NEWMOON is one of those rare bands that turn a musical genre from the past into something challenging for today’s ears. They produce an immense wall of shoegaze electricity and inject it with sensitive and appealing melodies. Their approach and interpretation of Kevin Shields‘ sonic vision and of like-minded musicians’ legacy is quite special. The colors of this Belgian five-piece generator are brighter and, yes, more human than I heard before from the last century’s feet staring pioneers. THEIR noise will take you to a higher, more emotional level. THEIR noise causes goosebumps. THEIR noise is one with a beating heart and a caring soul. Frontman Bert Cannaerts will tell you all and more you want to know about a band on its way to conquer Europe. Let’s start the acquaintance with this imposing masterstroke from their debut LP ‘SPACE’. Here’s ‘Head Of Stone’…
I guess we’re all ready now for a Q & A with Bert, who communicated
with me straight out of the band’s van somewhere on a road in Europe…
NEWMOON rose up out of the ashes of a hardcore band. Tell us what happened.
“We basically were just done with what we were trying to do. Hardcore/punk really feels like an “in the moment”-thing to me. We just didn’t want to become forced our stale in
any way. I’m super proud of what we did with ‘Midnight Souls‘ but if was just time for us
to quit. When the passion isn’t there anymore there’s no need to drag it out longer than necessary. I think the same thing goes for Newmoon. It’s all about being passionate and honest.”
What’s the story behind the band’s name and who came up with it?
” ‘New Moon‘ is the title of an Elliott Smith album. Even before starting Newmoon I always thought it had a nice ring to it. When Newmoon started becoming a real band we needed
a name and it was the first thing that came to mind. Everyone in the band is a huge Elliott Smith fan so it made sense.’
When did you know “this is how we want to sound, this is us”?
“I don’t think we ever really discussed this. We started writing music and things gradually fell into place. We think more in terms of vibe and atmosphere. It’s important to us to write songs that project our own feelings the way we want to. There are definitely bands that have inspired us but that list goes from bands like The Cure to bands like Sunn o))).”
When I heard highly praised debut album SPACE for the first time, ‘My Bloody Valentine’ came to mind, but with more heart and soul. Not ‘Loveless’at all. What sentiments came in to play when writing/recording?
“My Bloody Valentine is such an important band. Whenever people compare anything
we do to them it’s probably the biggest compliment. That being said we never really tried to sound like them. I think some of the biggest references for Space were The Cure, The Smashing Pumpkins and Slowdive. When It came to finish the album we listened to a lot
of different kinds of music and production was not really based on one certain genre.”
Who designed the front cover for the album and what does the image stand for?
‘Everything was designed by our friend Nick Steinhardt. He’s an incredible designer and really captured the essence of Space. He’s worked for artists like Deafheaven, Austra, Tom Waits and more. We’re so lucky to have him on our team. The art is a literal exercise in defining space in color and structure. We asked him to create something abstract that would feel more like a painting that just an album cover. And he absolutely nailed the entire concept.”
On your Bandcamp-page I read ‘we are real poets, man’. Sarcasm or love for poetry?
“It’s kind of sarcastic haha. I’m a big fan of writers like Bukowski and Ginsberg and both have definitely influenced some of our lyrical content. But we also really like being sarcastic and don’t try to take things too seriously.”
A couple of weeks ago when playing my hometown Ghent you had a touching message for the audience: “in the end it’s all about love”. What was on your mind at that very moment, Bert?
“Honestly, I feel like it’s something that could and should be expressed more. I’m kind
of bored with artists who just ask people how they are doing. So many people have
to deal with difficult things and I just want to tell those people that we care. It’s so important to take care of your fellow human beings. This past year I’ve seen the effect this has on people in my immediate environment and I think people just forget. People forget to ask their loved ones if they’re okay just because everything looks okay on the outside. When we play shows there are all these people I don’t know but they somehow feel connected to our music. So I want to tell them that everything will be okay and that
we care. Because we do.”
Opening track HELIUM immediately sets the tone. What does the label ‘shoegaze’ actually means to you?
