Tag Archives: john b. moore

John B. Moore: I Don’t Wanna Grow Up w/Motobunny

Motobunny

Making music babies one gig at a time, the L.A./Phoenix quartet, on their self-titled debut, combines hi-nrg rawk, distorted guitars and synth/keytar melodies. Co-vocalists Christa Collins and Nicole Laurenne explain.

BY JOHN B. MOORE

With two vocalists, a keytar and a shared love of classic Iggy Pop, MotoBunny have just turned in a truly original take on pop punk.

The group formed in 2013 by merging members of The Love Me Nots and The Wooly Bandits and just came out with their debut, Motobunny, on the Rusty Knuckles label. Combined, the group — co-frontwomen Christa Collins (synth) and Nicole Laurenne (keytar), plus Michael Johnny Walker (guitar) and Rik Collins (bass) — have shared stages with everyone from X and Nirvana to The Damned and Pearl Jam.

Christa and Laurenne spoke recently about how the band first came together, their shared love of Iggy and being a contestant on The X Factor. (Go HERE to read our review of the new album.)

BLURT: Let’s start out with an easy one first—how did the band first come together?

CHRISTA COLLINS: I think it was inevitable that Motobunny would happen! Nicole and Michael are in a band called The Love Me Nots and Rik and I are in a band called The Woolly Bandits. Both are garage rock in their own right. So after several years of sharing bills and dressing rooms, I don’t remember who said it first, but the general consensus was “we should do some music together”. Not too much longer after that The Woolly Bandits were asked to play the Ink & Iron Festival with Iggy Pop as the headliner, “YES Please!” Being that it was outdoors and a large stage we really wanted to fill out our sound, so we asked Nicole to play Farfisa and Michael to do a guest guitar spot. We pretty much wanted to be on stage together all the time after that! Rick and I trekked out to Phoenix one weekend and we pretty much had the entire album sketched out over the course of two weekends. Thus MotoBunny was born, and off to Detroit we went to record with Jim Diamond. There has been an ease about this band from the beginning where things seem to naturally fall into place. That’s a great feeling, like perhaps you’re on to something!

 

There aren’t a ton of bands out there nowadays with co-lead singers. Was there a discussion at first about who would handle the singing in the band?

COLLINS: I think Nicole was the one who brought it up? To be honest at first I wasn’t sure if it would work given that we had both been our own lead for so long, but I am a sucker for harmonies, and I had been plotting a girl side project for a while, so this was a perfect outlet for me. Nicole is the easiest person to get along with so that makes collaborating fruitful!

 

Christa, what’s the toughest perception you have had to overcome as a musician over the years, having started out with Disney?

COLLINS: I think I’ve had to overcome more perceptions as a petite female than I’ve had to as an ex- Disney artist. Not a lot of people know about my past or that I was a professional dancer. It feels like a separate lifetime ago in many ways. I was forced into retirement at 16 and there was such a large gap between then and when I had started singing again. I had completely different experiences, and in truth done some hard living. If anything it made me a better more well-rounded performer. I will forever be grateful to Rik Collins for finding me, putting me back on a stage, and giving me my voice back!

 

You also were on the first season on The X Factor. Musicians have said good things and bad things about shows like this and American Idol. Given your experience, do you ultimately think it’s a good thing for musicians getting started?

COLLINS: I don’t think it’s for me to answer that question for someone else. I suppose in part it just depends on what type and what level of artist you want to be? I will say that this business is brutal and heartless at times, so if you don’t have a burning desire to perform, and I mean you want it like air ‘cause life makes no sense when you try and do anything else, than I might not recommend it. For me there was very personal reasons why I did… Before my Aunt Judy passed from cancer she made me promise I would try out for American Idol. So I went and I was 10 days too old.

