Flying around London are The Moths - James Fox (lead vocals/lyrics) Dave Lightfoot (Guitars, bass, backing vocals) and Jon Vick (Beats, keys) It was an absolute honour to question this musical holy trinity who are filling my ears with some of the most exciting sounds that I have come across in some time. I'm putting the secret of their success down to lusty barmaids and darts...
Soundsxp: Can you guess how many species of moth there are in the UK?* (no googling) The person with the closest correct answer can accompany me to the National Moth Night this year (yes, it exists) Don't get too excited.
Soundsxp: You've all got different music disciplines that 'fuse' together. Tell me what you bring to the music table as individuals. Do you complement each other or grate on each other? The resulting sound is amazing but i'm sure that the process is never always simple?
Dave: I think we all compliment each other extremely well; that's the mix that makes the Moths sound work. I bring the majority of musical ideas and input to the group with a wide range of influences predominantly from guitar based indie/rock. Jon adds the dance element with his collection of drum samples and synths that he has gathered up from producing dance music. James brings the poetry and lyrical flair. It has worked very well so far, I will usually come up with the music then give a CD to James to work on the lyrics and vocal melodies etc. and Jon will add the beats and extra production ideas when he records it all into his computer.
James: Because we all offer completey different things to mix the process can be quite systematic. But in a way this a good thing as it enables us to get on with our seperate jobs dilligently. There's only a problem when one of us doesn't like another's contribution but the beauty of being a three piece means that everything's always sorted by a two to one vote: a perfect democracy you could say!
Soundsxp: You're getting a lot of comparisons to other bands such as Depeche Mode and Wire, to name a few. Do you think that these comparisons are accurate and do you mind being 'likened' to other musicians/bands? Have some comparisons made you scratch your heads and go 'I don't see that.'
Dave: I think it's great to be compared to other bands - especially when you hold those bands in high critical acclaim yourself. It's difficult sometimes though, for example; someone might ask what your influences are, but they don't always reflect in the sound that you make, but that's not necessarily how influences work.
James: It's extremely flattering to be compared to people you hold in such high esteem.
Jon: It's amazing to be compared to bands like Depeche Mode. It's interesting listening to the comparisons. You can usually hear some similarities.
Soundsxp: James, you're responsible for the lyrics - your scribing reminds me of the likes of 'Squeeze' who, in my opinion, were great story tellers. In fact 'Valentine' reminds me of a positive 'Up the Junction' in some ways. Do you look to fellow lyricists for inspiration or do you just let life influence you - or both?
James: Its a bit of both, you have to write about your own visions and experiences but look to fellow lyricists to show you how to render it technically. I always loved Squeeze, especially "Up the junction," Other songs like "tangled up in Blue" by Bob Dylan and "Don't you want me baby" by the Human League also inspired me. I think a song that is slightly more complex lyrically and paints can be, if its done right, more powerful than something that has a beautiful melody but less content. I don't know, each to there own really!
Soundsxp: The single 'Games/Wild Birds/Valentine has been gathering momentum and you've also been named single of the week by Steve Lamacq. I take it that this is a great confidence booster or does it put pressure on you to raise your game? Or are you trying not to think about recognition?
James: It's a dichotomy really. There is something inspiring about having response to what you do as an artist. But there is a certain weight of expectation.
Dave: I want us to gather even more momentum; I think our songs should be heard by as many people as possible. It's a great confidence booster, but it can adversely affect you by making you strive to write the same sort of songs when you should just be writing and not thinking about trying to write another 'Valentine' etc.
Jon: Because we have such a great formula when writing songs it is a confidence booster. I know we have plenty more ideas and half finished songs that people will love.
Soundsxp: Is there an album in the making to look forward to? I really hope so. If there is, what can we expect?
Dave: There will be an album - we are writing all the time; we've got about 20+ songs, but want to get that perfect set of 10 great tracks for an album.
James: We want to make a pop masterpiece.
Soundsxp: James, did you really used to deal with antiquarian manuscripts? That sounds well 'boffin' like. What were you up to, Dave and Jon, while James was clutching manuscripts?
James: I used to deal in 17th century books and maps. I also dabbled in contemporary art and modern first editions. I suppose it is boffin like but I only ever wanted a job that I could learn something from and these were the things I was interested in.
