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What I Learned at Bandcamp: Mooner

The band is transitioning through its third complete revamp, as Lee is currently the sole member of Mooner. The first lineup included brother David and college housemates.The second lineup, which Lee says was created for the sole purpose of recording an EP, was made up of Lee, David and another brother, along with a high school friend.

“Now, with my friends graduating college and my brother studying abroad in Oxford, it’s just me,” says Lee. “So, apparently, Mooner is whoever happens to be in the right state at the right time.”

Mooner is set to release new music within the coming months. In the mean time, listen to the band’s EP on Bandcamp.

The Spec recently interviewed Lee. See what he had to say about upcoming projects, butts and English-major wordslinging below…

How did you come up with the name Mooner?
For a few years the band was called The Apartments but I found an 80s Australian indie band that already had the name, so I had to change mine. I was driving around the Portland suburbs with my wife and we were spitting out names in a stream of consciousness fashion. I knew I wanted something semi-nonsensical and highly evocative ending with the suffix -er. She was the one who eventually said Mooner and we both thought it felt right. It has a weird urgency to it. It’s been about a 50/50 split when asking people if Mooner makes them think of butts or not. Those numbers are probably skewed because there have been some people who think there’s supposed to be a deeper meaning to such a ridiculous name, that they’re not supposed to think of butts, so they interpret it in a really creative way. I think that nearly everyone thinks of butts. This was not my intention, but I am pleased nonetheless.

Who/what are your influences?
Some of my biggest musical influences are Warren Zevon, The Vulgar Boatmen, Big Star, Wilco, Elvis Costello, George Harrison, The Triffids. I like the guys from the 70s through the mid-80s that have a bit of complexity and diversity in their songwriting; they don’t always lay all their cards on the table. I’ve believed from early on that songwriting is at least partially a craft that has to be practiced and improved upon just like any other job. I think the songwriters from which I draw inspiration really believe in hard work. They distinguish themselves by keeping the primal element of rock’n’roll closely associated with the more intellectual, English-major wordslinging that defines their lyrics. I try to take after those kinds of groups as often as possible and I know my brother, who wrote two of the songs on the EP, does the same.

Upcoming projects, where do you want to go from here?
Once I get some more members, we’ll be touring and recording as much as  possible.  We’re releasing a new single via Bandcamp in a few months, recorded by the Wheaton band.  In the meantime, I’m recording a cover for Tallahassee Turns Ten, a cover compilation made to celebrate the tenth anniversary of The  Mountain Goats album of the same name. P.S. If you live in Chicago and want to play in a rock band, please email me at moonerband [at] gmail [dot] com.

What inspires your music?
I think that my surroundings inspire a lot of my lyrical material. Now that I’m a full-time Chicago resident, the city and its consequences have thematically dominated my songs. I’ve never really written love songs unless they’ve included some sort of interference from a machine or technology. Also, hearing other people’s music can be very motivational. Both contemporary popular and independent music is, I feel, mostly terrible, and my cynicism tends to be just as inspirational as when I hear something beautiful. It makes me want to go write a song just so there isn’t another vapid “woah-oh” chorus or pointless revival act flooding the already super-saturated internet or live circuit.

Why do you make music?
I think the Psalms offer the best defense for the existence of music. David made music because, at the time, he had not a single other option. He was a wanted man, trapped in a cave, his status stripped and his dignity ruined. I think that’s a great picture of where one ought to start from when writing a song: a desperate person reaching out to an unexplained something that may or may not reach back.


WHO: Anyone in the Chicago area, show is 21+.
WHAT: Mooner with Cousin Stuff and Zach Pietrini
WHEN: Friday, Nov. 4, 8 P.M.
WHERE: El Mamey, 2645 W North Ave, Chicago, IL
HOW MUCH: $5What I Learned At Bandcamp: Mooner


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