Years later, Rik’s dad comes bursting through the door touting “Simon Cowell’s got a new singing show and you have to try out”. Two thoughts crossed my mind as I looked into it: 1. I can honor my Aunt’s dying wish; 2. I got nothing to lose! So I auditioned, and did very well. I met some very talented people and made a couple friendships for life. I really got to test what I was made of as Boot Camp was brutal! Sleep deprivation, starvation, temptations, isolation, stress, emotional rollercoasters. I realized at that moment that my time in The Seeds and The Woolly Bandits was training. People around me were dropping like flies and some would ask me how I was staying so calm and focused. “It’s not that different from being on a DIY tour” – Oh the stories we can tell! I really got to see my resourcefulness, I gained new perspective on my performance. It was a cathartic experience for me and I’m personally glad I did it.

All that said the best thing about the arts is that it’s meant to be catharsis, to edify ones soul and spirit and evoke a change. You don’t have to be on TV, Broadway, or hanging in a museum to do that! You can find it in a garage playing instruments with your friends, or in a local theatre production, or coffee shop, on the street, whatever floats your boat? The best advice I can give someone is be open, be fearless, be experimental, be yourself.

 

Nicole, you started out as a classical musician, what started you on the path to being a punk-influenced pop /rock band?

NICOLE LAURENNE: At first, a love for the red grand piano that Jonathan Cain played in Journey – yes I admit it openly – but later I learned that keeping your classical chops up requires way more time and sweat and tears than rock chops. So there was a laziness element to it also I guess at first. When I met Michael, he introduced me to garage rock like The Animals and The Seeds, and that vintage Farfisa organ sound suddenly jolted me awake, in a musical sense. All laziness stopped at that point. I never looked back. I’ve gone from spinet to grand piano to farfisa organ to… keytar! Can’t wait to see what I get to play next.

Motobunny by Scott Evanesky via Facebook

All four of you have, combined, a ton of experience with so many different types of bands. Were there any shared influences that helped define MotoBunny’s sound?

COLLINS: there’s no question that Iggy Pop was what brought us together as a band. For me personally I’ll never forget the first time I saw a VHS tape of him walking across a crowd smearing peanut butter across his chest – Glorious! I wouldn’t say there was a specific band that influenced the album. We all have our personal favorite influences and we all have a “Fear No Music” diversity policy. You never know where you may find inspiration? Motown, Bowie, B-52’s, Led Zeppelin, Die Antwoord, Spice Girls (Michael Walker’s personal favorite) it’s all in there somewhere?

 

The album just came out. What’s next for the band?

COLLINS: Tour! Recording! More Touring!

 

Anything else you want to cover?

COLLINS: If I can speak for the band… We are so grateful to be able to share a stage with great friends, making music babies, and embarking on this great musical adventure. The crowd response and camaraderie has been palpable! Big thanks to #TeamMoto and Starry Management for seeing our vision and running hard! Who knows how long it will last or where this might take us- but we are sure having fun!

Live photo of MotoBunny by Scott Evanesky, via the band’s Facebook page.

John B. Moore is a longtime contributor to and blogger for BLURT, but please don’t hold that against him. Contact Moore HERE with your comments, gripes, compliments and promotional swag. Our resident expert in all things punk, his first Vans Warped tour came at the age of 4 years where he became the youngest-ever attendee to stage dive. Please kids, don’t try this at home – he is not a good role model!

John B. Moore: I Don’t Wanna Grow Up w/Masked Intruder

Masked Intruders crop

 

I DON’T WANNA GROW UP

“We just wanna play love songs for the nice people,” claim the Wisconsin pop-punks. That, and break into your house while you’re not home and take all your beer and cheese…

BY JOHN B. MOORE

If The Ramones and The Beach Boys were locked up in a high security prison with nothing to do but harmonize, write love songs and plan their escape, they would sound exactly like Masked Intruder.

The pop-punk ex-cons from Madison, WI, each sporting a different color ski mask ‘cos, well, figure it out yourself (I ain’t no snitch!), have just turned in M.I., their second full length; a brilliant collection of odes to unrequited love and crime sprees.

Though the origin story behind the group is murky, we got Intruder Blue (he’s the one in the blue mask, in case you were wondering) to answer a handful of questions via e-mail recently. He powered up a stolen lap top and covered everything from Pussy Riot sharing their love of anonymity to crossing borders with an arrest record.

