|Max and the Moon performing at Continental Room in Fullerton Photo by De Fen|
As he looked down at his skateboard, his dream was to “go pro”. Who would have thought Front-man and Lead Singer, John Velasquez would have become a musician? As a young boy, becoming a musician was the furthest thing from his mind. His practical sights were set on becoming either a fireman or maybe even a trash man.
“I just envied the people who were happy with their jobs,” Velasquez said. “The UPS man that would drop off our stuff was always so happy. I wanted a career that would make me happy because I love doing it. I figured out in my Junior Year in college that music made me happy.”
For Co-Writer and Drummer, Matt Couchois, his dream was to follow in the footsteps of his father and that was to become a musician.
“He was in Larry Birum's (guitarist in Stepphnwolf) band called, Rachel. It always made me want to be one, but I didn't have the balls to start singing till I was older,” Couchois said.
Over three years in the making, Max and the Moon began with an idea and a name.
“I was watching Conan O’brien one night and he was talking to his drummer, Max Weinberg, and said something to the effect of…’Max, I'm gonna shoot ya to the moon!’ For some reason it just clicked. Ever since then that's been our name,” Couchois said.
Like most bands with little self-identity and lacking any musical originality of their own, they released their first EP. Although some of their first song releases are good, some of their earlier work was very reminiscent of Coldplay with simulated melancholy undertones.
“Letting people hear our old stuff is like ‘pulling teeth’. It’s so hard, because you’re seeing me how I was three years ago. It’s very immature compared to our newer stuff,” Velasquez said.
Velasquez gathered inspiration from a variety of earlier musicians like old Motown of Smokey Robinson, Ella Fitzgerald, Otis Redding, but also adapting to styles from current bands like John Mayer and Iron & Wine. On the other hand, Couchois was more into modern music, in gaining inspiration from bands like Radio Head, Coldplay, Modest Mouse, and Arcade Fire.
“The last EP, we individually written songs and we came together as a band. Two of the songs I wrote, I felt like I copied my favorite artists, John, too. He was copying his favorite artists,” Couchois said. “This time it’s much more organic. I think we found what our sound is. We have songs without trying to be someone else.”
Max and the Moon’s new self-titled EP is set to-be-released in Summer 2011. As mentioned by Couchois, it is definitely more “organic”, especially with songs, “Sea of Anger”, “Out of My Head”, and “Way I see”. Overall, their music has a way of pulling you in with their starry guitar echoing in combination with John’s soothing vocals and superb upper register. Their newer music is more psychedelic natured and more in tune with what the Los Angeles indie scene is offering, comparing to a mixture of local up-and-coming artists like, Voxhaul Broadcast and The Local Natives.
“Our new stuff has evolved so much,” Couchois said. “As a band we're always writing, but we really dug deep for our new music about 6 months ago.”
With the competition so fierce where the indie music scene is so vast, John and Matt seem to pay no mind to the notion they are still a relatively new band trying to make a name for themselves. Instead, their focus is being themselves and set on playing more gigs and building a fan base through social networking.
“It’s really hard, but the less we try to be who we’re not, we find ourselves playing more gigs and doing more photo shots,” Couchois said. “And, of course there’s social media. We’re doing more online stuff and getting new people to find out who we are.” - Mikey Jayy
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*Originally Published in Substance Magazine Spring 2011 issue