By Terence David
One listen and it’s clear that The Moons draw their musical ink from a different well. While their garage rock-abducted by UFOs sound spills with the spirit of the 60s, frontman Andy Crofts likes to sum it up as, “A giant bowl full of beautiful melodies and quirky guitars wrapped in tin foil and sent to outerspace....a field flashing with multi-coloured lights and fuzzy Rickenbacker guitar sounds!” Ever prolific and always busy these days (while also manning the keys for the legendary Paul Weller), Andy found some time to sit down with The Modern Republic to talk about The Moons, touring with Mr. Weller, his take on Mods today, and why his town’s music scene is “rubbish.”
Although backed by his mates, Chris Ketley (former band mate of The On-Offs and currently with The Rakes) who shares guitar and vocal duties, Ben Gordelier kicks the drums, and Adam Leeds does the electric bass, songwriting for Crofts has always been a “singular effort.” Growing up an only child he learned to do things on his own, and when his Grandmother bought him a guitar he was “determined to learn as quick as possible.” None of his friends were musicians and while they would rather thieve motorbikes, Andy sat in his room alone honing his guitar and songwriting skills. He always knew he would play music “when the right time came”, and that life changing moment arrived at the ripe age of 16 when he got his hands on The Beatles' classic Revolver, and The Beach Boys' timeless Pet Sounds. Right then and there he knew he had a direction he would “always follow in some way or another.” On songwriting Crofts quips, “It’s all about the standards you raise yourself to....great writers keep me on my toes.”
With the musical influences of The Beatles and The Beach Boys, Crofts was inherently armed with a heavy dose of pop sensibilities. The Moons sound is “real, rootsy...from the heart” and his love for simple melodies and harmonies really shine through on tracks like “Don’t Go Changin” and “Chinese Whispers.” The tracks ooze British soul and demonstrates Crofts' ability to pen a quirky,original tune while still giving nods to his many influences. From Otis Redding to The Small Faces, Booker T to De La Soul, and The Jam to Bob Marley, it’s apparent that Andy Crofts finds inspiration from a wide musical palette, underlining his unique sense of style.
Coming from Northampton, a town an hour north of London, Andy explains how the music scene is quite strong where he lives, but unfortunately “most of the music is rubbish.” He would love to see “hungry bands going for it and writing amazing music” but instead of “standing out” amongst the numbers, his local peers would rather follow each other rank and file, “get famous in their local pubs and that’s it.” “Some may disagree” he says, “but they can piss off!”
With a stale music scene in Northampton, and beyond, Crofts reckons “people would be excited by another ‘Britpop’ movement in England.” A tired label, well yes, sort of, but Andy continues to explain, “It’s been so long since ‘Britpop’ first hit, and it was a generally cool vibe everywhere...so many bands out gigging, and in the charts, it was brilliant. It only takes a magazine to come along and confirm it has come back and list a load of bands.” Too bad with a shit music industry, there doesn’t seem to be much help to fan this flame.
Andy observes that many bands have gone DIY, launching their own record labels out of necessity and reliability. And while he doesn’t totally dismiss the advent of Myspace for getting your music out there, he does feel it has “run it’s course” and is in need of a revamp in order to offer new things for the bands and their fans. In this internet, push and click, download generation, Crofts reveals a dying breed mentality of vinyl that’s usually reserved for somebody a decade his senior. “I love vinyl and don’t believe music is released until I see it on vinyl” he emphatically states. While he doesn’t see downloading as a problem, after all it’s “a modern direction”, he is most certainly a fan of hitting up the record shops, purchasing vinyl and “getting home and reading through the liner notes and looking at all the art work and pics.” This is the stuff he thinks people miss out on when they download. “It’s nice and all to have (the download) as an extra option, but I would always rather own a hard copy.” Crofts' selection of vinyl is on the rise, “I don’t have the biggest collection of wax, a few hundred singles and albums...I watch myself cause if I start buying it will get out of hand and I’ll be left with pennies in my pocket!”, and in addition to CD and download he would also would like to see all of The Moon’s releases on vinyl.
When asked about the status of Mods in England he’s frank in saying,
“The Mod scene is certainly not as strong as people may think. I believe plenty Mods and older Mods still rave on about The Jam and The Small Faces etc., which is totally fine and I adore these bands, but what I’m trying to say is that there needs to be modern bands who are popular to refer to Mod, or something linked with Mods to get the new youngsters interested and to keep the whole Mod scene alive.”
Then almost as if he regretted what he had just said, disclaims “This is only if you want it on a big scale” and continues to clarify,
“A real Mod is a Mod regardless of anyone else. It is a way of life. Although the whole thing has been watered down over the years, this ain’t a bad thing as it has moved with the times and picked out the good things from older and modern fashion. The Mod scene will never be the same as it was...it will always keep moving on and reforming.”
Speaking of Mods, Andy has had the rare opportunity to join forces with the ‘Modfather’ himself, Paul Weller. They initially met while Andy was still playing with his power pop outfit, The On-Offs. Crofts says “We gigged a few times and Paul liked our stuff, so we swapped numbers and stayed in touch. Then one day he just rang me and asked me to join the band...well you know what I said!” He continues to say “I love working with Paul Weller. A lot of artists at the same level don’t even talk to the band, but Weller is one of the lads because he includes everyone the same.” Weller, Crofts and co. recently completed a tour on this side of the pond and Andy exclaims that the U.S. was his favorite part of the whole tour. “It was my first time to go to the states so I was just amazed by the size of everything. As a band, the gigs were brilliant and everyone I met was very kind and polite.”
Paul and Andy Backstage in NYC at Nokia Theater
As for the The Moons, Andy feels “people should have a chance to listen and to make up their own minds.” For Crofts, the greatest thing about The Moons is “writing these melodies, with big choruses and quirky guitars, and just playing them, recording them, then performing them live and feeding off the energy of a live a audience.”
Andy Crofts: a man who is thankful and gracious for every song he authors, every fan he makes, and every Moons record sold. We here at The Modern Republic are thankful for him and his “bowl full of beautiful melodies.”
The Moons are scheduled to record their debut album with Paul Weller, set for release in 2009. Their new single “Don’t Go Changin” is available for download and limited edition white vinyl. To order, go to: www.myspace.com/moonsuk. In the meantime, enjoy Chinese Whispers, and Let It Go...MP3s below.
MP3: The Moons-Chinese Whispers
MP3: The Moons-Let It Go