The Molochs: Seeing the Light of Day

 

The Molochs: Seeing the Light of Day

By Chris Camargo

“Tumultuous.” said Lucas with the tape recorder rolling on the patio of Xioa on Sunset Blvd across from The Echo. Its post sound check, but pre doors of The Molochs last show of their residency and I sit with Lucas Fitzsimons at a small table with the rest of the band just across from us (except Ryan Foster, the tall guy on the cover of the album America’s Velvet Glory). We were talking about the origin of the band’s name.

“It comes from the middle section of [Allen] Ginsberg’s poem Howl…I remember reading it and the name and the idea stuck out for me,” said Lucas.

There was also no deep moment of self-reflection or acceptance over what he would have to give up pursuing music, as one myth maintains. “It wasn’t something I thought about. It’s a cool idea after the fact, I didn’t know what I would have to sacrifice. I was just doing it.”

The only thing Lucas anticipated was the esoteric quality of the name, “I wasn’t that happy about it because I knew it would be a name that people would always ask about…It’s a thing you forget. A month later and you don’t think about it. It’s something you have to do and once you’re done you’re ready to move on.” So let the guys move on. It’s just a really cool, deep literary reference, stick-in-your-brain kind of name.

But when the conversation turned to the album and amid everything being said, it was the word, ‘tumultuous’ that hit with real significance. This sentiment was coming from a man who was finishing up a monthly residency at The Echo, seeing a new album receive four stars from Rolling Stone Australia, starting a US tour at SXSW, and then heading off to tour Europe in the spring. You see, the thing is, up until early summer 2016, a realization had come over the band, especially Lucas, that America’s Velvet Glory might never see the light of day.

The Molochs first album, Forgetter Blues came out in 2013 and despite its quality, didn’t garner the attention it deserved. This being an unfortunate, and all too common story about LA’s music industry. It also left the band in a state of transition and rearrangement. One guitarist left for London and another, Ryan Foster, joined (Note: Mateo, who left for London came back to the US and is back in the band). Lucas finished college and had to decide which path he was going to commit himself toward: Graduate school or music. “If I’m not going to actually try and do a band than there’s no point in doing it and I should go to school, but I didn’t want to go to school, so it had to be the band.”

Still the problem of being independent artists remained. They had to invest in themselves and ask others to invest in the album. This lead to time crunches during recording sessions where, as Ryan described, “We recorded 15 songs total in four days…not enough money and it got hectic.” He, like Lucas, summed the experience of recording in one word: “Bleak.” Which compiled alongside this three year period described by Lucas as, “Mostly just writing songs and making demos and shit like that, but not really progressing any other way,” the fact that they are still a band is in itself a small miracle.

In a real way, the record became its own accomplishment. “It felt good to finish but we weren’t signed yet so that‘s when the work began of shopping the album. So at that point, for all we knew, no one would ever pick it up. We didn’t know if it was going to come out. We just needed to do it. Because before that we were – instead of making the album – waiting to get signed so that we could have a label pay for it.” It was a time that could be summed up by altering a lyric to one of Lucas’ favorite songwriters, Townes Van Zandt, ‘They were just waitin around to get signed.’

The change came when a member of the Crystal Antlers, who recorded the album, gave a heads up to their label’s [Innovative Leisure] higher-ups about The Molochs’ new album and that they should give it a listen. It was then that The Molochs found a home.

Cut back to the patio at Xioa in Echo Park – which, by the way, if you’re in need of a snack before a show the small fries ($3.85) are enough for two people and good as fuck with the curry mayo – and the doors have opened and the last night of the residency is about begin. I find I still need to remind myself that this is the first time these guys have done anything like this. The tour that they are going on after SXSW is the first one as a band. The newness of the whole Molochs universe is seen in the newest member, Jose, who plays acoustic guitar, meeting the band manager on the patio just that night. Lucas put it, “It’s still so new to us that we’re still trying it out. It’s harder to tame that kind of sound and if it’s gonna sound shitty we don’t want to do it. It’s something we’re just slowly putting in and seeing how it works.” Lucas continued on the change and newness of the band, “[we] keep changing things and that keeps it fun. When I [Lucas] stopped playing guitar it felt like a new band.”

