WDHA's Homegrown Spotlight

Wow!  This blog post is WAY overdue, and I have to apologize because the band came in to film, and then I went into labor a little earlier then I had expected!  We are all doing great now, but it was delayed for personal reasons, and my deepest apologies!

Now that that's over with, let's get to the GOOD stuff, the band "Above the Moon"!  The band reached out to submit their music not that long ago, but I immediately put them on the air and loved their unique sound.  In addition, I loved them so much, I asked them to come in and perform for our Homegrown Spotlight blog!  The band was SUPER cool, and I could tell they truly respected the music scene, what I do, and WDHA, which of course goes a long way in my book.

Below is an acoustic performance from the band, as well as an interview!  In addition, their debut EP is available to grab a hold of to your ears!  For more information head on over to their WEBSITE and/or their FACEBOOK page.  Above the Moon has a TON of shows coming up including one 4/25 at the Wonder Bar, and 4/30 at the Clash Bar!! Check out their show listings and try to support an amazing band both musically and as people!

LINDSAY :  How long has Above the Moon been a band, and how did it get created?
Kate: We’ve been together for a little less than a year - about 10 months. Me, James and Shawn found each other on Craigslist and when we finally felt ready to add drums to the mix Shawn called his friend John. It actually happened pretty organically.

LINDSAY:   Where did you come up the name for your band?

Shawn: When we were in the studio we didn’t have a name and needed to come up with something. We have a song called “Moon” that we liked a lot and were thinking of ways that we might be able to incorporate that. Somehow we found our way to Above the Moon I think because Under the Moon sounded too predictable and was already taken.

LINDSAY :  Looking at your website I see a lot of gigs lined up, where is your favorite spot/location to perform?

Shawn: We’ve only played a handful of places so far but The Saint in Asbury Park is definitely on the list. Everyone is professional there - from the doorman to the sound guy. They obviously love music and support the local NJ scene which is great. Plus the room just sounds fantastic so it’s a pleasure to play there. Plus the owner and booking agent, Scott Stamper and Colton Kayser, are easy to work with. We hope to be back there in the coming months.

LINDSAY:  Have you ever done the acoustic thing before? Would you want to do it again?

Shawn: We haven’t actually! Most of the songs start out acoustic and then evolve when we start adding to the mix. We definitely would do it again and even when rehearsing for the Homegrown Spotlight we were thinking of picking up some low-key shows to play acoustic at. It’s a very different thing. There’s an emphasis on dynamics when playing acoustic and there’s nothing to hide under so it really makes us pay closer attention to how we’re playing together. When we get on stage it’s easy to hide the flaws behind distortion and electric guitars.

Kate: I’d love to do more acoustic gigs! I think that’s when you know a song really holds up, when you’re able to unplug and still have it be interesting.

James: I was so excited when we broke into an acoustic set. It felt so intimate and warm. It's too bad we don't have a fifth member to play the jug handle and/or washboards.

John: More acoustic gigs would be amazing! When we rehearsed for the Homegrown Spotlight performance, it opened my eyes to how well these songs sounded in a more stripped down format.

LINDSAY: Yes yes yes! I love the intimate rawness of the acoustic sound, hence why I built this blog!  What goes into your writing process as a band? Is it a collective entity or does one person come in with an idea etc….

Kate: Typically a song idea starts off with a riff or a melody concept that James, Shawn and myself send back and forth through email until we have a basic structure. John is really key in that when we bring the song to practice, as he’s able to flush out and combine all of our ideas by emphasizing or de-emphasizing certain parts, setting the mood of the song through the rhythm.

James: I can rarely finish a song on my own. If I have the majority of a song I'll bring it to Kate and she will usually finish it and vice-versa. It's nice to have a sounding board that can look at your songs differently. Likewise, it's fun to work on other people's songs too. Ultimately, all of our contributions and ideas makes it into our songs rather than something written by one individual. When we get together as a group, that's when we arrange it and put our staple on it. I enjoy that process with these guys.

LINDSAY:  There is music on your website, and music I've heard, do you have anything in the works? Do you plan to stay together and make more music? How will you get it out there to your fans if yes?

Shawn: We released our EP in December and already have another batch of songs on deck ready to record. We hope to go back into the studio this summer to get those down and will likely release the album digitally again - iTunes, Spotify, Bandcamp, etc.

LINDSAY:  Ok, I'm a magical DJ, rub my baby bump and make three wishes! What would be the top three things Above the Moon would wish for?

Kate: 1. That our levels were perfect every time we played.

James: 2. That all of our friends could make it to every gig no matter the distance. 3. To open for one one of our favorite bands.

