here is the first of hopefully many interviews that I will be posting on this site. I chose this band because they are one of the most talented young groups I have ever seen in this city, and I would like anyone who hasn’t had the chance to see them yet to be able to get to know their back story before they play their final show next monday. enjoy.
AUGUST MOON – Ben, Jake, Daniel
Interview by: Duncan Cherry
Photo by: Sarah Davis
For years Louisville has been a haven for young, experimental bands who prefer to take the time to carefully calculate pieces of music rather than stick to a simple 4/4 measure. Bands such as Slint and June of 44 have been known worldwide as some of the predecessors of what one would consider “math-rock”. Lying in between the homes to some math-rock pioneers such as Shellac and Don Caballero, Louisville could be considered the middle step in the ever evolving instrumental/math-rock band staircase. These days, if you’ve listened closely, you might have bared witness to some of the most creative and energetic “math-rock” music to come out of Louisville since Spiderland. You’d also be surprised that the music is being played by three young men who let the music speak for itself. But as most good bands seem to do, they are calling it quits. But not before one final show.
LHXC: First off , who are you and what do you in the band ?
Jake : guitar/dance
LHXC: How did you come about playing together?
Daniel: Ben and I went to middle school together and then lost touch when he transferred schools. When we met back up in high school we had picked up instruments and got together with a friend from school to form a band. None of us were very good. Later, Ben asked Jake to join the band. They met through Ben’s girlfriend, but I happened to know Jake from middle school also. Everything kind of came full circle and we all reunited.
Ben: And after that band broke up we started this one.
LHXC: Who / What inspires you the most?
Ben: A lot of my drumming inspiration has come from bands like Piglet, Coliseum, Tiny Hawks.
Daniel: I’d have to say each other. These are my best friends and we each play off each other so well.
Jake: I’d say that I am inspired by people who are really excited about what they are doing. I get very stoked on what I’m doing and when I see other people as excited as I am in makes me think that we are doing something right.
LHXC: Pele or Don Cab? I’ve heard you compared to both but which do you think is better?
Ben: I don’t think you can compare the two. I think we sound more like Pele, though.
Daniel: I had to listen to them again to answer this. They are both big influences to each of us. I’m going to definitely say Pele, because they didn’t back out of Daydream Fest II on us…
Jake: Pele for me too, I’ve never heard a Pele song i didn’t like. Don Cab on the other hand have some not so good (in my opinion) songs and records.
LHXC: Do you think that instrumental music is more difficult to write than music that vocals will be placed over? Or do you find it easier since once the music is done the song is done?
Ben: Not necessarily. Anybody can write a song with no words, but you have to try a lot harder to make it interesting.
Daniel: It depends on the musician, I think. Writing vocals can be very difficult for us, and is part of the reason we stuck to the instrumental route for August Moon. But for someone else writing instrumental music or math-rock can be very difficult also, and it is almost second-nature to us I like to view vocals as just another instrument, rather than something on another level. I assume singers view themselves as their instrument. I think it is easier for us having only 3 instruments rather than a fourth or fifth.
Jake: I think its much harder to keep things interesting in an instrumental band, of course that depends on what kind of instrumental band you are, but with August Moon I feel like repeating parts gets dull very fast, but with vocals you could have different lyrics over each part which would make it more interesting.
LHXC: Do you write songs as a band or does someone come in with an idea?
Ben: We usually sit in the basement and argue about things until somebody comes up with a worthwhile idea.
Daniel: It is usually a band effort. Jake will usually come in with a starting point, but we are all there through every process. Never do we craft a whole song ourselves and show it to the rest of the band. I’m definitely a step behind them at times, I will admit, because they have to get on the same page, but then I’ll come in and fill in the gaps.
Jake: Zeek (Daniel) hit that one on the head i think.
LHXC: Who are some of your favorite local bands (past or present) and why?
Ben: The normal Maximum Louisville stuff, but there are some really awesome bands out there that nobody seems to give a shit about, namely Fork In Socket. They are instrumental with a Mogwai/Slint-esque sound. I highly recommend them. Anything Jason Noble does. Python, Nice People, and Plows are pretty rad too. Pretty much all the bands my friends are in.
Daniel: I have always been big fans of Black Cross, Coliseum, Elliott, Young Widows, The National Acrobat, By The Grace Of God, The Writing Scar, Fork In Socket, [Ben’s other band] Prideswallower, and I personally enjoy [Ben and Jake’s other-other band] Mountain Asleep.
Jake: I’m way into Second Story Man, Wolverine Brass, and all the Touch and Go bands from (partially) here (Shipping News, Slint, Rachel’s). Pocket Bomb probably was the band that had the biggest influence on me in ways other than music.
LHXC: Who are some of your current favorite bands outside of Louisville?
Ben: Them, Roaring20’s, Piglet, and Maps and Atlases from Chicago, Algernon Cadwallader, In First Person, and Towers from Philly, Sleeping People, the Drift, and Hella from CA.
Daniel: There are a lot, I’d say Battles, Explosions in the Sky, Pelican, Shellac, and Saves the Day in addition to what Ben said. It’s an ever-evolving list, but those are all bands that I constantly put their CD in. But at the same time I listen to a lot of hip-hop. I am going to see the Wu-Tang Clan, Nas, MF Doom, Talib Kweli, and others just a few days after I move to Chicago for school later this month.