Jon: I was climbing my way through various studios and record labels. I quit an A&R job at Locked On records about 4 years ago to concentrate on DJing and producing dance music. I spent a lot of time in clubs around East london and Amsterdam.
Dave: I've been involved in music in some way, tenuously or otherwise for the majority of my adult life. After Uni, I was working in various jobs involved with music from DVD authoring to producing/mixing live porn on TV and gigging/writing music with various rock/punk bands.
Soundsxp: Oscar wilde pays a visit in your lyrics. Are you a fan of his work or was that just name dropping? Are you all literature lovers or book burners?
James: Oscar Wilde's appearance in "Valentine" is just as much to do with what he represents as an icon as his writings. He lived life full throttle, in his own way, how he wanted and that's the sexiest thing in the world. In a way his name has become a metaphor for individualism.
Dave: I'm not sure how you could hate literature.
Jon: I'm not a burner but don't find much time to get into heavy literature. Always got time for a good mag!
Soundsxp: You've got a few festivals lined up. Have you performed at festivals before? If so, do you enjoy the festival experience?
Jon: I DJ'd at some amazing dance festivals in holland and loved the experience, and have enjoyed most of the major festivals in the UK. Can't wait to perform at them with The Moths.
Dave: I have played and attended festivals before and they are always great - you will always have one unique experience at a festival
Soundsxp: When the moths take to the streets of london at night where do they go to? What do they like to get up to?
Jon: I like to visit the clubs and bars - anywhere with good music really!
Dave: I always like to go to a nice quiet backstreet pub or low key gig. There are so many great little pubs away from the beaten track in London, preferably somewhere with a dartboard?
James: I agree, anywhere that's over two hundred years old and has a dart board and a lusty, good natured barmaid.
Soundsxp: So you metamorphed into a band with exceedingly huge potential. Can we look forward to another metamorphosis? Into a highly acclaimed band? I'm confident that i'm catching you just before the public come to you like moths to a light. How important is public acceptance to you? Or are you willing to lurk in the shadows?
Dave: I think you must want some form of acceptance to want to be in a performing band in the firstplace. I'd love to play in front of more people and send our music all over the world. Sometimes however, you just feel like hiding in the shadows and forgetting about everything and everyone else.
James: As long as we execute our vision as completely as we can then i'll be satisfied.
Jon: I believe in the music we are releasing to the public so if they don't accept it I guess I will lurk in the shadows.
Soundsxp: Did you enjoy your mini tour around the UK? Any memories in particular that will stay with you (good and bad)
Dave: It was great! Some nights were a lot better than others, but we had a good time. It was nice to see some of the cast of Coronation Street at our gig in Manchester - I had to call my Mum to describe them and find out who they were - she's a big fan and was very proud, I don't really watch it you see.
Soundsxp: Are you showmen do you think? Or are you 'stage shy' types? I am yet to see you live and hope to remedy this soon.
Jon: I think I'm a showman, I'm sure you'll agree, when you come to see us.
James: Being on stage is the most intense thing I have ever done. It can go both ways.
Dave: I guess you'll have to see for yourself, I definitely think there's an element of showmanship.
Soundsxp: What music do the Moths like to listen to? Any bands out there at the moment that get your wings flapping?
Dave: I've recently been listening to and liking Grinderman, Wolf Parade, Kings of Leon, Mississippi Witch and Mr David Viner.
James: yeah...Grinderman and the Cribs.
Jon: Grinderman, Kings of Leon, Justice, Louderbach,
Soundsxp: You've been quite a hard band to research. Are there any secrets/info that you wish to share with me? Has anybody got a third nipple or knows the location of the Holy Grail?
Dave: Ooh, I dunno - we can't divulge too much information.
Soundsxp: Finally, where are my moths flying to next?
Dave: We're gonna be writing and recording a lot, but there will be a few festivals and some gigs with Good Shoes over the next few months - check our Myspace for all the info.
*There are approximately 2400 species of Moths in the UK. Get your moth spotting gear on, Jon, you've pulled. The rest of society should wing their way to The Moth's website to check out what all of the fuss is about. Catch them while they still lurk in the shadows...