who try and steal my girlfriend every time I go to the bar in Camden. Clearly, we identify with The Stooges because we put on a show, a bloody good one too – the difference being we’d never sell each other out … normally!
What about the New Cross scene that you mentioned on your space? Does that scene not largely consist of fashionable Goldsmiths [a university in London] indie bands?
Joe: Scenes are ephemeral and are all about chancers riding on the coat tails of talent. Don’t join a scene … make one if you must. Bands come, bands go. New Cross has always had bands but apparently NME only recently discovered this! To be honest, they’ve moved on to New Rave, next week it’ll be someone else.
Do you think the 00s are a good time for rock’n’roll?
Joe: It’s a very fractured time. Lots and lots of choice, lies easily told, lots of fashionistas pretending it’s about music when it’s about dress code – do these people even like music? It is a temporary cool for them, that they can take their coke to. In ten years time they’ll dig through the wreckage and pretend they liked the really cool stuff.
On a positive note, it’s easy to find like minded people like the Rock Action Fest
Yes and no then.
Do you think it’s an advantage to be a band from London or do you think it’s a disadvantage because there’s so many bands here?
Joe: Tendinitis, repetitive strain injury! People go out want to hear some great music, and there is so much crap the novelty wears off! Dead punters! There’s probably 40 good performers in the whole of London, finding them is my and so many others’ problem!
Jim: It’s an advantage to come from a city – any city. There are more venues, and people can get to you easily. From London? Marginally. Look at the UK bands you love, though. How many are Londoners? Most bands pass through London -their money certainly does- but ultimately talent and fortune are more important than location. Then there is the net.
Are the Moon a psychedelic band, and if so, what drugs have inspired your songs so far?
Jim: When the energy starts to fade, we lick Lyn. Monosodium glutamate figures heavily in one of our first releases, “Fast Food Restaurant”. The Moon are less psychedelic… more psychotic.
Joe: Rock and Roll is my drug, and strong tea ! With nice biscuits.
Are you afraid of sometimes sounding to close to your influences (Iggy etc)?
Joe: Nah! We are all just a mishmash of everything we love, and some of what we hate – a synthesis of influences. I identify with the positive. It’s good to sit on the shoulders of giants. Then other times I’m just a hack! So what? Like it or don’t.
As a Londoner, why do you sing with an American accent?
Joe: The American accent is in fact an old English Cornish accent, the West County is where the pilgrim fathers came from, therefore derived from a Celtic source. As the son of Irish parents, I am completely comfortable with how I sing, although my throat suffers from that choice.
Tell us everything about the band night you put on at the Montague Arms in New Cross. What is the concept?
Jim: The Monty is a great unsung venue of London. They’ve been going for decades, have good sound, good beer, and a unique personality. Our club night, ’South of the River’ represents what I want to see when I go out – it’s as simple as that. We have had everything from flutists to death metal. If it works, we will put it on. No boredom.
Joe: My pride and Joy! My personal ’live and unsigned’ juke box. The best bands on the live circuit !
What exactly happened at Rock Action Fest in December that led to your injury, and what happened after the show?
Joe: It was a great night with some really amazing bands, bands that I really appreciate and admire. And I knew we had to put on a show with Stash, Bubblegum Screw and The Vipers. I managed to get really hot and needed to cool down ,so I poured a bottle of beer over myself. What a waste!
Anyhow, in the leaping, crashing around and screaming I managed to land right in my own puddle and went flying off my back leg and split my skull open on the edge of the stage. I had no idea I had cut the back of my head open and just carried on singing. A couple of minutes later my shirt started to feel sticky, and I began to become very dizzy. It was only then I realised my back was awash with blood. You’ve got to give yourself up to the ceremony. I managed to finish the show, and Gilles had to ship me off to the hospital for stitches. The cuts and bruises are proof of a good show, and that’s all I want to give for the people who come to see us.
Joe, you’re a hyperactive frontman while your band stand completely still most of the time – it reminds us a lot of Fun House era Stooges video footage and looks very sinister. Is this deliberate or did it just turn out that way?
Joe: That’s on the move now. Jim is now starting to enjoy the new line up, and Phil has got a radio transmitter, so hereafter the musicians will be assaulting you. But ’sinister’ – I like that!! Maybe I’ll glue the bastards to the stage!
Have you played abroad, or do you have plans to do so any time soon?
Joe: It’s coming. We have a number of offers that we will be following up on this year.
Why did your drummer quit, and how did you find the new guy?
Joe: Gilles had some bad news on the family front – he was gutted to have to leave.
We’re going to miss him. Seb, our new guy, was an old friend so there were less variables. Too cool!
Finally, you’ve got a minute to give us some info on what to expect from The Moon next as well as any optional last words to the readers.
Jim: The lineup is stabilised, and our sound is coming back with a sharp new dynamic. The new ideas are flowing freely, and there will be material coming into the set imminently. Changing members is a bitch cause it shafts the writing process. I can smell a sea change. We are gathering speed and shall not be stopping to smell the roses.
What do we do badly? Follow. What do we do well? Innovate and entertain. We dare you to forget us.
Joe: With the new line up, expect some fresh new sounds. Seb is adding a new heavy dynamism to our playing, and we’re speeding up a beat or two. Phil is bringing us a nudge closer to psychedelic garage music. Expect to see a lot more of us soon, and thanks to everybody who has made the effort so far.
Myself and Phil play with another band Egg Timer, see our top friends on myspace. If you fancy some raw psychedelia: Fresh Brewed every Tuesday at The New Cross Inn.