“I like a lot of bands that get put under the shoegaze-umbrella. I love the emotion you find in bands like Slowdive and My Bloody Valentine. I always look for that emotional expression in music. Whether they’re shoegaze or not isn’t really that important to me.”
Any rituals before and after a show?
“Usually we’re just trying to relax before a show. Giel and me should really do some vocal warm-ups before we play but instead we’re usually just drinking. After the show is pretty
much the same most of the time. We try and unwind from the rush of playing. Basically,
both scenarios involve a lot of drinks and some friendly shit-talking to each other”.
Live the band generates an overwhelming wall-of-sound turning at times into mind-blowing jams. Was it a natural development as the band moved on or a conscious choice from the start?
“It’s something that happened very naturally. We play our set in a way that flows well and sometimes we start jamming to make things more interesting. We’ve played these songs so many times so it’s fun to let them evolve over time. I think most of our songs have changed in small ways since recording them.”
What’s on the van’s stereo when driving through Europe?
“I’m typing this as I’m sitting in the van, so here are some albums we’ve been listening to.
Post Malone – Stoney
Communions – Blue
Ho99o9 – United States of Ho99o9
Mayhem – Chimera
Liam Gallagher – As You Were
Phoebe Bridgers – Strangers in the Alps“
Who’s your number one artist/band to go on a world tour with ?
“Probably The Cure. Slowdive or The Jesus and Mary Chain would definitely be incredible too. The absolute dream is probably Oasis, but we know that will never happen.”
If you could travel in time what artist would you choose to jam with?
“I don’t know if we’re the type of band to jam with other people. I’d travel back in time to see Elliott Smith work on music and to give him a hug.”
Which movie would you pick to visualize your music on a big screen when playing?
“That’s such an interesting question. Maybe Wong Kar Wai‘s Fallen Angels? It’s a movie about the criminal underground in Hong Kong. The whole look of the movie is very moody and dark. All of the neon and the futuristic vibe of Hong Kong give it this really unique atmosphere. It looks like a drunken night out in the city.”
My Bloody Valentine or The Jesus and Mary Chain?
“Loveless is better than any album JAMC ever put out, but they are just so much cooler. I love the attitude and aesthetic of The Jesus And Mary Chain. ‘Happy When it Rains’ is one of my favorite songs. I’m going JAMC on this.”
Slowdive or Ride?
“Slowdive. Not even close.”
Vinyl, cassette or compact disc?
“Vinyl. I love buying records and it feels like vinyl is the perfect format for music. The artwork is nice and big, there’s this collectible aspect to it and it turns listening to music into more of an experience. Flipping over the record, physically dropping the needle into the groove, hearing the little imperfections. I love it.”
Social media: a blessing or a pain in the ass?
“It definitely makes things a bit easier for bands these days. Setting up tours is so much easier and faster than it used to be. However, it’s important to remember that social media is a curated version of reality. It’s not always a reflection of what things are really like. That being said we don’t take it too seriously and like to joke and goof around on Twitter and Instagram. So give a follow to @newmoontheband people!”
Best album/track you heard so far this year?
“Phoebe Bridgers’ A Stranger in the Alps is definitely up there. I’ve been listening to the newest Chelsea Wolfe album a lot and she never disappoints. The new Oscar And The Wolf album has some absolute bangers on it.”
Is playing in a band actually the best job one can imagine?
“Playing in a band is great. I can’t believe some of the things we get to do through music. The people in Newmoon are my actual best friends so getting to do all unique, weird and inspiring things with them is a dream. That being said it also takes a lot of work, sacrifice and time. It definitely puts pressure on significant others and family. So it’s not always easy.”
What’s NEWMOON’s ultimate ambition?
“I think by now we’ve accomplished so much more than we ever could have hoped for. We want to keep this beast going for as long as possible, as long as it’s fun. Maybe play Japan one day? We love that place and I want to go back so badly.”
The band’s wishes for 2018?
“Be kind to other people.”
Many thanks to Bert for this interview. May the road rise with NEWMOON.
Fasten your seatbelts now ’cause….
Ladies and gentlemen we are floating in Space…
(concert pics by JL/Turn Up The Volume!)