But the imprint of that three year endurance trial remained up until the first night of the residency. When I told Lucas that, if it was my show, I’m such a pessimist that I would think no one would come to something like this, he responded, “That’s exactly where I was at. Before the first night we were kind of like we’ve never done this before. We were like, fuck, let’s hope the other bands show.” It should be clearly stated that Lucas’ particular brand of pessimism is not a self-doubting kind but a product of being an introvert. It is a kind that he and I share. Neither of us doubt the quality of our work or our ability, but we’ve been through the world and have seen it not give a shit about things we’ve put a whole hell of a lot into. “I think some people don’t like my voice,” Lucas said not caring about the superficial criticism, “They think it’s lazy.” When I asked him if he felt any pressure with the recent success of the album, he said, “Back of my head I always thought it was in the cards and everything just feels like its falling into place.” Maybe it’s a sign of an arrogant bastard to think that he should have hit the target on the first try, but I’m the same way. Also, there has to be something in that attitude which kept the band moving through the dark times toward this point.

Its with that same attitude, that there is understanding there is more to learn and be open to in creating music. “There’s the writing which is a private thing – that’s why it was always easy for me with my introverted aspect – but then the live aspect, especially since I stopped playing on stage, is a part that involves everyone…just make people feel some inspiration to do something.”

It’s the honest desire to give something to the listener that initially made me interested in The Molochs. The lyrics, all written by Lucas, come with an authenticity which Lucas nicely phrased as, “It’s the only way I can feel like I’m not bullshitting people.” And that is a major stamp on the whole Moloch sound.

When asked about the comparison to bands like The Kinks or The Byrds he admitted the influence, but stood firm on being a modern band. Mostly it is the clarity of the music that The Molochs found in these older bands (and some more recent ones like Violent Femmes, Gun Club, and Jacobities) that has proved to be most impactful. “Transparent…the songs are really revealed. Other stuff is too muddled, too varied and you can’t hear the words –you get at the core. Those bands did the rock thing while conveying the song clearly, without having a bunch of instrument killing the song.” Their style is based around the importance placed on having their lyrics heard. “You can’t get away with lyrics that you don’t really try on because with our style they’re not going to be buried.” Lucas finished on songwriting with, “There are times when I try to write about something external…it doesn’t feel the same. If feels like I’m writing a term paper, or arguing something. It doesn’t feel the same.”

At this point, we’re about forty-five minutes from show time and the recording gets hazy when a bucket of ice gets poured onto a case of PBR and people show up for free beer. I’m also out of questions. Before getting up from the large white faux leather couch I ask, as a joke, if Lucas had anything to say to Trump and unconsciously he quotes Bob Dylan, “I hope that he dies.” The rest of the lyric is, “and your death with come soon.”

CHECK OUT THE MOLOCHS HERE: https://themolochs.bandcamp.com/

 

BB Live: March Resident Band: Will and the Won’ts: Week 4- Interview

Our time with Will and the Won’ts has come to an end, but we still have this killer interview as the dessert to the rock n roll feast they served up this month! Peep the interview below, in which we figure out why Donald Trump is such a dick, and we also discuss how they’ve influenced each other’s taste in music, their newest album, what they’ve learned from busking regularly, and more!

Thanks to WATW, Block of Joy, Jordan Robins, and our sponsor, MVP!

BSing with Badasses: Episode 34: SLUGS

On this episode of BSing with Badasses, we bullshit with garage rock badasses SLUGS about when/why they started playing music, their upcoming full length album, barn parties, social media and more!

Listen (and subscribe!) here!

BB Live: March Resident Band: Will and the Won’ts: Week 3

Ugh, we’ve already arrived at our last track with Will and the Won’ts, bummer. But, hey, its another banger, so flash fry your mind with “I Just Wanna Be Friends”! Be on the lookout for our interview with the gents next week!

 

Thanks to WATW, Block of Joy, Riot at the Zoo, Mike Post and our sponsor, MVP!

 

BB Live: March Resident Band: Will and The Won’ts: Week 2

This week Will and the Won’ts serve us a heaping helping of rock n roll via their tune “Common Sense”! This tune is crazy relatable, because we all know when you’re really into someone, all common sense goes out the window and at some point you just have to roll with it!

Thanks to WATW, Block of Joy, Jordan Robins, Mike Post and our sponsor, MVP!

 

BB Live: March Resident Band: Will and the Won’ts: Week 1

You know the drill folks, new month, new band! If you’ve been following BB for a while, then you probably know this band and how much we love ’em! But if not, this month will be a killer introduction, and you’re going to find it hard to get their catchy tunes outta your head. Without further ado, meet rock n rollers, Will and the Won’ts! Peep their first track with us, “The Hole I’m In”, below!

