(Here we have Comrade Aleks’ interview with bassist Rochelle of Milwaukee’s Moon Curse.)
Moon Curse of Milwaukee, Wisconsin are good for all who love hazy psychedelic doom in particular and quality heavy music in general. That power trio have worked fair and stoically since 2011 and the two full-length albums in their discography are a good result. The second crushing wave of their doom practices is named Spirit Remains, and it saw the light of day on November 30th with the help of Kozmik Artifactz Records.
Matt (guitars, vocals) and Keith (drums, Hammond) are busy gentlemen, but I consider myself lucky because lady Rochelle (bass) has found few minutes of her precious time to deliver to us her story of laying the Moon Curse upon listeners.
Hi Rochelle! I guess that it would be right to introduce the band for our readers. So first of all how was formed conception of Moon Curse?
Matt and I were in a previous band together, Mother Orchis. After the departing of that band, Matt and I were waiting for an opportunity to play with a drummer. Keith was a mutual friend and one day he and Matt started jamming. It seemed to click, so they brought me in and we found a practice space. We started writing songs and it just came together.
Matt and I are big fans of doom. We wanted to play doom. Just be heavy as fuck. Be loud. Scare people. Keith has a taste for classic rock music. So I guess Moon Curse developed with our personal music tastes. Each person kind of brought their own style. Matt is obviously the metal doom guy. Keith keeps it classic. And I’m the punk rock element. Blended together, the sound is Moon Curse. Nothing phony about it. We are what we are. I’m very proud of that.
Moon Curse has been a trio with pretty stable lineup; you, Matt, and Keith have played together since the very beginning. How do you deal with the whole organization of gigs, the composing of songs, recording sessions, and promotion?
Honestly we fly by the seat of our pants. We aren’t the most organized band. It’s hard. We all have full-time grown-up jobs, so we work the band around our lifestyle. Luckily we all work Monday through Friday. So we have weekends for practicing and playing shows.
The song writing can be slow, but once we get into the rhythm of faithfully practicing we can knock them out. Keith is excellent at putting parts together and figuring out where everything goes. I call him the “editor”. We all bring ideas and try to work them in the best way we can. It’s not always easy, but I think we try to stay open-minded. That’s the best way to write music.
We have only recorded twice as a band. It is really hard, expensive, and time consuming. We usually take a couple days off from work and get into the studio. We have been spoiled by our recording engineer and close friend Nolan Treolo. He’s been the best guy to work with. He’s not afraid to push us and tell us what he thinks. He’s spent a lot of time with us.
Moon Curse never really had high expectations. We started out as good friends playing music together. Until recently we’ve never had a Facebook page. Hannes at Kozmik Artifactz found us and wanted to re-release our first album. The internet community really did all the promoting for us. With the websites, blogs, and groups, Moon Curse just got noticed. People wanted to buy our records. It helps me get excited about the band. I like connecting with people who dig our music. I’ve made good friends that way. It makes you feel good. Realize all your hard work is paying off.
So is Moon Curse just a weekend hobby for you? How is this creature of your mind important for you?
Yes and no. I really try to put 100% into Moon Curse. We did take a break from it over the summer. We were really looking forward to the release of Spirit Remains and needed some time away from it. We have been known to cram practices in on work days. Putting in extra time to get tight for shows. Matt and I have a home practice area set up in our basement, so if we’re feeling it or get inspired to write new riffs.
Moon Curse – Beneath the Waves
Your second album Spirit Remains was released in November. What kind of Moon Curse features were performed in its songs?
I feel like we’ve grown into our own sound on this one. More confident even. I think it still sounds like Moon Curse, but maybe a bit more mature. This album was written specifically for vinyl. We spent a lot of time honing the songs so it would make sense as a vinyl record. The theme is more evident on this one. Lots of planning and thought. Almost 2 years of writing and recording! Absolutely crazy.
Rochelle, how did you find the right sound for Spirit Remains? What’s its formula?
We take lots of pride in our amps. We spent years finding the right tones, what works for us individually. Matt has a pretty impressive amp collection. We actually used all of them for the recording. We had songs that we spent a lot of time on. We took our time getting them perfect. The formula is beer, BBQ, and jamming. I think it helps to be a tight group of friends. And of course Nolan Treolo spending all his time helping us do our best.
Rochelle, did you think about singing too, alongside Matt? Moon Curse’s psychedelic doom sound has similar elements with Acid King and Windhand, so it could work.