Jake: I thought Tin Armor were awesome at Day Dream Fest, I like a lot of pop punk bands like that. Animal Collective, Akron/Family and other folky things like that are fun. I love Unwound, Jawbreaker, Fugazi, Q and not U, Euphone, and !!!. I can usually get into anything that a Kinsella touches. Sonic Youth is my favorite band ever.
LHXC: What is one thing you would like to see happen in Louisville?
Ben: Black Cross playing at Crescent Hill Baptist Church to 300 kids.
Daniel: Bigger turnout for shows. Maybe people will go to good shows no matter the location. Plus, more interest in Louisville music besides the bands that are getting the “talk of the town.” We all are friends with someone who isn’t getting any credit for what they’re doing or any attendance at their shows.
Jake: I would like to see a dependable venue, shows are always ending before the last band plays, or getting canceled/moved at the last minute because of the venue. I think that it would be great for the scene if we had a good venue that didn’t take too much money and had the same kind of values as the musicians. I hear Jamie Prott is working on something like this, I’m stoked.
LHXC: This is for Ben; there has always been artists who co-exist in both the Visual and Music scenes, do you find that doing art for your own band is easier than trying to have someone else do it? Do you feel that since you write the music you may know more of what the band wants visually than someone who is not as familiar with it?
Ben: Doing my own art for the band is cheaper, plus I get more exposure. I really don’t consider the music at all when I’m working on August Moon art, but that’s not necessarily true for other band art that I do. I just try to make things that are funny or really bad ass. Nobody wants to buy a black shirt with August Moon written on it in a lame distressed font.
LHXC: This is for Daniel; you released several records with Will Jones (drummer for VIKING!) under the name Tuck Records, including the Morning Belle full length and a compilation featuring tons of bands from Louisville. What made you want to put out records for other bands?
Daniel: Freshman year we started booking shows together. Not sure what it was back then, but somehow we were constantly able to pull 250-500 kids a show. There was the occasional snooze, but we seemed to be pretty successful. We loved what we were doing so we decided to try our hand at releasing my first band’s CD. I have always been business-oriented more so than musically. I guess it is that mixed with my love of music. People needed the help getting their music out there, and we had some extra money from the shows we had been doing. Too bad we decided to print 500 Morning Belle CDs and went broke and weren’t able to recover. Otherwise we might still be working on new things. We had more ideas and projects, just never the money or means to bring them about.
LHXC: This is for Jake; Your guitar playing style is very unique, with lots of interesting chords and two handed tapping. Do you feel that stepping outside the box so to speak of typical chords and time signatures is crucial to keeping instrumental music interesting for the listener? Is your technique something you have progressed to play or is it something that has been influenced by your peers and music you enjoy?
Jake: I get bored playing the same stuff over and over, so I try to change things up using funny tunings, chord voicings, and time signatures. It is obviously influenced by the music I listen to, but I’d like to think that I put my own spin on the ideas I borrow by blending them with the techniques that I’ve developed up until now. I’ve been playing guitar for about 6 years now, and for about 4 of those years I’ve been playing in some kind of band with Ben and Daniel. I think this has been a big part of my progression as a guitarist, as our bands went through our phases. I’ve played guitar differently, so now I’ve learned how to incorporate different elements of all those types of music into one guitar style. That is probably what got me to where I am now.
LHXC: Back to Everyone; What are the details on the last show?
Ben: It’s going to be August Moon, this awesome band from Knoxville Royal Bangs, an amazing band from New York called Hi-Red center, and my other band Prideswallower. It’s next Monday, August 13th at Vernon Bowling Lanes (1575 Story Ave) at 7pm and it will five dollars.
LHXC: What does the future hold for Ben, Daniel and Jake? What are you doing now or what are you going to be doing?
Ben: We are still going to play music together whenever we can. Me and Jake are in a band called Mountain Asleep and I’m also in Prideswallower.
Daniel: Well I start school in Chicago at the end of this month. Maybe I will find another band, but right now I am just planning on keeping my shit together and trying to get accustomed to my new digs in Chicago. I hope to see plenty of Louisville bands make their way up to me in Chicago if possible. I already plan to see Coliseum on October 19th! Especially since I’m missing the record release show.
Jake: Ben and I have a band called Mountain Asleep as he said, and I want to do somethings by myself one day soon, and maybe have a band where I do most of the singing. Hopefully, I can start another experimental band too, I miss fiddling with pedals.
LHXC: Will there be an August Moon reunion when Daniel is back in town?
Ben: Who knows. If we get asked to play ATP (All Tomorrow’s Parties) then maybe.
Daniel: Definitely. I plan on coming home for a show if there is one worth coming home for. But this is our last show since we don’t know exactly what the future holds or if there will be room for August Moon around Louisville come Winter Break or whenever.
LHXC: What is one thing you would like to say that maybe shouldn’t be said or needs to be said?
Ben: Nothing that I know of.
Daniel: Jake needs to wash his feet.
Jake: This isn’t some kind of metaphor. God Damn. This is real.
What is one thing you would like to say that maybe shouldn’t be said or needs to be said? (this can be anything)
Daniel: Jake needs to wash his feet.
Jake: This isn’t some kind of metaphor. God Damn. This is real.
Daniel also wanted to add:
We are recording our final EP for the next 2 days. Tracking everything live together, then overdubs and mixing soon after. David Brooks is making a run of 50 cd’s for us to have by the show. We are going to sell them for 3-5 dollars. We just want the CD out in people’s hands .And if more than 50 people would want it, then we can make more for them. We just don’t want to make too many and having them sit around Ben or I’s apartments.