Thanks to WATW, Block of Joy, Jordan Robins, Mike Post and our sponsor, MVP!

 

BSing with Badasses: Episode 32: Ray Little

On this episode of BSing with Badasses, we welcome back super badass Ray Little! We chat with her about the freedom of going solo, her upcoming LP, the influence her father has on her music, and she plays us a couple tunes! Put your earholes on it here.

Recorded at Block of Joy!

 

 

BSing with Badasses: Episode 31: St. Cecelia

On this episode of BSing with Badasses, we have Cecelia and Nicole form St. Cecelia in to bs about their recording/creative process, the magic that happens when you find the right band members, their upcoming show at Women Fuck Shit Up Fest and more!

Listen (and subscribe!) here.

Recorded at Block of Joy!

BB Live: February Resident Band: The Walcotts: Wk 1

We wanted to go BIG for our first band of 2017 and The Walcotts definitely fit the bill (and then some!). Meet these Americana badasses by clicking PLAY on their performance of “Should’ve Been Me” below!

Thanks to Block of Joy, Riot at the Zoo, Mike Delay and our sponsor, MVP!

 

BSing with Badasses: Episode 30: Ben Reddell (Musician/GM @ Bedrock LA/Grand Ol Echo/Etc.)

The two things we value most at BB are music and community, and on this episode we interview someone who embodies those two things more than anyone we’ve ever met, Ben Reddell. We BS with this renaissance man about building the country scene in LA, the importance of developing an environment musicians want to create in (Bedrock), working on your live performance, and much, much more. Tune in (and subscribe!) here.

SIFTING THROUGH THE NOISE: THIS WEEK’S GUARANTEED BADASSERY

Sifting through the Noise: This Week’s Guaranteed Badassery

Monday:

The Evening Guests @ The Dresden. 10pm. Free.

Tuesday:

Dream Phases Residency @ Harvard and Stone. 9pm. Free.

No Girlfriends & Vanessa Siberman @ The Hi Hat. 8pm. Free.

Thursday:

Will and the Won’ts @ The Federal Bar (NoHo). 7pm. $10

PLAG presents WASI & more @ Harvard & Stone. 9pm. Free.

 Saturday:

BB Presents The Shakers EP Release Party w/ Zachary Kibbee and more @ The Viper Room. 9pm. $10

 

*Will add as more pop up!

BSing with Badasses: Episode 29: Rod Melancon

On this episode of BSing with Badasses, we bullshit with Country/Americana badass Rod Melancon! We chat about how he got into music, touring in the South (he’s from Louisiana), the LA music community, his new album and more! Bonus: His drummer, the radical Ryan Wykert, joins in as cohost!

Listen (and subscribe!) here!

Recorded at Block of Joy.

SIFTING THROUGH THE NOISE: THIS WEEK’S GUARANTEED BADASSERY

Sifting through the Noise: This Week’s Guaranteed Badassery

Monday:

Swerve @ Harvard and Stone. 9pm. Free.

Tuesday:

Dream Phases Residency @ Harvard and Stone. 9pm. Free.

Wednesday:

Ray Little @ The Echo. 9:30pm. $11.50

Saturday:

Bones Muhroni’s Record Release Show @ The Hi Hat. 9pm. $8

The Crazy Brave @ The Lost Knight. 11pm. Free.

 

BSing with Badasses: Episode 28: Mikel- Purple Bite PR

On this episode of ‘BSing with Badasses’, we chat with Mikel from Purple Bite PR! He works with some killer artists (some of whom we’ve featured here on Badass Bands) so we wanted to pick his brain about why he wanted to start his own PR company, how he goes about picking clients, what bands can do as far as their own PR, and much more! Tune in here!

BB Live: December Resident Band: WASI: Week 4: Interview

Its our last week with WASI (bummmeerrrr) but you know what that means, we sit down and chat with ’em! We discuss memorable show mishaps (Dislocations folks! Eep!), how they met their newest band members, the role activism plays in their lives/with their music and what they’ve coming up in the next year!

Thanks to Block of Joy, Jordan Robins, and our sponsor, MVP!

BB Live: December Resident Band: WASI: Week 3

We’ve come to our final track with December resident badasses, WASI, and with this one they school us on what’s worth fighting for. Peep their dreamy pop track “Superhero”, and stay tuned next week for our interview with the band!