BLURT: How did you guys come together? Your bio says you are all from the Midwest, but there definitely seems to be a strong Jersey accent in a lot of the vocals.

INTRUDER BLUE: It’s not a Jersey accent. Lots of people make that mistake. Our accent is actually from prison, which is where we met each other and honed our pop-punk crooning skills. After we, uh… were released, we moved to the Midwest ‘cause that seemed to make sense to us for some reason at the time. In retrospect we probably shoulda gone to Montana or something, since nobody lives there and so there are almost no cops. We are currently based out of Madison, Wisconsin. Lovely town. Do you realize how delicious beer and cheese are? People just keep that stuff in their houses here. And they hardly even lock their doors!

You guys recorded with Matt Allison again for this one. Did you have a decent rapport having already worked together in the past?

Absolutely. We entered into the process as friends. We knew what we could expect from each other and how to push each other to do our best. You just can’t beat that kinda chemistry when you’re cutting a record. It’s a lot of work, and if you want to get something really good out of the process, you have to know what you are going for and how to get there. We definitely had that going for us as we entered into the making of this record, and we worked like dogs to make it the best thing we could possibly make. We’re stoked on it. Matt is too.

What’s tougher, being in prison or being a touring indie punk band?

I mean, prison for sure. Some indie bands do pretty well with the ladies. In prison, you pretty much don’t get to make out with ladies ever, under any circumstances, no matter how deep your lyrics are. So, if you like the ladies, I would go band over prison any day. Now, on the other hand, if you are more into hanging out with dudes, making tooth brushes into makeshift knives, impromptu pillow fights and the occasional riot, prison may be for you. It’s all a matter of perspective, I guess.

Who in the band has the longer rap sheet?

Probably Red. This one time, he was arrested for stealing the same motorcycle three times in one week. It was all a simple misunderstanding… The dude that owned it didn’t understand how much Red wanted it, and the cops didn’t understand how to stay out of it and mind their own business.

Seems like the ladies in Pussy Riot have copped your look or was it the other way around? Who wore the hats/masks first?

We actually started before Pussy Riot, but I doubt they were trying to copy us. They probably hadn’t even heard of us ‘cause our demo had only been out for about six months at the time they started. I guess it is possible, though, cause of the Internet and stuff like that. But, who knows. The thing is, we don’t have that much in common with them. I mean, they’re political, we’re not. They’re girls, we’re not. They have the word “pussy” in their name, we don’t. They’re Russian, we’re American. They’re a very serious, very important movement. We just wanna play love songs for the nice people. They’re cool by us, though. For the record, we would make out with them anytime, anywhere.

You guys have plans to hit up Europe, Australia and much of the U.S. this year. What’s the best and worst thing about touring?

The best thing about touring is all the cool people you get to meet and hang out with. We’ve been fortunate enough to meet a lot of the musicians and criminals that we looked up to as kids and that we really respect. Also, another cool thing about tour: you get to eat a lot of snacks. The four tour food groups are Doritos, Cheetos, burritos and beer. The worst part is probably just the whole thing of having to look over your shoulder for the cops. But, that’s no different really than being home. So, there’s no real drawback. I guess that’s why we tour all the time. It’s awesome!

Given that you travel across borders with suitcases packed with four ski masks, do you ever have problems with the folks at customs?

Never been a problem. Here’s a little tip for getting through customs: sneak in. It’s not as hard as you think, seeing as how there are so many people going through every day. Plus, most of the people that work in customs are just bored out of their minds and don’t even care about their jobs. They basically want you to try and sneak something past them, even if they don’t know it. Just like prison guards. Sure, they pretend not to want to have to get into a tussle, but they love an opportunity to take their nightstick to some poor shlub’s dome piece. So, yeah, you gotta sneak in places. Trust me, it’s more fun than trying to get through by the book.

What’s next for the band?

We have a ton of tour dates in the US, Canada, the UK and mainland Europe. So, we will be pretty busy for a while making sure everybody gets a chance to see us. After that, who knows? I mean, we do, but we aren’t saying. Snitches get stitches.