Ha! I can’t sing. I wish I could. There’s one part I sing on, the end of “Lord of Memories”. That’s it though. I’ve read reviews where they assumed it was me singing but it’s Matt for the most part. He’s a really good singer if people think it’s a woman singing. And he does. Matt is a fantastic singer. I feel lucky to be in a band with him.
What are the songs’ lyrics about? How is it important for you? And what do you usually tell about?
All questions for Matt. He writes all the lyrics. I try to help once in a while.
You also have a digital single, “Seminary Woods”. Why did you pick out this particular song for that format?
“Seminary Woods” was actually recorded at the same time as the first album. For some reason we felt it was the weakest link on the s/t album. Kind of just left it out. Then when Hannes asked about re-releasing it, he wanted another song. So we went back and mixed “Seminary Woods”, and oddly enough it turned out to be the best song on the Kozmik Artifactz release. Then we decided to include it on our Bandcamp log.
Moon Curse – Live
Are there any songs left after the Spirit Remains recording session?
At the moment no. We just recently added a second guitarist to the band. Matt Presutti joined us, which we’re all very excited about. He was the artist who designed the Spirit Remains album cover. He’s a good friend as well, and we found him a good addition to the band. Bringing in a new member should make the song writing process fresh. We are very eager to see what happens in the near future.
I have kind of two standard questions and the first is simple – can you tell a story of your favorite song from the new album?
That’s hard. We spent so much time writing these songs, they all have a special place in my heart. “Electric Veins” does stand out to me. I think that was one of the first songs we wrote for the new album. It’s interesting to think back to the beginning phase of writing it. And to hear it finished and well-polished. It even went through a name change, I still call it “Sasquatch Superhighway” sometimes. Yeah, that one hits me in the guts. That one is truly special. It’s really fun to play live too.
The second question is a little bit specific – what was the most influential song for you in school?
When I was younger? Oh man there’s so many bands that inspired me to play music. I can’t pick just one song. Ever since I was a little girl I always wanted to play bass in a rock band. I found many great women bass players influential. I was obsessed with Kim Deal of The Pixies, Kim Gordon of Sonic Youth, and of course my favorite D’Arcy of Smashing Pumpkins.
I bought myself a bass when I was 17. But never really had an opportunity to play with anyone. Lost interest for a bit. I didn’t actually play bass in a real band until I was 26 years old. It’s never too late! I feel girls have a different perspective on things. Everything’s so male dominated. Playing or starting to play music is intimidating. Growing up I needed the Kims and D’Arcy to show me women can slay too. Hey, let’s face it. Woman musicians make bands more interesting.
Do you feel that your music is claimed nowadays in the States? Is it difficult to find your listeners?
We aren’t a touring band so it’s really hard. Our work schedules make it difficult to play out of town. I think we’d do better in the States if we could tour. Thankfully the Internet exists. That’s really our only outlet.
And how often do you get feedback from them?
Every day on Facebook. I make it a point to reply back. Or I really try to. I think it’s important to be respectful of the people supporting you. We wouldn’t have been able to record Spirit Remains if people hadn’t bought our first album. Moon Curse S/T fully funded the new album. If people keep buying our music we will make more!
How did the sales of Spirit Remains start? And what are your ambitions considering the band?
I can’t speak for everyone in Moon Curse but I would love to play a show in Europe. I’d love nothing more than to meet Hannes from Kozmik Artifactz in Berlin. I hear from bands all the time who say Europe is amazing. I hope one day we make it there.
Obviously, write a new album. With the addition of our new member I feel the third album will be a fun process. With two albums under my belt, I’m sort of addicted.
How often do you play outside Milwaukee and what is your most impressive experience of playing on stage?
Not very often. Only a couple times a year. Like I’ve mentioned, our jobs don’t allow us to tour. Unfortunately we need our jobs at this time in our lives. Not to say we couldn’t do a working man’s tour. It would just take some planning, but we have hopes to get out there.
We’ve played a lot of fun shows with really amazing bands. The one that stands out for me is the show we played with Earthless. It was so much fun and the guys were so nice and friendly. I really enjoyed that one.
And by the way, how much of Wisconsin is in your songs?
I’m not sure but probably a whole bunch. Wisconsin is known for our incredible breweries. Lots of beer is consumed at Moon Curse practice. It fuels us. Wisconsin people are a proud breed. Go Pack Go!
Rochelle, thank you for your time – I have just one final question for today: what are Moon Curse’s plans for the near future?
In the near future we are planning our record release show. That’s exciting. It’s still not announced just yet, but it’s getting there. If all goes through, its a pretty amazing spot to play live. This album has been a long time coming. It will be good to end the release on a high note with all our friends there.