Moon Maan leader has finally whigged out
Article Last Updated: 06/20/2007 03:09:52 PM CDT
On first spin, Moon Maan’s self-titled debut sounds eerily reminiscent of ’90s alt-rockers the Afghan Whigs, from the RB influences to the thick guitar riffs to the desperate, last-call vocals. Yet none of that should be too surprising, as Moon Maan leader Rick McCollum spent 15 years playing guitar for the Whigs.
“I learned how to write songs with them,” McCollum says. “And I’m not the guy who sits there and strums an acoustic guitar. I’m not Wilco. That’s just not the way I write. I like to groove with a good drumbeat first and build riffs on that. That’s how soul music is written. And when you can feed into your inner self, you come up with words more comfortably, and you really believe in them.”
The 11 spirited tracks collected on Moon Maan’s debut feature McCollum front and center. He sings, plays guitar and even employs the theremin, the electronic instrument best known for its use in scoring old horror and sci-fi movies.
And after a gestation period of several years, McCollum, who has lived in Minneapolis since 1994, is ready to bring the band to the masses.
“Moon Maan” hit shelves earlier this month, on the same day as “Unbreakable (A Retrospective),” a new compilation of Afghan Whigs singles. Moon Maan has a CD-release gig Friday at the Triple Rock.
We talked to McCollum about his past and present endeavors.
On making Minneapolis his home: “I moved up here with my girlfriend in 1994. It was time for me to get out of (the Afghan Whigs’
base of) Cincinnati. We’ve since broken up, but I’ve kind of got my roots here now. I still never want to call anyplace ‘home,’ but I’ll be here for a while.”On the genesis of Moon Maan: “I had been doing a residency solo thing for about a year, a sonic-landscape thing (to accompany silent films) with a theremin, guitar and sampler. That led to a showcase at South by Southwest in 2004, and I decided to put a band together. I got it together somewhat quickly, and South by Southwest was our first-ever show. We weren’t the tightest, let’s just put it that way.”
On Moon Maan’s first local gigs: “Probably eight months later, we started doing shows around town. We opened for Franz Ferdinand at the Fine Line, did a few shows with the Violent Femmes and occasionally headlined at the 400 Bar. We were four people about the same age but with different backgrounds and different experiences. And we wanted to capture something that was kind of raw but still mainstream and catchy.”
On finding Moon Maan’s sound: “We don’t yet have our own sound, per se. But that happens over time with any band. I think the next album will be more interesting and less influential of the Whigs. All four of us, whoever is involved in this thing, will shape what’s next.”
On the theremin, an instrument played by placing one’s hands in the empty space around two metal antennae: “In rock music, a lot of people don’t use it to play actual notes – it’s more of a noise thing. It’s very exacting, and you have to home in on those notes and pick them out of space. But I think it was the next progression from playing the slide guitar. There are tons of people who play great guitar, there’s a few people who play great slide guitar and even fewer who can play great theremin.”
On launching Moon Maan through an independent label: “A lot of the stuff that’s involved is new to me. I was never much into the business side with the Afghan Whigs, but now I’m taking the forefront with a lot of this. It’s such a different music business now. It’s not the same thing where a major label will pick you up and nurture you. You have to work to get people’s attention now. But I think the true testament is that if you’re doing something that people like, they’ll eventually come around.”
On spreading Moon Maan’s music: “I’m pretty happy with (the record), and we did a supercheap video that we put out on YouTube. It’s a great product; now, it’s a matter of getting it out to the people. We’ll start touring on it in the fall and hopefully we can create a buzz. I just want to play everywhere. Having been in this once before with the Afghan Whigs, I miss that whole thing of playing out to a lot of people.”
Ross Raihala can be reached at email@example.com or 651-228-5553. Read more about the local music scene on his blog, “The Ross Who Knew Too Much,” at blogs.twincities.com/ross.