Jumpin’ John B. Moore writes about all things punk for BLURT. He famously avoids the moshpit, however, claiming that “I might break my wrist and wouldn’t be able to type anymore.” We suspect that’s not the reason, however… Contact him via this magazine.

John B. Moore: Nothington – The Interview

Nothington

JBM checking in with his latest column on all things punk, “I Don’t Wanna Grow Up.”

I DON’T WANNA GROW UP / JOHN B. MOORE

By John B. Moore

San Francisco punk rockers Nothington formed out of the ashes of Tsunami Bomb, but quickly managed to make everyone forget their former group as they got to work putting together one solid album after the next. The band managed to fuse country and Blues with straight up punk rock with nods to everyone from Hot Water Music to Social Distortion. Continue reading

John B. Moore: Pale Angels – The Interview

Pale Angels

JBM checking in with his latest column on all things punk, “I Don’t Wanna Grow Up.”

I DON’T WANNA GROW UP / JOHN B. MOORE

By John B. Moore

The Pale Angels is clearly not the first band to start off working Nirvana covers. Though, they are likely the first international group who got their start playing nothing but Nirvana covers on stage at punk rock utopia (aka The Fest, held in Gainesville, Florida every fall). Continue reading

John B. Moore: Crazy & the Brains: The Interview

Crazy and the Brains

JBM checking in with his latest column on all things punk, “I Don’t Wanna Grow Up.”

I DON’T WANNA GROW UP / JOHN B. MOORE

By John B. Moore

They already had a vocalist and a xylophone, so starting a punk rock/anti-folk band was just a given.

On their first full length, Let Me Go, New York/New Jersey four-piece Crazy & The Brains bring to mind everyone from The Black Lips The Dead Milkmen (though frontman and guitarist Chris Urban readily cops to not listening to these Philly punks).

With witty lyrics, a quirky, but impressive punk rock sound, these Anti-Folk acolytes even managed to snag scene mate and former Moldy Peaches member Adam Green to share the mic on this record. Urban was cool enough to talk recently about the band, the record and learning his songs in French.

 

So let’s start out with how the band first got together.

Well basically mine and Jeff’s (Rubin) band broke up. We had been playing in that band since high school and had no intention of ever stopping but our singer quit very unexpectedly. We were left kinda confused and didn’t know what to do. We both knew we still needed to play music but we didn’t have any equipment. Jeff was starting college for music and took his xylophone from high school to practice on. He studied classical percussion performance so he pretty much needed to learn how to play every instrument ever. We knew we didn’t wanna just pick up right where we left off with our first band (which was pretty much a straight forward punk band in the sense that it was loud distorted guitars, bass and drums). All we had between the two of us was my acoustic guitar and his very shitty drum set and then his xylophone which he just used for school. I don’t remember why or who but one day one of us was like “fuck it, let’s try and make some songs using this thing”. Jeff was practicing on it non-stop anyway, it was always around so we just decided to try it out. The things we were coming up with sounded cool to us and we just started developing our own style I guess. After a while playing like that we decided we wanted to be louder. Jeff met Brett (Miller) at school one night and brought him to one of our shows. I’m guessing Brett liked it because he’s been in our band ever since. I don’t think we even asked him to join. One day he was just behind me playing bass drinking a 40oz with his brother Lawrence behind him playing drums and doing Tim and Eric jokes.

How did you get Adam Green to sing on this one?

I first met him at the Sidewalk Cafe in New York. Then one night he was at a show we played in Brooklyn and he told us he liked our music and hooked us up with a cool show opening up for Har Mar Superstar and Ted Leo. After that, I don’t really know, we would see him around at a lot of different things. We know some of the same people. One day I just decided to ask him to be on a song and he was down. I’ve always really liked songs that featured other artists. Collaborating on music is such a cool thing to me. Every time I see an artist I like has a song featuring someone else that’s the first song I listen to on the album. We were throwing around a lot of ideas on who to ask, what song to do, or who would even wanna be on a song of ours… but I don’t know it just kinda came together. We’re gonna try to perform it live together for sure.

This album reminded me a lot of the great Dead Milkmen records. Were you guys fans of the band?