Thanks to WASI, Block of Joy, Jordan Robins, Mike Post/Mooscat Recording, Joshua Cobos and our sponsor, MVP!

 

 

BB Live: December Resident Band: WASI: Week 2

We’ve got another one for ya from our December resident riot pop badasses, WASI. This one is all about vengeance, so we suggest you turn that dial way up, and press play on “Mama’s Gonna Get You”!

Thanks to WASI, Block of Joy, Jordan Robins, Mike Post, Joshua Cobos and our sponsor, MVP!

SIFTING THROUGH THE NOISE: THIS WEEK’S GUARANTEED BADASSERY

Sifting through the Noise: This Week’s Guaranteed Badassery

Monday:

Dear Boy @ The Troubadour. 8pm. $15

Tuesday:

Easyfriend @ Harvard & Stone. 9pm. FREE.

Wednesday:

Herbert Bail Holiday Show @ The Lexington. 9pm. $10

Friday:

No Small Children @ Maui Sugar Mill. 9pm. FREE.

 

*Will add as more pop up!

Badass Band 115: Nightjacket

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Photo Credit: Diego Miranda

By Contributing Badass: Chris Camargo 

If Nicholas Winding Refin was making Drive in 2016 he would be hard-pressed to find a better song for when Carey Mulligan looks at Ryan Gosling in her subtle, tragic, and lovelorn way than “Never Gone to Give My Love Away” off of Nightjacket’s Eternal Phase EP.

Nightjacket, an LA band of varying and defying description that converges on words like spacey, ethereal, dynamic, dreamy, or like a mild trip where you can taste sound, recently released their latest piece of music majesty, a cover of Echo and the Bunnymen’s Killer Moon.

I recently sat down with lead singer, Holland Belle, and guitarist, Jordan Wiggins. We met at Broome Street General store located on the other side of the freeway from the backyard party in Atwater Village where Jordan once heard Holland play a solo set and the story of Nightjacket began.

At this point I willfully abandon all objectivity and journalistic professionalism. I’m a fan of Holland Belle. Like Jordan, I first heard her sing a solo acoustic set before being told that she was the lead singer for Nightjacket, and thought all the beautiful words associated with music and finally settled on salubrious. Her voice is that amazing.

Although, in the end, it was Jordan who was the driving force behind putting the band together and much of Eternal Phase. The EP feels like two things that would be just fine separately were mixed together to make something great. “There is a mixing of the light and dark elements. The poppy, hook-based sound that is bright and fun and the darker mysterious and moody element,” said Holland. “And a lot of reverb,” added Jordan. It harmonizes and intertwines perfectly. But what really separates the EP is the influence of folk music’s ability to tell stories. Where other groups would let the synth and layer upon layer of guitar do the heavy lifting while drowning out the vocals, Nightjacket uses their innovative sound and eagerness for experimentation to bolster their lead singer’s voice, and in so doing showcase their evocative lyrics which reveal the heart of their musical experience. Nightjacket truly tell stories and weave them into the listeners’ life experience. “The Right Way to Fall”, takes Holland’s inspired voice and mixes it with their trademark dreamy sound. It is a combination of stunning musical landscapes, sonorous vocals, and the detailed stories of the folk tradition that finishes in a dream pop wonder.

That their EP was done without any major – or minor – label/corporate support is all the more amazing. I felt confident that the answer to the how the first EP was made was going to involve some form of transforming a bedroom or shower into a recording studio, but I still had some doubt that maybe they spent money that they didn’t have to make the record as intricate and layered as the final product is. It sounds like someone spent a lot of money on it. Whatever the mix of technology, necessity, and talent that was used, the end result is a beautiful piece of music. This is the work of seriously talented musicians, not just people that play music, but musicians. People that take the craft seriously. This was just the beginning, the feeling of their next EP, which they hope to have out by Spring 2017, will be much more of a group dynamic/effort though still working through and exploring their current sound.

You only get so many shots to make your mark and Nightjacket made theirs with spectacular precision. However, they have no intention of standing still. The one sentiment that they kept bringing up was the need to experiment, which they’ve been doing with the new EP being recorded in Studio City with Adam Lasus, to Holland’s solo adventure away from folk music and toward electronic. Sitting with them it gave me the feeling of people who want to truly encompass the full spectrum of music. They have the souls of musicians who would like nothing better than to get lost for a while and create things far from the expectations of others.