LINDSAY:   Do you guys have jobs that enable you to play on the side? If you were granted a record deal would you change your lives, or are you happy with where you are at in the music business today?

Shawn: That’s a tough one! We all have day-jobs and love to get together to write and perform in the evenings and on weekends. I’m a graphic designer by day but have been playing in bands since I was 13. Being able to do this as a living would be amazing but right now I’m just happy to be playing and looking forward to see where this takes us.

Kate: I’m an art teacher, so my hours coupled with not having to take much work home with me allow for lots of song writing, practice and gigging time. I agree with Shawn that while doing this for a living would be pretty great, I’m very much into what we’ve got going on now. We’re learning more about each other and the band as a whole with every practice/show. I’d like to see how far we can take ourselves.

James: I wouldn't sell my soul to the devil, but I'd quit my job in a heartbeat if a real record deal were made to us. On the other hand, it's nice not having to deal with the stress of the music business where you are constantly expected to jettison your integrity.... Oh who am I kidding? I'd endorse Coke AND Pepsi for the right money!

John: Trying to balance music with a career outside of the biz can be a bit challenging, but we all have a passion for it, so we’re sure to MAKE TIME! If we were able to do this full time, with a deal, it would be a dream come true!

LINDSAY:  Describe the sound of your music, and have you ever been compared to any mainstream popular bands?

James: We definitely have a sound. What it is, I can't say. I've heard that we sound like Best Coast, Gaslight Anthem and Jimmy Eat World. I can see that.

Shawn: I think it’s hard to categorize exactly what we are but probably "alternative rock" would describe us best. I think there’s a little bit of a pop edge to some of the songs as well. Kate and James are great at writing these big hooks that get stuck in your head which I think is really important for this band.

LINDSAY:  Where do you guys get most of your inspiration for your music?

Kate: On my end, a lot of the songs are inspired by people I know or have known. Usually they’re about specific situations I’ve been in, some good, some not so much. I love the challenge of taking a personal story and using words to describe exactly what I’m feeling, yet still keep it relatable.

James: Heartbreak. Conflict. Bad relationships. Every song I've ever written is about problems I have within myself and what it's like to deal with those problems. As bleak as it sounds, I try t balance it with a heavy do se of optimism in it, so it's not all so melancholy.


LINDSAY:  What does each member of the band bring to the table...what makes them unique to make your band whole?

James: This band operates the way it does because Shawn keeps us focused. We wouldn't be what we are without him. He brings the underrated quality of organization to our band and I know how important it is because I used to do it in other groups. Shawn's also a great musician who contributes with how we arrange our songs. John is one of the best drummers I've ever played with. He plays along with the vocals rather than try to fight them. That quality is rare in drummers. He is also crucial to how we arrange our music. Kate's just a brilliant artist. I think she's got a unique style that I love to contribute to both in writing and performing. I'm really lucky to not only be in a band with these guys, but to have a kinship to them.

Kate: I’ve always felt that any ideas we bring to practice instantly becomes a group endeavor. Our songs wouldn’t exist the way they do without everyone’s input. Also I think it’s worth mentioning that Shawn was primarily a guitarist before this band, and he picked up bass out of necessity. I think his strong background in guitar has helped him to write really interesting, important bass lines. When I listen to our recordings, his notes are the ones that jump out at me most.

Shawn: I think what’s unique about this band is that everyone is active in it. No one is sitting on the sideline. I think Kate has a fantastic ability to write great lyrics and come up with arrangements and adding to the song as a whole. She’s kind of the glue that brings a lot of the ideas together. James, as I mentioned, has this ability to come up with some of the catchiest things I’ve ever played. He also is probably the only member who has a background in music theory which is a great asset. John drives the songs and has a great feel to play to the song we’re creating. He’s extremely talented but also knows what the song needs at the right time.

LINDSAY:   If a new local original band came up to you and asked you for a piece of advice about starting off in the scene these days, what would you tell them?
Shawn: I feel like we’re still starting out ourselves! One piece of advice from me would be to focus on songwriting before getting gigs. We really honed our craft and worked on the songs for several months before playing out and I think that’s made us a better band.

James: Write about what's real to you and don't compromise anything.

Kate: I would tell anyone starting off in band to play with as many people as possible. Things came together pretty quickly for us, and I think it’s because we’ve all been playing since we were in high school. I’ve lost count of how many other musicians I’ve worked with, but I’ve learned so much from each experience.

LINDSAY:   Time to promo all that is you!!! Where can our WDHA listeners find Above the Moon?
Shawn: You can find us at abovethemoonmusic.com, Instagram (@abovethemoonmusic), Facebook (Facebook.com/abovethemoonband), as well as iTunes, Spotify and Bandcamp (abovethemoon.bandcamp.com)