To be honest I didn’t really come up on them too much. I mean I respect them a lot; I think they’re definitely an awesome band. I understand the comparison. They have that punk spirit, a lot of energy and their own style but stylistically I think we are very different. Todd (Wolenski) who runs Baldy Longhair Records is a huge fan of them I think that’s one of the things that turned him on to us. A lot of people who like our music tell me they are fans of them too, I think that’s cool.

That being said, do you have any influenced that would surprise people?

The Anti-Folk scene had a HUGE influence on this music. When we started this we had no idea what we were really doing or if there was even a place for guitar and xylophone music. We would go to these Anti-Folk open mics and wait six hours for our number to be called to play our song. We watched so many artists perform all types of crazy shit from spoken word poets, to folk singers, to people singing opera, to rappers, to dudes banging on drums and yelling. There was really good amazing music and also really fucking awful music, but all of it was extremely inspiring. Other than that obviously Punk and all its different sounds and its energy and attitude. Jeff is really inspired by classical music and piano players like Ray Manzarek and Ray Charles. Early 60’s soul and girl groups definitely influence us. The Miller brothers love a lot of 70’s hard rock n’ roll like Black Sabbath and The Stooges, and I know a lot of that stuff has an influence on their playing. Lastly, standup comedy has a huge influence on my songwriting and I also think the music too. I don’t know how to explain it but if you listen closely you can hear Andrew Dice Clay in Brett’s bass playing.

Do you guys plan to tour much behind this album?

Hell yes. We’re going to Canada this August but before that we are gonna play shows all around the East Coast. We just came back from Ohio a few days ago and we also plan to go back to the West Coast. We’re gonna bring this record to as many people as we possibly can. If you’re having a party hit us up! We will play!

What’s next for you guys? 

Europe! I want a girl to teach me how to sing “Snacks” in French!

John B. Moore: Beans on Toast – Interview

Beans on Toast

JBM checking in with his latest column on all things punk, “I Don’t Wanna Grow Up.”

I DON’T WANNA GROW UP / JOHN B. MOORE

By John B. Moore

While not exactly a household name in the U.S. (yet), UK singer/songwriter, punk folk poet Beans on Toast (need any more proof that he’s British?) is about to take on the U.S. Tagging onto Frank Turner’s tour, armed with an acoustic guitar and a tight set list of brilliantly dry witty songs, Beans (given name Jay McAllister) will be playing America for the first time.

He was kind enough to trade some e-mails back and worth talking about his new album Fishing For a Thank You, touring with Turner and being a England’s lone Parrot Head.  


You’ve had Ben Lovett and Frank Turner each produce one of your records. Who produced this one?

It was produced again by musicians Lee (Smith) for the band Middleman and Jamie (Lockhart) from a band called Mye Mi. They have a wicked little studio up in Leeds where everything is recorded to tape.

What can you tell me about Fishing For a Thank You?
It’s my fourth studio album in four years, keeping with my promise of putting out a record on the same date every year (1st December). Last year for the festival season I put together a little band of merry men to help me keep in time with myself. At the end of the summer we went to the studio for a weekend and bashed out the record. So the record has trumpet, accordion and some fine beats.

Do you have any guests on this record?
Yes, Rosie Doonan (a great folk singer from a big musical family), happened to be passing through and sung on the song “Orange.” The song also has a The Zulu Traditional Choir who were rehearsing in the room upstairs so we coaxed them down to finish the record; That and some small interludes from a mate’s five-year-old boy. All of these were by the luck of the draw. Also, Dan who played trumpet in the band also plays trumpet for The Pogues, which is pretty impressive.

When you tour the U.S. next month, will it just be you on the stage or will you bring along a full band?
After the record was recorded I disbanded the band, and am again solo for this year, so I will be solo for the upcoming tour.

You’ll be touring the U.S. with Frank Turner throughout June. Do you know what to expect? Have you ever spent this much time on the road with him?
I’ve spent a lot of time on the road with Frank, from very small early shows to big UK tours and even the Wembley show. So I’d say I know what to expect from Frank’s side, however these will be my first real shows in the U S of A. This, for me, is very exciting mainly because I’m not exactly sure what to expect.