It would seem that one of the few benefits to being left alone by the big music machine is that artists can be artists. They can take risks and record records the way they want them to sound. It is one thing for me to find it difficult to place Nightjacket in a particular category or genre of music, but when the band doesn’t quite know where they fit, there is a freedom being sought, a sound being developed that is all around a good thing for the art of music. It’s the duality of being an artist. You create in private hoping to do something you’ll be proud of and represent whatever feeling or truth is inside of you. While at the same time, you want others to feel something for about it as well.

Although, on second thought, UMG please send someone from Capitol Records to give them a bunch of money and let them make music. I promise they’ll be worth it. I’ll owe you. Don’t worry that I have a higher IQ than credit score, I’m good for it. So go ahead and put some of that unholy Bieber money to good use. Give them money and leave them alone. They know what they’re doing.

Regardless of label interest, the band is poised to keep on. They are considering kicking off the release of the second EP with a European tour sometime next year. This release will be worth the wait. However, should tragedy strike and Nightjacket not do anything else, should they all go off on their separate ways in music, Eternal Phase should be one of those things that marks an era in LA music, one of those rare things that can live on its own. One of those records that back in the era of records and CDs, would prove your legitimacy as a audiophile. It is beautiful. Go find it.

Find Nightjacket here: 

Web: https://nightjacket.bandcamp.com/

Fbk: https://www.facebook.com/Nightjacket

BB Live: December Resident Band: WASI: Week 1

December can often mean darkness and the winter blues, and we didn’t want that for y’all here at BB, so we brought in our friends WASI to keep December poppin’! Peep them performing their tune “And the World” below, and be ready for more riot pop from these badasses all month long!

Thanks to WASI, Block of Joy, Jordan Robins, Mike Post, Joshua Cobos and our sponsor, MVP!

 

SIFTING THROUGH THE NOISE: THIS WEEK’S GUARANTEED BADASSERY

Sifting through the Noise: This Week’s Guaranteed Badassery

Monday:

The Shakers @ Harvard & Stone. 8pm. FREE.

Tuesday:

Polaris Rose @ The Lexington. 9pm. $8.

Saturday:

The Singles @ Cobraside Distribution in DTLA. 12pm-5pm. FREE.

 

*Will add as more pop up!

BSing with Badasses: Episode 27: King Washington

On this episode we welcome back badasses King Washington to BS about touring, bicoastal residencies, their upcoming album, and they play us a magical currently unreleased track that is just perfect for the current political climate! Tune in here.

BB Live: November Resident Band: The Frights: Week 4-Interview

Peep The Frights interview as part of their Badass Bands Live November residency! The guys tell us how they met, how they nearly lost $300 worth of show tix in a parking lot, what their original name was, how LA crowds wait in line to stage dive (weirdos!) and more!

Thanks to Block of Joy, Riot at the Zoo and our sponsor, MVP!

 

SIFTING THROUGH THE NOISE: THIS WEEK’S GUARANTEED BADASSERY

Sifting through the Noise: This Week’s Guaranteed Badassery

Monday:

Alina Bea ends her November Residency at The Bootleg! 9pm. FREE.

King Washington end their November Residency at The Satellite with badasses The Zmed Brothers and The Deltaz. 9pm. FREE.

Tuesday:

The Knitts @ The Hi Hat as part of Ramonda Hammer’s Residency. 9pm. FREE.

Saturday:

PLaNETS host a Father Time Christmas Special at Casey’s Irish Pub in DTLA ft. alllllll kinds of members of badass bands! 10pm. FREE.

 

*Will add as more pop up!

BB Live: November Resident Band: The Frights: Week 3

Just in time for Thanksgiving, we bring you The Frights live performance of “Kids”! This one is a punky, anthemic commentary on adolescence and how we take things for granted until we have to grow up and do shit for ourselves. Dig into it below!

Thanks to TF, Block of Joy, Mike Delay, Jordan Robins, Joshua Cobos, and our sponsor, MVP!

 

SIFTING THROUGH THE NOISE: THIS WEEK’S GUARANTEED BADASSERY

Monday:

Alina Bea continues her residency at Bootleg Theatre. 9pm. FREE.

King Washington continue their residency at The Satellite. 9pm. FREE.

 

Saturday:

Play Like A Girl hosts their showcase at The Echo ft. Liphemra, Miya Folick, Spelles, and Music Bones. 5:30pm. $10