Do you have any musical influences that would surprise people?
Probably quite a few. It may be worth mentioning that my Dad raised me on Jimmy Buffett records. Jimmy Buffett is pretty much unknown over here but I know it’s the opposite over there. Would it be a surprise that I’d say I’m a bit of a parrot head? I’m pretty varied in musical taste, though, and like to sample everything going down.

What’s next for you?
In a nutshell: USA / Festivals / Studio / Tour / Release album / Tour / Repeat….

Those are all the questions I have. Anything else you want to mention?
Not really, mate. If you’re happy then so am I.

***

John B. Moorecan be found at : Blurt/New Music Magazine/InSite Atlanta Magazine (Music Editor)/Innocent Words/NeuFutur Magazine. Follow him on Twitter at his handle @Jbmoore00

 

John B. Moore: Frank Turner – Interview

Frank Turner

 

Longtime Blurt Blogger John B. Moore checks in with his latest column on all things punk, “I Don’t Wanna Grow Up.”

By John B. Moore

It’s been about almost a decade since English punk Frank Tuner walked away from life in a hardcore band and swapped out the distorted guitars for an acoustic one.

In that time he’s turned in an impressive collection of albums, packed Wembley Arena, served as opening act for the London Olympics, and managed to help define the punk rock singer/songwriter genre. He’s known best for his injection of wit and humility into songs about growing up, growing old and politics, and even with an acoustic guitar, you still can’t hide the punk kid inside. Need proof? Listen to “Thatcher Fucked the Kids”—which, in light of The Iron Lady’s demise this week, seems uncanny in its anti-revisionist timeliness.

On the eve of releasing his latest album, Tape Deck Heart (due April 23), and first for Interscope Records, Turner spoke briefly about the label change, playing the opening ceremonies at the London Olympics and future plans with his hardcore side project Möngöl Hörd.(Below, check out “Recovery” from the new record.)

[jwplayer mediaid=”33715″]

First off, congrats on signing with Interscope. How did that come about?

In basic terms, they asked, (laughs). The opportunity was there for me to think about working with a different label in the USA, and Interscope seemed like the best place for me. They’re a great label.

When I last interviewed you England Keep My Bones was just coming out and you were going on your first tour with a full band. Has that changed the way you play at all having that full sound?

Well, it alters the live show, sure – actually I’ve been touring with a full band since 2007, on and off. It’s a bigger sound for the live show; it’s very much where my head is at right now musically. The line-up of the band is set. The Sleeping Souls are my guys.

You also played Wembley since we last talked. What was that experience like?

It was amazing, everything went to plan! It was a show that my team and I worked on very hard for a long time. It was also something of a risk – I wasn’t at all sure that I’d sell all the tickets, or that the music I make would work in that kind of live context. In the event it all went swimmingly.

Had you had a chance to meet Billy Bragg before asking him to play that show with you?

Yeah I’ve known Billy and played with him for a few years now. Great guy.

You also had the opportunity to play before the Olympics. Are you surprised by how many people can relate to your songs?

Yes, pleasantly so. The Olympics thing was pretty surreal. I mean, it was an amazing opportunity and a unique experience for sure, but it was certainly outside my comfort zone.

What can you tell me about the new album?

I’m very pleased with it; I think it’s a step up for me, musically and lyrically. The music is a little bigger, warmer, than before. Lyrically it’s a very raw, personal record.

What are your U.S. tour plans?

I’ll be in the USA a whole lot this year and next, (laughs). The Interscope team have big plans for my diary.

Do you have plans to do more with your side project Möngöl Hörd? Release an album maybe?

Yeah I definitely want to get a record together and a tour sometime. It’s a lot of fun, but the problem is that it’s not a main priority for me right now. It definitely has to sit back a bit while we work on Tape Deck Heart.

***

John B. Moorecan be found at : Blurt/New Music Magazine/InSite Atlanta Magazine (Music Editor)/Innocent Words/NeuFutur Magazine. Follow him on Twitter at his handle @Jbmoore00